Colours on the 32A656 also need a bit of TLC before you get the best out of them. With any of the factory presets there seemed to be a tendency to exaggerate rich colour elements like green grass and blue skies at the expense of truly believable tones for subtler image elements, such as skin. Using the features in the TV’s menus can thankfully partly correct this situation, achieving a more even-handed and natural colour finish – albeit at the expense of some colour vibrancy.
The set’s standard definition is fair to middling by Full HD TV standards. Things look rather noisy using the same picture settings that favour HD material, but careful manipulation of the noise reduction and backlight settings improves things to the point where standard def becomes at least passably enjoyable.
You’ll probably be starting to understand by now where I was coming from when I suggested earlier that you might well find yourself spending quite a bit of time in the TV’s menus, tweaking various settings. I should add here that you need to be careful with the noise reduction and edge enhancement options too, as the former can make pictures soft while the latter can make edges look stressed.
Of course, we don’t mind a bit of regular feature tweaking provided the results are worth our time. But with this in mind, we’re bound to say that while time spent in the 32A558’s menus is rewarding, it’s not as rewarding as such tinkering on, say, Philips’ PFL9603 or PFL9703 sets.
The LE32A558’s sound is underwhelming. As usual with Samsung TVs, the speakers have been made ‘invisible’ to preserve the purity of the set’s design, and this seems to prevent the soundstage being driven out of the set with as much force, clarity and bass as we’d like. We’re not suggesting here that the whole idea of ‘invisible’ speakers is flawed; JVC and Philips have both proved that it really is possible to get power and range aplenty out of a hidden speaker design. It’s just that Samsung isn’t getting quite as much out of its system as we’d like.
The LE32A558 is a cute, well-specified TV and a likeable performer once you’ve put in some time sorting out its picture settings. Its strikingly low price also hugely enhances its appeal. But with the prettier, better-connected Samsung LE32A656 only costing a little more these days, and other TVs setting new standards in terms of picture performance, it ultimately only finds a place in our good pile, not our great pile.