LG is the quiet man of LCD TVs, never making as much fuss as competitors such as Sony, Philips or even its Korean arch rival, Samsung. However, it's certain to make a splash with the 32LH500 because, despite its low asking price, it combines a sexy design, full HD resolution and nifty USB port that will appeal to downloaders.
If you've got lots of hi-def kit to hook up to your TV then this set won't disappoint as it has four HDMI ports, which is rather generous on a £500 model. One of these is side-mounted behind the gorgeous-looking transparent edge that frames the screen, so it should be relatively easy to get at even if you decide to wall mount the TV.
Next to this HDMI socket you'll find the USB port, which just happens to be one of the set's best features. You can use this to listen to music, view photos or play back video files from USB memory keys or external hard drives.
Not only does the video function impress with its silky smooth playback quality, but also on account of the formats it supports. Alongside DiVX and DiVX HD, it also plays MKV files, which are increasingly being used to distribute HD content on the internet.
This is a major win for LG, but sadly it drops the ball when it comes to another popular internet format: Xvid. None of the videos we tried to play in this format worked.
Ease of use
The remote control button layout is sensible and as the zapper is long and slender it's quite comfortable to hold. However, the four-way control pad at the top has a rather spongy feel to it and isn't as responsive as we would have liked.
The menus, on the other hand, are excellent. Not only are they well organised, but LG has used full colour icons throughout so they look attractive, too. We also love the Picture Wizard feature that uses a range of onboard test signals to help you calibrate the TV's brightness, contrast and sharpness settings.
This television looks at it's most impressive when handling bright and bold HD material, which shows off the full crisp sharpness that the screen is capable of delivering, while allowing the brightness and vividness of the panel's colours to really shine through.
But don't go thinking the set's hues are cartoonlike in their flatness and saturation, because they aren't. Skin tones and more subtle textures are rendered with a pleasing realism. However, black level response is not very convincing.
We wouldn't say blacks are bad, but they're certainly not quite up there with the better 32in screens from the likes of Panasonic and Samsung. They suffice for day to day TV watching, but flick over to a moodier looking movie such as We Own The Night on Sky Movies HD and you'll notice a tendency for darker scenes to suffer from a slight greyish hue, even after you've used the Picture Wizard to optimise the black levels.
The 100Hz TruMotion processing is also a bit hit and miss. Although it does a decent job of smoothing out motion judder on tracking shots, it also has a tendency to add shimmer around really fast-moving objects.
What's more, standard-definition performance is a let down. Shows on Freeview or movies from a DVD player tend to look a tad soft and certainly lack the clarity of even similarly priced sets from Panasonic or Samsung.
The 32LH5000 is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to audio. The biggest issue is its lack of bass response. On its default setting it musters just about enough bottom-end to avoid sounding overly tinny, but when you want to add some more low-end boom for blockbuster movies you'll find the telly incapable of responding.
Turn the bass setting up from 50 to the maximum of 100 and there's little noticeable difference between the two. This is a shame, because elsewhere LG has gone to great lengths to strengthen the set's audio capabilities.
For example, there's a virtual surround sound mode that does a good job of widening the sound stage, and a Clear Voice option that helps raise dialogue over background sounds to make it easier for your ears to pick out.
With its four HDMI ports and USB DiVx playback the 32LH500 offers a good line up of features, especially considering the low asking price. However, its sound performance is a tad weak, and it just can't compete with the more expensive 32-inchers when it comes to displaying standard-definition material from either Freeview or an external DVD player.
This being the case, we think it would make a decent secondary set for a bedroom or a kitchen, but you'd be better off spending a little more elsewhere if you're looking for a main TV for the living room.