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Samsung LE32A558 review

Samsung's 5-series of screens has eluded us until now, but if this 32in model is as impressive as the rest of the range, it's on to a winner Tested at £500.00

Our Verdict

Less flashy than many in the Samsung range, but among the most worthy, the 558 is a full £500-worth

For

  • Smooth good looks
  • half-decent tuner
  • good with DVD, cracking Blu-ray pictures

Against

  • Sound is easily flustered
  • some coarseness to TV pictures

Samsung has been so full of enthusiasm for its 'rose-black' range of screens that we've struggled to get hold of any representative from the more prosaic (for which, read 'not a hint of red') 5-series of screens.

This, happily, is where we rectify that – and, later, it's where we bemoan the fact we didn't see them earlier.

There's been no scrimping where the LE32A558 is concerned. It's nicely built and finished, on-screen menus are as straightforward and logical as the remote control and it has the 1920 x 1080 Full HD resolution that excites customers, even if it's less critical where screens of this size are concerned.

The remote is interesting without being overwrought, and the partially-illuminated buttons fall logically under your thumb.

Remote buttons need a bit of a stab
Each button needs a bit more of a stab to get working than is ideal, though, and if you're going to light some of the buttons why not light 'em all?

Freeview TV reception is probably where the Samsung is at its least impressive – and yet there's nothing fundamentally wrong with the job it does.

There's decent stability, even with the dreaded scrolling text, and an enjoyably natural colour balance even in low-light scenes. There's a hint of two-dimensionality to images, though, and undeniable coarseness in less accomplished broadcasts.

Things are improved by a switch to DVD content, where the 558 sharpens the edges and lights the dark scenes with real aplomb. Movement is handled confidently, depth of field improves dramatically and white tones are crisp and clean.

A hugely creditable performance for the money
Predictably, 1080p/24fps images from our The Dark Knight Blu-ray show the Samsung to its best advantage – and, given the price, the 558 turns in a hugely creditable performance.

It's lacking the inky black depths that a couple of more expensive rivals can muster, but dark tones are nonetheless deep and lustrous. The colour palette is revealed as wide-ranging, nuanced and lively, and contrasts are particularly good.

There are prodigious levels of detail on offer, smoothly tracked movement and utterly convincing textures described.

Where sound is concerned, the Samsung suddenly turns back into a £500 LCD TV – though it's quite forward and forthright, even relatively modest volumes can cause some hardening and fizziness.

That's to miss the point somewhat, though. At the price (and happy shoppers will find it even cheaper), the 558 does everything you could reasonably demand, and in some style.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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