The less-expensive, smaller LCD category is usually where manufacturers cut some corners with picture settings, but the 32LG30 from LG is the entry-level picture tweaker's delight. This 32-inch HDTV includes the same incredibly extensive set of manual picture controls found on the flagship LG60 series, and those controls allowed us to really improve the picture. We still couldn't get its black-level performance to outdo that of the best small LCDs we've tested, however, and a couple of other issues keep it out of the top tier. Still, if you're looking for the TV with the most manual control of the picture you can get, and you're willing to spend a couple hundred dollars over the lowest-end budget sets, the LG 32LG30 deserves a serious look.
The 32LG30 cuts a slick-looking figure by small-screen HDTV standards, with its glossy black finish, slightly curved bottom edge with an angled panel, and skinny pedestal atop a rounded, swiveling stand. The power indicator is a large, yet dim, LED on the far right that can be disabled if it's not your thing, and the speakers are hidden underneath the panel. All told, the set measures 31.5 inches wide by 23.7 inches tall by 8.9 inches deep and weighs 29.5 pounds; without the stand it shrinks to 31.5 inches wide by 21.4 inches tall by 3.1 inches deep and weighs 26.2 pounds.
LG includes the same remote with the low-end 32LG30 as it does with the high-end 47LG60 we reviewed previously, and we don't like it. We found the cluster of similar buttons around the cursor control difficult to differentiate without constantly having to look down at them. A little illumination would have gone a long way. We were also annoyed that LG neglected to include a dedicated button to toggle between aspect-ratio settings, instead including a "Simplink" key for compatible HDMI-connected gear that most people will never use. The remote can command three other pieces of equipment beyond the television itself.
The company has overhauled its menu system from last year, and the changes are mostly for the better. The stark black-on-light-gray menus are legible and large, and we liked that the input menu, which is arranged horizontally, grouped active inputs near the left where they were easy to select quickly. We would have liked to see text explanations accompany menu items, and navigating the extensive Expert menu (see below) can be quite tedious, but overall we liked the simple arrangement. We also appreciated the Quick Menu, which allows for control of aspect ratio, picture presets, and other options without having to deal with the full menu system.
The 32LG30 is among the more well-featured models on the market, but fortunately for people who don't like wasting money, its native resolution is the standard 1,366x768, not 1080p, which is a waste at this screen size. The set's picture controls are again identical to those of the higher-end 47LG60, which makes this little LCD easily the most tweak-friendly set of its kind on the market.
Each of the whopping seven picture modes is adjustable and independent per input. With the nine input sources we counted, that's 63 different memory "banks" to store picture settings. We can't imagine anyone using all of those, but just having the option to create multiple custom picture settings that are all remembered per input is pretty cool, especially at this level. We also liked that all five of the main picture modes indicate whether they're at default or custom settings with the presence or absence of "(User)" printed after the mode name.
Two of the modes, labeled Expert, allow for control of the full range of picture settings. The 32LG30 has a more comprehensive color temperature adjustment than any HDTV we've tested, moving beyond the three presets with both 2-point and 10-point adjustment options. The latter allows calibrators to really hone in on the D6500 standard and create a more linear grayscale than would otherwise be possible. Expert also adds a full color management system for tuning the primary and secondary color points, again a boon for careful calibrators. A raft of other adjustments are available too, the most important of which includes gamma and noise reduction. Performance has the details below, as well as our complete picture settings.
Connectivity on the 32LG30 leaves nothing to be desired. The back panel sprouts a pair of HDMI inputs, a PC input, two component-video inputs, one AV input with composite and S-Video, an analog audio output, and an optical digital audio output. The side panel adds a third HDMI input as well as another AV input with composite video.
Color accuracy after calibration was the LG's main strength and helped earn it a good performance rating overall, although precalibration the picture was a good deal less-accurate. In the negative column, black-level and off-angle performance weren't as good as the best such sets we've tested.