Most people’s attention is drawn towards the razzle-dazzle of Samsung’s high-end LED sets and their innovative tech, super-powered processing and pristine pictures. We’re only human.
But there’s also a wealth of more affordable LCD TVs lurking in the lower reaches of the company’s range, designed to bring you decent picture quality at a price that won’t wipe out your bank balance. The UE32EH5000 is one such set.
Naturally it’s a simple beast, lacking 3D, smart TV features and DLNA, but for those who don’t need such frills from their TV it could be a real bargain.
Design and features
The other thing you sacrifice is the super-slim profile and silver styling of Samsung’s expensive sets. Here, you get an old-school design more like that of a ‘traditional’ LCD set, with a rear end that sticks out like a dancer in a hip-hop video.
But don’t let that chunkiness put you off too much – elsewhere it’s rather dapper, sporting a slim gloss black bezel and a little lip at the bottom. The round stand adds to the allure with some sumptuous curves and more gloss black, even if its build is a little plasticky.
On the back you’ll find a rather limited array of sockets by today’s standards. There are just two HDMI inputs, which is no good if you have several of hi-def devices – the minimum we’d accept these days is three.
You also get optical digital audio output, composite and component video input, SCART, RF input and Ethernet, which is only there as part of the Freeview HD spec and not for web content or network streaming. On the side is a USB port and a Common Interface slot for adding pay TV channels.
With no DLNA or access to Samsung’s Smart TV portal, there isn’t a great deal to report here, although there’s a Freeview HD tuner that grants you access to free hi-def channels.
The USB port provides a convenient way of watching video, music and photo files on your screen. It supports a pleasing range of video formats, including AVCHD, DivX, WMV HD, AVI, XviD, MP4, 3GP and MKV. On the music side, it spins MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, plus it displays JPEG photos. You can’t however, record from the Freeview tuner onto an external hard-disk as you can on Samsung’s higher-end models.
There’s also a generous range of picture adjustments in the setup menu. Select the Picture menu and the first page houses all the usual tweaks – presets (Movie, Natural, Standard, Dynamic), contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour and tint – but delve into the Advanced Settings menu and there’s loads more to play with.
With Dynamic Contrast, Black Tone, Flesh Tone, White Balance and Gamma, you can fine-tune the image to taste, while further adjustments are found in the Picture Options menu – Colour Tone, Digital/MPEG Noise Filters and LED Motion Plus, which aims to smooth movement and reduce judder. The panel’s refresh rate is 50Hz – at this price it would be unreasonable to expect more sophisticated motion processing.
The EH5000 features a stripped-back menu system, freed from the complications of smart TV and DLNA streaming. What you’re left with is a pleasant, intuitive series of displays, with cute graphics and bright colours conveying a sense of fun.
The main menu is a simple blue box in the middle of the screen, with all the relevant categories listed down the left. The cursor moves without delay and it’s a complete doddle to navigate. Hit the ‘Content’ button on the remote and a row of large icons appears at the bottom of the screen, allowing you to access the channel list, EPG, USB content, schedule manager and connected sources. It’s really handy. Meanwhile, the Tools menu displays a list of settings relevant to what you’re watching.
Samsung’s EPG is one of the best on the market. It packs in a six-channel programme grid, a live TV screen and the synopsis without feeling cluttered. Helpful shortcuts line up along the bottom and you can filter the TV, radio and data stations. The flexible onscreen info banner can be called up as you watch TV, allowing you to view any channel for the next seven days, not just ‘now and next’ like some TVs. The ‘Media Play’ menus continue this user-friendly theme, using logical submenus, folders and thumbnails to help you find your files quickly.
The remote is smaller than Samsung’s usual zappers, but that doesn’t pose any problems – the buttons are chunky, emblazoned with clear lettering and helpfully laid out. Some may find the buttons at the bottom a little small but it’s not a major hindrance.
The UE32EH5000 delivers much better picture quality than you might expect given the price. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best budget 32in TV performers I’ve seen.
After tinkering with the image settings and calming down the forced, garish look of the presets, the 32EH5000 offers bright, punchy pictures that make Blu-ray discs and HD channels look highly enjoyable.
Watching brightly lit material in a brightly lit room, pictures retain their solidity, which makes it ideal for day-to-day viewing. Detail handling is excellent, giving HD material a rich, razor-sharp appearance. It’s particularly dazzling with bright CG animated movies, which is great news if you’re buying this for the kids’ room. But whereas most budget sets do the bright, cheery stuff nicely then fall flat when handing a challenging dark scene, the 32EH5000 offers surprisingly assured reproduction of, for instance, Prometheus’ moodier scenes.
The image retains a reasonable sense of depth, helped considerably by a consistent backlight, which brings uniform picture depth across the screen. This means you can easily make out shadow detail in the picture, such as shading and textures on the background walls as the team explores the alien edifice.
But the flashing lights that cut their way through the gloom are remarkably crisp, revealing the set’s terrific contrast. Black depth is by no means the best we’ve clapped eyes on, with a little 'mist' in some areas, but it’s much more convincing than the price tag would suggest.
We’re also impressed by the set’s colours, which are radiant, natural and bolstered by its superb contrast. Even SD Freeview pictures, which can look absolutely dreadful in the wrong hands, are painted in fairly realistic hues, although its inability to pick up subtle tonal gradations in skin tones gives them a slightly waxy look.
Otherwise Freeview pictures are stable, bold and don’t suffer from excessive noise – though inevitably there is a touch of MPEG blocking and mosquito noise to cloud the clarity.
Perhaps the biggest flaw is motion reproduction. I watched Match of the Day in HD and detected some smearing behind moving players and a slight gauzy effect as the camera moves around the pitch, but it’s not likely to spoil your enjoyment.
For undemanding TV programmes like the news or quiz shows, the UE32EH5000 does a good job, projecting speech with reasonable authority while remaining comfortable on the ears. But with dynamic movie soundtracks and music, the lack of bass leaves everything sounding a bit weedy. You can try turning up the volume to compensate but this lack of balance stresses the speakers and induces a harsh edge.
Given that you can buy it for under £300 online, the UE32EH5000’s assured picture performance comes as something of a surprise. Its images are bright and punchy, with bold, natural colours and sharp detail. But most surprising is how good dark scenes look, containing relatively deep blacks and clear shadow detail. Its connections and feature list are sparse, with no DLNA or Smart TV access, but within the context of the price it’s perfectly acceptable – all of which makes the UE32EH5000 a real bargain.
Manufacturer and model
Screen size (inches)
1,920 x 1,080
50 Clear Motion Rate
20W (2 x 10W)
Energy efficiency class
(with stand, W x H x D)
738.3 x 498.2 x 191.7mm
(without stand, W x H x D)
738.3 x 444.9 x 93.2mm
Digital audio output
SD card slot