No matter how competitive LCD prices get,somehow Goodmans still manages to stay ahead of the pack. The latest evidence of this is the LD3202, which at just £700 is a full £100 less than any other 32in 'high street' rival. But does this mean great value, or do you only get what you pay for?
The LD3202's looks hardly bode well.The finish is plasticky,the dull grey colour scheme utterly bland,and the 'sculpting'- if you can call it that - is about as exciting as toast without jam.
Connections don't exactly set the pulse racing, either. All you get are two Scarts,an aerial connection,an S-video input,a composite video input,and the usual audio stuff. There's no HDMI or DVI jack,no computer connection,and no component video input - which of course means there's no way of watching high definition.
While disappointing, though,this situation is hardly surprising - or necessarily distressing. There is,after all, potentially a fairly large group of people out there who have no interest in high definition, but who certainly like the idea of swapping their old CRT TV for a slim LCD one.
Features are in predictably short supply.In fact,we could find nothing noteworthy beyond the stalwarts common to all TVs.
Just as well,then,that the LD3202 becomes vastly more interesting when it's actually switched on.The biggest surprise comes from its black levels. Dark movie scenes or picture elements enjoy a real sense of depth and three-dimensionality,due to there being much less of the customary low-contrast 'greying over'than expected.A slightly blue tone to dark areas limits background detail,but this isn't a major complaint for the money.
Colours during brighter scenes look vibrant and well saturated,and have tightly-controlled edges.Their tone during bright scenes is also unusually natural for a budget screen.
There's no serious sign of video noise of any flavour and this enables you to enjoy a likeably direct connection to whatever you're watching.
It should be said that the positive results reported above were achieved while viewing Sky and DVD feeds via RGB Scart.Analogue tuner pictures soften up markedly - but this aside, they aren't at all bad.
Of course,there are areas where the budget price shows.The picture is never that detailed or sharp,the colour tone occasionally loses authenticity in darker scenes,plus there are sometimes gentle traces of smearing over motion.But none of this amounts to much on a £700 32in LCD TV.
Sonically,the Goodmans is no slouch either,packing enough power and frequency response to shame many more expensive LCD TVs.Sure, bass can sound thin when pushed, and treble details are in short supply. But dialogue is always clear and the soundstage has the breathing room to open up during action scenes.
We occasionally spotted minor lag between the Goodmans'images and sound - but not regularly enough to cause offence.
The LD3202 is hard not to like. We'd still recommend saving up a bit more to get an HD Ready screen if you can. But if you can't, or you don't care about high-def, you can rest assured that this is easily Goodmans' best LCD TV yet. John Archer