(Pocket-lint) - Humax has produced some of the more successful PVRs over the last year so it's no real surprise to see the name behind the feature-rich LP32-TDR1. This 32" LCD is most notable for the inclusion of a built in PVR sporting a generous 160GB hard drive and room for up to 100 hours of stored content.
Combining two such devices (three if you count the built in Freeview tuner) is undoubtedly a good idea, and one that will most likely be copied by a range of rival manufacturers in the not too distant future. Focusing initially on the TDR1's capabilities as an LCD television, you'll find a pretty straightforward setup procedure to configure digital and analogue channels and populate a channel list. Quality on these standard definition formats, especially from the digital tuner, is very impressive from a manufacturer not renowned for its success in this area.
Despite some noticeable light leakage around the corners and some edges of the screen, in general colours are vibrant and lines are pretty sharp. When you step things up to High Definition content we're not quite as impressed as we'd hoped, Humax starts losing considerable ground here to LCD big boys like Sharp and entries in the plasma camp from Pioneer and Panasonic. You'll also only find a single HDMI port to accompany a predictable 1080i max resolution. Looking at the specifications of the screen, including the built in PVR, it all starts to seem like a display aimed more at standard definition digital content, certainly not an empty market even despite the gathering pace of Blu-ray and HD DVD.
Fine-tuning video and audio is fairly straightforward, with a range of themed presets doing a pretty good job of emphasising the appropriate levels for movie, gaming and dynamic content. Audio, despite the rather bulky speaker block that extends beneath the screen, could be better, and although the TruSurroundXT setting attempts to compensate for multi-channel audio through a stereo environment we expected a little more impact here. There's also a distinct lack of bass, and no option to fine-tune high to low range audio settings or adjust things with an equalizer past the preset list.
There are some nice options for viewing multiple channels at once though, including PIP (picture in picture), PBP (picture by picture) and POP (picture out of picture), capable of handling multiple signal sources at the same time.
As mentioned you'll also find a built-in PVR which integrates pretty seamlessly with the digital tuner. Dedicated controls on the remote allow you to pause and timeshift instantly, with one-touch recording and scheduling available with the built in EPG. This brings us to one of the first issues with have when comparing this built-in offering to Humax's standalone boxes like the PVR9200T. When browsing the EPG you can only view the programming for the channel you're currently on, although you can view up to seven days in advance it's strange you can't change channel without exiting and changing manually or browsing through the channel list. You'll also find that although there are two digital tuners built-in allowing you to record one digital channel while watching another, you can't record and time-shift or record two channels at once.
Humax has taken an innovative approach to its 32-inch LCD with the addition of a built-in PVR, but we're a little disappointed it doesn't live up to the high standards set by its standalone range.
As a television we've seen better in the high definition market but were pretty impressed by the performance from the digital tuner.
It's nice to see Humax hasn't overpriced this screen, putting together a good value package considering the potential advantages over conventional displays.
The more demanding user may be put off by the fact that both HD and PVR performance falls somewhat behind today's high-end standards, but if this isn't a big concern you'll probably be very pleased with the features on offer.