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Other little tricks worth running by you include a ‘Game’ picture preset specially calibrated to suit an attached Xbox 360 console, a digital noise reduction system, and picture in picture facilities.
Let loose in HD on our Xbox 360 and Sky HD service, the 32R74BDX quickly reveals that thankfully it’s not just a pretty face. Right away, for instance, we found ourselves hugely impressed by the natural tone and extensive range of its colour palette. What’s more, this naturalism and range is not achieved at the expense of the extreme colour vibrancy that’s become something of a Samsung trademark.
Samsung LCDs are renowned for their fine detailing too, and again the 32R74BDX continues the trend, eking out every last pixel of image information from our HD sources, especially the Xbox 360.
It’s a relief to find that much of this fine detail can even be seen in dark parts of the picture, partly thanks to dark picture areas not suffering badly with LCD’s common ‘greying-over’ phenomenon, and partly because the set has an unusually deft touch when it comes to portraying subtle brightness shifts in dark scenes.
While they’re definitely very good, though, the 32R74BDX’s pictures aren’t perfect. First, although they’re decent, black levels don’t plummet quite as deep as one or two LCD rivals these days. Second, actors’ skin can look a bit plasticky and smooth, especially with standard definition footage. And finally, the DNIe system can break down just a touch with standard definition and cause traces of smearing over moving objects.
When it comes to audio, the 32R74BDX’s ‘invisible’ speaker design requires you to accept slightly more sound quality compromises than we’re entirely comfortable with. Things sound just about OK during fairly bog-standard daytime TV programmes, but pushed hard with an action movie or game soundtrack the speakers are quickly found lacking in real power or frequency response. And so while the soundstage is generally clear, it’s also rather flat and uninvolving.
The 32R74BDX might not quite be as good as it looks, especially in the sound department. But its pictures are still accomplished enough to ensure that it avoids any nasty style over substance allegations.