At this point I’d normally expect to have to bang on about how severely the budget Humax’s picture quality drops off with standard definition. But actually, while there’s certainly a small increase in motion blur, and obviously not as much fine detail in evidence, the picture is nothing like as noisy and indistinct as with some, nay many other (especially budget) LCD TVs we’ve seen.
I also like the way you can watch the 32DST from a really quite acute angle before the contrast and colour response start to drop off to any large extent – we still see some quite expensive TVs still struggle with this problem.
However, don’t start to believe that the 32DST has delivered some sort of budget picture performance miracle. Its pictures most definitely have their flaws.
For instance, although its pictures are free of some common types of noise, they do also have a curious knack of slightly emphasising digital MPEG blocking noise – even when watching some HD sources. Keeping the brightness and contrast levels quite low helps, but certainly doesn’t totally fix the issue.
Another problem is that although colour tones are generally quite natural, there’s also sometimes quite overt evidence of colour banding, where subtle colour blends appear as a series of stripes rather than as totally smooth transitions. This is down to a combination of the screen’s relatively low pixel count (versus Full HD sets), and rather less forgivably, a simple lack of colour processing power.
I have a couple of issues with the 32DST’s black level handling too. Firstly, while dark scenes certainly do look dark, that darkness looks a touch forced. In other words, there’s very little shadow detailing in evidence, with the effect that dark scenes can look a touch hollow and flat.
Also, if you use the ‘Auto’ backlight mode that on paper should give you the most effective contrast throughout a film or TV show, the screen sometimes adjusts its brightness so frenetically that the picture almost seems to be flickering.
Does Humax’s LGB-32DST set new standards of picture and sound prowess? Of course not. But does it nonetheless perform markedly better than you might expect of a 32in TV costing south of £400? Definitely.