Toshiba has always prided itself in being a leader rather than a follower and by releasing among the first mid-sized, LCD screens to boast an HDMI input, it seems this trend isn't about to end anytime soon.

It's a plain, rather than pretty set, with Tosh sticking to a fairly unadventurous look. The surround is gunmetal - opposed to black - and this is about as distinctive as it gets.

The screen boasts the manufacturer's Active Vision as well as an HDMI connection offering the futureproof peace of mind that makes high-definition compatibility possible.

The other chief advantage is, of course, that all the audio and visual data from your DVD deck is transported to the screen and displayed entirely in the digital domain. This means no quality-compromising conversion to analogue and then back to digital again before viewing. HDMI (unlike the video-only DVI alternative) also carries multichannel audio, which is a huge improvement on Scart's analogue stereo capability.

Why is it that broadcast material never seems to look quite right on LCD? Perhaps it's the brightness of the whites looking too garish, or maybe it's the digital processing throwing up artefacts all over the place. Either way, the result is often a noticeably dirty picture. This holds true here, but at least the picture looks fresh, crisp and involving, although murky.

DVD holds the key to unlocking the screen's real potential. The set does a good job with any of its sockets, although it would be a crime not to avail yourself of its higher-end options. Pictures via component video are crisp and bold, with the 32WL48P pulling plenty of detail out of the hat and delivering a colour palette that is as at home with bold, brash, primary coloured fare as it is with the most nuanced flesh tones.

The only real criticism is a faintly gauzy sheen on the picture that never really goes away, but we've yet to see an LCD that has banished this bugbear entirely. We've also seen more solid blacks, but again, the Toshiba manages about as well as we've got any reason to expect from the technology.

Making it better

The step-up to HDMI isn't earth-shatteringly better, but you'll appreciate a more vibrant and precise watch. Edges are that little bit better defined, colours are better contained and as a whole, the picture is among the most stable and watchable around.

Motion is handled almost flawlessly, with the balletic fight scenes of Hero swooping immaculately across the screen with barely a flicker to be seen. This film, with its colour-coded sections switching between red, green and blue, is merciless in its exposure of sets with a preference for any particular end of the spectrum. The 32WL48P is a resounding success in this department, handling each with an even-handed panache and realism that puts many plasmas to shame.

High-definition feeds, meanwhile, look predictably lush, with an almost unnerving amount of detail on show. Colours are even better and you can consider this screen well and truly ready for HDTV when it arrives.

Sonically, it's up to the task of handling broadcast audio with appropriate gusto and it does an adequate job with soundtracks.

If you're looking for a screen that'll last well into the hi-def age, this screen is something of a bargain, particularly when compared for price with rival 32in screens.