LG 32SL8000 television

Do TVs need Bluetooth? LG thinks so, and has packed its latest LCD TV with this aging wireless tech. Activate Bluetooth via the onscreen menus and it’s then possible to pair the TV with either a set of wireless headphones, or a mobile phone. The latter makes it possible to send photos to the set wirelessly, though it’s the former that’s the most useful. It's a unique feature to LG's TVs, and essential; the wired headphones slot is hidden away on the back of the panel in a less-than-practical position.

Presented in a two-tone grey and maroon high-resolution graphics, and second-guessing whatever it is the user is trying to do (shortcut buttons ate regularly, but subtly, presented at every stage), the 32SL8000’s icon-based system is a joy to use.

Honestly, any idiot could perform an ISF-standard calibration, something that used to be the reserve of eggheads only. Via a comprehensive Picture Wizard that covers everything from colour gain to contrast - but in a very simple, picture-led way - it’s possible to get an excellent image on the 32SL8000 from almost any source.

Before we leave the onscreen menus, it’s worth mentioning the 32SL8000’s onboard media capabilities. Instead of supplying a USB port that can play MP3 files and a DLNA networking module that makes a hash of streaming (some) video files from a PC, LG has instead opted for a very clever USB port. Not only does it treat JPEG and MP3 files with due care (slideshows can very simply be set to music, or music set to pictures), but it’s able to playback everything from MOV and MP4 to AVI and MKV - including DivX HD files. All that’s missing are MPEG and WMV files, though it does warn you in advance if it doesn’t support a file type; instead of presenting a moving thumbnail of the video file, a lightning crack is shown.

All very impressive, and playback of DivX HD files is as impressive-looking as it is reliable. Yup, it’s obvious that media whores will love the 32SL8000.

Those after exacting high-def may not. Although it doesn't an admirable job with all kinds of video, Blu-ray in Full HD on the 32SL8000 is not as mind-blowing as it should be. There's plenty of rich colouring and images are always immaculate. Contrast and detailing within black areas is decent, too (if not benchmark) and its TruMotion 200Hz does remove virtually all judder and blur from quick camera work and high-octane scenes. It’s worth remembering to turn TruMotion 200Hz down to its "low" setting for best performance - "high" can introduce some video nasties.

Verdict

If it lacks ultimate Full HD sharpness - and that's about all it does lack - there's nothing wrong with the 32SL8000's interpretation of Freeview, which is classy and clean. Sound quality is nothing to shout about, but the onboard underslung speakers do an adequate job. The TV itself is too small to appreciate any kind of stereo separation on, and movie soundtracks are bereft of low frequency effects, but regular TV audio is handled just fine.

A good, if not a great TV in terms of pure HD picture quality, the 32SL8000's multimedia features and addictive digital TV pictures help make this exceptionally user-friendly TV one to cherish.