Nobody knows how to give a TV instant curb appeal better than LG. Seemingly every TV the Korean giant makes these days combines high design with price tags low enough to make rivals' eyes water - just the sort of combination to catch your casual AV punter's eye. And I'm happy to report that this proud tradition continues, with knobs on, in the delightful form of the 32LX2R.
Aesthetically, this little peach ekes every last drop of style out of the current vogue for black and silver colour schemes. Its combination of all-over glossy finish, reflective metallic bits, illuminated logos, and curves make it pretty as a picture.
As for the typical price, £1,200 really is very aggressive for a 32in LCD TV - especially one bearing the industry's new HD Ready logo. Even more so when that TV fulfils its HD Ready demands as fulsomely on the connections front as the 32LX2R. I say this because the 32LX2R is unusual in the current TV world for carrying not one but two digital video inputs: one DVI jack, and one HDMI jack. And both can be set to receive video or PC signals. With digital-outputting sources likely to become common a lot faster than you might think, this double digital flexibility really is a great, forwardthinking touch.
All the other key connection bases are covered too, including component video (for analogue HD and progressive sources), and the customary Scart/ S-video/composite video fallbacks. The only disappointment is the presence of just two Scarts.
The 32LX2R's features count is unexpectedly healthy. The star of the show is LG's XD Engine picture processing, with its six subsections: CrystalVue, PurePalette, ContrastPRO, VistaBright, OptiGrade, and Read Cinema. Blimey - someone in the LG 'fancy name for features' department has been working overtime! In more prosaic terms, these six processing tricks are designed respectively to improve image clarity, colour saturations/tone, contrast, brightness, colour gradation/greyscaling, and frame rate handling when watching movies as opposed to standard broadcast footage.
Also on hand to help pictures out is Faroudja's DCDi scaling system, standard and MPEG noise reduction, a digital comb filter, separate adjustments for the red, green and blue image elements, and separate adjustments for fleshtones, green tones and blue tones. For sound, meanwhile, there's the SRS WOW processing system, and a bunch of audio presets for different source types.
When it comes to more general features, it's pleasing for this money to find a tidily-presented picture in picture system. Confirming the 32LX2R's HD Ready status, meanwhile, is its native WXGA resolution of 1366 x 768 - more than enough to cope with the 720p HD format. A quoted brightness measurement for the screen of 500cd/m2 also sounds reasonably promising.
First impressions of the 32LX2R in action are very good. Starting with a simple RGB feed from a Sky digital receiver, the 32LX2R delivers a classy all-round performance. Particularly striking is the richness of the picture's colours.
Even after calibration they are overly-warm, but I found myself enjoying its colour palette, from the fullest, brightest blue and red Sky News graphic down to the subtlest, murkiest skin tone from the Mines of Moria sequence during a showing of The Fellowship of the Ring. Day to day viewing of my Sky box revealed a pleasing amount of depth, with the image's clarity, tight edging, smooth contours and decent black levels combining to likeably dynamic effect.
Happily, there's also little sign during Sky viewing of LCD's common motion smearing issues, or any obvious nasty side-effects of the XD Engine processing.
Unfortunately, the 32LX2R's high definition handling comes as a slight disappointment. It's not bad by any means; the same colour talents and subtle greyscaling remain impressively evident, the peak white control and tone is first class, there's no trace of judder, smearing, dot crawl or other common LCD issues, and the amount of fine detail on show in brighter picture areas is exemplary, particularly with XD Engine activated. Yet the picture looks slightly unstable, with occasional visible flickering.
The greater dynamic range demands of a good-quality movie like the D-VHS 1080i HD transfer of Alien, meanwhile, also slightly catch out the 32LX2R's black level response. Again, it's not bad. But there's definitely a slight blue-grey wash to dark areas that makes them look a bit flat - and no amount of twiddling with the provided blue tone adjustment completely resolves this. Contrast was measured at 545:1 in our labs, which is very good.
Digital sources (upscaled to HD as well as normal) from my Denon DVD- 3910 deck look fine on the 32LX2R. Colours are engaging; detail levels look exceptional; edges are immaculately rendered; and noise of most sorts is vanquished. In fact, with busy, bright footage the picture is actually quite outstanding.
However, in keeping with quite a few other current screens and projectors, during darker scenes the 32LX2R's digital inputs prove slightly susceptible to showing up MPEG noise, which materialises as both a slight general flickering over backgrounds and actual MPEG blocking - especially with upscaled feeds. The MPEG noise reduction can reduce the blocking a little, but only at the expense of a touch of the image's sharpness.
While the 32LX2R's speakers sound fine with most normal broadcast viewing, pushed hard with a good movie action scene or two, they quickly become rather overwhelmed. The width of the soundstage is impressive, but even though there's worryingly little bass to be heard, trebles can be wince-inducingly harsh.
Even with its slightly inconsistent pictures, the 32LX2R can be considered a good buy. It's impressive with normal TV/digibox feeds, and while it's only fair-to-good with 'next gen' sources, the fact that it can handle such forward-thinking formats at all is arguably good enough at the 32LX2R's deflated price point. John Archer