Our concerns about the old Pixel Plus version prove sadly justified by the 32PF7521D’s pictures. For a start, there’s noticeably more dot crawl noise and grain in both high definition and standard definition video pictures than we’ve seen with newer Pixel Plus versions, suggesting that the set really misses the newer Pixel Plus’ more intelligent and adaptive noise reduction systems.
Colours also look slightly unnatural in tone from time to time, most often with standard definition and especially where skin is concerned – an issue which, again, later Pixel Plus systems have worked hard to address. We also feel there are slightly more processing side effects such as shimmering around moving objects than we’ve seen with later Pixel Plus versions.
A further, more general problem with the 32PF7521D’s pictures concerns their black levels. They just don’t reach the sort of dark depths we’d really like to see on a £1,200 32in LCD these days, bottoming out into grey too soon and flattening the image in the process.
The 32PF7521D isn’t without its good points. For one thing, Pixel Plus’ talent for making standard definition pictures look massively sharper and more detailed than they would normally is clearly apparent. HD sources also look very sharp, suggesting that the HD ‘downscaling/upscaling’ process we described earlier isn’t causing quite as much nastiness as we might have feared.
Elsewhere it’s nice to see precious little evidence of LCD response time motion smearing issues. And while colours aren’t always very natural, they’re usually vibrant and bright.
The combination of these strengths means that occasionally – predominantly with bright, largely static footage – the 32PF7521D’s pictures can look really rather good. It’s just a pity these occasions don’t occur too often.
The 32PF7521D’s audio happily suffers no such inconsistencies, always combining fair power handling with clear treble and mid-ranges, and a well-dispersed soundstage. More bass would have been nice, but that’s hardly a new complaint for an LCD TV.
As we’d feared, using an old version of Pixel Plus doesn’t do the 32PF7521D any favours. It thus arguably also doesn’t do any favours to the general perception of Pixel Plus (though obviously if you’ve read this review, you’re hopefully well informed enough not to fall prey to such a ‘general perception’). None of which is exactly what we want to be saying about a 32in TV that costs as much as £1,200.