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Humax claims a contrast ratio of 1,000:1 for the 32DST - hardly one of the highest around. However, in a move typical of the LCD market, this ‘native' figure can be boosted (to an unspecified level) by a dynamic backlight arrangement that adjusts the picture's brightness in accordance with an assessment of the image content. As in, the darker the image content, the lower the backlight output, to improve black level response. You can adjust the backlight to any of three ‘manual' levels too if you don't fancy the auto setting - an important touch for reasons we'll come to later.
The 32DST's reasonably tidy onscreen menus have one or two surprising tricks up their sleeve given its price. You can, for instance, call up picture-in-picture functions, and adjust the way the set delivers skin tones. Plus there's a multi-level noise reduction facility, and SRS TruSurround XT to deliver a pseudo surround sound effect using just the TV's speakers.
Not that these speakers are really up to very much. Sure, they can go loud, but the sound they produce is rather muddy and indistinct - or at least it is when there's anything really raucous going on, such as pretty much any moment in the Blu-ray of Con Air. The bass doesn't sound natural, and there's precious little sense of precision in the treble zone.
Happily the 32DST has more success with its pictures. With HD sources, for instance, the picture is considerably sharper than might be expected given the set's 1,366 x 768 resolution and lowly price tag. There's precious little of the general softness and lack of detail that afflicts many cut-price rivals, and even better, there's nowhere near as much LCD motion blur to contend with as we would have expected.
There's something nice and direct - for want of a better word - about the 32DST's HD presentation too, with no sense of any processing-induced oddness being thrown between you and what you're watching. Plus there's a solid combination of dynamism and tonal naturalism in the 32DST's colours with HD footage too.
Given the pretty unspectacular contrast ratio claims, meanwhile, I found myself pleasantly surprised by how little of the familiar grey clouding the 32DST shows when trying to portray dark sequences like Todd's arrival back in London at the start of Tim Burton's blood-soaked version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.