And so to the moment of truth: how does this LCD old boy’s picture quality hold up against its younger rivals?
When it comes to fine detailing and sharpness, at least, it holds up very well indeed. Even the most textured and detailed high definition scenes are done full justice by the Sharp’s resolution – especially as all the minute image data is presented cleanly, with no trace of such common noise problems as dot crawl, shimmering or over-stressed edges.
Colours are better than we might have expected, too, during high definition viewing, confounding the set’s relatively low brightness rating with some good vibrancy during bright scenes, and subtle, natural toning during dark ones. The vibrancy is particularly distinctive while playing colourful Xbox 360 games like Kameo.
More good news with HD sources is how unusually stable and solid they look, thanks partly to the absence of the flickering occasionally witnessed with LCD TV’s HD pictures, and partly to the set’s impressive subtlety with colour blends and shadow detailing.
While all the above strengths are enough in themselves to make the 32GA6E a respectable performer, though, there are also enough problems around to stop it being a really good one. For starters, black levels are only fair to middling in terms of how deep they can go, with slightly more evidence of the tell-tale grey mist over dark areas than we’d ideally like to see.
While that’s arguably the only problem that affects high definition pictures, a couple of other quite major ones come into play when you shift down to standard definition. The colour tone becomes much less natural looking, especially where people’s skin tones are concerned. Also, harshly contrasting edges begin to look exaggerated and ‘peaky’, which can make the picture look a bit fractured and uneven. And finally there’s noticeably more of LCD’s smearing problem with motion.
The speakers under the 32GA6E’s screen look like they mean business, but actually they sound rather flat when the going gets tough, lacking the raw power to handle either deep bass lines or sweetly rounded trebles. This means the mid-range can sound overcrowded during loud action scenes.
How appealing the 32GA6E is depends entirely on how much money you’ve got to spend. If £850 is your limit, being able to get 32in of respectable LCD pictures when you probably thought you’d only be able to afford 26in make it an intriguing prospect. But if you can rustle up an extra £200-£300, you can certainly find 32in TVs that will give you more.