Samsung D5000 (UE-32D5000) LED LCD TV Review
Mark meets Samsung's entry-level LED TV. Will it be cheap and cheerful or priced accordingly?
IntroductionIt’s been nearly a year to the day since we published the review for what was, ostensibly, the predecessor to the Samsung UE-32D5000 so it will be interesting to see what changes the newly implemented LED edge lighting has made to this entry level 32 inch LED TV. Also over and above the C530, we now have 100Hz scanning but everything else looks more or less the same and we’re hoping the Samsung D5000 can offer the same levels of value and picture quality. Samsung consistently produce televisions that outperform what their pricing would suggest them capable of - let’s see if they’ve done it again?
Design and ConnectionsEven if there wasn’t the SAMSUNG logo emblazoned at the bottom centre of the bezel, it would be easy to pick the D5000 out as being borne out of the design studios of the Korean giants, being as it’s an evolution of what they have been producing for the last few years. The edge mounted LED lighting has allowed Samsung to slim the chassis of this budget level LED TV down to approx. 3.5cm which matches the width of the bottom of the bezel, with its transparent strip framing the gloss black inner. The top and sides of the bezel are a little more svelte – at 3cm – and the overall look is very pleasing and contemporary with a decent feeling of sturdiness, even when the stand is swivelled.
The remote control in the box was, to our surprise, back lit and this is always a welcomed feature. Other than that pleasant discovery, the handset is a carbon copy of every other Samsung remote we’ve had our hands on over the last 12 months but we’d have to question why there would be a Smart Hub button included when the D5000 doesn’t accommodate that particular feature. Apart from that oversight, we’ve no other complaints over the button placement and it’s actually a little more weighty than the control supplied with the C530 last year, which gives a feeling of better quality.
To the rear of the Samsung UE-32D5000 there are a generous 4 side facing HDMI inputs along with 2 side mounted USB ports, an SPDIF audio out and the audio jack to complement the down facing D-SUB PC input. Also pointing down there’s the headphone output, a LAN port and the aerial connection. The D5000 ships with adapters for legacy Scart and Component equipment, with the Scart on the down-facing connections panel and the Component to the side. It’s certainly a comprehensive selection for a budget TV.
MenusAfter running through a brief set up process where language, location and tuning are taken care of we were greeted with Samsung’s GUI, familiar from all sub 6 series Samsung’s we tested recently. Menus are split in to six categories - Picture, Sound, Channel, Network, System and Support and we’ll concentrate most of our efforts on the first of those, Picture.
From the Picture Menu we users can select a picture mode pre-set with options of Standard, Dynamic, Natural and Movie. As usual the Movie mode gave images closest to industry standards, and anyone that values accuracy and a natural look to pictures is advised to start there. The Natural mode actually features overly bright colours and far too warm a greyscale, so not really as billed. We have all the standard front panel controls, including Contrast, Brightness, Colour and Sharpness. We also have a Tint (Hue) slider that may or may not be required, dependent on our measurements. The first screen of options is completed with Screen Adjustment for the setting of aspect ratio and for your HD sources we recommend Screen Fit to ensure pixel to pixel matching with no scaling.
Below the more standard selections we have the Advanced Settings, Picture Options and the Reset Picture option. From Advanced Settings, you can leave Black Tone and Dynamic Contrast set to off. Gamma can only really be adjusted successfully with the appropriate calibration equipment and patterns and if done so satisfactorily, it should make the Shadow Detail option redundant but we’ll go in to more detail on that later. The advanced menu also gives access to an RGB only mode, useful for a quick colour luminance calibration without the need for measuring equipment, and choices for Auto or Native Colour Space and further options – Flesh Tone (which does absolutely nothing!), Edge Enhancement and Motion Lighting – that had no beneficial effects on image quality. The UE-32D5000 comes with a 2 point white balance control that we’ll be utilising for the greyscale calibration.
