When you're putting together your shopping list for your next visit to Tesco, alongside fruit, veg and a bottle of vino should you also have the Technika 42-2030? Priced at £500, it's certainly cheap for a 42-inch TV, but does it deliver decent picture quality?
Technika is Tesco's own brand of electronics, so you can only buy this set in store, via its catalogue or online from Tesco Direct -- you won't find it available from any other retailer.
Given the low price tag, it's no surprise this model lacks some of the fancy frills you'll find on 42-inchers from big-name brands, such as 100Hz processing, support for Internet services and media streaming. That said, the set does offer up a few surprises including a Freeview HD tuner that gives you access to channels such as the newly launched BBC One HD, and it also includes a USB port for digital-media playback.
As an own-brand set, you'd be forgiven for expecting it to have been hit with the ugly stick, but thankfully, this isn't the case. Obviously it's not going to win any awards for design, but the stepped rear, where the edges are thinner than the middle of the TV, means it doesn't look particularly bulbous when viewed from the side. While the glossy black finish may be a tad boring, at least Technika has added a silver flash across the bottom and sensibly kept the brand logo on the front as small as possible.
The remote looks quite attractive, too, thanks to its arched design. In saying that, it turns out to be one of the worst aspects of the TV, as the buttons are very spongy and unresponsive. If you do buy this TV, it might be worth investing in a decent universal remote to replace it.
What's on the menu?
The TV's menu system looks pretty drab thanks to its heavy use of blocky text, but the layout is fairly good and it offers a decent amount of control of audio and picture settings. The digital-media playback feature is a little awkward to get at as it's tucked away in this menu system. To be honest, it's hardly worth the trip, as it only supports playback of MP3 and JPEG files. There's no support at all for MPEG-2 or DivX movies.
The electronic programme guide (EPG), on the other hand, is rather good. It uses a standard bricks-in-the-wall layout and is reasonably quick to move around. There's also a handy zoom feature that lets you control how much programming data is shown in one go on the screen.
Needs a tweak
On the picture front, the TV tends to deliver respectable, but hardly spectacular, results. Pictures are bright and colours are generally quite strong. HD pictures in particular can look sharp and punchy, and the set does have quite deep black levels. The picture presets are pretty dire, though, so you really do need to tweak the settings to get the most out of it, especially when it comes to achieving more natural-looking skin tones.
Also on the negative side, both standard-definition and high-definition sources can look quite noisy at times, and SD channels on Freeview tend to come across a little soft, so this is definitely not a TV that flatters poorer sources. There's a fair bit of motion blur in evidence, too, and every now and again its colours take on an unnatural hue. If an actor in a scene is standing half in light and half in shade, for example, the transition area between the two can throw up some off-looking bluey, greenish hues instead of proper shadow detail.
On the audio front, the TV puts in a fairly competent performance. With a few tweaks of the multi-band graphics equaliser found in the TV's menu system, you can get it to produce a little more bass than most sets, and the mid range generally cuts through nicely to deliver clean and crisp dialogue in dramas and movies.
The Technika 42-2030 certainly has its flaws. The remote is terrible, pictures can be a tad noisy and it suffers from motion blur. Its overall performance, however, is better than we expected, and if you take the time to adjust the picture presets it's actually capable of producing fairly contrasty and vivid images. If you're working to a tight budget, but want to go for a larger screen, you could do a lot worse.
Edited by Emma Bayly