As the cheapest TV in this group test at £650, you might reasonably expect Samsung's LE32R87BD to also be the worst. But it isn't. Not by a long chalk.
Take its looks, for example. Its chic gloss-black bezel and stylish lines make it a delightful addition to any room you care to put it in. Connections are outstanding too, thanks to the inclusion of three HDMIs - one more than any other set in this round up, making it arguably the most future-proof option. It's worth mentioning, also, that these HDMIs are compatible with the new 'CEC' industry standard allowing you to fully control via the TV's remote other CEC equipment connected to them.
On board to boost picture quality, meanwhile, is a Wide Colour setting that boosts the range of the colour palette; a Movie Plus mode that adds extra image frames to make motion look sharper; and Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) processing, which works on improving colours, black levels, motion handling, video noise levels, and fine detailing.
For the most part these picture enhancements come up trumps. The 32R87BD's colours, in particular, are sensational, blasting off the screen in a blaze of eye-catching glory. Yet at the same time they have the most natural tones we've seen from a Samsung LCD.
Helping the colours to be so appealing is a much better black level response than we'd expected to find for £650, while the detail delights of a pristine high definition source are reproduced with all the crispness and clarity you could desire.
The only thing stopping the 32R87BD reaching picture performance heights to rival the Panasonic and Philips models is its motion handling. Without the Movie Plus mode activated moving objects look rather smeared, but turn the feature on and moving objects look unnatural and show signs of flickering over their edges.
Rich colours, good black levels, plenty of HD sharpness, three HDMIs, pretty design Minus points
One or two problems handling motion
Price comparison:Sharp LC32RD2EMore info: Sharp Size: 795(w) x 531(h) x 123(d)mm Weight (inc stand): 18kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 10000:1 Claimed max brightness: 450cd/m2 Connections: Two HDMI inputs, two Scarts (both RGB), composite video input, PC input (also takes component via adaptor), stereo audio inputs, tuner input, CAM slot, stereo audio output, S-Video input, headphone jack, RS 232
The LC32RD2E marks Sharp's debut attempt at using 100Hz processing to improve LCD technology's tribulations when it comes to retaining the resolution of moving objects. Unlike the efforts of Panasonic's 100Hz debut elsewhere in this group test though, those of this Sharp can't be deemed a success.
But before we get into why this is so, let's quickly cover a few other basic facts about this new 32in TV. Starting with its looks, which combine the fashion for high gloss black with a reasonably elegant design. Connectivity, meanwhile, is decent enough, with two HDMIs and a D-Sub PC port among the highlights. The only downer is that there's no component video input, meaning you have to use the provided adaptor and share the PC port for component video sources.
The 32RD2E claims a contrast ratio of 10000:1, one of the highest ever quoted for an LCD TV, and Sharp's truD processing is on hand to decrease LCD's common image judder problem while also boosting brightness and contrast.
Returning now to our suggestion that Sharp's 100Hz processing isn't quite up there with the best of them, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that it's too impressive for its own good! For it actually makes moving objects look so fluid and sharp that they stand out too obviously from the backdrops they're moving against, making the picture seem unnatural and just plain weird. The edges of moving objects tend to shimmer and glitch a little, too.
The 32RD2E's picture performance is otherwise very good, combining solid black levels with dynamic colours and pinpoint accuracy when it comes to rendering every last pixel of detail in high definition sources. But it's a simple, tragic fact that no matter how many strengths a picture has, if to spot them you have to see past a single over-riding flaw, then a TV just isn't doing its job properly. Which is a particularly unhappy situation for the most expensive TV in this group test to find itself in.
Good colours, black levels and fine detailing, attractive design Minus points
No dedicated component video inputs, 100Hz system is overcooked, the price is a bit steep