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Mirai DTL-832E600 review

A no-frills set with entry-level spec and a budget picture

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Our Verdict

A fairly attractive option, whose fuss-free setup rewards with a lacklustre performance

For

  • Very cheap
  • Easy to set up
  • Looks more expensive than it is

Against

  • Disappointing performance
  • Poor build quality

There are plenty of euphemistic ways in which to describe LCD sets like the Mirai DTL-832E600.

An optimistic marketeer or salesperson, for example, might opt for 'inexpensive' or 'affordable', while anyone who has seen the Mirai DTL-832E600 in action, however, might go straight for 'cheap'.

Not that you'd guess straight away, mind you. The restrained black finish, tastefully trimmed with a touch of silver running along its lower edge, lends this set at least the look of something slightly classier than is suggested by its price tag.

Dubious build quality

The illusion is broken as soon as you handle the thing: it's suspiciously light, the casing is horribly hollow-sounding and the flimsy, non-swivelling plastic stand feels like it might snap in a stiff breeze.

And attaching the latter to the screen is an infuriating procedure involving much poking of tiny screws into minute holes at the bottom of maddeningly deep grooves, a process which is practically impossible without a magnetic-tip screwdriver.

It's increasingly rare for HD Ready, bog standardness to be the most exciting feature of a flatscreen TV, which gives you some idea of how many bells and whistles to expect from the Mirai.

There is a standard-issue set of tweaks to pull the pictures and sound this way and that, but nothing that promises any radical improvements to either. Curiously, there is an inaccessible 'Geometry' control that appears as a kind of greyed-out ghost of an option in the video section.

Quite how this found its way into the software of an LCD set is a mystery, given that rendering an image without any bowing or bulges has been a given with flatscreens since they were invented.

Only one HDMI

The connections, meanwhile, do little to raise this set's credentials any higher.

If anything, in fact, they have the reverse effect: there's a single HDMI input where two might now be reasonably considered a minimum specification on a 32in LCD and there aren't any secondary sockets (S-video, composite and so on) to cater for camcorder fans or those with modest video demands.

There is a brace of Scarts, but these days that's hardly likely to leave anyone breathless with excitement and there are separate RF jacks (and a loopthrough) for analogue and digital signals that, bizarrely, are located on opposite sides of the rear panel.

Straightforward setup?

Our hopes weren't exactly soaring by this point and it's probably fair to say that they remained unsurpassed by the time we got the Mirai up and running.

Ostensibly, it's a reasonably friendly setup, with a logically laid out remote (with glow-in-the-dark buttons, no less) controlling a passably attractive and intuitive menu system.

We bet, however, that you won't think to select a specific RF input before starting the auto channel scan, so you will be annoyed to find that you have wasted five minutes of your life watching the set try to tune into a non-existent analogue feed when only the digital socket has anything plugged into it.

We'd also wager that you might expect the Freeview line-up, once you figure out how to get it, to include all the usual channels in the correct order; our sample ignored most of ITV's output and arranged everything from the BBC in strict numerical order, with BBC3 following BBC2, instead of ITV1, and with BBC4 where Channel 4 should have been.

Perhaps we are just fussy, though.

Average picture quality

There really isn't that much to say about the performance other than it's almost exactly what you'd expect from a set of this price. Which is to say, pretty average at best.

The colour palette, for example, is acceptably bold, but brighter hues tend towards garish, there isn't a massive amount of subtlety on display and the whole lot is blended together fairly crudely.

As with so many LCD screens, peak whites aren't at all bad, but blacks lack any real 'oomph' and tend to merge together into one, fairly uniform shade of 'dark' without much in the way of gradation to give the picture the kind of depth that you'd find on superior LCDs or plasmas.

Motion rendering is poor, even for the money, with any kind of slow pan or tracking causing all sorts of wobbles and shakes. This flaw, once noticed, is very difficult to ignore. It's not too bad with frenetic, fast-paced scenes, but you just can't ignore the way slower sequences are critically compromised.

These flaws are most evident with Freeview broadcasts and standard-definition DVDs, but feeding the Mirai high-definition material only slightly ameliorates its shortcomings. In fact, there isn't much to choose between either sort of movie disc, which rather defeats the purpose of buying an HD Ready set in the first place.

A good value LCD?

On the one hand, the Mirai DTL-832E600 is one of the cheapest 32in LCDs we've ever seen, but on the other, it just isn't very good.

Make of that what you will, but if you plump for this turkey, don't say we didn't warn you.