So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
- Excellent image quality in Standard and High Definition, Unique design, Wide array of connection options, High quality sound
- Limited calibration options
With excellent image quality and a good range on connection options, the LA32R71B is sure to win hearts.
Price$ 2,999.00 (AUD)
Samsung has consistently produced high quality LCD televisions in the past and the 32 inch LA32R71B is no exception. With clear and vibrant images and an attractive design, it is sure to win hearts and apart from a few minor issues, we were quite impressed with its performance.
Naturally, the most important thing with any television is its image quality and the R7 delivers brilliantly in both standard and high definition. The colour separation and pixel accuracy is top notch and the video processing for 576i (DVD resolution) is quite impressive. It is common for high definition LCD panels to work really well in HD but look average when watching DVDs; however that was not the case with this unit. We found the performance under standard definition to be on-par with other high-end models we have seen.
In standard definition we ran extensive tests using our DVDs which consist of Digital Video Essentials, Philips CE 2006 and Gladiator. Digital Video Essentials displays a series of still image patterns that we use to check how well a panel can render colours, greys and to check for problems in sharpness. In the colour tests, the R7 did quite well but we did notice some over-saturation when displaying red. We attempted to calibrate the unit to counteract this but unfortunately the calibration tools only contain the most basic of options and do not allow any control over the red, blue, green, magenta, cyan and yellow levels in the image, so there wasn't much we could do. Thankfully, this is the only aberration that we experienced throughout all our testing. The grey test was passed flawlessly with no image noise, no discolouration and a good blend from black to white.
The Philips CE 2006 DVD is used to check for motion jitter in moving images as well as colour, contrast and sharpness. There was some minor jitter experienced in our test video but it was far lower than most units and since we have yet to see an LCD panel that can render the scene without any motion jitter, the Samsung did quite well. The sharpness test images were rendered brilliantly without any over-sharpening artefacts and the contrast tests showed a subtle blend between light and dark areas in the image.
Of all the standard definition tests, watching Gladiator was the most impressive. There was no image noise at all and the images were crisp for a DVD. We were particularly impressed by flesh tones and colour reproduction too. There was no stepping in flesh tones and the colour was rich and vibrant. The video processors in the unit did a great job of smoothing out curves and therefore avoiding any undue pixilation. Naturally, it doesn't look as good as high definition video but it certainly looks better than most TVs we have reviewed.
With a native resolution of 1366 x768, the LA32R71B supports 720p natively and 1080i via interpolation. We used the Xbox 360 to test the high definition capabilities of the panel since it is a pure source of HD content. In both 720p and 1080i, the results were excellent but not quite perfect. No image noise or pixel fluctuation was present and the image was bright, vibrant and crisp. Unfortunately, red was also too saturated in high definition but since the rest of the image looked so good, it was really a minor problem.
The Samsung can also be connected to a PC via the 15 pin D-Sub connector and used as a monitor. We tested this using a program called DisplayMate Video Edition which uses an extensive series of display patterns to check the image quality. In every single test we threw at the panel, we found not one problem - even the red over-saturation was gone. We were impressed by this result, and highly recommend this unit for those that use Media Centre PCs in their lounge rooms.
The design of the unit is quite interesting, with gloss black plastic on all surfaces including the stand. The bottom of the bezel forms a "v" shape and the corners are rounded. The easily accessible input panel on the rear is most welcome and connecting all our AV components was very simple. The R7 has one HDMI, two component, two composite, one S-Video and one 15 pin D-Sub connector.
The speakers are hidden from view behind the bottom of the bezel and face downward toward the stand. They produce excellent quality audio with good bass, rich mid-tones and clear treble registers but at high volume some of the clarity can get lost in the bass. The LA32R71B also comes with an integrated high definition tuner (HDTV) which we found worked reasonably well. However, the quality will depend entirely on the signal strength in your area and the resolution that the program was originally shot in. The tuner can also accept analogue channels as well, though the quality is rarely up to scratch.
The oversaturated reds are definitely a problem but it is one that most people either won't notice or will most likely get used to over time. While this and the limited calibration options are things to consider, the excellent performance in both standard and high definition more than made up for them. We liked this unit and have no problem recommending it, particularly for use with a media centre PC.
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