Still, we guess there could still be a niche market of free TV/satellite devotees out there willing to live with the HD-Vision 32’s difficulties - provided it at least has the performance to match its unique flexibility. Sadly, it doesn’t. A number of flaws in the set’s pictures become immediately apparent.
The single worst offender is the amount of blurring over fast-moving objects. Watching a Premiership footie match, for instance, it’s hard to make out players’ features or even their shirt numbers at times. And after watching for a full 90 minutes we actually found ourselves feeling slightly nauseous. Yikes!
The HD-Vision 32’s colours leave much to be desired, as well. They’re just about OK during bright scenes, but during ‘normal’ or especially dark scenes they become muted and really quite unnatural in tone.
The HD-Vision 32 sadly makes a clean sweep of falling prey to classic LCD weaknesses by suffering some pretty unimpressive black levels. Dark parts of a picture are hidden behind the tell-tale grey mist that always gives away TVs with contrast problems, with the result that dark scenes lack scale and look low on detail, and dark games like Gears of War become really quite difficult to play.
We should say in the interests of fairness that there are times when the HD-Vision 32’s pictures look quite good. And those times basically involve vibrantly colourful, high-quality HD sources, with which you’re suddenly free to appreciate the set’s innate sharpness and brightness. But of course, these sorts of scenes crop up during only a small portion of a typical viewing day.
Sonically the HD-Vision 32 is more successful. Bass lines can sound a little hollow, but aside from that the clarity, volume and soundstage presence the speakers deliver is admirable.
On paper, its ability to deliver hundreds of channels to your home without any need for a Sky subscription or external set-top box sounds tantalising. But in practice the hassles of actually getting these channels, the demands of handling so many channels, and most upsettingly of all, the picture quality with which the channels are presented makes the HD-Vision 32 a product that only the most die-hard satellite surfers should even think about forking out £1300 for.