On the whole, performance lives up to and beyond its price tag
Good pictures and connections
easy to use
contrast ratio could be higher
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Since joining forces with Philips' LCD division in 1999, LG's panel production has gone into overdrive and the current lineup of TVs and monitors are some of the best equipped on the market. This 32in HD Ready TV boasts a digital tuner, two digital video inputs and a host of cutting edge features.
The RZ-32LP1 looks bang up to date, with its glossy black bezel and silver trim. The unique design feature is the metal cylinder along the bottom of the panel that barrels open in the middle to reveal the controls and front AV inputs.
However, the RZ-32PL1 seems unnecessarily large for its screen size and you'll need a robust bracket and long screws for wall mounting.
Nevertheless, it ticks all the key boxes on the LCD TV checklist: a digital tuner, HDMI and RGB Scart inputs and HD Ready status. In addition, there are slots for every type of media card from Memorystick to SD, and a reader that can display your JPEGs as a slideshow.
Connectivity is a strong point too. There's a component input that can take a progressive video feed from a PAL or NTSC source and next to the HDMI socket, there's a DVI input with HDCP - great news for anyone with a Media Centre PC.
With the digital TV tuner, you also get an eight-day EPG and there's an analogue tuner too. As you'd expect, the picture quality from this is poor, but it does mean you can use the PIP (picture in picture) feature and watch two channels at once.
Both TV tuners have automatic tuning, so getting started is easy. Navigating the range of picture calibrations on the menu and the rest of the setup options is relatively easy thanks to the glossy black remote control. Like the TV, it seems a little large, but we like the backlit buttons and intuitive layout. All that's missing are shortcuts to each input.
As the quality of digital images depends on the bit-rate of the broadcast, a better way to judge picture quality is with DVD. The murky underwater scenes of Titanic certainly taxed the LG.
Where it scored more highly was with its impressive (but not overwhelming) black levels. Also, its rapid refresh rate means there is none of the motion blur that earlier LG LCD TVs suffered from. LG's 'XD Engine' - a suite of video processes that combine to enhance the image - helps, so switch it on in the menu.
With HD material, there's a quantum improvement in image quality - as you'd expect from a source with four times the resolution of DVD. Using a signal generator and various test cards proved the LG also had a good frequency response and colour fidelity. For the best results, we'd recommend the HDMI or RGB Scart socket and avoid the noisy composite and S-video inputs.
The speakers are disappointing given their size and not detachable. Sound is mediocre and the drive units complain when pushed.
With so many added features, we might have expected the LG to fall down on pictures, but that's not the case. Contrast levels could be a bit higher and the sound is only mediocre, but on the whole, performance lives up to and beyond its price tag. Jim Hill
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