Tesco is notorious for its viciously aggressive pricing and with its own-brand Technika range of TVs it's introduced this strategy into the AV battlefield. This set is a good example, as priced at just £249, the Technika 32-2010 is cheaper than some of the 23- and 24-inch models we've reviewed recently from other budget brands such as Acer and Linsar.
Won't cause offence
While the TV is certainly no looker, it's not horrifically ugly either. The whole chassis is made from plastic, but apart from the slightly flimsy stand it feels reasonably well put together. The design won't turn heads, but neither is it actively offensive.
The front is finished in standard-issue glossy black, and Technika has sensibly made its chrome-coloured logo on the front as small as possible. The TV uses traditional CCFL backlighting, so it's not the slimmest model around, but at 94mm deep it's not preposterously bulbous.
Where the cost-cutting is perhaps most evident is in the range of connections on offer on the rear. While most 32 inchers these days offer three or more HDMI ports, this model makes do with just two. There's also only a single Scart socket, although you do get side-mounted composite and component ports as well as a VGA input. Predictably, given the low price tag, the TV doesn't include any USB playback feature and also lacks an Ethernet port or Wi-Fi so you can't use it to stream music or video from a PC.
Setting up the TV is very straightforward -- as soon as you turn it on, an onscreen wizard guides you through tuning all the channels. The menu system is quite basic and has all the design charm of MS-Dos, but it's sensibly laid out and easy to find your way around.
Thankfully Technika has spent a little more time on the programme guide. It's not exactly laden with colours, but it does use large fonts and a traditional bricks-in-the-wall style layout that makes it easy to compare what's coming up on different channels at different times. There's also a zoom feature that lets you increase or decrease the amount of programming information it shows in one go.
The remote control supplied with Technika's larger 42-inch set was pretty dire, but the one used here is significantly better. The buttons are rubbery, but they're much more responsive than on some of the company's other models. Most of the controls are within easy reach too, so calling up the EPG or info on the current programmes isn't much of a finger stretch.
Pleasantly surprising pixels
The TV's panel has a native resolution of 1,366x768 pixels, so it's 720p HD Ready rather than a Full HD screen. It will work with 1080p or 1080i feeds from a Blu-ray player or Sky+HD box, but the feeds are downscaled internally by the set to its native resolution.
Not having 1080p on a 32-inch screen is not as big an issue as it is on a larger display such as 42 inches, and often budget TVs with a lower-resolution panel perform better with standard definition content. This is because the upscaling they need to perform to make SD pictures fit the native resolution of the panel is not as drastic. Certainly Freeview pictures do look less noisy on this set than they do on the 42-inch Technika model we looked at recently, but HD pictures still suffer from more noise than we would have liked.
HD pictures aren't as sharp as we would have expected, even taking into account the panel's lower resolution. The TV does produce quite strong colours though -- especially from HD sources -- and pictures tend to be quite bright too. Contrast performance isn't great, however, so dark scenes can look rather muddy as shadow detail tends to be lost in a sea of black, although it's not as bad as we've seen on some smaller screened budget models.
It's also worth noting that colour hues can sometimes look a little off when watching Freeview via the built-in tuner, as you'll see the odd blue or orangey tinge on darker areas of the picture. On the whole though, the picture quality isn't all that bad considering the set's rock-bottom price tag.
We have few complaints when it comes to the audio performance, either. If you tweak the graphic equaliser found in the main menu you can actually squeeze a decent bass from its small speakers, leading to reasonably meaty sound for action movies and music channels.
At £250 the Technika 32-2010 is the cheapest 32-inch TV we've ever had in for review, so to say we weren't expecting much is an understatement. Although it does have some issues, on the whole the picture quality is very watchable, especially if you tweak the presets. And while we'd be hesitant to recommend it as your primary telly in the lounge, it's more than good enough to act as a second set in the bedroom.
Edited by Nick Hide