There seem to be two distinct ways a company can make its TVs stand out in the hubbub of the retailer's shop floor.
First, there's the 'load it with extras, make it as sexy as possible' route which Philips and Samsung have made work spectacularly.
Then there's the 'cheap as chips' philosophy, which is the one Sharp is pursuing with the LC42DH77.
Here's a 42in LCD TV with Full HD resolution, a stack of connectivity and completely inoffensive looks – yours for £800, tops.
That money only buys you an HD-ready plasma if you chuck it Panasonic's way, so Sharp must surely be on to something. Mustn't it?
More after the break
Some obvious cost cuttingWell, yes and no. Once the decision is taken to build a product to a price, there will always be giveaways as to where savings were made – but we don't think interfaces as fundamental as the remote control or the on-screen menus are the places to make them.
There's a whiff of 2004 about the way the Sharp presents itself; in flatscreen terms that can't be a good thing.
Performance isn't as reminiscent of the middle of the decade, but it's still short of impressive. TV reception is competent, though there's a hint of coarseness to skin-textures and movement can be approximate in extremis.
What's more disturbing is the undefeatable magenta hue – images aren't purple, of course, but white tones never fully rid themselves of a 'hint of' so beloved by the likes of Dulux.
Flaws still apparent with Blu-rayThese flaws are apparent, albeit to a lesser extent, with DVD and Blu-ray. Fractionally coarse edges, marginal motion tracking and a shortage of detail in black scenes (in fact, a shortage of black in black scenes) make for a humdrum watching experience.
The set's undeniable facility with depth of field doesn't fully compensate.
Add in the wholly unremarkable flatscreen sound and you've an LCD that looks a fair bit more appealing on paper than it does in reality.
If it were our £800 or so, we'd do the pragmatic thing and buy a Panasonic TX-P42X10.