The main problem is the contrast levels. Whites can appear too white, making them rather harsh, while black levels are predictably average. The combination of harsh whites and average black production creates an ever so slightly bleached look, and thus the Evesham struggles with darker scenes from films such as Miami Vice on HD DVD and games like Gears of War.
Adjusting the backlight and contrast settings didn’t help matters too much either, generally making the picture far too dark or bright rather than improving the balance. Background noise is also a problem, and though the Evesham has three levels of noise reduction you’d be hard pressed to notice the difference between them. Obviously better picture processing is one of the things you’re getting with a big brand TV, but you’re also paying for the privilege.
Thankfully, colour production is fairly accurate sporting a suitable level of vibrancy. It’ll never blow you away, but it’s more than good enough and the overall level of detail is also pleasing. The 1,366 x 768 resolution precludes full 1080p output, but it does 720p well and will happily scale down 1080i.
High definition content, such as HD-DVDs, looked good and the difference in detail from standard definition content was evident. Gaming performance was also impressive, with no noticeable problems with ghosting or other such anomalies – though we’d hardly expect them these days.
A TV in this price bracket is bound to see a fair amount of standard definition content as well, and here the Alqemi performs adequately. The only other criticism that can be made is of the viewing angles. Discolouration and loss of contrast begins at around 45 – 50 degrees and, though viewable, it deteriorates fairly quickly beyond that.
As you might have garnered by now, the image quality is just good enough. Nothing more, nothing less but just about right – for the price at least. It has its problems, but only the most discerning will be disappointed and they wouldn’t buy a cheap 32in LCD anyway.
Moving away from image quality, one area where the Evesham surprised – in a good way – was in the quality of its sound. Ordinary stereo was, well, ordinary; but the Evesham also features two different virtual surround effects, one of which was very impressive indeed.