Customer Review

866 of 893 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great at the price, 3 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Samsung UE32EH5000 32-inch Widescreen Full HD 1080p LED TV with Freeview (New for 2012) (discontinued by manufacturer) (Electronics)
The delivery man carried this set up to my front door in one hand and with a spring in his step, demonstrating how flatscreen technology has advanced. I'd just come close to busting a gut moving its predecessor, also a 32inch flatscreen but weighing around four times as much and a lot bigger, out of the way.

Unpacking, assembly on its stand and setup couldn't have been simpler or quicker. Everything was ready and working within ten minutes.

There was only one thing I needed to alter in the default settings. The default video mode, though labelled "normal" looks more to me like "chocolate box pretty". It may appeal to folk who like to boost the saturation of their snapshots to "enhance" the colours, but I went for a less garish option. I suspect that some of the reviewers here who don't like the greens may be reacting to this over-lush default setting. But tweakers and twiddlers take note: Samsung remind you that this is a bottom-of-the-range model by restricting access to video and audio adjustments, and even if you go in via the service menu, you'll find the corresponding options greyed out. You get to choose between five preset options for picture and sound, and that's it.

That done, I sat down to enjoy viewing, marvelling at what superb value for money this set is, now that the price has fallen so low. I think you'd have to go way higher in the price range to find a set with better picture quality. I can't say whether it would meet the motion-rendering demands of soccer or tennis fans, or video console gamers, but in all the various videos I've viewed I've seen not the slightest sign of motion blurring, smearing or juddering. It also has best sound I've heard, both in terms of power and frequency range, in a budget-price receiver relying on internal speakers alone. But as ever, people who want truly high quality sound will want to add some external equipment, whether it's a soundbar fed via the optical digital out and/or hdmi sockets, or the cheaper compromise of a subwoofer and satellite speaker set designed for PCs plugged into the headphone jack.

It's very noticeable, though, that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about this particular model. I'll spend the rest of this review trying answer three questions that people keep asking but which so far don't seem to have been given satisfactory answers.

1. Does this set receive the four HD channels currently free-to-air in the UK? YES. Perfectly and with no special measures (apart from the viewer selecting the correct channel numbers for the HD services, of course). So... why does the Amazon description above imply that it doesn't, and why do Samsung UK support, if you phone them, emphatically confirm that it doesn't and say you need a more expensive model for HD TV off-air? The answer is the marketing policy of the company the owns the Freeview trademark. They insist that to be labelled and sold with the "Freeview HD" designation, sets must not only receive the HD channels, but also fulfil other technical conditions, including a considerable degree of Internet connectivity (of which more in my next answer). But if you take the common-sense view that "receiving all UK HD terrestrial channels" means, er... "receiving all UK HD terrestial channels", then these sets can do that just fine, in exactly the same way that sets officially labelled "Freeview HD" do. But if Amazon, or even Samsung themselves, claimed these sets were Freeview HD compatible, Freeview's lawyers would jump on them. So we get the silly situation where in effect sellers are obliged to describe these items misleadingly to avoid legal trouble (of the major sellers, only Richer Sounds seems to put honesty before legality in this matter).

2. Does the ethernet port on these models allow you (a) access any Internet video content or websites or (b) to access media on your home LAN, either on DNLA servers or via ordinary file shares? NO TO BOTH QUESTIONS. That's why they can't legally be described as Freeview HD compatible. I put that answer in big shout capitals, because many people understandably find it difficult to believe. These sets have a working ethernet port, and are able to get an IP address and gateway from your router and send and receive packets over the Internet via that router. But their network capabilities have been severely nobbled so that the only connection allowed is to a specific Samsung server, and the only material that can be fetched from that server is text data. The documents suggest that the TV's firmware can also be updated via this connection, but currently even that's not the case. To update the firmware, you have to download it on to another machine from Samsung's website, transfer the image to a USB stick and install it from there.

But, more important for home users, it's not only Internet connections that are disabled on this so-called network port. Despite statements elswhere, you cannot access any other machines on your LAN by any means via this port (although perhaps hackers who have made warranty-voiding modifications to the firmware can). I have read claims that if you run Samsung's own proprietary variant of a DNLA server on a PC on your LAN, you can access media from that PC. That is simply not true with this specific set. Anyone who knows much about TVs like this, which run an embedded customised version of Linux, will be aware that they would be fully capable of playing audio and video streamed across a LAN with no additional hardware, and little or no additional software either. But Samsung apparently want to keep something back to promote sales of their more expensive models, and it's in this area that this policy bites. So I can't yet dispose of my little WD HDTV box which now feeds this new set with media from my LAN server across our home network.

