LG is no stranger to the world of low-cost TVs, and the 32LC46 continues the company's high standards in design and performance. This HD Ready LCD TV also punches well above its weight with features and enjoys a sophisticated focus on picture colour and sharpness
LG is no stranger to the world of the low-cost TVs. After all, it's made more of them than practically any other mainstream brand we can think of. But even by LG's standards, the 32LC46 looks like a bargain, offering 32 inches of excellent picture for under £500. But the price and quality raises just one question: what's the catch?
LG's uncanny knack for delivering attractive TV designs hasn't been affected by the need to make the 32LC46 less expensive. Its glossy black bezel is pretty and the silver speaker colour scheme is similar to the vast majority of regularly-priced competitors.
It also keeps pace with many costlier rivals with its connections, including two HDMIs, a component video input and a PC port. In fact, it goes beyond the call of affordable 32-inch TV duty by allowing its HDMIs to receive 1080p feeds of the sort gaining prominence on HD film discs.
This TV continues to punch well above its price weight with its features. For instance, unlike the vast majority of rival sets in the same price bracket, the 32LC46 boasts a dynamic contrast system, where the backlight output automatically reduces during dark scenes to boost black level response. Thanks to this, the 32LC46 claims a contrast ratio of 5000:1 versus figures of around 1000:1 for screens without a dynamic contrast system.
There's a rather sophisticated picture processing engine onboard, too: LG's own XD Engine, with its focus on boosting colours, black levels, motion handling, noise reduction and sharpness. As you'd hope, these sorts of features help the 32LC46 produce images noticeably superior to the vast majority of its budget rivals.
Colours, for instance, look as vibrant, rich and fully saturated as those on some TVs costing nearly twice as much. Colour blends are also surprisingly subtle, with pleasingly little sign of the 'striping' effect that troubles many budget flat TVs.
HD images, meanwhile, enjoy impressive clarity and sharpness, with surprisingly little in the way of motion smearing noise, even during action scenes. With normal 'daytime TV' footage, the 32LC46's images look really quite dynamic, with reasonable black levels and bright peak whites.
A final strength finds the set's audio sounding more powerful and well-rounded than we might have expected.
Watch a really dark scene on the 32LC46, and it's impossible not to notice how pools of faint light spill across the picture from the top left and bottom right corners. This backlight leakage can be quite distracting, and certainly detracts from the TV's black level response.
We also found both HD and standard definition pictures alike to be slightly troubled by low-level fizzing noise, while skin tones occasionally looking rather featureless, as if they belonged to mannequins rather than real human beings.
Colour tones sometimes slip into looking a touch unnatural too, especially during relatively dark scenes. The set also tends to fall over quite badly when trying to show the 1080p/24fps video format, reproducing motion with near-unwatchable levels of judder. It should be said that you're unlikely to be too amazed by the 1080p/24 difference on a screen as small as 32 inches anyway, so you might as well set your Blu-ray player to output something with which the LG is more comfortable.
If it wasn't for the disappointing backlight spillage, the 32LC46 would be a nigh-on perfect budget TV option. But even as it stands, it's definitely one of the best low-cost TVs money can currently buy.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Shannon Doubleday