Big-screen LCDs are rapidly plummeting in price. And at an astonishing £1,100, Sanyo's 27in model, the CE27LC3-B, is taking flat TV to the masses.
On first inspection the CE27LC3-B looks futuristic, with a high-gloss grey frame sitting well with the lighter silver speakers and table-top stand. However, the inputs and outputs are so woefully out-dated that they're almost enough to make us to put this set back in its box and send it back five years in a time machine...
First, there are no digital inputs. Many similarly-priced screens don't come with DVI or HDMI, however, so this isn't too much of a surprise. Now for the really bad news: there are no component inputs. As well as preventing the delivery of top-notch prog scan images from a suitable DVD player, this means that access to any high-definition material - whether broadcast or from a media centre or D-VHS tapes - is denied.
It doesn't stop there - there's no PC input. This is a shame, because infrequent PC users could well benefit from using an easy-to-move LCD such as this for occasional PC work or, even better, games.
Finally, there's no S-video jack, which leaves the roll-call of connections short and not very sweet: two Scarts (only one RGB), a composite video input, stereo audio input and output, a headphone jack and RF input.
The operating system offers a bit of reassurance, as it is intuitive and immediately easy to use. It's just a shame there aren't many features to control, with a light monitoring option - which adjusts the picture in response to the ambient light levels in a room - the only highlight.
Having exposed the lack of technology featured in this set, it should come as no surprise that the CE27LC3's pictures struggle with the varied visual material of our test disc, the Chinese kung fu myth Hero.
The LCD screen's response time is not the best, with a lot of distracting smearing over the film's many sweeping vistas as the action swaps between a warrior's version of events and those of the embattled emperor.
Contrast levels are also a problem, meaning that murky scenes - such as those at the emperor's palace - lack depth of field, detail and texture, while the symbolic and famously lush colours of Hero (alternating between reds, blues and whites) are unacceptably dampened.
Playback of DVDs isn't impressive, but where the CE27LC3 does shine is with TV broadcasts. Well-lit, static, studio footage - such as news programmes - look good on this screen. Problems with motion smears and poor contrast still exist, but are far less noticeable alongside the great amount of detail on show - so it's not all bad.
Inconsistent with its images, the CE27LC3 doesn't do much better with sound (though this is expected of 'budget' LCDs). Although the soundstage is wider and more detailed than we had expected, there's not nearly enough bass to liven up the action scenes of Hero, while even dialogue-dominated scenes sound thin.
Sanyo has successfully met its brief to supply the mass market with an affordable big-screen LCD TV, with prices for the CE27LC3 as low as an astonishing £850 online - but that's about all this screen offers.
Where it really matters - performance - it is severely lacking, meaning that our overall impression of the CE27LC3 is that it is a cheap, rather than bargain, set. And as we know all too well, cheap rarely means cheerful.