After relatively slow initial uptake, digital television is starting to make an impact in Australia. Changes to broadcast laws will soon enable commercial free to air broadcasters to offer more than one channel, and free-falling hardware prices make it easier than ever to access the superior image and sound quality offered by digital TV.
Samsung's LA32R71BDX 32-inch (81cm) LCD television offers a high-definition digital tuner, sleek design, and a clear image with a handy list of extra features.
The sleek gloss black frame and base will help the unit blend into just about any chic living room, and a massive range of inputs mean that you shouldn't have any trouble at integrating it into an existing home entertainment setup.
The rear panel offers an enormous array of video connectors, including S-Video, VGA, HDMI, component, and composite, along with RCA and PC audio connectors.
On paper, Samsung's top-of-the-line 32 inch LCD television is a screamer, boasting a massive 5000:1 dynamic contrast ratio coupled with a 500cd/m2 brightness rating and 12.8 billion colour palette. SRS TruSurround XT and teletext are both supported by default, and the rear of the screen includes a wall mount.
The LCD panel offers a 16:9 aspect ratio at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, and the screen will dynamically resize content to fit, including scaling down 1080i high-definition images.
The on-screen menu is clearly laid out and relatively straightforward to navigate, and it doesn't take long to find the tuning and picture adjustment options. The tuning system is quick and painless, and it takes just a few minutes to set up the device to receive all local digital and analog broadcasts -- including EPGs. The TV doesn't feature an automatic brightness control, however presets are present for common colour settings (named Cool2, Cool1, Standard, Warm1, Warm2), which helps to speed adjustments for different light conditions.
Not surprisingly, the unit ships with an enormous remote control to access settings and adjustments.
During testing, the image quality proved to be outstanding, with the screen performing particularly well on contrast tests and in playing back DVDs featuring dark scenes. Rich, deep colours, plenty of detail and a wide 178-degree viewing angle help bring movies to life. The 8 millisecond refresh time means that fast-paced action sequences appear smooth and free from ghosting or jittering, and the screen even has a special gaming mode, optimised for high-definition consoles like the XBox 360.
The screen itself features two small 10 watt speakers, which offer surprisingly punchy sound, but can't match the sheer grunt offered by a dedicated surround sound system. If you take your movie watching seriously, you will want to invest in decent audio.
At just shy of AU$3000, the Samsung TV is a substantial investment, but a wide range of inputs, clear sound, and outstanding images help this 32 inch display shine. More to the point, given that it includes an HDMI input and a built-in high-definition digital tuner, it's even future-proofed.