3. Can media on anything other than a USB stick be accessed via the USB socket? Now here's a real mystery. The documentation, and all the information on those suppliers sites that address this topic, says explicitly and emphatically "no". Supposedly, only USB stick devices are supported. But, at least on the currently shipping models like mine, that's not true. I have tried two USB-powered portable drives so far, a fairly old WD 256GB model and a more recent 1TB Samsung pocket drive, both formatted with NTFS. With both drives, there is no problem at all (except maybe for a certain sluggishness browsing the filesystem on the 1 TB device). The TV recognises the drives (though it claims to think they're USB sticks and displays a corresponding icon). It can access arbitrary levels of directory on them and play media (including captured 1080i HDTV transport streams as well as videos in avi, mkv and mp4 containers covering a wide range of video and audio codecs) faultlessly. I just can't understand why Samsung hide what could be a major selling point in this way. Maybe they're worried about users plugging in drives with excessive current drain and zapping the USB port, but in that case, surely an "at your own risk" warning in the documents, along with the built in fail-safe current limiters of modern USB ports would be enough to cover Samsung's backs while not keeping this feature such a secret? In my case, if I didn't have the WD network player to get my media content from my LAN servers to this TV, I could get round that by having a large-capacity portable USB hard disk normally plugged into a LAN server and using that as a media store, then just unplugging it from the server and transferring it to the TV to access the content there as and when needed.

In case anybody's wondering, you CAN'T, however, plug a USB-powered DVD drive into the set's USB port and play a disk from that. But that's not surprising, given that DVD drives have significantly different interface requirements from USB and hard disk drives. Nor can you record programmes received on the TV on to external storage via the USB connection. Again, that's a facility Samsung reserve to higher-priced models.

Some people may also find the presence of only two hdmi sockets a limitation (though that's shared with several other recent, more expensive, Samsung models). Alongside those there's a single Scart (wired to accept component video) and RCA sockets for component video and two channel audio in, plus a digital audio out and a standard earphone socket. There is no VGA input. Anyone wanting to connect up a computer that lacks an hdmi outlet will need a suitable adapter, but they are readily available.

Some people may wonder why I've opted for 5 stars, given the shortcomings I've described above. I did think about deducting a star, but then I reflected that this is a truly bargain-price piece of kit with excellent build quality and stylish appearance, and it does its basic job superbly. It's a pity that Samsung felt it necessary to differentiate it from more expensive products by, in effect, sabotaging the hardware's instrinsic ability to do things that those more expensive products do, but I guess that's business. All things considered, I couldn't be more happy with my purchase.

WARNING. I see that for one reason or another, reviews of quite different Samsung models are being posted here, some of them with different feature sets from the model these reviews are meant to apply to. So I have to stress that everything I say applies only to the model in the heading of this review, i.e. the UE32EH5000 (with firmware as of October 2012)
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Comments

Tracked by 7 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 49 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Nov 2012 16:25:25 GMT
T. Davies says:
Many thanks for your very informative review (which I would award 5 stars to if I could!). I've been really wanting the 46" version of this (which I presume to have the same, or lack the same, facilities - just got to persaude the missus ;-)

Posted on 12 Nov 2012 17:01:34 GMT
E. THOMAS says:
Thanks for a really useful review. Regarding the end of para 2 of point 2, does this mean I could use my Sony Network Media Player N200 to srteam media from my LAN to the Tv. I am currently able to do this with my Samsung LE26R7 tv. Thanks for advise (if you have time!).

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2012 17:30:07 GMT
Yes. AFAIK the N200 is more or less identical in function to the WD box I have. You plug the output into one of the TV's hdmi ports, connect the Sony box to your LAN (there's really no point in connecting the TV to your LAN that I can see) and anything the Sony can "see" on your LAN it will play to the TV.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Nov 2012 18:47:17 GMT
E. THOMAS says:
Thanks a lot. Yes i am currently connecting the N200 to an HTMI port.

Posted on 12 Nov 2012 20:47:46 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Nov 2012 20:48:07 GMT
Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative review on these topics, as you recognise these are common questions for those who want to do more that turn on ITV1 and watch Coranation Street.

