High definition in the UK has been the preserve of LCD and plasma panels (and projectors, of course) up until now, so what does Samsung have up its sleeve to make us consider reverting to a bulky 32-inch CRT model?
First of all, the WS32Z409TQX isn't that bulky. It has a SlimFit picture tube (30 per cent slimmer than a standard CRT), which contributes to a really pleasing design. It's still chunky when compared with a flat panel, but not prohibitively so. Equally important is the price. Just £450 for a 32-inch HD-ready screen is really going to attract a few glances in showrooms up and down the country.
But let's look into this claim of HD capability a bit more closely. It is not entirely clear how it does this because Samsung fudges a bit on the specifications. Unlike an LCD or plasma set, which will clearly state its resolution in terms of pixels, Samsung merely states that this TV can accept a signal up to 1080i.
On the connections and features count the set is okay. There's an HDMI input, together with component sockets (but the set isn't progressive scan capable), as well as lesser backups including an RGB Scart input. The sound is Nicam stereo and you also get SRS TruSurround and Turbo Sound, which boosts bass. The 2 x 10W onboard amplification is perfectly respectable, but not likely to threaten your eardrums.
The tuner is analogue (a sister model, the 419D, comes with a digital tuner for Freeview reception). There is an auto setup function, or you can opt for manual tuning, and there's a picture freeze mode. When switched on you instantly notice something about the picture. The screen is flat, but there is a geometry issue here. The edges of the picture show noticeable distortion, which is perhaps more evident on a test screen but still intrudes on normal viewing.
The edges also appear to be a shade or two darker than the rest of the screen, which is distracting. The 100Hz scanning employed reduces the flicker that 50Hz CRT sets exhibit, but there is a penalty in the form of artefacting on fast-moving objects. So, on the HD test. Sadly, this set doesn't really come close to the HD performance of a good LCD or plasma screen - there just isn't the level of detail we've got used to so quickly, especially on backgrounds.
The picture is bold and colourful, with good colour rendition, and the sound is adequate, but we really can't recommend this as an HD TV when there are superior LCD panels out there for not much more. Unless saving £150 or so is absolutely critical to you, we would suggest you look elsewhere.