In my opinion, anyone thinking of replacing a 32in CRT TV with a flat TV ought to think about getting a 37in model rather than a 32in. For the relative skinniness of today's LCD and plasma panels means that you can push them considerably further back towards your wall than a bulky old CRT set, making their screens feel less obtrusive and increasing your eye-to-screen viewing distance to an extent that actually makes a 37in look around the same size as your old 32in. Seriously, if I had a pound for everyone I know who's bought a 32in LCD only to find it too small for their living rooms, I'd have, ooh, at least 20 quid by now!
So don't make the same mistake yourself. Check out our collection of four of the latest 37in flat TVs, and get yourself a set that won't strain your eyes - and is big enough to do HD proud into the bargain.
Price: £800 More info: Hitachi Size (on stand): 927(w) x 684(h)x 366(d) Weight: 21kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 8000:1 Claimed max brightness: 530cd/m2 Connections: Three HDMI 1.3 inputs; component video input; composite video input; three Scarts (2 RGB); S-Video input; D-Sub PC input; stereo audio inputs, PC audio input, stereo audio output; optical digital audio output, headphone jack, SD card reader, USB slot
Not so long ago it would have been unthinkable for arch plasma supporter Hitachi to make a 37in TV using LCD technology. Yet so seemingly unstoppable is LCD's influence that Hitachi has finally had to bite the 37in LCD bullet in the shape of the 'full HD' L37X01.
First impressions suggest that Hitachi has at least embraced the LCD shift fully, rather than doing anything half-hearted. The set looks passably pretty, for starters, and presses the right connectivity buttons by including three HDMIs (all built to the latest v1.3 standard), a digital audio output, a subwoofer line output, and even a USB input for direct playback of digital photos.
A claimed contrast ratio of 8000:1 looks promising too. But probably the L37X01's most stand-out feature is its image processing, which combines Hitachi's proprietary Picture Master HD engine, aimed at improving colours, contrast and sharpness, with something called Movie Frame Rate Conversion. Movie FRC calculates extra transitional images to insert between the actual frames of a source, to make motion look more fluid and crisp.
What's more, Movie FRC really works. Choosing the Smooth 2 setting for most sources and Smooth 1 for 1080p/24fps images from a Blu-ray player delivers exactly the motion benefits Hitachi promises, without significant nasty side effects.
The Picture Master system, meanwhile, plays its part in the superb sharpness and detail when showing HD sources, and upscales standard definition sources cleanly and crisply.
Colours are bright and smoothly blended too, but just occasionally their tones look a little off-key. This is a result, we suspect, of the L37X01's most damaging picture problem: a rather average black response, which finds dark scenes looking flat and rather greyed over.
Sonically the L37X01 is fine, not quite possessing enough power to really stand out, but certainly never sounding distorted or thin.
In the end the L37X01 is a perfectly decent TV with an attractive price. But it's no classic.
Affordable, well connected, handles motion and colours well Minus points
Dark scenes look rather grey, you have to be careful with some of the processing settings
Price: £800 More info: LG Electronics Size (on stand): 934.3(w) x 628(h) x 281.2(d)mm Weight: 20.9kg Native aspect ratio: 16:9 Claimed max contrast ratio: 8000:1 Claimed max brightness: 500cd/m2 Connections: Two HDMI inputs, two Scarts (one RGB), component video input, RS 232, composite video input, D-Sub PC input, RF input, CI slot, SPDIF output, S-Video input
Now here's something you don't see every day - a TV with a hard disk drive recording system built in. And this is no ordinary recording system either, for it's actually built to the so-called 'Freeview Playback' specification.
In case you're not familiar with Freeview Playback, it's a recording system designed by the people behind the Freeview terrestrial digital broadcasting platform to emulate much of the functionality provided for digital satellite channels by Sky+ boxes. And so you can use the 37LT75's 160GB memory to set 'series link' recordings, pause live TV, chase a live programme, record one digital channel while watching another, and much more besides. All without any need for an external box. Cool.
Of course, so many features in a TV sounds like a recipe for a nightmarish operating system. But actually it's hard to see how the 37LT75 could be any easier to use, leaving us confident that even the most technophobic of you will be recording whole series at the press of a single button in no time.
What's more, the quality of the recordings made by the 37LT75 is superb - in fact, we couldn't see any difference at all between the recordings and the original Freeview broadcasts.
The picture quality from the 37LT75's 1366x768-resolution screen is good, too, with impressively clean standard definition pictures, vibrant colours, and surprisingly sharp HD images.
Black levels might be better, and the set's handling of 1080p/24 feeds from Blu-ray players is bizarrely juddery. But with some perfectly acceptable sound to flesh out the set's AV performance, and an aggressive price tag considering everything that's on offer, the 37LT75 is a near-perfect option for the Sky-hating, wannabe digital recorders among you.
Recordings on built-in HDD of very high quality, great price, good operating system, excellent standard def pictures Minus points
Black levels could be better, 1080p/24 handling is poor