Pros Excellent picture/price ratio, 3 HDMI inputs
Cons Cheap built-in speaker, no backlit remote
Summary When I was initially shopping for HDTVs two years ago, I came down to Samsung and Sony. How fitting that I came down to both of these brands yet again. This time, it was much easier for me to choose the Samsung LN32A550. I had been toying with the idea of adding an HDTV/computer monitor to the bedroom for a while. I couldn't decide between a large, expensive computer monitor and a TV. I knew that I needed something with greater resolution than "720p" for a screen that size. Sure, you might not notice the difference watching a movie or HD programming, but as a computer display, it's not quite as forgiving.
When I saw this unit for <$900, the thought of using it as a compromise piqued my interest. I read the review of the 450 series on CNET and assumed that the 550 had to be at least as good (lucky for me that potentially flawed logic held true!). I saw rave user reviews for the larger models and decided to take the plunge.
It arrived yesterday, and I had to set it up at lunch. It looked great out of the box, but you must calibrate these things. I am still playing around with the settings using DVE, AVIA, and the THX Optimizer and have found great results so far, but I am a calibration nut and will continue to tweak. Once I feel like I've got a great calibration, I will post my settings. Also, I will update my eval after connecting it as a PC display with a high end graphics card.
As I said, the price/performance ratio for this display is phenomenal. A buddy at work was looking for a 32" and settled on a set that doesn't really approach the quality of this one, and I only paid a little over $100 more. You can always get a better picture going with the creme de la creme. The trick is to find that peformance/price break that both matches your budget and gives you the best bang for the buck. I feel pretty fortunate owning the Sony KDS50A2000 and Samsung LN32A550. I bought both for under $2500, and I have seen sets that expensive which can't beat the picture on either display.Updated
The remote actually DOES have a backlight function. I was too hasty in my review! Also, the picture is gorgeous! My settings from memory:
Color Temp: Warm 2
I use this setting for HD cable viewing and have bounced back and forth between Warm 1 and Warm 2 with roughly the same settings. Blacks look great, and color saturation is rich. Reds are a little inaccurate; so, I have them muted a bit. It's VERY bright right out of the box, and movie mode seems to both darken and slightly yellow the picture to my eyes. Really, I think you could calibrate it on Movie or Standard mode, just depends on your preferences. So far, I have used just the THX Optimizer on The Incredibles to adjust my settings over my Oppo DVD player. I also plan on checking the settings with the AVIA DVD as well as my Blu-Ray DVE disc over the PS3. Really, the cheap speakers are the only drawback on this TV!
Updated on Jan 14, 2009So, I found out that the remote is, in fact, backlit, and I have used this as a de facto computer monitor for the past 6 or so months. Let me tell you, it is fantastic! Unlike my Sony projection LCD, this is a true LCD panel and isn't subject to the same overscan problems that the Sony presents (5% overscan). In fact, there is a mode labeled "Just Scan" that is, well, pretty self-explanatory.
Actually, this is almost TOO big. My gf finally convinced me to buy a dedicated computer monitor (a 24" 1920x1080 Acer); so, this display will be going back to the bedroom, but I think I have been spoiled for life. My PC is running Vista with 2 Nvidia 8800 GT GPUs in SLi mode and a BD/HD-DVD drive. Text looks crisp; Blu-Rays look fantastic; and games are a dream to play. I play a fair amount of COD4, and it's very nice to play the game on a 32" 1080p display. There is no perceivable lag time, to me at least. With a refresh rate of 5ms, this TV is on par with most computer monitors.
Pros Excellent picture quality, with exceptional detail and contrast. Superior response even with fast moving images.
Cons So-so sound quality, you'll need after market setup for good sound. (Though in movie setting it's acceptable)
Summary Right out of the box this TV was not impressive, I almost repacked the thing to go exchange it for a Sony XBR. However, after doing some quick research on the web I found some advice on proper calibration...WOW...what a difference.
The picture quality is excellent now and color reproduction is only just shy of perfect. I am especially impressed with it's quality even with fast moving images, such as, explosions. The blacks and shadows are dead-on.