The Picture Options sub-menu has two noise filters (Digital Noise and MPEG) that may benefit low quality source material but we found no need to engage them during testing. Colour Tone (read Colour Temperature) is also selected here and, in conjunction with the Movie picture mode, Warm 2 proved closest to our target. There’s also a setting for HDMI Black Level that is set at Normal for Video content and Low for PC levels. We know we bang on about this a lot but we promise not to once Samsung see fit to move the Game Mode setting from the General sub-menu. Whether we’ll need to engage it or not is dependent on our lag testing later in the review but, still, it’s daftly located.
Test ResultsAs we alluded to earlier, the Movie picture mode, in conjunction with a Colour Tone (colour temperature) of Warm 2, delivered images closest to the standards. We also set our Brightness and Contrast to suit the viewing environment and maximise contrast performance. As it turned out, the need to significantly reduce Contrast was required to avoid clipping the red channel early but Brightness was encouragingly close without adjustment. Having got the basics right we took the following measurements:
Prior to calibration images looked reasonably accurate but we weren’t at all surprised to measure an excess of red in the greyscale as we were noticing a slightly sunburnt look to skin tones. Nothing drastic but just that bit too warm for comfort. Gamma tracking was a little below our desired target of 2.2 and we should comfortably be able to pack a bit more punch to the picture post calibration.
Having measured both the Auto and Native colour spaces, we found Auto to be by far the closest to the Rec.709 colour gamut we’re looking for, with Native showing alarmingly under saturated and off-hue green, in particular, and cyan to a lesser extent. Only blue was showing overall errors that would be perceptible to the human eye, but being as blue is the colour we're least likely to notice being out, you'd be hard pressed to see it.
Although the lack of 10 point white balance controls didn’t stop us attaining a reference balance of red, green and blue in the greyscale, it did hamper out attempts to get a ruler flat gamma response and the spike at 90% stimulus just gives an ever so slight overblowing in some of the high tones. Probably not noticeable without being used to a reference display but frustrating that it couldn’t be massaged out with the available controls. The D5000 doesn’t feature a colour management system so we’re reliant on improvements stemming from the greyscale calibration here, with perhaps a hint of Tint to help things along.
Whilst not quite a reference performance, we were very happy with the results here and only Blue is showing overall delta errors above the threshold of 3 where are eyes are able to perceive any issues. In truth it would take an extremely well trained eye to even notice the Blue error and we were able to mitigate the over saturation by compensating with under luminance. We’ve reviewed top of the range TVs with less impressive calibration results so we can offer no criticism worth the web page its written on with the UE-32D5000’s performance.
Did someone say budget TV? Well the video processing certainly doesn’t fit in with the status and the Samsung UE-32D5000 performed largely with excellence during our usual tests. Standard definition scaling was of a reasonable standard with just a hint of softness we don’t see with the higher end Samsungs. It’s certainly not something that’s going to offend at 32 inches but if standard definition content is a big concern the larger screen sizes, it might not be the best choice.
Moving on to our cadence detection tests and the Samsung UE-32D5000 locked straight on to both the most common film cadences when sent through an interlaced signal; movies are typically shot at 24 frames per second progressively (or 25 for PAL territories) and displays without effective cadence detection will perform unnecessary deinterlacing and thus throw away resolution and create unwanted artefacting but the D5000 show your DVD’s in full splendour. Blu-ray discs that more often than not output at 24p, natively, are also handled perfectly with no induced judder or indeed any other issues. We’ve certainly seen inferior picture processing on TVs attracting much higher premiums so we’ve absolutely no complaints with the D5000 here.
Having been mightily impressed by the D5000’s (virtual) predecessor, the LE-C530, as a gaming TV we had high hopes here that weren’t proved unfounded. As with the 530, there was no need to seek out the obscurely located Game Mode as every pre-set was showing an excellent 15-18millisecond input lag, when compared to our CRT referenced monitor. If you can perceive 16ms lag, you’re possibly close to being superhuman and you’ll need to seek out a lowly TN panel for your gaming pursuits. The motion blur may be an issue to some but somehow that never really concerns us when gaming.
