Several screens from French brand Thomson's Scenium range have impressed us of late, and this living room-friendly, HD-ready set also looks like it has a few tricks under its shiny black jacket. Design-wise, smooth lines abound.
Talking of lines, there are enough on the 1,366 x 768 resolution screen to show high-definition broadcasts - and that's what everyone buying a new flatscreen TV should be looking for. Happily, there's also a DVI input that is HDCP-compliant, so Sky's mooted copy-protected HD programming will be easy pickings.
Some HD-ready TVs boast digital inputs at the expense of home cinema stalwarts like Scarts - but not this Thomson. In fact, there's a trio of Scarts, as well as component video, S-video and three stereo audio inputs and outputs.
More impressively, sound can be sent to a subwoofer, despite there also being an integrated sub to boost the on-board Virtual Dolby Surround sound and Digital Pure Sound (DPS) Plus from the 12W side-mounted speakers. An analogue PC input and a socket for PC audio compound the 32LB220B4U's reputation as both a future- and present-proof TV.
A clumsy (although 'universal' - at least on Thomson products) and at times unresponsive remote control is an initial barrier to easily setting up the 32LB220B4U, but the screen is fairly adept at tuning in channels. On-screen menus are easy to follow, despite containing all manner of picture tweaks and customising options.
From our lab test, we can say with authority that this is a fine high-definition television. Thomson's picture processing technology - Hi-Pix HDTV - appears to be doing its job, providing finely defined edges, excellent black levels and vibrant colours. Some grain is visible, but that's a small price to pay for an LCD that's this skilled with fast sequences - there's no motion sickness here.
However, the screen's skill with HD does come come at a cost, as pictures from its built-in analogue tuner look rather weak and short on colour.
A spin of our animated DVD, Star Wars: Clone Wars, revealed that, while the Thomson is able to produce bright primary colours, it can't shake that slight graininess.
With live-action footage, however, we enjoyed lots of close-up detail and, best of all, virtually no smearing or image lag over motion sequences - no doubt thanks once again to Hi-Pix. Edges, too, were well defined - although not quite perfect - and blacks were solid, keeping enough detail within dark areas of an image.
A few minor picture reservations, then, but the news gets even better with audio - it is full of bass and boasts several preset sound modes. The 'magic' mode in particular really pushes a movie soundtrack out with gusto. Who needs separates?
Packed with adjustments, this 32in LCD from Thomson will please those after a high-def-ready beauty that will last well into the digital future. There may be a couple of minor picture flaws, but at this price it is going to be hard to resist.