Samsung LE15E31S review

Samsung goes back to basics

Our Verdict

A versatile budget offering that may please the undemanding viewer

For

  • PC connectivity

    Minimal blurring

    Surprisingly good sound

Against

  • Colours aren't great

    Basic looks

This 15in offering from Samsung may have a small screen but it's also cheap. But while the big-name brand is known for making good-value products, have too many sacrifices been made to get this LCD down to the rather remarkable price of just £250?

The most immediate sign of corner cutting comes with the LE15E31S's looks. The 4:3 ratio screen (not ideal for movies, but not uncommon at this price) is both hefty and decked out in unattractively bland plastic. The desktop stand is also a little basic.

The same can be said of the connections, although again we can't expect anything too extensive on a screen this size. There's an RGB Scart for connecting a DVD player, Sky box or an Xbox games console (but only one at a time, of course), an aerial jack for TV and a PC input.

So for just £250 you get an LCD screen that could serve several purposes in a bedroom or study.

The LE15E31S's well thought out and designed remote control belies its mothership's functional looks - although there's very little to actually scroll though on screen.

We moved swiftly on to checking out the LE15E31S' pictures and found that, despite an impressively high native resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels, the screen doesn't really perform beyond its decidedly budget price.

We gave our wonderfully remastered Raiders of the Lost Ark disc a run-through, and were underwhelmed by the looseness and greyness of the picture. Not only was the brightness level not uniform across the screen, but the blacks of the opening scenes of Indy racing through the gloom to escape that boulder weren't represented with any gusto.

Colour reproduction was also quite poor during such dark scenes, and it was sometimes difficult to get excited about what was going on in the film. Brighter scenes from this very vibrant DVD fared better, however, with colours looking good during the desert scenes.

Motion master

So far, it looks like Samsung's search for a budget model to rival the many cheap screens now flooding the market has led them back to the dark ages of LCD. That's not completely true, however, because while colour and black response is a bit dodgy, the LE15E31S doesn't have problems with motion - traditionally a big problem for LCD.

There was little trace of blur or image lag in the crowded bazaar scenes where Indy races around upsetting laundry baskets in his search for Marion.

So it's not all bad - and it gets better. The level of detail on display during the close-ups of our two heroes as they close their eyes to the Ark's extreme evilness was high - no doubt thanks to that 1,024 x 768 resolution screen.

Sound, too, was better than we were expecting at this price, and there was certainly enough oomph for dialogue-heavy programmes. Of course, however, we must say that few LCDs this size are going to really impress with the high-octane action of Raiders of the Lost Ark - particularly as there's an almost total lack of bass.

The LE15E31S is an ugly duckling that doesn't have an option for watching movies in their native 16:9 anamorphic picture mode, which means we can't recommend it for regular use with films.

But while its pictures are far from perfect, they are watchable, and its PC connectivity means it may please those after a super-budget, all-round bedroom LCD. That said, this remains a stripped-down, basic model. As is often the case, you get what you pay for.