Samsung LE-32R41BD review

A true budget star?

Our Verdict

Samsung's new range continues to show how budget LCDs should be done

This latest LCD TV from Samsung has got us very excited. Why? Because we recently came across its little brother, the LE-26R41BD, and were simply blown away by the features and picture quality it provided for the price (£800). As such, we're naturally expecting great things from the LE-32R41BD, which, at 32in, should make for an even more living room-friendly set - and it still only costs £1,200!

Happily, the LE-32R41BD boasts the same extravagant good looks as its sibling, which marks Samsung - a brand that could be accused of looking bland in the past - as a style force to be reckoned with.

Living large

Connections are similarly attractive and, as with the LE-26R41BD, the highlights are the HDMI and component video inputs required to be fully HD-ready. Moreover, as a 32in set, the LE-32R41BD is better equipped to display such images (26in is the minimum screen size for HD). Also of note are a standard PC jack, a pair of Scarts and a CAM slot to add functionality to the built-in digital tuner.

What's more, that tuner is backed up by digital teletext, interactivity and support for Freeview's seven-day electronic programme guide. Then there's Samsung's DNIe processing, for upping fine detail levels, colour and contrast and improving motion; picture-in-picture options and an automatic contrast control.

Dark victory

The LE-32R41BD's pictures more than live up to those of its smaller relation. The first thing we noticed were the good black levels - a strength that's vital for portraying the dark world of our test disc, Minority Report. The scene in which mechanical spiders search a rundown tenement looking for Tom Cruise's wronged detective retained plenty of detail, even in gloomy corners, and suffered very little from the 'greying over' that LCD technology is sometimes prone too.

Detail is also bolstered by the set's fine colour presentation, which gave our DVD's gritty, bleached-out photography a stamp of authenticity. And it can deal with bright palettes too, as we discovered when giving the richly saturated Alexander a quick spin.

Another tick in the box goes next to motion handling, as there was no smearing over Minority Report's thrilling car chases and very little sign of dot crawl or grain throughout the movie.

Okay, we'll admit that this screen isn't quite perfect. Peak whites are sometimes over-stated, contrast is a touch away from top-notch, and tuner feeds can sometimes look soft - but the latter is no doubt caused by DNIe struggling to handle the picture noise that's inherent to low-quality sources.

As is usually the case, audio isn't quite as impressive. Our test movie's soundtrack was clean, detailed, well controlled and reasonably well rounded - but the set's volume and frequency range is a bit limited.

Ultimately, our niggles don't add up to much in the context of what the Samsung LE-32R41BD offers as a package: great looks, features, connectivity and picture quality - for just £1,200. And when it comes to sound, any HD-ready TV that's heading for a living room deserves to be hooked up to a dedicated surround sound system!