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My First Flat Panel TV (with Review Updates)
on November 29, 2012
So I took the plunge and finally upgraded my bedroom TV to a Flat Panel Samsung LED 720p 32" (Model UN32EH4003). I bought it during the Black Friday time frame directly from Amazon for $247.99 (Free Shipping, 14-Day Price Guarantee). I went in knowing that I was buying the cheapest 32" Samsung Flat Panel that you could buy and knew that I wasn't getting every bell and whistle, which is fine with me. My goal for this TV is to use it as a bedroom TV with a Verizon FIOS cable box and a media player (Ethernet connected, not WiFi) and watch it from about 8 feet away. No gaming, minimal DVD, etc. That's basically it.
Just for some background, I'm upgrading from an old 20" Generic Tube TV in the bedroom. I do have an HDTV in the living room, but it is also a Tube TV. There I have a 34" Sony widescreen Tube TV that I bought about 7 years ago that was basically the biggest widescreen Tube TV made that I know of. Back then a Tube TV picture was much better and cheaper than Flat Panel.
First Impression - This TV looks nice. Clean front. It is extremely light. The base feels sturdy and big enough to support the TV without risk of falling over. It was simple to put together with 8 screws in the base.
Setup - It has 2 HDMI's and then some regular RCA and Component hookups. My setup consists of Verizon FIOS Cable Box and a WD Live TV Media Player (to be replaced by a Boxee Box within the week, but that's another story). Plugged the Cable Box and the Media Player into each HDMI port using new Amazon Basics HDMI cables. The TV on-screen setup was easy enough to figure out without pulling out the instruction manual. Everything came up perfectly the first time with just a press of the Source button.
Picture Quality - I tested the TV out with several different types of media and sources.
1) First with SD Cable. A little blocky up close, which may just be the source, but from a normal viewing distance, I the quality was just fine. The kids' cartoons were fine.
2) Second with HD Cable. This picture seemed really nice. Didn't see any kind of distortion. Seemed nearly as good as the HD Tube TV that I have downstairs from an 8 foot viewing distance. I was happy with what I saw.
3) Third with a normal 720p Video file via the Media Player. Picture was really nice in this case also. Everything seemed crisp. Very happy.
4) Finally with a fast motion 1080p Video file via the Media Player. This is where I expected the worst, but to my surprise, the fast motion scenes seemed fine also. I only tested a couple of files, so we'll see if other scenes have a problem, but so far so good.
Overall I was very happy with the picture quality. The colors on the default setting were pretty terrible, so I tried the presets and settled "Dynamic" Picture Mode and Cool Color Tone in the Picture Options setting which was pretty much perfect in all instances. Looked pretty natural with nice colors.
Viewing Angles - Side viewing angles seemed really good. This was one of my pet peeves and most of my reluctance to move to a flat panel TV in the first place. Many flat panel TV's look terrible when you aren't watching it straight on. This TV seems to have much better side viewing than many of the competing TV's out there.
Screen - The screen edges do have a few very faint white areas that I have noticed, but they are barely noticeable and only when the screen is completely black. I don't notice it at all when there is any kind of picture on the screen. I probably only see it because I am looking for it after reading a few comments about backlight bleed. For me, it doesn't seem like anything to worry about. I always buy SquareTrade warranties with all my electronics, so if the screen does have a problem, I will be set.
Sound Quality - This is where I had the most trouble. Granted, I'm upgrading from a old TV, but out of the box, the Samsung sounded very hollow and words were hard to understand. It seemed to be completely missing any low end, not talking about booming bass, just lower frequencies seemed to be missing. I tried every sound preset that they had and all were pretty bad. I finally gave up on the presets and used the included 5 band Equalizer which finally did the trick. Per request, I posted a picture of the settings in the customer images section of this item. [THIS SECTION HAS BEEN UPDATED BELOW: I basically maxed out the low and high frequencies and made a bell curve of the middle frequencies, raising the one that controlled voices until I has happy. This seemed to do the trick just fine and I am now happy with the sound.] Granted, if you are expecting a booming surround sound feel, you're shopping for the wrong TV, but for what I think this TV is meant for, it sounds just fine.
