Review Price free/subscription
Samsung LE32B650 32in LCD TV
With Samsung's big LED screens scooping all the headlines right now, I can't help but wonder if I'm going to be left feeling a little 'meh' - to probably misuse one of today's trendy phrases - by the LE32B650, one of the smallest members of Samsung's 'standard backlight' LCD TV range.
It's just as well, then, that the LE32B650 starts its charm offensive right away, with its sumptuous design. The application of a transparent 'crystal' sheet over the black bezel gives it a touch of genuine class, especially as that crystal sheet extends beyond the black bezel by a centimetre or so, and curves seductively around a sort of 'wave' effect along the TV's bottom edge. Even the desktop stand looks distinctive, thanks to its see-through neck.
The 32B650's side and rear are as attractive as its front if you're a fan of connections. Particular boat-floaters are four HDMIs, an Ethernet port for accessing either Samsung's Medi@2.0 online service or a networked PC, and not one but two USB ports, both able to play a variety of photo, music and video file formats. One of the USBs can even accept a full-blown USB HDD device or you can get hold of an optional dongle that enables you to access Samsung's online functionality wirelessly.
If you've managed to miss our recent reviews of other new Samsung TVs, the online functionality we're talking about comprises a controlled environment of content - as opposed to full Internet access - specially designed to be operated via a normal TV remote and interface.
This ring-fenced approach may disappoint die-hard surfers, but it probably makes sense for most TV users - even though Philips did a surprisingly good job of integrating full Internet access into its recent 32PFL9604.
Current Medi@2.0 content includes access to YouTube, the Flickr photo storage website, Yahoo News and Finance links, and Samsung still enjoys an exclusive tie-up with Yahoo's popular Widgets platform.
I have to say that for some reason I experienced persistent connection difficulties with the Yahoo services during my test period with the 32B650, even using a wired link to my router. All I can think is that the Yahoo servers must have been having a bad couple of days.
If the online features aren't sufficient for you, then maybe the 32B650's built-in Content Library will sort you out. This contains, on flash memory, a gallery of screen saver photos and artworks, recipes, games, children's songs and animated stories, and various audio tracks to aid meditation and relaxation (!). You can add a little content of your own to this 'library' too, if you so desire.
Personally, I have to say I didn't feel inclined to revisit anything in the Content Library after my initial exploration of it, but I guess there's always scope for more interesting stuff to be added in future incarnations of the system.