Good value is how the LC40CT2E's pictures are best described, but that doesn't mean they're poor. Far from it – we've not before seen a Blu-ray performance as finely detailed and cinematic as this on an 'ordinary' LCD screen of this price.

It's even more shocking because there's scant picture processing and no 100Hz scanning, and though it could benefit from both, that would presumably increase the price significantly.

Sharp lc40ct2e remote

A custom presets button on the remote switches between natural, cinema, and dynamic (the latter is best avoided), though it's possible to save your own tweaks, too. Basic picture processing includes noise reduction, a game mode and, surprisingly, a film mode that's more commonly found on higher-end TVs.

However, in use that film mode proves not to be the frame insertion tech we'd imagined; it can't prevent some noticeable judder every time the camera pans slowly, nor the smearing over fast moving objects that also blights the LC40CT2E's picture performance with Blu-ray.

For a budget LCD TV that actually isn't too bad a result – elsewhere hi-def pictures are deliciously detailed and full of life. There's a cinematic look to colour, with neither reds nor skin tones overcooked and fleshtones accurate, while the contrast isn't bad, either – now that is a shock.

A rich, full black is visible, and – to our mind – for the first time on a TV of this price. Shadowed areas of the pictures from our test disc War of the Worlds contain a lot of depth and nuanced detail, which really helps add a dose of realism.

Although the LC40CT2E has managed to deliver black response equal to more expensive competitors, the age-old LCD problem of tight viewing angles remains. Go off axis and the contrast quickly fades, with colours draining of life.

Freeview HD performance

Sit more centrally and the good stuff remains when you switch to Freeview HD, though the drawbacks become more frustrating.

Even though on BBC HD we noticed some jagged edges, it's mostly very clean and helped immensely by that beefy contrast. Unfortunately the LC40CT2E's noise reduction circuitry can't be activated for simple Freeview pictures, which are left looking overstretched and noisy by comparison.

The Freeview HD tuner isn't being treated with any significant upscaling circuitry, which on a 40-inch TV is a real shame. Couple that with the LC40CT2E's rudimentary EPG and we'd go as far as to say that this is not a great television for everyday use – but it's a veritable bargain for BBC HD and Blu-ray.