Samsung WS32A116DSXXEU review

Low price, big name

Our Verdict

Some nice features for the price - like a built-in digital tuner and 100Hz processing - but it's a shame about the performance!

The fact that Samsung's WS32A116DSXXEU has a ridiculously long name isn't its only point of interest. Hitherto referred to as the WS32, this screen gives you all the Freeview channels without an external set-top box. Furthermore, its digital talents can be had for a whole £300 less than those of Panasonic's TX-32DTX40. But how many corners has Samsung had to cut to hit such a price?

We doubt that home cinema stylists earned anything from the WS32. With its unremarkable matt-grey finish and boringly rectangular lines, it's easily a bland TV. Samsung has cut back on the connections, too, giving us just a couple of Scarts. At least the Conditional Access Module slot for upgrading to Pay TV is still there.

Aside from its digital tuner, the WS32 has just two features worth troubling you with: 100Hz processing (most unexpected at this price point) and an electronic programme guide. This latter item is very impressive in terms of its presentation, flexibility and speed.

Sadly, though, this is where the impressive stuff ends. Within the first few scenes of Troy, it becomes obvious that the WS32 can't hold a candle to any of its rivals here when it comes to performance...To begin with, the 100Hz processing seems less potent than usual. Shots we'd expect 100Hz to make look solid and richly coloured, like those of the Trojan onlookers during Hector's tussle with Achilles, look unstable and fragile.

And the clear blue skies against which the warriors are fighting emphasises another problem - picture noise. There's dot crawl all over the place. Some of Troy's murkier scenes, meanwhile, such as the dawn battle where Achilles' cousin is killed, sporadically suffer from a curious vertical line structure.

On top of this, strange bulges in the walls of Troy reveal a number of screen geometry issues, while ultra-detailed shots - like the one where Achilles raises his sword in victory above a beach packed with boats and men - look disappointingly soft and unfocussed. To round the bad news off, sharply contrasted edges tend to be accompanied by some pretty overt haloing.

Weedy warrior

Thankfully, there are a few plus points. The picture is unusually bright, for instance, yet this is not achieved at the expense of a generally natural colour tone. What's more, the screen's 100Hz processing is pretty clean - albeit not as potent in its effects as most.

Sadly, it's not just the WS32's pictures that are poorly. Its sound is pretty darned average too. A depressing shortage of bass leaves all of Troy's battlefield scenes sounding thin and weedy, while a lack of power means the soundstage stays narrow.

On paper we liked the look of Samsung's WS32 - its manufacturer-quoted £750 asking price appeared a steal for a 32in 100Hz IDTV, and you can pick it up for as much as £200 cheaper online. But in practice, the old 'you get what you pay for' adage has unfortunately never been more true.