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Even with pristine high definition feeds from Sky, an Xbox 360 and a now aging imported JVC D-VHS deck, the W3202MC struggles to shine thanks to two rather overwhelming problems. First, dark areas of the pictures tend to look seriously ‘greyed out’, making dark scenes feel flat and low on background detail. This seems to have a knock-on effect with colours too, leaving many tones, especially darker ones, looking muted and unnatural.
There is at least a fair degree of sharpness and detail to high definition pictures – but even this relatively small consolation disappears when you try the set out with a standard definition picture from its own digital and analogue tuners. Detail levels plummet as excessive softness sets in, and moving objects start to suffer really quite badly with LCD’s common smearing troubles, indicating that the LCD panel’s response time isn’t exactly the best.
Such picture problems are pretty tough to take in this day and age under any circumstances – and here they’re ironically thrown into even starker relief by the W3202MC’s possession of one of the best audio performances we’ve heard from an LCD TV to date. Seriously, those detachable speakers Dell does for the W3202MC are the dog’s; an example to 32in LCD TVs everywhere of how it really is possible to combine extremes of depth and treble with a natural, open mid-range; smooth and authentic vocals; and a superbly dynamic and wide soundstage without having to make speakers the size of Nelson’s Column.
Dell’s W3202MC may be aggressively priced and reasonably well specified, but in performance terms it’s the proverbial game of two halves. Which might have been OK had the good half contained picture rather than audio quality…