Not everyone wants a high-def-ready TV, and those who don't could save a whole lot of cash by opting for a basic LCD that turns in a good performance with TV and DVD pictures - like this stripped-down, well-priced model from Philips, perhaps?
The perfect size for a living room, the 32in 32PF4320 is a step down from Philips' top-end Ambilight TVs, and doesn't feature the company's Pixel Plus or Active Control picture engines. What's more, while it does have the required screen resolution to show high-definition pictures, there are no digital inputs - or even component video - so this is a basic TV that is certainly not future-proof.
The design is also rather dull, with a silver finish and no flourishes of design brilliance in evidence - unlike on some of the brand's more expensive LCDs.
The inputs it does have comprise two Scarts, composite video, S-video and PC - although the latter is not able to take high-def footage, in case you were wondering. An analogue tuner and Dolby Virtual sound are really all that's worth mentioning in terms of features. This said, however, that 1,366 x 768 screen resolution promises a high level of detail from DVDs, so if that's your main concern, read on.
What there is in terms of picture adjustments is pretty standard, although alongside tweaks for contrast, a noise reduction mode and some picture presets is a sensor that automatically adjusts the picture levels according to the light balance in a room. And it's all accessed on an easy to navigate, well designed on-screen menu. At this price, we've no complaints so far.
Pitting the 32PF4320 against the camp goings-on of Churchill: The Hollywood Years brings out a performance that beats most budget rivals. First up, blacks are relatively deep for the price, helping to give the image a lot more depth than most budget LCDs could achieve during the chaotic scenes at the dinner party in Buckingham Palace.
Always realistic, even with skin tones, the Philips also gives a colour performance that is a credit to the LCD world. And as we expected, pictures are full of detail - although obviously less so than on the company's higher-end models - while edges are well defined.
The bad news is restricted to pictures from the analogue tuner, which appear soft and noisy (not surprising from LCD), and fast motion sequences, which create smearing and judder - sadly also a common LCD flaw. Back on track is the 32PF4320's audio. Loaded with Dolby Virtual, the side-mounted speakers manage to produce a soundstage that boasts plenty of depth and detail.
Dialogue and bass-laden scenes come out best, unless it's out of sync, which it occasionally was from our test DVD. Suffering problems with blurring over motion, analogue tuner pictures and a slight lip-sync issue, the 32PF4320 is some way from Philips' top-end LCD screens.
However, compared with other budget 32in LCDs it is certainly a cut above in terms of DVD performance, giving a superb colour treatment and impressive depth - a rare sight indeed at this level.