There are also two separate noise filters, and a small selection of picture presets. Though as usual with Samsung TVs at the moment, these presets aren’t especially helpful, as they all push contrast and backlight output too hard, causing noise and a few colour problems.
After toning things down a bit, though, our tests found Sky HD news feeds and a variety of daytime shows from the onboard BBC and ITV HD channels all looking startlingly good for a £300 32in TV.
Colours are much more vibrant and appear to enjoy a wider tonal range than you usually get for so little money. Plus they enjoy fairly natural tones aside from a skintone issue we’ll get to later.
The HD images also look crisper than is common for the budget TV market, especially as while motion certainly isn’t completely free of LCD’s common blurring/resolution loss issues, it’s certainly far better than the mushy mess commonly seen at the 32EH5000’s money.
Pictures are decently bright too, avoiding another common cheap TV failing and thus becoming a perfectly acceptable second-room option for light environments like conservatories and kitchens.
The single most pleasant surprise where these first HD impressions are concerned, though, is the apparent contrast of the 32EH5000’s pictures. For alongside the rich colours already noted the screen delivers extremely punchy whites alongside what look at this stage at least like really respectable black levels.
We added the ‘at this stage’ qualifier back there because experience has shown that the sort of predominantly bright content that makes up most daytime TV viewing can give a ‘false reading’ where black level response is concerned. In particular, it’s very hard indeed to see potential backlight consistency flaws until you switch to the much more dark-dominated scenes contained in many films.
So let’s make that switch now… And actually, the 32EH5000 doesn’t fall down nearly as badly as we’d have expected. The biggest relief while watching almost completely dark footage is that the screen doesn’t suffer badly at all with backlight clouding. There’s a faint patch of extra brightness towards the bottom left corner, but this is hardly ever obvious enough to be in any way distracting. Especially if you’ve taken the TV’s backlight and contrast levels down to 11 (or less) and around 85 respectively.
Surprisingly deep black levels
Making the backlight uniformity all the more impressive is the fact that the 32EH5000 can produce a vastly superior black level response to most if not all other new TVs at its price level. Sure, there’s a shade of greyness over parts of the picture that would ideally look perfectly black. But this grey is nothing like as strong as the ‘mist’ that spoils so many budget TV pictures, leaving you able to feel much more involved with dark scenes – especially as the depth of black levels achieved helps dark colours look more natural, too.