With so much happening in the flat-panel world these days, it's easy to forget that CRT is still a rampant force in the TV market. Not least because CRT TVs can now be had for astoundingly little dosh. Cue Thomson's 32WM101 - a 32in set that can be yours for just £350.
What's more, this paltry sum doesn't buy you the latest victim of the ugly stick.Despite being a touch plasticky,the 32WM101's fascia actually manages to look quite slick.
Given the set's price,connectivity is unsurprisingly limited. The rear panel contains just a duo of Scarts (one RGB-capable) and the RF input,while tucked down the TV's left side are the customary S-video, composite video, stereo audio and headphone stalwarts.
Features are in almost as short supply,which,again, is no surprise for £350. Inevitably pictures are only standard 50Hz jobs, with no fancy processing available to improve them. In fact, the only features even vaguely worth highlighting are some picture and sound presets, and a KidPass security option, so worried parents can enjoy some level of control over when their kids watch the TV.
Using the 32WM101 is fairly straightforward.The onscreen menus are bland in the extreme, but pretty effortless to navigate.The remote strangely cramps its buttons into a single small part of its total surface area,but is adequately logical in its layout.
Although it's not going to win any awards,the 32WM101's picture is far from the horror shows we usually see at this sort of über-budget price point.Particularly gratifying is the level of black it manages to hit, almost completely avoiding the greying over of dark picture areas commonly seen on cheap CRT TVs.
This plays a part in delivering rich, vibrant colours,too.Highly saturated colours such as the logos on Sky News look particularly dynamic,but even the most subtle fare,such as low-lit skin tones,can certainly never be accused of looking dull.
The picture is also impressively bright and likeably direct,with RGBfed sources also impressing through their almost complete lack of noise of any sort.
Now for the reality check.First up, tuner pictures look quite a bit inferior to RGB feeds,with more muted colours and significantly more dot-crawl noise. Next, pictures look generally a little soft and undetailed.Thirdly, the picture can kink quite dramatically - at least when viewing in 4:3 mode - around particularly bright image parts.And finally the 50Hz flicker is particularly noticeable - especially with bright, strong feeds.
The 32WM101's sound just about passes muster.There's not a great deal of bass around,which can leave dense sound mixes a little harsh and distorted. But for most day-to-day TV viewing,the clarity of dialogue and quite punchy midrange presentation work just fine.
In the end,while never setting the world on fire,the 32WM101 more than justifies its existence with an all-round performance that makes its eye-catching price seem really very reasonable indeed. John Archer