Samsung LE32A41B review

Will this affordable LCD do the business for Samsung?

Our Verdict

A real star for the HD and all-digital DVD future, but average for other sources

For

  • Stylish

    Strong DVD output

Against

  • Struggles with lower-rent sources

Samsung is one of most prolific brands in the flatscreen world. It's also a company that has pushed the boundaries of size, recently exhibiting a massive 102in plasma.

However, we have often found that Samsung's screens just lack that little something extra to put them in the same league as, say, the Hitachis or Pioneers. So here's hoping this well-priced 32in LCD offering, the LE32A41B, will finally put the brand among the bright lights.

The LE32A41B's gloss-black screen frame and unusually curvaceous shape certainly makes a stylish change from some of Samsung's screens. And connections are on the money, with an HDCP-enabled DVI input making this TV able to handle Sky's high-def broadcasts, along with digital outputting DVD players. The lack of component video seems a strange oversight, however.

The highlight among the features is Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) processing. In the past, we've seen this create richer colours, clearer movement, more fine detail and deeper black levels, and it's great to see that it hasn't been a victim of the LE32A41B's reasonable price point.

Other extras of note include picture-in-picture, contrast boosting and a system for independently tweaking the green, blue and pink colour tones.

When it comes to pictures, the story is one that's all too common to flatscreens: while the LE32A41B can look near-sublime with HD or high-quality digital feeds, it is merely average with lower-rent sources...

With a digital feed from a DVI-outputting DVD player, there was plenty to enjoy. First, colours were luminous, no doubt thanks to DNIe. The sun-drenched vineyards of our wine-fuelled road movie Sideways never looked more inviting, while its protagonists' skin tones were largely natural - even when affected by alcohol!

DNIe also added texture and detail to complex scenes, such as Sideways' ultra-boozy, double-date meal in the busy restaurant - but without exaggerating picture noise.

On the level

Finally, though pictures were impressively bright, this didn't seem to affect the black level response. Dark scenes, like the one where a tipsy Miles drives Maya home after a drinking session, enjoyed good depth.

Sadly, however, there is a 'but'. With Sky Digital and especially analogue tuner feeds, noise increased markedly, movement looked blurred, detail plummeted and colours were forced. It was like watching a different set.

Still, the LE32A41B's speakers create a surprisingly wide soundstage. While Sideways isn't the toughest audio workout, the Samsung did provide a bit of bass when required, and our only real criticism is that trebles sounded harsh at high volumes.

If high-def TV and digital DVD feeds are your main interests, the LE32A41B is an ideal set. But the lack of a component input means that those without a DVI-equipped DVD player have to use Scart - and the fact that only one of these is RGB-enabled means you'll be left with an inferior Scart for digital (Freeview) TV.