We're seeing lots of large size, high definition LCDs come on the market of late, and NEC is not to be left out. The company keeps a foot in both the plasma and LCD camps, plus it has a strong presence in commercial panel displays. NEC is using this commercial expertise to shine through with its new Multeos series.

The Multeos M46 is a 46-inch 1080p LCD panel that's made from professional-grade components. Defying the piano black trend, it has an all-metal chassis and a proprietary ASIC chip set which NEC claims provides superior video and crisp, clear graphics that won't distort during image scaling.

It's important to note up front that the M46 is technically not a television, but a multi-function monitor, and as such you'll need to hook it up to an HD tuner for home theatre applications. It has a range of AV inputs (including one HDMI port), but unlike some competitor models, it caters for PC and network inputs as well. NEC touts its digital signage capabilities, which would be relevant to few home applications, unless you wanted to set-up your own multi-panel video wall. If you are going for this kind of big impact, its TileMatrix and TileComp capabilities will let you daisy chain the screens to create a video wall of up to 25 displays (five by five maximum).

Elements that give the M46 a degree of flexibility and future-proofing include an expansion slot for upgrading with a single board computer (SBC) and compatibility with HDCP -- High Digital Content Protection -- an encryption technology that may become more commonplace with high definition video content.

There are many colour adjustment options, a built-in amp and a thermal cooling unit, designed to extend the life span of the monitor.

In a nod to environmental friendliness, NEC says that the M46 is RoHS (Restriction on Hazardous Substances) compliant, containing fully disposable plastics and minimal amounts of hazardous materials, such as lead, hex-chrome, cadmium, mercury, PBDE and PBB.

Ironically, its flexibility is probably a limitation for the average consumer. As mentioned before, you'll have to buy an HD tuner/PVR as well as speakers (NEC sells both these Multeos-compatible accessories) to set up the M46 as a home theatre. These are somewhat strange omissions at a time when most vendors are introducing televisions with built-in HD tuners.

The M46 produces an impressive image, but the add-ons required will make it an expensive option for most home theatre buyers, unless you're planning on setting up a customised video wall.

Editor's Note: The M46 has a companion monitor, the 40-inch M40 that carries an RRP of AU$5,849. Both NEC Multeos displays will be available in Australian in early April.