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9/10

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Samsung LE-26R87BD 26in LCD TV - Samsung LE-26R87BD

The set's relatively small size and low price haven't precluded it from enjoying two of Samsung's picture processing elements: the Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) and something called Movie Plus. DNIe is really just Samsung's name for the sort of multitasking picture processing common in some form or other to practically every TV these days, and as usual its focus is on improving colour saturation/tone, sharpness, motion handling and video noise reduction.

Movie Plus is rather more unusual but potentially no less welcome, as it calculates and interpolates extra image frames in a bid to reduce the resolution loss that can occur with LCD technology when showing motion.

Also of interest to videogame obsessives like ourselves is the 26R87BD's Game mode, which mysteriously claims to optimise pictures for HD console gaming. This includes reducing the screen's response time so that you don't end up ‘pwned' by some shotgun wielding maniac on Halo 3 before your screen has even told you he's there.
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Other more general bits and bobs include a black level booster, manual gamma adjustment, the facility to adjust the backlight output, Samsung's Wide Colour Gamut technology for a more expansive colour palette, and finally edge enhancement circuitry for sharpening up the extremities of objects in the picture.

All in all the 26R87BD's features count and flexibility is very impressive indeed for such an affordable telly. And we're happy to say it all translates nicely into an equally impressive picture performance.

Or at least it does after a bit of tinkering. For it's a simple fact that the Dynamic picture mode the TV is set to when you get it out of its box is really quite scarily bad: a horror show of overcooked colours, forced black level response, and video noise. Quite why Samsung should think that anyone would want such a mess as their default picture settings is anyone's guess?

Thankfully, switching to the TV's Standard mode and ramping down the contrast, brightness and colour levels improves things immeasurably. For instance, colours that previously looked garish and unreal suddenly become vibrant and believable with pretty much every type of source, from a colour-rich game like Halo 3 to the drab palette of your average episode of EastEnders.

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