Samsung LE32B550 review
Samsung's LE32B550 has a curvy, clear-edged bezel that looks classy and, along with the solid glass plinth, will look great in any living room. The remote also looks stylish and has large, clearly labelled and grouped buttons.
The menu system is well laid-out. There are large icons for each section and intuitive grouping of settings. The EPG is similarly clear, with a large preview window displaying the current programme so you don't miss out while you're browsing. You can switch between a Now & Next view or a six-channel view, but there aren't any genre filters. You can also set reminders, but there isn't a screen that lists all the programmes you've selected.
A built-in media player lets you access files via the USB slot located on the right side of the case. The slot accepts external hard drives as well as flash memory drives and in addition to MP3 and JPEG support, it can handle a number of video file formats, including MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, DivX and WMV.
In our side-by-side tests, we found the LE32B550's image a bit dull, with a lack of contrast in bright areas and colours that lacked punch. Of the preset modes, Dynamic is the best, but it makes the image appear grainy, with excessive edge sharpening. We tried to replicate Dynamic mode without the sharpening by changing the advanced settings, but couldn't make colours saturated enough.
Our DVD tests showed excellent upscaling, with hardly any jagged lines and no ghosting. Connecting our laptop via HDMI, we had to choose the Screen Fit option, which is buried deep in the image settings, to get the Windows desktop to display pixel-for-pixel. Picture quality was excellent, though.
The internal speakers are surprisingly good and SRS TruSurround HD provides an expanded soundstage and a number of equalizer presets. Bass was especially good, although at high volumes it started to distort. The overall volume is loud enough to fill even a large living room.
Even though it has a fluorescent backlight, the LE32B550 had a remarkably low power consumption of just over 100W. It's one of the thinnest 32in models we've seen recently, which makes it ideal for wall-mounting, although the rear-facing ports aren't recessed enough to ensure a close fit when cables are connected.
Overall we liked the LE32B550, but its image quality isn't quite up to the standards of Panasonic's TX-L32G10B. The biggest problem is that it's overshadowed very good 37in models from Toshiba and LG, which also happen to be cheaper.
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