This is the year that flat-panel LCDs will get larger and cheaper. All the manufacturers who were pushing 30-inch panels last year are lining up 32-inch models this year. The Olevia LT32HV continues what the low-price started, combining mediocre performance with a rock-bottom price.
The Olevia LT32HV's all-black bezel is a big improvement over last year's blah silver casing, but this set will still have a hard time standing out next to panels like LG'sand Sony's . However, it goes a little ways toward imitating the Sony with a blue-lit Olevia nameplate under the screen that happily turns off when there's a picture. The rear input bay is also illuminated from above--a convenient touch, except that the light is so dim it's almost useless. Buttons to the bottom right of the screen provide menu access and control volume, channel up and down, and source. The Olevia includes a relatively handsome arc-shaped stand.
The somewhat slick-looking remote control is not backlit and its responsiveness was spotty in our tests. More than once, repeated button pushes yielded no results, though with persistence, the commands always did go through. A number of important functions, including aspect ratio control and direct input access, are hidden under a sliding panel.
With a native resolution of 1,366x768, the LT32HV has more than enough pixels for full 720p HDTV. All sources, including 1080i high-def, standard TV, and computer, are converted to fit the available pixels. The panel has two built-in tuners for regular TV. If you want to watch HDTV, you'll have to add an external tuner or a cable or satellite box.
Dual-tuner picture-in-picture is foremost among convenience features. Independent input memories let you adjust the picture once for each type of source. The Warm color temperature preset came closest to the 6,500K standard. The sparse aspect ratio selection includes only zoom (enlarges 4:3 picture to fill the wide screen), full screen (displays 16:9 sources properly), and 4:3 (displays 4:3 sources properly, with sidebars). A stretch mode, to fit 4:3 sources on the screen without cropping, would've been nice. Happily, you can also Zoom HD sources, although we would have liked the option to stretch them as well.
Inputs are adequate, though the omission of HDMI is notable. Included are two component, two S-Video, two composite, one DVI with HDCP, one coaxial, and one VGA computer input on the rear of the panel, each with a corresponding stereo audio input. There are also one S-Video, one composite, and one stereo audio input on the side for easy access. Outputs comprise a single stereo audio pair and one subwoofer.
The LT32HV performed significantly better than the smaller LT30HV out of the box, though its color temperature was still very blue. We couldn't access the service menu to properly calibrate the television, although RGB gain controls in the user menu let us improve the color temperature noticeably (see the geek box for more). The color decoder showed a fair amount of red push, and primary colors of red and green suffered from respectively orangey and limey appearances that are characteristic of inexpensive LCDs.