The Sanyo comes in at roughly twice the price of budget offerings from the likes of Evesham, but still just falls within the 'affordable' category. The spec is roughly equivalent, but you get a digital tuner on top of the HD readiness offered by the Evesham.
First impressions are mixed. The flimsy-looking plastic surround with its cheapo, matt-silver finish combine to scupper any semblance of minimalist chic. Build quality is also suspect: the back palette flexed when we plugged in a reference quality component video lead.
On which topic, connectivity is good, if lagging just a step or two behind the times. Of course it's great that the CE32LD5 has an HDMI input, it's just that two all digital sockets is quickly becoming de rigueur and just the one, with HD discs and broadcasts to accommodate, now looks a little miserly. Still, Sanyo has also supplied a trio of Scarts (two of which carry RGB) and a component video input to handle the rest of your AV arsenal. Oddly, there is no S-video jack, but this is hardly a deal breaker.
The Sanyo's picture performance is distinctly bi-polar, veering from the disappointing to the surprising depending on the source material.
The bum notes are mostly sounded with standard-definition material. DVDs, even from a high-quality Marantz deck and a through a top spec HDMI cable, are a bit of a mess. The puny black-levels are noticeable even in a brightly lit room; lower the lights and you're in real trouble.
Darker hues suffer from a purplish tinge and the backlight tends to be distractingly visible during low-lit scenes and no amount of fiddling with the brightness and contrast sliders provides a satisfactory remedy. The colour palette, partially as a result of this, is also a little dubious, with the cast of Kingdom of Heaven, for example, spending much of the film looking either sunburned or anaemic.
Annoyingly, the Sanyo seems able to pick out some nice hues, but then fails to blend them together realistically. The wide outdoors shots in the Holy Landbased epic, for example, almost invariably have the look of oil paintings rather than convincing approximations of the mediaeval Middle East. Other grumbles include conspicuous noise and frequent motion judders.
Feed it high def, however, and the display springs into life. The picture is suddenly crisp and dynamic, with a bolder palette and vastly improved clarity. Admittedly, the lag and smearing over motion remains, but the improvement is such that the overall performance, while some way short of the best HD screens we've seen, is enjoyable.
The sound, meanwhile, is average to poor and we'd advise that you don't use the virtual surround effect if you place any value at all on being able to decipher dialogue.
All ends up, it's not a bad set and fulfills its brief with minimum fuss. It's just not particularly exciting and feels like a slightly botched attempt to tick a few futureproofing boxes without asking for too much of your hard-earned cash.