Samsung UN32H5500 Featured

Samsung UN32H5500 LCD TV Review

Earlier we reviewed the Samsung UN32H6350, which is one of the only 120Hz 32” LCD TVs on the market today. The UN32H6350 has a very nice image, and a lot of good streaming features, but at $525 for a 32” LCD is really pushing what most people want to pay for a smaller TV. The UN32H5500 model loses the 120Hz refresh rate and the stylish stand but keeps the quad-core processor for streaming services and the 1080p resolution.

Specs
Manufacturer: Samsung
Model: UN32H5500
Display Type: LED LCD
Resolution: 1920x1080
Inputs: 3x HDMI, 2x USB, 1x Component, 1x Composite
Outputs: 1x Optical
Streaming Services: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube
Wi-Fi Support: Yes
3D Support: No
Display Size: 28.4" x 18.3" x 6.4"
Display Weight: 11.7 lbs.
Review Date: October 15, 2014
Price: Out of stock
Company Website

Buy From Amazon

Why Amazon Links?

Buy From Best Buy

Most importantly, it drops over 1/3rd of the price of the 120Hz model, coming in at $348 for a 32” model when I write this. This completely changes the value aspect and makes the UN32H5500 an attractive model for those after a high-performing 32” TV. The image is good out of the box and made better by calibration and the streaming services are very impressive. The quad-core processor makes using them far better than using those on the Vizio E320i-B2, our usual 32” recommendation. With no real faults the Samsung UN32H5500 is a TV that is easy to recommend.

Keeping The Essentials

The Samsung UN32H6350 is the only real high-end 32” TV in the USA this year. Sony has stopped selling their high-end 32” displays in the US and left them overseas only. With no competition for the high-end of the 32” market, the H6350 line can be priced a bit higher and be fine. The H5500 line comes in at a far more competitive area and so the price is more competitive. To do this it had to drop some features from the H6350 models, but not the ones that are most important.

The 120Hz refresh rate is nice, but not essential in my opinion. The loss of the cooler looking stand is actually a benefit to me since it takes up more space and is harder to put on top of a dresser or table. If you wall mount your TV you really wouldn’t care anyway, and the H6350 might not fit on some of the pedestal sound bars out there. Keeping the quad-core processor from the H6350 is the most important thing, as most cheaper TVs make their apps a painful experience to use. I almost always recommend using a Roku instead because of the superior user experience, but the chip in the H5500 is fast enough to be useful.

The Samsung UN32H5500 also features a 1080p resolution that I find to be overkill in a 32” set. Once you are past 4’ away you can’t really see the difference and most people don’t sit that close. The main exception is for people that like to use their TV as a secondary computer display where being able to run it at a native 1080p resolution is very important.

Very Good Performance

Watching movies and TV on the Samsung UN32H5500 is a very enjoyable experience. From sports to movies the Samsung does a very good job. Football still has some motion blue inherent in LCDs but the colors, from the green grass the logos, are spot-on. In movie mode, the most accurate of the presets, the Samsung can produce almost 65 foot-Lamberts of light to help overcome reflections from windows during the day.

Using the built-in apps is a pleasant experience for once. The UN32H5500 turns on almost instantly and lets you select whatever app you want to use. In contrast to the older 32” Sony TV in my bedroom that literally takes 2+ minutes before you can launch Netflix. Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and all the other apps launch quickly and are very responsive to the remote. For once I’d actually be happy with the performance of the built-in apps and not instantly add a Roku or other device for streaming instead.

Blu-ray content is very good with the full 1080p resolution maintained on the UN32H5500. Animated content from Pixar has lots of pop and detail. Darker content including Pacific Rim looks good for an edge-lit LCD display. Really dark content, like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, can get a tad washed out and murky since there is not local dimming for the LEDs.

The integrated speakers are not that great, but that is to be expected with a smaller TV. It has an optical output and Audio Return Channel on HDMI 2, so I used that with a Yamaha YSP-2500 sound bar for lots of my testing. The HDMI control works perfectly with the Yamaha, controlling the volume and switching it to the correct input when I turn the Samsung on.

Samsung claims a 120Hz “effective” refresh rate for the UN32H5500 which is gets by using a scanning backlight. This turns the backlight on and off to insert black frames, which helps to reduce LCD blur. Doing so also reduces the light output by half, and for some people can look like flicker. For night viewing in a dark room with film content, I am a fan of it but not with sports or a bright room because of the reduction in light output.

There isn’t much work involved in calibrating the Samsung UN32H5500 either. It has a two-point grayscale control that helps but the default grayscale in Movie mode is already very good. You can’t adjust the color points so with a proper setup disc you can actually get results that are very, very good with no real work.

Off-axis viewing for the UN32H5500 is a weak point as it is for any LCD. When trying to watch football or other content from a large angle (over 30 degrees) it is hard to make out the action due to the contrast being washed out. This problem also seems to get worse as the TV get smaller, so if you are going to be watching the Samsung at an off-angle a lot you might want to get a larger size than 32”.

Improvements

The main area for Samsung to improve upon the UN32H5500 is in the contrast ratio. Sony led the way here last year reaching over 6,000:1 in a 32” set while most struggle to get past 2,500:1. The Samsung can do 2,500:1 but only with a tint at the top of the grayscale. Getting rid of that tint reduces the contrast ratio to 2,100:1. There is a good chance you might not even notice the slight tint but I do easily. Of course, the Sony TV isn’t being made anymore, at least in the USA, so 2,500:1 seems to be what you can get in a 32” display today. I’m just glad Samsung is not using an IPS panel here.

A very good 32” TV

All things considered, the Samsung UN32H5500 is a very good 32” TV. I’m still hesitant about the necessity of 1080p but know many people just refuse to get a 720p display at this point. Even if you don’t consider it to be essential, you might be drawn to the Samsung because of it’s very fast app performance and overall image quality. I never felt the need to use the Roku with it and if your app needs are met by what Samsung provides, you might not either. It also offers 3 HDMI inputs to the 2 HDMI inputs of the Vizio E320i-B2 which may be important to you.

The WiFi also provided a very strong signal when placed at the opposite end of the house from my wireless access point. Poor WiFi reception has been an issue with some other 32” LCDs but the Samsung holds up well here. Taking all of this into account, the Samsung UN32H5500 is easy to recommend for people that want a 32” TV with good picture quality and good app performance.

Review Summary
Product: Samsung UN32H5500
Reviewer:
Pros: Very good out-of-the-box image with no calibration, fast processor makes built-in apps a pleasure to use
Cons: Tint in grayscale reduces contrast, off-axis viewing only OK, 60Hz refresh rate
Summary: The Samsung UN32H5500 offers a good combination of features and performance for its price. The picture is very good without any real work while the integrated apps do a good job of removing the need for a Roku or streaming box. 1080p might be overkill for a 32" display but the Samsung looks good.
Value: 4/5
Performance: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Buy From Amazon

Why Amazon Links?

  • I haven’t used the H5203 so I really don’t know. Given that the main difference seems to be the software and not the panel, it is probably fine to save money and go with the H5203 but as I said, I can’t be sure.