Posted on 14 Nov 2012 16:53:13 GMT
gingera says:
Thanks a bunch for all your info in your comments and just wish I was competent to expand the more technical possibilities.Bought this for my handicapped daughter to replace 40'' Sony Bravia which was brilliant and for 4+ years no problem then back after 14 day holiday switched it on and after norm picture for 5 mins she changed prog and colours went luminous/inverted and vertical coloured beads 9''in from LHS of screen ...you should read the blogs on Sony ....sooo hoping this Sammy will turn out to be better value regards reliability ...cant understand why the manufactures Sony and by inference from your review Samsung are so sh one t at admitting theres a problem and doing something to aleviate /correct it.Hoping that ours will have the FIRMWARE you mention as we have just purchased it 2 days ago from SSE thro Amaz.Again thanks for the review Signed.'usedto believe in Panasonic in 70s 80 and 90s'

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2012 17:03:35 GMT
T. Davies says:
Price dropped by £20 today and supplied direct from Amazon, which helped convince the OH so new 46" arriving tomorrow - will leave my own review next week when I've had chance to play.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2012 17:52:56 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Nov 2012 17:57:08 GMT
Alexander A., you're highly unlikely to have the very latest firmware installed, since it was only released on the 21st of last month, hence its version code 1021.0

But if you do want the very latest (Samsung never reveal the reasons for firmware updates, so it's impossible to say what the benefits might be) that's easily fixed.

Go to
http://www.samsung.com/uk/support/model/UE32EH5000KXXU-downloads
and download a pdf of the manual (which is also already on your TV, but it's a lot easier to search in Adobe Reader on a PC) BEWARE though that both the built-in manual and this pdf version are for all series 5 TV's, and describe a number of features that simply aren't available on this bottom-end model. I suspect that's why a number of reviews here claim this model can do things (especially network-wise) which it actually can't: they read it in the manual but didn't actually try it...

You'll find in the manual full instructions on how to update the firmware from a USB stick, which need to be followed to the letter (they're perfectly clear, but speed-reading or merely skimming them before just diving in is not advisable)

Then take the "Firmware" link on the left hand side of the website page page, and download the actual firmware image to your PC by clicking on the icon under the "File" heading to the right of the new page that appears. This will give you a file called T-MST9DEUC_ENG.EXE on your PC.

Now plug a USB stick with at least 100MB free space on it (it doesn't have to be empty or newly formatted, though) and copy that file into the ROOT directory of the usb stick.

Now, still on your PC, run that .EXE file from its position on the USB stick (This is the vital step some people overlook) It will create the necessary directory structure on the USB stick and place the required files into it.

Plug the USB stick into the TV and follow the instructions in the manual for updating firmware from a USB stick. Once you select the appropriate menu optioms on the TV, it will automatically find the upgrade firmware image, install it (takes a few minutes), and restart itself.

On the issue of Samsung technical support, as I tried to explain in my review, they are at the mercy of the owners of the Freeview trademarks here. To be allowed to market any of their sets with the Freeview HD logo, they have to stick to the rules that Freeview lay down, which prevent them from claiming, or even admitting, that these particular sets are Freeview HD compatible. This isn't the usual "fob the blighters off" stuff.

That said, getting any really advanced technical info or assistance from Samsung UK or US can be pretty hard, because most of the people who have a deep understanding of how this kit works don't speak much English, so if the answer to an issue isn't in one of the scripts prepared during the design phase of the sets by English-speaking technical authors, their support staff can't provide or obtain it. South Koreans are impressively good at very many things, but teaching and learning English sadly isn't one of them, even though they devote a higher proportion of their GDP to English learning than any other developed country and are fanatical about education. But throwing cash and effort at the problem doesn't help when their whole approach to language learning is seriously flawed. However, these sets are so well made and designed that it is highly unlikely the average user will need to venture beyond what the Samsung English-speaking staff are trained to cope with.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2012 20:23:54 GMT
gingera says:
M.Beddow,
Dear Sir many thanks for your advice
and hints and time, muchappreciated,regardsAA

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Nov 2012 19:15:26 GMT
E M Collins says:
Hi, many thanks for your detailed comments generally but specifically on the network capabilities (or lack of them!): you have saved me a chunk of cash because I was moved to buy this Samsung to network and avoid a second Smart version. Back to the drawing board! Thanks again.
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