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The Evesham Alqemi 32 SX has recently had a price drop, and can now be bought direct from Evesham for £550. You'll struggle to find much credible 32-inch competition at this price point, and while it won't worry Sony and Panasonic that much, it does offer 720p high definition for a pretty good price.
The Alqemi 32 SX has a simple design. Around the screen is a glossy piano-black bezel, while to the left and right are the speakers, which are finished in a more traditional matte grey. We found that the piano-black bezel reflected a lot of light back at us, so you can see distracting reflections while you are trying to enjoy programmes. This isn't ideal, and we didn't really think that gaffer-taping the screen would add to the aesthetics.
Below the screen is a large blue light that illuminates when the screen is on. When the TV is in standby there is another, smaller red LED that merrily glows away. Sadly, there is no easy-to-access power button on the unit, the master switch is round the back, by the power socket. This is pretty annoying because most people won't be inclined to mess about behind the TV to turn it off. In these days of an impending environmental catastrophe, it would be a good idea to provide a convenient power switch.
At the back of the set there are the usual inputs including HDMI, component, two RGB Scart sockets and a PC VGA input. To the side of the TV -- though still, technically at the back -- are composite and S-Video in. The single HDMI input is a little disappointing -- even on a 32-inch television we would expect a minimum of two.
The remote control is fairly generic-looking and it's also a little wasteful of space. There are two rings of buttons -- one allows you to navigate through the menus, the other adjusts the volume and allows you to change the channel. We would have thought merging these navigation keys would make sense, as you aren't likely to need to use both lots at once. The TV does, however, respond quickly to remote commands, which we are pleased to see as delays after pressing a button are infuriating.
This television isn't the most feature-rich we've ever seen. It does, however, have built-in Freeview, so you will have access to a range of digital channels not long after getting it out of the box, assuming you live in a Freeview area.
The television supports a PC input of up to 1,366x768 pixels, which is good news for fans of the media centre PC and people who want to use this screen as a multi-purpose device. The reasonable response time of 8ms is certainly good enough for playing most games and while we wouldn't recommend using it as your main PC monitor, you could certainly browse the Web from your armchair if you so desired.
The Freeview picture quality was passable, although a little soft -- even with the sharpness turned up to the maximum setting. While watching Freeview we noticed there were some problems with solarisation in areas of solid colour, although it won't bother you too much if you're viewing from a distance. There was a fair amount of picture judder at times, too, which we found to be quite annoying.
The black levels achieved by this set are also a little disappointing. In areas that should be black, the backlight was quite visible, giving areas that should have been black a blue glow. Reducing the brightness helps to improve this situation, but that will only be a reasonable option to you if you watch TV in a darker room.
One irritation is that to reach the TV's configuration mode while you are watching TV means going through two sets of menus that look completely different (although you don't need to do this when using the HDMI input). Having a menu system that changes depending on what you are doing is confusing, and is bound to cause some people to scratch their heads in bewilderment.
There isn't much bass from the relatively weak speakers, although speech is reasonably easy to understand and, to be fair, we tend not to expect a huge amount from the speakers built into smaller LCD panels.
High-definition performance was better, although there was some blurring evident and the black levels were a little disappointing. Despite this, the television did a reasonable job of displaying high-definition video from our Blu-ray player. Talladega Nights looked especially good.
This is the sort of set that would be best bought as a second television for the bedroom or study, especially if you have access to a high-definition video source.
There are many things that aren't perfect about the set -- it won't be featuring in any glossy lifestyle magazines anytime soon and it's not the greatest in terms of inputs -- but for the money you can't complain too much.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield