With a price tag of just £475, you don't have to be Einstein to figure out the main shelf appeal of Humax's LGB-32DST 32-inch TV. But is it just another budget TV or does it give you anything extra?
This TV's looks and connections fall for the most part in our weaknesses section, with the only upside being that the set does provide PC as well as TV connectivity despite its low price.
We guess the set's native 'HD Ready' resolution of 1,366x768 pixels and native -- as opposed to dynamic -- contrast ratio of 1,000:1 are both acceptable enough on a budget set. The only feature we felt genuinely impressed by was the facility to manually adjust the backlight. The automatic backlight system is, as we'll see, a nightmare.
Thankfully, the 32DST picks up its game with its picture performance, delivering a really nice, natural picture that puts most budget rivals to shame. For starters, HD images look surprisingly crisp and clear. During the battle sequences of Sky's HD broadcast of Braveheart, for instance, there's plenty of fine detailing on show in the fighters' faces and clothes, but also surprisingly little sign of LCD's motion blurring problem over all the flailing swords and flying limbs. The set's HD sharpness is also achieved without the accompaniment of grain or other noise types, helping pictures look nice and direct.
More good news finds dark Braveheart scenes like the sacking of York avoiding LCD's common greying problem, while colours look believable and reasonably vibrant, even where tricky skin tones are concerned.
Turning to a standard-definition DVD of Braveheart, the picture quality doesn't drop off as far as we would normally expect on a budget TV. The image still looks decently crisp, colour tones still look credible and motion artefacts only increase marginally.
A final strength of this Humax versus its budget rivals is the fact that you can watch it from quite a wide angle before the picture loses much colour or black level.
The 32DST is hardly the world's prettiest TV. It's quite fat by today's LCD standards. Its black colour scheme is uninspired to say the least and its finish looks rather plasticky.
Connectivity, meanwhile, is let down by the fact that there are only two HDMIs where more expensive TVs generally offer three. What's more, these HDMIs are only built to the older v1.2 standard and so can't accept Deep Colour technology. In fact, they can't even take in the pure 1080p/24 feeds now offered as an option by most Blu-ray players. Actually, the 32DST arguably suffers a lack of features in general, but we guess this is just about forgivable in the context of its price.
Performance wise, the 32DST's main picture weakness is the way dark areas of the picture look empty, as the set fails to resolve much shadow detail. Dark scenes also annoyingly flicker if you've got the 32DST's auto backlight system active. Elsewhere, some colour blends on this screen tend to look a touch striped and -- arguably forgivable at under £500 -- the set has a tendency to exaggerate MPEG blocking and shimmer noise in standard-definition digital broadcasts.
This Humax makes no great shakes aurally either, with a lack of dynamic range leaving too much sound information crammed into the mid-range with predictably muddy results.
There are certainly a few areas where this Humax struggles to break free of its budget shackles. It's pretty low on features, its sound is flimsy and its connections are underwhelming. But it does at least save its best for where it matters most: picture performance.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday