Flat-panel TVs have increased in size to the point where they rarely are moved from room to room. This is contrary to the early days of “portable TV,” in which a single set would be moved from the living room to the bedroom and back again as needed. But such a small TV can still have value today — especially as it pertains to video gaming and single-person viewing. By that I mean the kids in the family in general, but also the family member looking to immerse him/herself in a game or movie in solitude away from others in the backyard or basement or garage.
Hence the value right off the bat of Samsung’s UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV. The piano black chassis itself is very lightweight and can easily be lifted with one hand, making it easy to mount to a wall if desired — although realistically its size makes it more suitable for use with the attached 2-part stand. The stand takes less than 5 minutes to attach and holds the TV upright — there is no swiveling or tilting allowed.
There’s two real advantages right up front when the screen is 32-inches in size: the first being that the processor has an easier time providing high-definition — in this case Full 1080p HD — with the second advantage being that the 120 Hz speed of the display can more easily negate any image smearing as there’s less “real estate” to cover. The specifications note that the “Clear Motion Rate” combines this technology with processor speed and frame-rate refresh to avoid image distortions. That’s something best agreed with by viewing films, which will be done shortly.
The UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV provides two side-mounted HDMI ports (along with a Component/Composite and Antenna input on the back) and a side-mounted USB input for viewing stored content (movies, audio, photos). There’s also analogue and optical audio outs for sending audio to an amplifier –although this obviates the portability factor. The stereo speakers inside the front bottom are adequately spaced to provide stereo sound, with the 10 watts of power sufficient for hearing dialogue when watching television.The pseudo surround effect is minimal, and works best when closer to the display since then voices are less likely to be drowned out when loud music or explosions/violent sounds are heard. The speaker response, in general, is best suited for TV shows since the bass is lacking — watching a movie being played off a Blu-ray player or even from a broadcast will sound best by first going into the audio menu and fiddling with the settings to increase the bass levels, although this will be at the penalty of the mid-range frequencies. Here you can also emphasis the voice quality if desired.
The menus are straightforward and best activated through the full-sized remote, whose built-in illumination feature is a nice touch. Text “help” sentences aid in providing the user with an understanding of what the various controls will do to the image. Control over the picture is thorough and wide-ranging, for example, the image can be set to pre-configured modes best suited for watching a movie versus a TV show. Additionally, the color temperature can be adjusted from a “warm” to “cool” image and black levels can be modified for personal preferences. Other modes less likely to be found in a display this size include a digital noise filter (moderately useful to useless, depending on the subject material), a Film mode (not suitable when watching TV broadcasts) and LED motion plus that decreases the likelihood of motion smearing in scenes where objects are moving fast across the screen. Of course standard controls to adjust overall brightness and contrast exist as well.
The MediaPlay menu works with content taken off of the USB drive and is straightforward in its execution to the point of where it’s doubtful anyone can’t understand the “what” and “how” of use. Once content is selected, it is controlled by the remote in a conventional manner as to playing or stopping what is onscreen.
I had an advance copy of the Blu-ray disc of Total Recall (the most recent remake), which contains both live-action and CGI scenes together. Playing it through one of the UN32EH5000’s HDMI ports, there wasn’t any motion smearing or obvious artifact glitches that I could see. Additionally, highlight areas in Recall had detail in them, for example, one of the female stars had her hair backlit but detail in the individual hairs wasn’t washed out. Closeups of the actor’s faces were also very sharp. The Blu-ray disc also contained a demo of the God of War: Ascension video game, so the Playstation 3 which I was using to play the movie could also access it. Again, detail was abundant and those colors which were muted didn’t become solid swaths but had nuances of detail. Blacks in both the film and the game demo weren’t inky-black to the point of where you couldn’t see anything in them: I did find that going into the UN32EH5000’s menu and slightly increasing the contrast helped more with the game’s blacks than it did with the film.
To give the set a different kind of workout, I began watching random television shows (switching to the other HDMI hooked up to a satellite receiver). Viewing the display from about 6 feet away on average showed a stable image in which colors and contrast were well-modulated (I had returned all the menu settings to their neutral position first). Moving in closer to the display didn’t betray any lines or “blockiness” either — a sign of a well constructed LCD panel, and as was the case with the film and video game, the display was evenly lit from end to end. Looking at the display from the extreme corners will force some drop off in illumination, but since there will rarely be more than 2 viewers looking at the UN32EH5000 at a time, this won’t become an issue. However, screen reflections from ambient light should be avoided and it’s easy to physically adjust the angle of the UN32EH5000 as needed to keep this from happening.
Bottom line: The Samsung UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV displays a bright, evenly lit and well-defined image, thanks to its 1080p resolution and the LED backlighting which increases color saturation and intensity. The $549 retail (street is significantly less) is a bargain compared to other 32-inch models, especially when taking the technology it offers into consideration.
- Kensington locking slot
- Can update firmware through USB port
- No 3D capabilities
- No Internet capabilities
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.