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The strengths described so far are enough in themselves to make the SP50L7HXX a very watchable TV - so if you’re unable to resist the charm of its design and price tag – after all, £1,600 for 50in of HD Ready screen really is very reasonable – you can also rest assured that you won’t have to put up with any rubbish on the picture front.
Yet as we suggested earlier, the SP50L7HXX does have one or two issues you should be aware of. First, with picture settings optimised to keep noise and black levels at their best, the TV’s pictures tend to look a touch soft with both high and standard definition sources.
Second, while watching films via the HDMI connection we occasionally spotted some quite noticeable blocking noise over dark areas. This is actually caused by the TV’s unusually high brightness output bringing out noise from the disc encoding process that’s usually hidden in darkness. You can reduce the impact of this noise considerably – but only by dropping the brightness settings lower than you might feel entirely comfortable with.
Finally, colours sporadically lose a little of the natural toning touch that for much of the time is one of the TV’s strengths. These problematic colour moments tend to be during dark scenes involving shots of people’s faces, as their skin suddenly takes on a slightly sickly pallor.
The speakers dramatically and visibly ranged down each side of the SP50L7HXX don’t sound quite as impressive as they look. They’re powerful enough to ship out an appealingly expansive soundstage, and people’s voices always sound 100 per cent convincing no matter how riotous the audio maelstrom around them. But the set’s audio range doesn’t extend quite far enough at either the bass or treble ends of the spectrum, leaving the mid-range sounding a touch compressed. Also, if you really pump up the volume the speakers can start to distort.
The SP50L7HXX’s picture quality isn’t quite state of the art by today’s standards. But it’s still good enough when combined with the dazzling design and impressively low price tag to make the SP50L7HXX a very desirable package for anyone hunting for huge pictures on a budget.
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