The LCD television market has changed so much in the last couple of years. Plasma televisions used to be the only way to get a massive screen at a reasonable price but as LCD prices have dropped, the competition has evened out dramatically. As a result, the humble 32-inch television, once the median, has become more commonplace, but it's still the size of preference.
In fact, they have usurped the place of 26-inch units for people with space and budget restrictions -- such as those needing a second TV for the kid's room -- and 26-inch units have become scarce for most manufacturers as a result.
We took a look at the top brands in 32-inch LCD televisions to find the best of the best. We were surprised to find that the quality was consistently good amongst the manufacturers and it was actually quite hard to choose between them -- it also depends entirely on what you are looking for.
The current trend in television technology is 100Hz motion control. It is an attempt to smooth out fast motion by creating extra frames and inserting them into the image. Many of the 32-inch units we looked at used this and, to be honest, not all of them did it well. That being said, since 100Hz technology can make images look a little fake, we can envisage people turning it off -- so perhaps a 100Hz comparison isn't the best route to take when comparing each unit.
For the purpose of this round-up the main attributes we looked at were quality, price and connection options. Any extra features, like 100Hz, were taken into account only when they improved the quality without increasing the cost.
All the televisions we reviewed were under AU$2000 with the cheapest coming in at just under $1600. They all scored evenly, with the exception of one which was only slightly less impressive than its counterparts.
We quite liked the LG 32LB9D but it was the most expensive of the pack, while also offering the fewest features. The cheapest was easily the Philips 32PFL9432D but it scored lower than the other units due to the troublesome connection options and the effectiveness of its feature set.
Of the three remaining units, two featured 100Hz technology. The Sharp LC32D53X had a subtle approach to motion control while the Sony Bravia KDL-32D3100 was more overt. Both are at the same price point, so when choosing between these two units, it really comes down to whether you find 100Hz technology jarring or not. In both units, it can be turned off, so comparing them purely on image quality and feature set, the Sony comes out slightly ahead due to its 24p cinema mode, 1080p support and 1:1 pixel PC connection.
If you are looking for the most bang for your buck and 100Hz is not important, you can't go past the Samsung LA32R81BDX -- it is reasonably priced, offers excellent image quality and features, and while scoring the same as the Sony, it is our preferred choice here.Meanwhile, if you want to see what plasma has to offer at this size, check out NEC's cute little PXT-32XD3 which offers comparable image quality for half the price.