There is no blur, distortion or pixelation of any shape or form, it keeps a perfect picture at all times.
The only "criticism" is that compared to the Sony XBR I also checked out, the color reproduction is just shy of the Sony's. Both are excellent, but the Samsung just lags behind a bit, seen only in flesh tones, as compared to the Sony's.
However, the Sony was an extra $340, having oh-so slightly better flesh tones isn't worth it when your on a budget.
Even with a standard definition signal, the quality is top notch.
Here are my calibration settings:
Sharpness: 55 (for SD) and 0 (for HD)
Detailed settings submenu
Black adjust: Low
Dynamic contrast: Off
Color space: Auto
Flesh tone: 0
Edge enhancement: On (for SD) Off (for HD)
White balance submenu
Picture options submenu
Color tone: Normal
Size: (it depends)
Digital NR: High (SD) Off (HD) [those this setting is dependent on your signal source
DNIe: [grayed out]
HDMI black level: [grayed out]
Film mode: Auto
Blue only mode: Off
Energy saving: Off
Pros Deep Blacks
Excellent Color Accuracy
Good SD picture
Great HD Picture
Saves Individual Picture Settings For Each Source
USB Flash Drive For Photos, Music, Firmware Updates
Cons Calibration May Be Over the Average Users Head
Firmware Update May Be Needed to Fix Issues
Sound Is Good but Some May Not Find it Powerful Enough
Summary I knew this would be a great TV when i bought it, however when i got it home I was slightly disappointed. TV shows were perfect, but when I played Playstation 3 on it, the ghosting and blurring were unbearable. I did some searching and found that Samsung had released a firmware upgrade to fix the issue. It took a little trial and error, but I got the download onto my USB flash drive, popped it into the TV and installed it. It was a 2 part upgrade and I had to make sure i installed them in the right order. Well, the TV has definitely improved since upgrading. The problem is, most people won't even bother to dig that deep into the television. Most average users only know plug in and go, nothing about "firmware upgrades". It was new to me as well.back for one more update...this model has basically been discontinued, but i found out what really caused the blurring on my ps3. the digital noise reduction setting! i went in and turned that off in the menu and the blurring is basically non-existant. i'd recommend turning noise reduction off when watching anything through HDMI, and only turning it on when watching digital television programming.
Sound is a little weak, but fine when adjusted and surround sound is enabled. I like the music mode setting as it makes the sound sharp and crystal clear.
Calibration was necessary to get the effect I wanted. It may take a while to adjust the picture to your liking, or you can just go with the presets. Again, most people may never dig that deep into the TV's functionality, but there are so many adjustments in this TV that finding the proper setup will be no problem.
Overall this TV is money well spent. Samsung specializes in these LCDs and it definitely shows here.
Updated on Jun 2, 2009
"Great HDTV"on by masonaries
Pros Great picture. Lots of controls for picture and sound. Swival stand. Blacklit remote. Great styling
Cons Below average speakers.
Summary The LN-32A550 SAMSUNG is fantastic. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't tell the difference between 720p and 1080p in this size TV because you can.
The HDTV programs are great. Digital programs are very good and SD programs are above average depending on the channel (can't wait for Febuary).
Blacks are deep, whites are bright and flesh tones are natural.
There are more setting in the menue for picture and sound than any other HDTV I looked at.
3 HDMI inputs and all the other ports you could want for this size TV.
The sound is ony average but I have it in my bedroom. If you are going to put it in a family room or living room you will want to add speakers.
Swival stand and backlit remote are great features.
Style is in the eye of the beholder. I like the piano black finish with the thin bezel and lack of chrome. Simple and modern.
I looked for four months and it came down this this TV and the KDL-32xbr6. For picture, features and price this was my choice.
Pros good resolution and price for a 1080p set
Cons Had the LN32A550 for six months and the panel failed...Samsung said it would take 48 hrs (2 business days) to send a repair tech out (in Home) under warranty.After the 2 days they said it would be 5-7 business days...Samsung doesn't stock the panel..
Summary No matter how great this product is if the service under warranty is not done in a timely, honest manner...I don't think I would recommend ANY SAMSUNG PRODUCTS!