Built-in Freeview HD may be all the rage in the flat TV world, but to millions of Brits it’s a complete waste of time. Many UK homes have either a Sky+HD or Virgin V+ box that already supply plenty of high definition channels, so Toshiba has relented from packing its latest 32-inch LCD TV with the very latest tech - and instead has put it on sale for a paltry £379.
Even more impressive is that Toshiba has hit that startlingly low price point while retaining a relatively mid-range look, although the curved gloss black screen surround is a tad wider than we’d like.
The budget star of Toshiba’s LV2 Series features a Full HD resolution and a decent haul of ins and outs. Three HDMI inputs should be enough for most, while inputs for a PC and Component video are useful - the latter will please Xboxers with enough high-def gear to otherwise occupy this set’s HDMI inputs. Also on the back are two Scarts and a digital optical audio output, while a side-panel contains the third HDMI, a USB 2.0 port and a CAM slot to hold a Top-Up TV viewing card.
Regza Link is a standard Toshiba tech that can see the 32LV713’s remote work other Tosh gear, while Active Vision picture processing is also on board.
There are compromises, but they’re few. The lack of a fourth HDMI input is one, and the basic Freeview tuner another, and though the 32LV713 does include a USB port and the set’s software can play back JPEG photos and MP3 music, it can’t cope with video files.
Play a Blu-ray disc through the 32LV713 and what’s immediately striking is the set’s decent contrast. Black areas of the picture - so often tinged with blur or grey on budget LCD TVs - appear a lot more convincing on this LCD panel. Detail is also high and a clean image is studded with natural, well saturated colours if Cinema Mode is engaged. We did notice a touch of judder during fast camera pans and some blur over fast moving footage, but neither problem is a deal breaker. And for a TV with an 8ms response time and no 100Hz option, SD pictures are surprisingly watchable.
Freeview pictures also impress, though a reference-level this TV is not; note some jagged edges and picture noise applies to both Freeview and DVD. Meanwhile the set’s floating 8-day electronic programme guide is well presented, easy to use and quick to respond to commands from the distinctly budget-looking remote control.
Sadly we can’t remain as upbeat when it comes to the 32LV713’s 10W Nicam Stereo speakers, which are about half as powerful as they need to be and include a surround option that merely amplifies; a home cinema is an absolute must-have accessory - though at this low price that’s a financial possibility.
The 32LV713 is proof once again that if you’re simply after a good quality flatscreen TV there’s no reason to be cajoled into spending money on features you don’t need; this 32-incher’s combination of good value LCD pictures from all sources and a low price make it a set worth searching out if you’ve already got (or plan to buy) a home cinema system, though it’s worth noting that a 40-inch 40LV713 version of this same model costs just a £100 or so more.