samsung

It's refreshing for anyone accustomed to the pathetically weedy efforts of most recent generations of LED-lit sets to happen upon a model with a bit of sonic muscle.

While CCFL displays were themselves derided for their anaemic audio in the immediately post-CRT universe, that extra inch or two of speaker space that sets such as these have over their superslim siblings enables a bit more all-round oomph.

The gain in raw power, though, is by no means accompanied by an equivalent increase in all-round quality, with the Samsung's soundfield tending to become cacophonous when cranked beyond the 75 per cent mark.

There is a more bass than you'd find on most LED sets of this size, but that really isn't saying much and the overall experience is decidedly mediocre.

Thoughtfully, though, the company has included a mode for the hard of hearing that foregrounds the most crucial elements of a soundtrack such as dialogue.

Value

The LE32C580 isn't going to write itself into the pages of television history in terms of pure performance, but it ought to hold a good deal of appeal for a casual buyer looking for something affordable that goes one or two steps further than the flatscreen he or she bought five or six yeas ago.

The full HD resolution coupled to a Freeview HD tuner is certainly not to be sniffed at and four HDMIs on top of that should be more than enough for even the most hi-def hungry household.

The other goodies (Anynet, AllShare and the rest) are neither here nor there, really, but add a few extra flourishes to what is a commendably keenly priced package.

Serious video enthusiasts will find this set lacking and those preoccupied with style will find thinner, more desirable objects to fill their front rooms, but anyone after a decent set for an honest price should add this to their shopping list.

Ease of use

The LE32C580's mission is to bring uncomplicated televisual satisfaction to as many people as possible and the operating system is designed with non-videophile masses in mind.

The menu is in a conventional arrangement of vertical icons for picture, sound, setup etc leading into horizontal sub-sections and is navigated in normal fashion by the arrow keys and a central OK button. The menu windows are overlaid on the TV image on tinted layers, with some pleasingly animated graphics and unimpeachably legible text.

The remote itself is rather ugly, with no ergonomic sculpting to help it nestle in the hand and with a dense grid of keys that requires repeated deciphering for the first few hours of use. The buttons depress firmly, though and commands are obeyed crisply, with no furious jabbing or 'aiming' required.

Once you switch on, a plug and play feature guides you through the initial installation process and tweaks to video and audio thereafter are perfectly straightforward.