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Samsung is aiming to bring a touch of premium style to the mid-range TV market with the UE32C6000, which is available for around £650. There's more to this 32-inch, 1080p LCD TV than just a pretty face, however. It also packs a Freeview HD tuner, LED edge lights and some interesting media-streaming capabilities.
Samsung has something of a Midas touch when it comes to designing good-looking tellies, and the UE32C6000 proves the company's still got what it takes. The set is finished in piano black with a seriously stylish translucent edge around the frame. Luxurious touch-sensitive controls hidden beneath the front of the chassis look every bit as classy, thanks to the brushed-metal finish of the base.
Samsung hasn't skimped on the set's connectivity options, either. There are four HDMI ports mounted in a row on the left-hand side of the screen. You also get a set of component inputs, a VGA connector, and a mini RGB input for use with the supplied Scart adaptor. The optical-digital-audio port allows you to feed audio from the on-board Freeview HD tuner to an external audio system. For media playback, Samsung's kitted the set out with two USB ports and an Ethernet socket.
Setting the TV up is fairly straightforward. It's quick to tune in all the channels, including the high-definition services from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Reception was sound and we experienced no signal drop-outs during our test period.
Samsung's electronic programme guide is one of the better ones around. It certainly knocks spots off Panasonic's. It's bright, breezy and colourful, and we like the way it shows a video thumbnail of the selected channel in the top left-hand corner. The layout displays a decent amount of programming info in one go and it's easy to surf between different programmes and channels. The TV's menu system looks rather welcoming too, thanks to its colourful icons, although some of the menus do run quite deep. As a result, it can take quite a few clicks to get to the more advanced picture settings.
Getting the networking features up and running isn't too difficult, and, if you choose the standard DHCP option, everything is configured automatically. Once the networking system is set up, you can use the TV's built-in media-streaming facilities to grab music, photos or videos from a PC or network-attached storage drive. Along with the DivX and Xvid formats, the set also supports MKV files at resolutions of up to 1080p, which makes for superb video streaming.
One area in which this telly loses out big time, though, is Internet widgets. It turns out the set doesn't support any Internet services at all, despite having an Internet button on the remote control. This is hugely disappointing for a set in this price range. If you want Internet features, you'll have to shell out more cash for the Samsung UE32C6600.
As you'd expect at this price point, the TV has a 1080p panel, illuminated via edge-mounted LED lights. Like many LED sets, the UE32C6000 presents exceptionally vivid colours that are so in-your-face they're practically punching your eyeballs. Black levels are remarkably deep for an LCD screen. That said, the TV tends to over-egg the pudding slightly with reds, resulting in slightly orange skin tones. Although black levels are very deep, the TV sometimes struggles to tease out shadow detail in darker scenes.
HD pictures look razor-sharp regardless of whether they're being delivered via the Freeview HD tuner or a Blu-ray disc. The TV's standard-definition performance is also impressive -- it does a stellar job of tarting up low-quality Freeview channels. The 100Hz motion processing keeps a lid on most judder and motion artefacts, but it's best left turned off when watching movies, as it tends to make films look rather flat.
With such a slimline chassis (it's only 30mm thick) and speakers rated at a lowly 10W each, we weren't expecting the UE32C6000 to produce much in the way of sonic fireworks. Its audio performance isn't half bad, though. The speakers are loud enough to fill a mid-size lounge and there are some very usable effects on-board. 'Clear Voice' helps dialogue stand out from background sound and the 'SRS TheaterSound' mode does a decent job of spreading out the stereo image to make audio from the set seem more expansive.
The Samsung UE32C6000 is certainly an attractive-looking TV. Minor quibbles aside, it's capable of delivering crisp, dynamic pictures from both standard-definition and high-definition sources. Considering the relatively small amount of screen real estate on offer and the lack of Internet features, however, we can't help feeling its price is slightly on the high side.
Edited by Emma Bayly