- Design, Speakers, Excellent PC mode, S-Video mode, Good response time.
- Few minor issues in standard definition
The Samsung LA32M61B is an attractive and affordable television with good performance.
Price$ 2,799.00 (AUD)
This LA32M61B 32in LCD television with analogue tuner is a great television and one that fits the bill for those wanting to keep their purchase under $3000 while still getting good value for money. It performed well in standard definition, though not brilliantly, and had only a few problems in high definition. However, where it excelled was PC and S-Video modes, both of which blew us away. The LA32M61B compares well with many units we have reviewed and most viewers will be more than satisfied with this purchase.
The panel is surrounded by a gloss piano black bezel, a design feature which extends across the entire unit. The stand is affixed during installation and adds to the overall aesthetic. The rear lays claim to the many connection options with a secondary bank of composite/S-Video connections on the left hand side of the bezel. The rear connections include two component, one composite/S-Video, an HDMI (DVI-D compatible) slot and a 15-pin D-Sub port for PC connection. The grey plastic remote control is light but far less attractive than the design of the main unit. The speakers are effectively hidden beneath the bottom edge of the bezel, pointed downward. This design makes it feel as though the sound is actually coming from the screen and not from an exterior source. The sound quality is excellent, with only a little loss in treble at higher volumes.
The panel has a native resolution of 1366x768 with 10-bit colour processing resulting in support for 6.4 billion colours. The contrast ratio is reported to be 5000:1, and is accompanied by a 500cd/m2 brightness rating and a response time of 8ms.
We tested the standard definition capabilities of the panel via the component connection and found the image quality to be acceptable but not exceptional. Our tests included the Philips CE2006 Demo DVD, the Digital Video Essentials test patterns and a real world DVD test using the lobby scene from The Matrix.
The Philips CE2006 tests are designed to help check for motion jitter, colour quality, sharpness and contrast. Motion jitter is a problem we have seen a number of LCD televisions and while the Samsung did suffer moderately from it, it was better than many other televisions on the market. The colours are vivid and bright on factory default but the display does exhibit some noticeable over-saturation, especially in the red spectrum. We corrected this by tweaking the calibration options but achieving the best possible calibration was time consuming. Contrast tests showed minor stepping in harsh contrast transitions and the sharpness tests showed over-sharpening together with some aliasing on some edges. Turning down the default sharpness corrected a little of this but it was still present.
We discovered a small amount of noise in the greyscale tests in Digital Video Essentials. This occurred in mid-level greys but did not seem to extend to the colour block tests. In fact, the panel passed the rest of the DVE tests without incident. This greyscale issue could be seen when viewing The Matrix in the form of noise in dark areas of the image as well as in wall textures. The over-sharpening and aliasing seen in other tests was also present during DVD playback especially in edges and when rendering the flying lobby debris. The reported 8ms response time was evident in this test as it handled motion very well with no ghosting or streaking.
We also ran some standard definition tests on the panel while connected via S-Video and were blown away by how efficient the scaling processor was at producing a quality image. LCD panels are notorious for looking below average when connected to composite/S-Video sources but when watching a DVD, the result was quite pleasing. While the problems seen under component connection were still present, they were not as prominent, making the image look a little more pleasing to the eye. However, the trade off was that the colours were a little muddy and needed to be re-calibrated to achieve an optimal result. The S-Video performance was by far the best we have ever seen on an LCD display.
We connected the LA32M61B to the Xbox 360 console to test its performance in high definition. The native resolution of this panel supports 720p signals without scaling and can scale up to 1080i as well. We tested at both resolutions and found that the scaling to 1080i was good enough to be barely distinguishable from 720p. Any interlacing problems seen with other televisions were not present in the Samsung.
Images looked quite good and were more than acceptable for most users needs. However, the over-sharpening was still present, particularly on text, and could only be diminished slightly through calibration. Even with sharpness set to zero it was still present, though not as severe. However, the low response time did the unit proud as gaming on the Samsung was quite good. It wasn't the best we have ever seen in an LCD but it was definitely consistent with a panel at this price point.
We connected a PC via a D-Sub VGA connection and ran our DisplayMate Video Edition test program. It performed beautifully in PC mode with accurate colours, excellent contrast, sharpness and brightness. We had no problems with the unit at all in this mode. Even when just viewing the desktop the high quality of the PC connection was apparent. The only criticism that could be aimed at the LA32M61B would be that at default settings the brightness was a little too high but this was easily corrected.
The built-in tuner performed quite well. Analogue tuners are known for poor picture quality on flat panel televisions with quite a bit of ghosting, artefacts and pixilation. While there was still a fair amount of ghosting, we were quite surprised that the other problems were minimal. It could not compare to the clarity of a standard or high definition digital tuner but it was certainly among the best we have reviewed.
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