Samsung LE32A656 review

An elegant TV, but do its pictures match its impressive styling?

Samsung LE32A656
The most striking thing in the 32A656's favour is its sharpness with HD sources

TechRadar Verdict

It’s got the looks, the features and the pictures to make it quite possibly the most desirable 32in LCD on the block


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    Gorgeous design

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    Superb picture quality

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    Outstanding features and connectivity


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    Sound could be punchier

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While rival manufacturers are still scrabbling around in a desperate attempt to catch up with the outstanding design prowess of Samsung's previous LCD range, the Korean brand has moved the goalposts again with its new 'touch of colour' models.

The injection of an undertone of red into the LE32A656's glass-fronted bezel is a touch of elegant genius that makes the set look as gorgeous as it is distinctive.

Four HDMIs

That's not the only area where the 32A656 steals a march on its rivals either, for it also sports four v1.3 HDMIs where most manufacturers can muster no more than three.

Other connection highlights include the increasingly de rigueur D-Sub PC jack, plus a USB 2.0 port via which you can play MP3 audio and display JPEG stills.

Superior feature set

The LE32A656 continues to forge ahead of the pack with its feature count.

For starters, crucially it sports a full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, immediately handing it an advantage when it comes to showing the UK's 1080-line high-definition sources, as it can show them more 'purely', without any of the resizing necessary on 1,366 x 768 resolution screens.

It's also nice to find both Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) processing and the latest version of the brand's Movie Plus processing.

The former of these delivers all the usual improvements in colours, black levels, motion and detail, while the latter adds newly calculated extra image frames to reduce LCD's motion blur issues.

Excellent black levels

It's a pity the 32A656 doesn't include the 100Hz processing found on larger A656 models. And the set's 15,000:1 contrast ratio isn't as high as the figures quoted by some of its rivals. But neither of these facts stop the 32A656 producing great pictures.

Particularly striking is its black level response, as it achieves depths of blackness beyond the reach of most rivals and, for that matter, some more expensive plasma screens.

This black level talent helps the set produce the widest and most dynamic colour range of the sets we're featuring too, while the tone of colours – even tricky skin tones – is nearly always completely believable.

Impressive HD performance

Perhaps the most striking thing in the 32A656's favour, though, is its sharpness with HD sources. A combination of the full HD pixel count and excellent handling of motion ensures you get more impact from HD sources than you'd think possible on a 32in screen.

To make the 32A656 perfect we'd have liked black levels to get even deeper still, and the set's sound to be more aggressive.

Plus it's high time Samsung ditched its over-the-top 'Dynamic' picture factory preset, which makes images look noisy and gaudy until you tone down the contrast, colour and brightness settings.

But while the 32A656 may not be perfect, its beauty is considerably more than just skin deep.