Unlike most Samsung, LG, Philips and Panasonic LCD screens, the Sagem doesn't make use of any particularly advanced video processing to scale the picture up to a higher standard -- what the TV receives is pretty much what you end up seeing. Feed it a high-quality signal, such as progressively scanned component video from a DVD player, and you'll get solid, stable results. Put in something dodgier -- let's say one of the highly compressed shopping channels from Freeview -- and the Sagem can't do anything special with it. There is an MPEG noise-reduction feature available in the picture menu, but it fails to make any real impact or improvement.
You can adjust various picture settings yourself in the menu, which is so straightforward that all but the most technophobic viewer should be able to sail through it with ease. There's not a great deal here to fiddle with, which seems fair enough, given this TV's place at the cheaper end of the market.
On the audio side of things, Sagem has included a basic stereo setting plus two more: spatial and Dolby Virtual Surround. Both are accessible through the menu system and, as usual, neither of the effects are particularly spectacular.
The inclusion of Freeview is always welcome, but the HD-L32's implementation of digital TV isn't among the best we've seen. The electronic programme guide only lists the current show and the one following it, so you can't use it to plan your viewing for the week ahead. As mentioned already, there's also no way to upgrade the basic service to Top-Up TV.
The Sagem's picture quality is solid, but far from superb. It works well enough when combined with a DVD player or Sky+ box, where its colour reproduction and decent resolution results in a fairly enjoyable image when viewed from a couple of metres away. There is a slight problem with the weak contrast range, which makes dark areas of the picture too indistinct, but overall it acquits itself well.
Gamers, however, will not be impressed with the slow response time, which results in fast-moving images blurring distractingly. We played a match of Pro Evolution Soccer 5 and the ghosting was immediately apparent. This was the norm with LCD TVs a couple of years back, but now even most of the Sagem's rivals at the affordable end of the market have stamped it out, so it's annoying to see it here.
The sound quality is at a similar level to the picture: good but not great. There's little to fault if you just want to watch TV programmes on it, but if you're seeking some scintillating sonics to enhance an action movie, you won't get them out of this television.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide