LG's entry-level LCD is a standard-looking, mildly attractive TV.
The LG 32LK330 has a thick, glossy black bezel around all four sides. Along the bottom there’s a thin, silvery strip. All in all, it’s a pretty standard looking TV—a bit boxy and lacking the glamor of its higher-end siblings. The indicator light on the front is particularly large, but if you find it distracting there’s an option in the menu to disable it.
The LG 32LK330 houses most of its ports on the back of the TV. There, you’ll find two HDMIs, a composite AV input, a component AV input, a coax input, and a VGA input with accompanying mini audio input. There’s also a digital audio output and an RS-232C port, which should appeal to some enthusiasts simply looking for a budget display.
A well-designed menu from LG
When you’re playing with the 32LK330's menu, you forget for a little while that you’re dealing with a budget TV. Even among the major television brands that’s a very pleasant and rare thing (trust us). It’s more or less the same menu that you get on LG’s flagship TVs, full of attractive and intuitive graphics and structure.
That isn't to say that it's a perfect system, as there is a little redundancy we could have done without. When you first hit the Menu button on the remote, for example, you’re presented with a a grid-view of the sub-menus. No matter which one you choose, you’re then transported to the menu you see below, where the same sub-menus appear in a left-aligned column. It's a small frustration, to be sure, but it's something that could've been done better.
This LG tested with excellent color accuracy, but as usual for entry-level LCDs, its contrast ratio was poor.
We always enjoy running LG's TVs through our color tests—they invariably produce a wide range of rich, accurate colors, making the tests look easier than they really are. Unfortunately, as soon as we moved onto other tests problems began to arise. The most notable issue was the display's limited contrast ratio, followed closely by its lackluster total viewing angle. Overall, not bad, but still of entry-level quality.
The LG 32LK330 did not do fantastically well in our motion tests. When we drove complex images, like photographs, across the screen, there was heavy blur. Much of the fine detail, such as facial features, were lost. The TV also created distracting artifacts. High contrast patterns, like color blocks, left false color trails. If you sit far enough away and you’re watching typical TV shows and movies, you may not find these problems too distracting, but we’ve seen far better from LG.
The big issue with this display is the native resolution, which at 1366 x 768 doesn't match any conventional broadcast standard. This means that every single frame of content has to be stretched or shrunk in order to match up correctly. That constant scaling is likely behind the major motion and blur issues we saw in our tests. It's not a deal-breaker, but put this beside a nicer display and you'll immediately notice the difference.
The LG 32LK330 ($399 MSRP) isn't a bad budget display, but you get what you pay for.
There’s not much to capture the techie’s imagination here, but that’s not really the point of a $400 TV, is it? So let’s get down to nuts and bolts.
Overall, this is among the better entry-level TVs we’ve reviewed. The menu is the same great version found on the highest-end LGs. We were pleased to see that the color performance was exemplary, as it has been with every LG LCD television we’ve reviewed this year. The same certainly can’t be said about the company’s plasma TVs, but that’s a different matter.
At this price, there are always some major picture performance trade-offs you have to accept. On the LG 32LK330, it’s the resolution scaling. The TV has a native resolution of 1366 × 768, which doesn’t match up to any broadcast standard. As a result, everything has to be re-sized to fit the screen. The TV doesn’t do the best job of this, and it shows in our performance testing.
If you're in the market for an affordable display with average performance, a design that won't offend anyone, and a basic feature set then the LG 32LK330 is a good choice. It's not going to blow your hair back, but it's about as good as we've seen in this price range.
Like LG's entry-level plasma, the PT350, 2011's LK330 is a 1366x768 resolution display that is accurate in its color adherence, but features a picture marred by this reduction in resolution real estate. It also suffered from a poor contrast ratio and a viewing angle that was less than ideal.
The LK330 is certainly bright enough, but it doesn't get very dark, resulting in a narrow contrast ratio.
LG claims a 50,000:1 contrast ratio with the LK330, but as always manufacturer figures are not to be trusted. In the real world, we found the LG 32LK330's contrast ratio measured at 956:1. That's quite sub-par, even for an entry-level LCD. To give you a sense of scale, the best LCDs we’ve reviewed tend to fall between 4000:1 and 5000:1, though those are usually at least twice as expensive.
Contrast ratio is important for a number of reasons, including the immersiveness and realism of the contrast displayed, as well as how easy it is for your eyes to differentiate objects of varying brightness on screen. A narrow contrast ratio reduces the LK330's value quite a bit, and it's a big reason why flagship televisions look so much better in the store than budget models like this.
With an awkward native resolution, constant scaling causes some motion performance hiccups.
The LG 32LK330 has a native resolution of 1366 x 768, which doesn't match up to any broadcast standard. As a result, whenever you are viewing content on the screen it has to be expanded or shrunk to fit the screen. This creates all sorts of issues, especially with fine details like text, as the television isn't well-suited to this task.
The one area we saw where the resolution wasn't a huge problem was with 24fps video content, which naturally has lots of motion blur. The LK330's Real Cinema mode also helped here, but whenever viewing content with finer detail there are loads of artifacts and issues with moire.
Meet the tester
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
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