LG 32PG6000 £500
9th Oct 2008 | 08:00
Revolutionary TV brings plasma performance to an LCD-sized set
LG doesn't scrimp on goodies with the 32PG6000, and this set is crammed full of the sort of mainstream-pleasing gadgetry that has helped the brand's reputation rocket over the last couple of years.
The panel is only HD Ready, but the degree to which this matters at this size is moot, and in any case, 1,024 x 720 pixels should be more than sufﬁcient for the audience for which this set is intended.
Top-drawer Dual XD Engine processing keeps everything looking shipshape, while various audio presets add a bit of oomph to the sound.
The back panel is extremely well stocked, with no fewer than four HDMIs where three might have been expected, as well as component video, a brace of Scarts and a generous sprinkling of other useful sockets including electrical digital audio output and a USB port that enables you to use the TV as a 32in photo frame.
Top marks for user-friendliness
LG's delightful CU:V system makes another welcome appearance here, and its large, colourful tiles provide an absolutely idiot-proof interface, and act as another reminder to every other manufacturer that a new standard has been set in user friendliness.
It's so easy to navigate around that you'll ﬁnd your set is tuned in and set up before you're really aware of having done so. Its comprehensive list of menus and submenus are able to reﬁne the picture and audio to the satisfaction of the most exacting AV fan.
The remote's large, clearly labelled and logically laid out buttons are ﬁrm and responsive and dovetail nicely with the system architecture, making the overall experience about as pleasurable as tweaking a telly gets.
The LG 32PG6000, while not perfect, certainly makes for an intriguing alternative to the ranks of virtually indistinguishable liquid crystal 32-inchers. For a start, black levels are way beyond the reach of most LCD sets and especially those anywhere near the £500 mark.
The opening, moon-lit prairie sequence of Ghost Rider is picked out with such depth, shadow detail and bottom-end profundity that this oft-tested clip takes on a whole new aspect.
Colours in that ﬁlm and in any other hi-def movie discs you care to put the LG's way, are strikingly reimagined, with a much more balanced and natural palette than you'd ﬁnd on so many dazzle-prone LCDs. The picture also seems much more rounded, with a far better sense of depth than liquid crystal, and the overall effect is natural and highly watchable.
Digital TV, meanwhile, looks pretty terrible, with all sorts of digital noise around sharp edges or moving images, but it's hardly fair to blame the set for Freeview's failings.
Another ﬂaw that is deﬁnitely more pronounced on a set this small is plasma's occasionally clumsy blending that enormo-screens just about get away with.
Brightness banding is also occasionally apparent and detail isn't quite as exacting as on the better mid-sized LCDs. We quite like the slightly softer, arguably more cinematic image, but appreciate that this might not be the case for everyone.
One other, potentially more serious ﬂaw, is a marked susceptibility to after-imaging. Ghostly traces of areas of intense, tightly contained brightness, particularly text or logos, can remain visible against subsequently darkened screens for some time.
These are temporary, but they do serve as a reminder of the dreaded screenburn issue that did so much to scupper plasma's reputation and pave the way for LCD's supremacy.
The audio is perhaps slightly better than you might normally expect from a 32in ﬂatscreen.
LG's 'invisible' speaker system delivers a pretty faithful rendition of movie and broadcast audio, but (versus the excellent Philips' sets we've seen in recent months) the soundﬁeld seems a triﬂe thin.
It's loud enough to ﬁll all but stadium-sized living rooms, though, and does a good enough job with ﬁlms.
Great value LCD
Plasma's advantage has always been that it offered far better pounds-per-inch value than LCD. Why, the argument went, settle for a mid-sized liquid crystal set when the same money buys you a much bigger gas model?
Even these days, with advances in maximum LCD screen sizes and shrinking manufacturing costs having pushed the rival technologies towards something approaching parity, plasma does still to deliver more for your money, so it's slightly confusing to contemplate a gas set without this inherent advantage.
That said, you won't ﬁnd many similarly sophisticated LCD sets for £500, and if your pictorial preference tends towards plasma, the price tag on the LG 32PG6000 is very reasonable.