Toshiba's 32AV555 a real budget option. But, happily, it doesn't look it, because it has enough gloss in its finish and sufficient panache in its curved edges to make it prettier than some far costlier screens.

There is evidence of its budget nature in its connections, though, as we find just two HDMIs, no D-Sub PC port, and no USB or SD inputs. Still, plenty of people would probably happily sacrifice a third HDMI and multimedia capability to save a few hundred quid.

Surprisingly, given the threadbare connectivity, the 32AV555 includes Toshiba's respectable, if unspectacular, Active Vision LCD processing among its features. Even more surprisingly, it is joined by Faroudja's venerable DCDi system, for reducing jaggedness around diagonal and curved lines.

The budget 32AV555 also manages to retain a dynamic contrast system that promises to deliver a respectable contrast ratio of 18,000:1.

Other bits and bobs found within the 32AV555's thoroughly bland onscreen menus include MPEG and normal noise reduction circuits, and an impressive colour management mode that lets you adjust the hue, saturation and brightness of the six main colour components.

Performance

The pictures are certainly not the horror show we anticipated. A welcome surprise is the depth of black level reproduction. Colours also catch the eye, with good saturation levels, plenty of dynamism and, best of all, generally very credible tones.

It is very rare to find a truly budget TV that is able to make skin look as totally convincing as this one does.

HD pictures look crisp and textured too, at least when they're static, despite the set's 'mere' HD Ready resolution. Standard-def sources also look okay, but only if they're of a very good (DVD) quality in the first place. By comparison, the often soft and noisy Freeview pictures do look rough.

The 32AV555's pictures aren't particularly bright, which could be a potential issue if you're looking to use it in a conservatory. Plus, dark scenes are short on shadow detail and the set struggles with motion reproduction and displays more blur during action scenes and sports events than we've seen on many of its rivals.

The 32AV555 predictably fails to set the world on fire sonically, either. In the plus column, it produces treble effects surprisingly well, with clarity and no harshness. However, a basic lack of power leaves action scenes sounding one-dimensional and muffled.

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