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Thankfully the woeful black levels are the only serious complaint with the Atec’s picture quality. Firing up King Kong on HD DVD produced an amazingly vivid image – the lush jungle looked so real, you could almost reach out and touch it. If you’re going to be watching bright and vivid HD content on the Atec, you’ll be surprised at how good this TV can look. But unfortunately, even with a diet of HD content that black level problem still rears its head. Switching to Apollo 13, also on HD DVD, left you following the plight of Tom Hanks and company lost in the vast greyness of space. Likewise, playing Gears of War on the Atec lost some of its dark and foreboding atmosphere.
Surprisingly the Atec handled standard definition sources quite well, whether from its in-built digital tuner or from a DVD. In fact, even the pictures produced by the analogue tuner weren’t bad, but once again everything looked slightly washed out with a distinct lack of anything approaching true black.
The two speakers mounted below the screen try hard to add some aural drama to the proceedings, but unfortunately they can’t quite pull it off. Although the speakers can pump up to a decent volume, the sound is somewhat muffled and it can be difficult to hear the dialogue over the effects and score.
The Atec AV371DS is not without its problems, but it’s also very keenly priced at £821.09. That’s a good deal for an HD Ready 37in LCD TV with an integrated digital tuner and if you’re set on this size of screen it’s worth considering. For me though, I’d rather drop down a few inches and go for the excellent Toshiba 32WLT68 with its two extra HDMI ports, impressive black levels and sleek design.