The World Cup is nearly upon us, which can mean only two things: first, at least one of England's best players is going to break something in one of the last games of the season - or maybe have an affair with one of their England team-mate's wives. Or both. And second, it's time you thought about buying a new TV to watch it on. A new TV like, perhaps, one of the four 40-42in models we've rounded up here.
Price: £1,400 More info: LG Electronics Size: 1018.2(w) x 630.7(h) x 34.4(d)mm Weight: 19.1kg Resolution: 1920x1080 Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 5,000,000:1 Claimed max brightness: 500cd/m2 Connections: Four v1.3 HDMIs; two component video inputs, D-Sub PC input, PCMCIA slot, Ethernet port, two USB ports, composite video input, RF input, one Scart (RGB), optical digital audio output, PC audio input, RS 232 control/service port, wireless controller port
LG Infinia 42LE7900
The 42LE7900 sure knows how to make an entrance. For as well as boasting a slinky, single-layer fascia and high-gloss bezel, it's remarkably slim - just 35mm at its deepest point.
It achieves this slimness by using edge LED backlighting. This isn't new, but the 42LE7900 has an interesting twist: local dimming. In other words, it can adjust the brightness of 12 segments of the LED lights individually, to hopefully improve contrast.
This feature-heavy model scores a hit, too, by having a built-in Freeview HD tuner, and with its connections - in particular, four HDMIs, innovative Bluetooth wireless connectivity with suitable headphones and mobiles, two USBs for MP3, JPEG and DivX HD playback, and an Ethernet port permitting either DLNA PC streaming or access to LG's new NetCast online service.
This currently only has YouTube, PICASA and weather report access at the moment, but other services - including Skype - will doubtless arrive at some point.
As usual with recent LG TVs, the 42LE7900 is well stocked with features and picture adjustments - so much so that it's endorsed by the independent Imaging Science Foundation calibration experts. Yet it's still easy to use thanks to a sublime, graphics-heavy operating system.
In assessing the 42LE7900's pictures, the first thing we had to do, sadly, was deactivate the local dimming feature. It distracted us during dark scenes by leaving obvious 'blocks' of light inconsistency.
Once that was done though, the 42LE7900 turned in a mostly likeable performance, thanks to some extremely bright and vivid colours, sharp motion handling, and terrifically fine detail response when showing HD. It's a more than respectable standard definition performer too.
Stopping the set contending for top honours though, are a rather thin sound system and an average black level response, compounded by a limited viewing angle - though the latter of these issues is common to the vast majority of other LCD TVs too.
Great colours and sharpness, lovely design, excellent connectivity, easy to use, lots of setup flexibility, Freeview HD tuner Minus points
Local dimming doesn't really work, black levels rather average, viewing angle limited
Price: £900 More info: Philips Size (off stand): 996(w) x 603(h) x 88(d)mm Weight (off stand): 17.1kg Resolution: 1920x1080 Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 80,000:1 Claimed max brightness: 500cd/m2 Connections: Four v1.3 HDMI inputs; Two Scarts (both RGB); component video input; composite video input; S-Video input; D-Sub PC input; Stereo audio output; headphone jack; stereo audio inputs; CAM slot; RF input; digital audio output; USB
Well here's an unusual sight: a Philips TV that doesn't cost as much as a family holiday in the Maldives. In fact, at £900 it's pretty much a mainstream TV. But does that mean it's also a merely mainstream performer?
The 42PFL7404 hits the ground running with a really cute design, based around a slim, glossy bezel with a swanky outer transparent 'shroud'. The only pity aesthetically is that the 42PFL7404 doesn't carry Philips' always good-value Ambilight illumination system.
Inevitably for its money, the 42PFL7404 doesn't feature the superb Perfect Pixel HD video processing that's so impressed on Philips' 9000 series of TVs. But while the Pixel Precise HD engine it DOES have is only around half as powerful as Perfect Pixel HD, it's still in a different league to many other brands' picture processing systems.
The set is reasonably media-savvy for its money too, with a USB jack able to play a variety of video, photo and music formats.
Where the 42PFL7404 really makes its mark though, is with its pictures, which are really quite exceptional for a sub-£1000 TV. HD pictures look superbly detailed, crisp and dynamic, for a start. Especially as the Philips processing system is also unusually accomplished at smoothing and sharpening motion. This processing also makes its standard definition pictures look cleaner and sharper than those of most rival TVs too.
Colours, meanwhile, are terrifically dynamic without becoming unnatural, and even the 42PFL7404's black levels are good for its level of the market.
The 42PFL7404's pictures do have a couple of weaknesses though. First and worst, as with the LG model they lose contrast and colour when watched from any sort of angle. But also, the heavy-duty processing in the TV can occasionally make standard definition pictures look a touch bitty, and moving objects a touch distorted around the edges.
Brilliant colours, exceptional sharpness, crisp standard def upscaling, nice looks, good price Minus points
Standard definition pictures can look slightly noisy, limited viewing angle, a little labour intensive to use, no Freeview HD