Samsung le32c580

Samsung has been providing decent mid-market sets for years now and this 32-inch model conforms to, rather than triumphantly exceeds, expectation.

It does just about everything you'd expect a £400 LCD TV to do, shining in some areas and falling predictably flat in others.

To start with the former, the LE32C580 serves up a bright, punchy picture full of generously saturated tones and dazzling peak white levels.

Our sample gobbled up the cartoon-like, tropical hues of the early harbour scenes in our DVD of Baz Luhrmann's flatulent Antipodean epic, Australia, rendering the highly stylised palette with some verve.

The parched, ferrous tones of the outback present a wholly different set of challenges, but the Samsung is more than up to the task, painting the Martian landscape in a convincingly varied spectrum of reds and browns that will have you thirsting for a swig of water from a jerry-can.

It isn't the most nuanced picture on the planet, preferring eye-popping pizzazz over naturalistic restraint and occasionally over-egging the flesh-tones a trifle, but it makes up for its brashness with a kind of full-throttle energy that, while somewhat excessive for Bargain Hunt, comes to life with blockbusting movies or animation.

Contrast levels

It's not quite so hot on blacks, with nighttime scenes in either this film or, more noticeably in our Blu-ray disc of Where the Wild Things Are, losing a significant amount of fine detail when the lighting gets really low.

This is all but inevitable with a CCFL-lit television, though: switch the lights in your viewing room when looking at any LCD of this type and witness the near-impossibility of achieving total darkness with an always-on backlight. It's not a catastrophic flaw, by any means, but is a frustrating reminder of the shortcomings of conventional LCD displays.

The other problem that will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has experienced more than handful of liquid crystal sets is a slightly cack-handed way with motion.

The periodic, swooping helicopter shots used in Australia to convey the yawning vastness/craggy magnificence of the geography throw up frequent glitches as the camera pans across cliff or bluff.

Some 100Hz processing might have helped (the Samsung specifies only 50Hz) and, while it doesn't fatally scupper what is an otherwise generally acceptable performance, it is irritating once noticed.