Bells, Whistles and Other Stuff - I haven't toyed with this TV too much yet. There are lots of menu settings to go through. The power button on the bottom of the TV seems pretty cool. It is like a combined button/joystick that pulls up a menu when pressed that you can use the button to move through, or just turn off the TV. I won't use it much since the Cable Box remote will do most of the work, but it is a nice to have since the actual TV remote will probably sit in a drawer once everything is set up. It does have a USB port that is supposed to play pretty much any type of media format. If this works well, it is a great feature. For me, I plan on continuing to use a dedicated Media Player, so I probably won't use this much, but for anyone else, it would save you $100 on having to buy a media player if you have a use for it.
I've only had this TV for one day, but this is what I think so far for a pro/con list.
1) Great price ($247.99 at the time I purchased it, put a camelcamelcamel price alert on it for when the price drops again).
2) Great picture quality, especially for the price.
3) Very good side viewing angles.
4) Easy setup and connection to Cable Box and Media Player.
5) Enough picture and sound settings to get the quality you want for your individual preference.
6) Fast motion scenes seem ok so far.
7) Energy Star cost of $6-$12 per year to operate. That just sounds crazy, but I'll take it.
1) Sound presets are terrible, but can be adjusted manually.
2) Concern about possible backlight bleed, but covering myself with an inexpensive SquareTrade warranty.
In conclusion, I'm giving this TV a 5 Star Rating based on how great it is for it's low price. I've only had this TV for one day, but I love it so far. I will continue to update this review as I use the TV more and learn more about it.
ONE MONTH UPDATE (12/26/2012):
So I've had this TV for about a month now, and I still love it. I am very happy with the video performance and I have continued to refine the audio settings. The picture is great. The viewing angles are great. I haven't had a single instance of any kind of motion blur from any fast motion scenes yet. No change in the very minor backlight bleed which I still think is no big deal. Its working great with the Verizon FIOS HD DVR and the HD Media Player (now upgraded to a Boxee Box).
The one negative regarding this TV is the sound. I posted a customer image and talked about my manual Equalizer settings in my original review. Since then, I had found that those setting were still not quite right. During many scenes, the background music seemed to overpower everything and voices were becoming impossible to understand in many instances. I kept tinkering with the Equalizer and finally settled on updated settings. It seems that the 300Hz setting was the one that was controlling most of the background music, so I dropped it way down and words became much clearer. I have now been using these updated Equalizer settings for a couple of weeks now without messing with them, so that tells me that they sound pretty good to my ears. Again, for the low price of this TV, I'm not expecting the best sound, so it hasn't had any impact to my 5 Star Rating now that I have fine tuned the settings. Attached is a link to the customer image of my updated Equalizer settings in case you want to try them.
Long story short, I still highly recommend this TV for the price. It seems to hover around the $250-$300 mark and it is a great deal at that price point.
FOUR MONTH UPDATE (03/28/2013):
Just a quick update. This TV is still performing great. It works great with our Verizon FIOS HD DVR and our Boxee Box Media Player. We love the picture. We have still never seen any motion blur. We have not messed with the sound settings in months so the sound is pretty good with the settings I mentioned above. Still no concerns about backlight bleed or any other quality issues. Overall, this TV is great. I love it. It makes me want to buy a new Samsung TV for my living room.
ELEVEN MONTH UPDATE (11/03/2013):
Just another quick update since we are coming up to the Black Friday/Christmas Sale time frame. The TV is still going strong. The picture still looks great and the sound is still good enough for a bedroom TV. I haven't seen any mechanical problems with the TV at all after using it for almost a year and I still have a 4 Year SquareTrade Warranty (only $35 at the time of this update) in case something does come up. This is still a great TV for the price. After 11 months, we are still extremely happy with our purchase. Still Highly Recommended!
TWO YEAR UPDATE (12/17/2014):
I've had this TV for a little over 2 Years now and it is still working perfectly. Absolutely zero problems. This has been a great purchase so far and I still have 2 years left on my Squretrade warranty in case I ever need it. But so far, so good. I liked it so much I bought a 46" Samsung 7150 for the Living Room. Again, Still Highly Recommended!