If you thought DVD was old news, think again.
As players get progressively cheaper and the size of second room TVs gets ever larger, the good old TV/DVD combi may be about to make a comeback. And the LG 32LG4000 is leading the way.
The built-in DVD player has been very tidily incorporated into the TV's chassis, with discs being easy to insert via a vertical slot, which is invisible from the front, tucked behind the screen. In fact, aside from being perhaps a tad chunkier than most 32-inchers, the 32LG4000 is very attractive by the standards of economically-priced sets.
As it turns out, the player can spin DiVX discs, as well as standard DVDs and CDs and delivers all the normal functions you'd expect of any standalone machine.
The TV screen, meanwhile, contains a 1,366 x 768-pixel HD Ready resolution, and according to LG's quoted specs, delivers a very promising 50,000:1 contrast ratio.
The 32LG4000 is also pretty well connected, bearing in mind that it already has one typical video source built in. There are three HDMIs, for instance, as well as a D-Sub PC interface and a digital audio output.
Spotting a USB port initially raised our hopes that the TV could play digital pictures from USB devices, too, but it transpires that this USB is for service use only.
While setting up the 32LG4000 we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of ﬁne tuning adjustments on hand. In fact, the TV has enough ﬂexibility to be calibrated professionally by an Imaging Science Foundation engineer.
After our initial surprise, though, we spotted a couple of quite serious deﬁciencies. First, there's no 100Hz processing to reduce motion blur. And second there's no sign of LG's XD Engine processing – a system found on almost all other LG TVs for improving colours, contrast, detailing and motion handling.
We have to take our hats off to the 32LG4000 for its user-friendliness.
For starters, its remote does a really elegant job of controlling the unit's two separate DVD and TV components.
But also the onscreen menus for the TV section are superb in both their visual design and their accessibility.
Picture-wise, let's start with the picture from the built-in DVD section. Basically it's absolutely ﬁne; not outstanding in any way, but sharp enough and free enough from MPEG decoding noise to be perfectly acceptable for an affordable combi product.
Assessing the picture quality of the screen section is a touch more complicated, with pros and cons in roughly equal measure. Though as a positive opening gambit we should say that we didn't ﬁnd ourselves missing XD Engine or 100Hz processing nearly as much as we might have expected.
It's immediately apparent, for instance, that even without the XD Engine system, the picture is impressively bright and colour-rich for such an affordable 32in flat TV.
Even more surprisingly, the screen displays motion without nearly as much smearing or resolution loss as we'd expected. Some people might even prefer the largely processing-free images to those of some of LG's XD Engine sets.
Less image noise
Similarly, while neither the LG 32LG4000's HD nor standard-deﬁnition images look as crisp or detailed as those of LG's XD Engine sets, they do arguably look less noisy and more natural than those produced by at least some of the XD Engine-processed screens we've seen. And they deﬁnitely look pretty sharp compared more fairly with other similarly priced 32in LCD TVs.
So much for the positive aspects. On the down side, in keeping with so many economy TVs, dark parts of images look a bit grey – even appearing to glow slightly in really extreme cases.
Watching the TV from much of an angle doesn't help, as beyond around 40º black levels and colour saturations drop off quite considerably.
The LG 32LG4000 is pretty run-of-the-mill sonically. Which is to say that while things sound clean and robust with relatively undemanding, 'daytime TV' material, if you push the set's speakers hard with a good movie action scene, the soundstage becomes rather muddy and even distorts slightly under duress.
The LG 32LG4000 might not be absolutely the best AV performer in the world, but with its built-in DVD deck it's more than good enough to justify its very modest cost and we expect it to sell like hot cakes.