LG 32ld490

The 32LD490 is nowhere near as pretty as the majority of LG sets. Its bezel is both unusually chunky and rather plasticky and there are precious few curves or flourishes to help it stand out from the crowd.

Things quickly pick up with the connections; while the three-strong HDMI count is merely good, rather than great, there's impressive multimedia support in the shape of a D-Sub PC input, a USB 2.0 slot and an Ethernet port.

The USB socket can play DivX HD video files as well as the more predictable JPEG photo and MP3 stuff, while the Ethernet doesn't just provide the obligatory potential means of accessing future interactive services associated with the Freeview HD tuner. It also gives you access both to files stored on a networked DLNA PC (Nero's MediaHome 4 Essentials software comes bundled with the TV) and to LG's relatively new NetCast online platform of 'ring-fenced' service providers.

While the DLNA and USB multimedia playback features all work well, though, the NetCast system is currently unimpressive. In a world already spoiled by the high content levels and slick operating systems of other brands' online systems, finding just three content providers on NetCast at the time of writing comes as a bit of a disappoinmment.

Those three providers are AccuWeather.com, the more or less universal YouTube portal and support for the Picasa Web Albums online photo storage service.

It goes without saying that LG needs to improve on this content support fast if it wants to challenge its rivals in what will become an increasingly important part of the TV marketplace.

Heading into the 32LD490's onscreen menus uncovers a strong list of further features, especially if you're the sort of person who likes tinkering with settings. If, on the other hand, you prefer the idea of getting someone with a professional qualification to optimise your set, the 32LD490's endorsement by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) means that you can pay for an engineer to calibrate the TV for you.

As this option might cost not much less than the TV is worth, though, you might well prefer to have a crack at calibrating things yourself. And if you do, you will find you've got a startling array of tweaks at your disposal.

If you've got some sort of calibration aid, such as the DVE HD Basics calibration Blu-ray, you should definitely start your calibration efforts with the 32LD490's pleasingly comprehensive colour management tools. These improve pictures by toning down the rather garish look most of the 32LD490's presets present you with when you first get it out of the box.

Also occasionally useful are digital and standard noise reduction tools (though don't set these too high if you don't want to make pictures soft and blurry), a skin tone adjustment, a series of gamma presets, a black level booster and the option to tweak the white balance.

Note that some of the options mentioned are only available if you first choose the ISF Expert picture preset.

For all these handy tweaks, though, one thing the 32LD490 conspicuously lacks is motion processing. You don't even get 100Hz. Though, to be fair, this isn't entirely unexpected at the TV's deflated price.