Samsung UN32H5500 LCD TV Review
|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|
|Display Type||LED LCD|
|Inputs||3x HDMI, 2x USB, 1x Component, 1x Composite|
|Streaming Services||Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube|
|Display Size||28.4" x 18.3" x 6.4"|
|Display Weight||11.7 lbs.|
|Review Date||October 15, 2014|
|Price||Out of stock|
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.
|Display Type:||LED LCD|
|Inputs:||3x HDMI, 2x USB, 1x Component, 1x Composite|
|Streaming Services:||Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube|
|Display Size:||28.4" x 18.3" x 6.4"|
|Display Weight:||11.7 lbs.|
|Review Date:||October 15, 2014|
|Price:||Out of stock|
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”.
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.
|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.|
Pre-calibration the Movie mode in the Samsung UN32H5500 is very accurate. With the Warm 2 color temperature preset and adjusting the contrast and brightness correctly, you get a very good image. As with all our reviews, we aim for a light output of 35-40fL on a TV for a moderately dark room and use CalMAN software with a i1Pro and C6 meters and either an AJA T-Tap or DVDO AVLabTPG pattern generator. Our targets are the Rec. 709 HDTV colorspace and the BT. 1886 gamma formula.
The largest flaw in the Samsung UN32H5500 pre-calibration image is the 100% grayscale reading. Contrast is set to maximum here as it doesn’t clip the 235 value, but it does introduce a red tint at the very top. This is because past 90 the LCD panel runs out of blue and adds this tint. If you dig deeper into the numbers you’ll see that only 100% white has an error above a dE2000 value of 3.0 in saturations, and only a couple of the color checker values approach 3.0 as well. So while there are some errors, they really all fall below the visible level of 3.0 and you probably won’t notice them.
The default gamma is very close to 2.2 and taking it down one step gets it very close to 2.4. BT. 1886 isn’t available but 2.4 tracks it closely except from 0% to 10% where BT. 1886 works very differently. You can’t dial in the BT. 1886 gamma without a 10-point white balance either, so this preset is what we use.
Pre-Calibration Measurements courtesy of CalMAN
The only calibration controls used here are a 2-point grayscale, gamma, color and tint. The reason the contrast ratio drops is that we have to reduce the contrast control to not clip blue to properly use the 2-point white balance control. Doing so we get a grayscale dE2000 average that is better, but not remarkably so. It is also not so much better that I would ever spend the money to have this display calibrated. The color and tint controls help a slight bit as well, with the saturations error level falling in half, but it was already well below the visible level. The color checker values, which I consider much more important for real-world use, stay basically the same.
Without a full 10-point white balance control, or Hue, Saturation and Lightness controls for the color points, it is really hard to improve upon the pre-calibration numbers. Thankfully those are already very good, so there really isn’t much reason to bother. You can just pull the Samsung UN32H5500 out of the box, select the movie mode, and be happy. Just use a disc like World of Wonder to get the basic controls set correctly.
Post-Calibration Measurements courtesy of CalMAN
Video processing works well, with both 3-2 film content and 60i HDTV content being deinterlaced correctly. The scaler works fine with 720p content by not introducing jaggies as well. For gamers you have a dedicated game mode that has only 33ms of input lag using the Leo Bodnar Lag Tester. If you use the calibrated movie mode you have 50ms of lag, which isn’t awful either.
|White Level:||38.1 fL||36.5 fL|
|Black Level:||0.0149 fL||0.0172 fL|
|Average Grayscale dE2000:||1.93||1.26|
|Average Saturations dE2000:||1.99||1.00|
|Average Color Checker dE2000:||2.1||2.0|
|Summary:||There is no reason to pay for a calibration on the Samsung UN32H5500. The Movie mode is very accurate out of the box, and 95% of the improvements are from setting the Contrast, Brightness, Color and Tint correctly. All of this can be done with a test disc for $15-20 and you can enjoy a very good image.|