Samsung is among the leaders in flat-panel computer monitors, and it's making a big push to topple Sharp in the flat-panel LCD TV market, too. The LT-P326W is a significant threat to Sharp's industry-leading , and although its image quality isn't quite as good, it offers a wider connectivity suite and slicker styling. If price is your first concern, you'll probably be happier with a no-name 32-inch set such as the or the . This Samsung strikes a happy price medium between those sets and the Sharp, although we do wish it cost a couple hundred dollars less.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
Samsung includes its standard smallish gray remote, which is devoid of any illumination and includes an LCD that indicates only which of four devices it's controlling. The menu system is fairly straightforward and helpfully includes selections for input choice as part of the main menu.Samsung threw in a couple of extras to try to set the LT-P326W apart from the pack. The AnyNet system allows the set to control other AnyNet-equipped Samsung gear via an onscreen interface. Since this is the first year the company has offered the feature, it's not all that useful. The front-panel light sensor is about as ineffectual; it senses the light levels in the room and adjusts the picture accordingly, but for best results, we recommend that you leave it off (see Performance for more).
More impressive, on the other hand, is the set's excellent connectivity section. Around back, you'll find both a DVI and an HDMI input, as well as a standard VGA input for computers, making this one of the most computer-friendly LCDs on the market. You also get two component-video inputs, one A/V input with S-Video, an A/V output with composite video, and an antenna input. For some reason, Samsung stuck the headphone jack on the back panel and neglected to include convenient front- or side-panel inputs.
On other fronts, the LT-P326W is a fairly standard 32-inch LCD. Its native resolution of 1,280x768 is enough to fully resolve 720p high-def; everything else, including 1080i HDTV, standard TV, progressive-scan DVD, and computer signals, is converted to fit those pixels.
With standard-def sources, the Samsung allows a choice of five aspect-ratio selections, including two horizontally adjustable zooms. The choice is almost as broad with high-def; only the Panorama mode, which stretches the sides more than the middle, is disabled with 720p and 1080i sources. The set offers three color-temperature presets, three global picture presets, and one custom mode, which includes independent input memories.This 32-inch Samsung produces good-quality images for a flat-panel LCD, but it's not up to the level of Sharp's sets yet. Out of the box, the Movie preset and Warm color-temperature setting resulted in a fairly accurate home-theater picture. We calibrated the set and achieved a more accurate picture, naturally, but we couldn't compensate for the greenish darker areas completely. The rest of the grayscale was reasonably consistent (see the geek box for more).
We tried out the LCD's proprietary image gadgetry and came away unimpressed. The DNIe processing introduced visible video noise and edge enhancement. My Color Control lets you boost and cut pink, blue, and green using an internal image of a model superimposed over a golf course. But it works only when DNIe is engaged. Dynamic Contrast also required DNIe to be engaged, and it further increased video noise. So for critical viewing, we decided to turn off all of these extra features, as well as that brightness sensor.