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Everyone likes shiny technology; from rumors about the newest iPhone to reviews of the hottest TVs, it's your passion for the latest gadgets and gizmos that keeps this site running. But aspirations and practicalities are rarely the same thing, and so while we may be waiting with bated breath for the first OLEDs to arrive, we know that not many people will actually buy them. In reality, most people will be buying 32-inch televisions -- it's still the most popular size in North America. But if you're researching 32-inch TVs, you still want to know what to get, right?
The Samsung UN32EH4000F is a fine example of a no-frills television that gets the basics right. It has the best picture of the models we tested, and doesn't bother with frivolities like Smart TV. If you want online content, then stumping up for a $100 Apple TV is the best way to go. The EH4000 also bettered its rivals in terms of design -- it has a superslim bezel for a 32-inch TV -- and it comes with a backlit remote, which the others we compared it with didn't have.
If you want more features or better picture quality, you'll have to pay a lot more, which makes this Samsung the 32-incher I'd recommend.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the Samsung UN32EH4000F, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
If you're looking to fill a space in your living room, you don't want a gaudy TV uglifying things up; and compared with its peers the EH4000 is actually attractive. It features a slim bezel all around in a tasteful piano black, and while it doesn't have a swivel stand, the set is so light that it's just as easy to physically move anyway.
The remote control is the most fully featured of its kind, but usability is an issue. The remote is basically the same as its more expensive brethren, but shrunken, so all of the gaps are removed. Ergonomically, this makes changing channels and menu options by feel quite hard. Thankfully, the remote is backlit so you can see what you're doing in the dark.
|Models in series (details)|
|Samsung UN26EH4000||26 inches|
|Samsung UN32EH4000F (reviewed)||32 inches|
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Full-array|
|Smart TV||No||Internet connection||No|
|3D technology||No||3D glasses included||No|
|Refresh rate(s)||60Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
|Other: 1,366x768-pixel (720p) resolution; compatible with 1080i and 1080p sources|
As the Samusng EH4000 costs the same as buying a couple of peripherals for the company's flagship sets, you can't expect much in the way of features. Like the other 32-inchers we tested, the Samsung has a 720p (1,366x768-pixel) resolution, but it will accept a 1080p signal. At this screen size, you won't notice the lower resolution unless you practically touch your nose to the TV.
Also worth noting is the full-array LED backlight, as opposed to the fluorescent variety still found on most budget competitors. LED alone doesn't mean better picture quality, but it does help the EH4000 stay slim. There's has no dimming or other fancy tricks but it does include the company's Clear Motion Rate 60 processing for some smoothing.
While we don't usually mention this about more expensive TVs, as they usually include a wider range of streaming options, the Samsung does include some media playback functionality as we'll detail shortly.
The Samsung offers some advanced controls for such an inexpensive TV, including a two-point grayscale. Despite its lack of a Color Management System, I was able to eke quite a good picture out of this television.
The Samsung lacks Internet connectivity but does offer movie, music and photo playback through the single USB port. Other connections include two HDMI ports (one each of component and composite) and a digital audio-out for external audio from the onboard tuner. Interestingly for a small TV it lacks an analog PC input, which perhaps excludes it from use as a monitor for some people, though there is always the option of using an HDMI port.
Samsung has a reputation for producing high-quality LCD televisions, and while high-end models like the ES8000 tend to lean on this a bit too heavily with little payback, the EH4000 is the kind of high-value TV you'd expect for the money.
Black levels are the best of its type, and shadow details are easily discerned while still retaining cinematic punch. Color fidelity is also a highlight, with tones akin to last year's LCD favorite, the Samsung LND630, if lacking that last tick of accuracy.
|Comparison models (details)|
|TCL L40FHDF12TA||40-inch LCD|
|Samsung LN46D630||46-inch LCD|
|Sony KDL-32BX330||32-inch edge-lit LED|
|LG 32CS460||32-inch LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference)||65-inch plasma|
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
The Samsung was the best in our lineup of 32-inch TVs in terms of absolute black, and only the 46-inch D630 had a deeper black level. If you want reference-level blacks, you're obviously in the wrong place, but for a bedroom TV, the blacks were perfectly acceptable.
Where the EH4000 really excelled was in shadow detail. From challenging scenes in the final "Harry Potter" movie to the complex night scene at the 12:24 mark in "Watchmen," the Samsung was able to fill in the details that TVs like the LG and TCL simply weren't capable of, giving images much-needed depth.
While the TV lacks advanced color controls, the color I was able to get out of it was the best of our small, 32-inch group. Colors were natural-looking and well-saturated, and skin tones were as true as you could expect from a $300 TV. Even in the monocolor palettes of "Star Trek," the strong blues and greens look as true to the source (by way of the accurate Samsung D630) as you could expect for this amount of money.
The TV lacks a dedicated 24p mode, and so Blu-ray playback isn't as silky-smooth as you'll see on some TVs. The playback was actually the jerkiest on our test fly-by of the USS Intrepid in "I Am Legend" and therefore earns a fail.
If you activate the 60Hz mode (LED Motion Plus), you can get some additional smoothness, and based on my observations it wasn't as obnoxious as some of the smoothing modes I've seen. However, even with this mode enabled the TV wasn't able to divine much more in the way of motion resolution out of our synthetic test, with only 350 lines visible (typical for a 60Hz TV).
The EH4000 was able to handle interlaced content well, with a pass in our 1080i deinterlacing test. This is especially fortunate given the TV's inability to display 1080 content natively due to its 1,366x768-pixel resolution.
Due to the combination of a small size and a direct backlight, I didn't notice any problems with backlight leakage or spotlighting in the corners.
Though the Samsung had the glossiest screen of the TVs we tested, it was still comparatively matte. When I watched the TV in a lit room there weren't any distracting reflections exhibited. When viewed under these conditions it also boasted the greatest level of contrast of any of the sets and so is a good choice for rooms with low- to midlevel brightness.
|Geek Box: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0207||Poor|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2649/0.2616||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3125/0.3327||Average|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.3129/0.3264||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||9853.352||Poor|
|After avg. color temp.||6475.9488||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||1.6264||Average|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||1.698||Average|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||4.0588||Poor|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2167/0.3233||Average|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.326/0.1546||Good|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4251/0.5116||Average|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Fail||Poor|
|1080i Deinterlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||350||Poor|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||310||Poor|
|PC input resolution (VGA)||0||Poor|