Thankfully more and more manufacturers are finally fixing their gaze on the great analogue switch-off - which is, after all, not far off now. And the latest entry to the decreasingly exclusive digital TV club is JVC's AV-32EX5BK.
A typically handsome JVC effort, it follows the trend for black screen frames and silver trim currently en vogue, but manages to look much less plasticky than most.
Connectivity is fair to middling for an IDTV. Which means that besides the required CAM slot for adding extra digital tuner functionality, there's a pair of Scarts and the usual front AV options.
The 32EX5BK provides a reasonable array of features, kicking off with JVC's DigiPure Pro system. Among other things, this processing technology removes harsh edges from high contrast images, sharpens edges on low contrast images, and smoothes motion.
There's also multi-level noise reduction,virtual surround audio processing, and full support for Freeview's new 7-day electronic programme guide.You can even search the listings by genre, and set a 10-event recording timer simply by selecting programmes directly from the guide.
The 32EX5BK is a very good rather than spectacular performer. We're increasingly being fed a review diet of LCD technology these days, which makes the near-immaculate profundity of the 32EX5BK's black levels and the naturalism of its white balance stand out all the more.
Colours are natural, as well as being heart-warmingly vivid. In fact, saturations are so rich that we recommend toning the colour setting down to 30 per cent.
The set also handles motion well, with fast-moving objects looking smooth and clear; JVC's 100Hz and Digipure processing has no trouble keeping up with the action.
Other types of processing noise are also largely absent, while standard noise forms such as grain or dot crawl are similarly well handled. We were reasonably convinced, too, by the efforts of DigiPure at keeping contours in picture sources looking consistently well integrated.
The most serious complaint we have about the 32EX5BK's picture is that it looks soft and undetailed, even with noise reduction deactivated. Also, the screen geometry feels rather uncomfortable at times; there's some noticeable red colour bleed to the top left corner; and fine lines can look flickery.
The speakers tucked under this JVC's screen are decent for the money. Bass levels go deeper than might be expected, peak trebles are less harsh than usual, and the sound has plenty of dynamism. Stopping the sonics short of excellence is a boxy tone to action scenes, slightly muddy vocals, and a lack of soundstage width.
It's ultimately hard to feel very excited about the 32EX5.You can't really argue that it fulfils its brief of providing step-up AV quality at an approachable price. Yet it just doesn't set our pulse racing like some of the best mid-range CRT TVs have. Perhaps finding it fairly heavily discounted on the net somewhere might give it a bit more sparkle?