31st Jul 2005 | 23:00
Humax proves two digital tuners are better than one
Humax is a brand primarily known for its digital Freeview receivers, so it comes as little surprise that it has been considerate enough to include a Freeview tuner on its latest LCD TV. What is more surprising, however, is that the screen also features a 40GB hard disk for recording from TV.
What's more, there are actually twin digital tuners onboard, which means you'll be able to record one programme while watching another. It's the first TV quite like it that we've come across, and the fact that it costs around just £1,600 makes it a very tempting proposition.
Connectivity doesn't let the side down either, especially since the highlight is an HDCP-compliant DVI input that makes the screen fully HD-ready (in tandem with its high resolution of 1,366 x 768). Component video (for progressive scan and analogue high-def footage) Scarts, S-video and composite video inputs also make an appearance, while there's a VGA input and phono connections for connecting to a PC.
Before we move on to how the LGB-32TPVR performs with DVDs, it's worth explaining just what that 40GB hard disk means in terms of added value. First up, it will record anything you can play on the screen from the built-in tuner. Three recording modes are on offer, with a maximum of 44hrs of recordings possible in the 'long play' mode.
And if you're a recording fiend and this doesn't sound like enough for you, you'll be pleased to know that a standard USB 2.0 port on the side means that any recorded material can be transferred onto another hard disk, leaving the 40GB ripe for blanking. Transferring to a DVD recorder is also possible, although not - on this particular mode, at least - via the Scart.
With the all-important ease of use question, the Humax is a mixed bag. While the handy feature that allows you to pause and rewind live TV (for up to 30mins) works well, the on-screen menus are a little convoluted, making using the electronic programme guide to set up a schedule of TV to record a mind-bending experience.
It's all very well making a TV with lots of extra features, but they have to deliver a good performance. Happily, Humax has got this right, and both Freeview pictures from the twin tuners and recordings made on the hard disk in 'high quality' mode pass muster.
The LGB-32TPVR's DVD performance is just as pleasing. We gave our ultra-vibrant Monsters Inc test disc a spin, and enjoyed solid colours - even Sulley, with his blue and purple fur, showed no sign of bleed. What's more, there was little 'ghosting' to be seen as the monsters race around practising their scare techniques. Pictures were crisp and bold throughout, with hardly any picture noise (be it dot crawl or grain) to affect the pleasing amount of detail on show.
That DVI input is doing its job, too, as high-definition footage resulted in detail to die for and stunningly vivid colours. Our only real criticism - and this applies to both DVDs and HD - is the screen's minor problem with blurring over motion, which is no doubt due to the LCD panel's merely average response time of 16ms.
Side-mounted speakers are rarely anything to rave about but, while there was a touch of distortion at full pelt, the Humax's virtual surround mode performed reasonably with our test disc - although action-packed movies would need more bass.
Unlike some novelty TVs, the LGB-32TPVR gives you extra features that really are worth having. That it would be a good buy without them makes it even more appealing.