Samsung is doing very nicely indeed with its high-spec B650 LCD TVs and, especially, its edge-lit B7000 and B8000 LED series. The LE32B550 is a rather more modest set aimed at keeping up the firm's sterling mainstream reputation.

Early signs are good, as we're immediately drawn to its simple, elegant lines, chic 'crystal' fi nish and thin, glass-necked stand.

Connections are also impressive and include four HDMIs, plus a USB port capable of playing JPEG photo and MP3 audio files. There's no video playback, but this shouldn't deter many prospective buyers.

Any initial disappointment with the 32B550 is likely to be with its dearth of features relative to the brand's higher-spec models. For instance, there's no PC streaming or access to Samsung's Widget-driven Media 2.0 online service. But then nor are such services found on any of its rivals at this price point.

More alarming is the lack of 100Hz processing on the 32B550 – something that some of our rivals today do have. Let's hope, then, that the screen's native response time, in conjunction with Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine, are enough to keep a lid on liquid crystal's usual motion blur problem.

Also found in the 32B550's onscreen menus are a black level booster, a flesh tone enhancement, noise reduction circuits and an edge enhancer. However, these aren't all particularly helpful.

The flesh tone booster can leave skin looking out of kilter with the rest of the colour palette, for instance, while the Edge Enhancement system can oversharpen things to the point where they look stressed and unnatural.

Performance

Provided you treat the processing options with care, though, the 32B550 can reward you with truly excellent pictures. For instance, startlingly deep black levels manage to sit side by side with pristine peak whites.

The colour palette, too, is so expansive and expressive that it feels like it's been accidentally beamed over from a much more expensive set. The 32B550 also has a fine knack for portraying all the lovely detail found on our favourite Blu-ray discs, and provided you avoid that silly Edge Enhancement option, the clarity is delivered without noise.

Samsung le32b550

The Samsung is a respectable standard-definition performer, meanwhile, upscaling Freeview and DVD feeds to the screen's full HD resolution cleanly and sharply. The lack of 100Hz does result in marginally more motion blur than you get with the company's higher specified TVs, especially with standard-def sources.

But it's no big deal for the money. Otherwise, the only problems we can find with the 32B550 are its limited viewing angle – which is also common to most rivals – and its rather flat and flimsy audio.

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