Of course, this TV carries an auspicious moniker -- Kuro -- so we were very keen to see how black levels looked. It was good news: with the lights off and the backlight set to a reasonable level (between -5 and -10), we were impressed by how rich colours were and how impressively black the black was. The black bars at the top and bottom of the screen in the 2.35:1 ratio in Vantage Point were almost totally black. We could only detect a small amount of backlight bleed.
We also looked at X-Men, one of our favourite DVDs for assessing upscaling ability, and were thrilled with the results. Everything looked as good as we could have hoped -- colour was bold without being over-the-top and there was a great level of detail. Keep in mind that smaller TVs like this generally struggle less with standard definition material, but it was still clear to us that the 32V has some very capable picture processing built-in.
Freeview picture quality was also well above average. We found there was plenty of detail in most programmes from the four main broadcasters. Colour was a little over-the-top at times, but that's easily adjusted in the pleasant menu system. Noise from MPEG encoding wasn't a problem either, which we were very pleased to see. Overall, this Kuro did a great job with standard definition material.
Although generally speaking we don't benchmark TVs, we did try out our Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) test disc to see how this landmark TV performed. Happily, it aced all the tests, proving itself very good at reducing picture noise, which is almost certainly why Freeview and DVDs look so good. There was no noticeable video or film resolution loss and the TV even did a good job at reducing 'jaggies' on moving objects.
Sound wasn't the most powerful we've ever heard and it would probably get lost in a large room, but the quality is excellent, with clear dialogue. Bass-heavy movies won't sound their best on the built-in speakers, so if you're a Bruce Willis fan, invest in some external ones.
We really like the Kuro LCD. It's never going to reach the giddy heights of near perfection that the plasmas from Pioneer do, but that doesn't make its picture performance any less impressive. Of course, if it was £300 or £400 cheaper, we'd be even more enthusiastic. That said, the recommended retail price is around £1,300, but you can already pick it up for as little as £1,100, so perhaps the price will drop even further in a few months.
We happen to think plasma is still the better of the two technologies in terms of picture performance. Plasmas used to have significant problems, with nasty solarisation effects and little sparkles all over the picture. But in the last two years we've seen huge development in the quality of of the technology, with a jump to 1080p and better black levels.
But nonetheless, we're excited about this LCD TV and have high hopes that the 42-inch model will be a class leader. Until then, if you want a great LCD, we'd have to suggest the Toshiba 40ZF355D, one of our favourites. We also love the Samsung slim series 8 TVs, such as the LE40A856, which has massive visual impact, loads of extras and a great picture.
Edited by Marian Smith