A 32 inch LED TV was always going to be a reasonably ‘green’ display and the D5000 consumed an averaged 44W in calibrated Movie mode. Out-of-the-box, in Standard mode, figures were a little higher, hovering around 56W.
Picture QualityMost of the ingredients are in place – we have typically convincing Samsung black levels providing depth to images; more than half decent video processing keeping material all but artefact free and a neutral greyscale overlaid with a natural looking colour palette. What could go wrong? The answer to that question - when it comes to LED illuminated TVs - is often poor screen uniformity and panel banding that can sour the rest of the ingredients; but that was not the case with the Samsung D5000! It’s a shame that we have to spend so much time focussing on the issue but it’s going to be around for a while, so how refreshing it was that this entry level LED had but the merest hint of corner bleed that was virtually imperceptible during normal viewing. We can’t guarantee everyone’s D5000 would be the same and it’s probably more likely that uniformity would be a problem in larger screen sizes but hats off to Samsung for this one!
The D5000 did exhibit some of the typical LCD weaknesses with average motion handling manifesting in panel blur during faster action content. Off-axis viewing did reduce the contrast performance but it certainly wasn’t that bad out of the sweet spot. The fact is the (not so) bad was heavily outweighed by the good in the Samsung UE-32D5000 and we’d happily have it as our secondary TV. It’s far too small to be the primary, of course.
FeaturesIn recent times we’ve become accustomed to having plenty to discuss in this section, especially with Samsung TVs, but we’re relatively bereft of material with the UE-32D5000. We’re not really complaining considering the cost of entry but we would have at least liked to see the inclusion of a Freeview HD capable DVB-T2 tuner. The D5000 is able to stream movies, music and photo files through DLNA - via AllShare - which we guess is probably amongst the most used of Smart TV functions so it’s not a complete wash and similar file support exists through USB storage. As usual with a Samsung, it coped well with most videos thrown at it, with only 720p MKV’s proving difficult from the test files we used. And save for the Anynet feature, which is Samsung’s name for HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) allowing for control of other similarly equipped devices through the Samsung TV remote, that’s pretty much it. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if Samsung added more processing power in to lower tier ranges shortly and with it added functionalities.
- Extremely respectable black levels and contrast
- Calibrated greyscale is near reference
- Very good picture processing
- Build quality doesn't feel budget
- Low input lag
- Lack of features
- No Freeview HD tuner
- Standard definition scaling could be better
- Game Mode is in a daft place. Not that it's needed.
- Typical LCD motion blur
Samsung D5000 (UE-32D5000) LED LCD TV Review
It’s hard to imagine that there would be many 32 inch LED TVs that outperform the Samsung UE-32D5000, particularly at this price-point. Not only are the black levels and dynamic range meeting the criteria for excellent but we were also surprised at the remarkably good screen uniformity, so often the Achilles heel of edge-lit televisions; perhaps 32 inches is the sweet spot for the technology? As we move up the range, in terms of size, it’s likely uniformity won’t quite be as good and the somewhat soft scaling of SD images would be more of an issue, that is if standard definition is still a big consideration for you. Backing up the contrast performance was a reasonably accurate greyscale and decent colour reproduction. Once calibrated to a near reference greyscale, high definition content, in particular, looked an absolute treat. Not the pictures one might expect to see from a £350 TV!
Certainly the Samsung D5000 is one to consider for the gamers out there with an exceptionally small delay between controller input and on-screen response, and this was good in all picture modes, not just the obscurely located Game pre-set. We also like the fact that build quality seems to have been taken up a notch from last year’s budget Samsung and cosmetically the D5000 doesn’t betray its entry level status; a back-lit remote control is always a welcome addition too. For £350, or thereabouts, the Samsung UE-32D5000 is a very enticing proposition, with only the lack of any real noteworthy smart functions and a Freeview HD tuner holding it back from a higher accolade. As it is, it’s yet another badge for Samsung. Recommended and comfortably so.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £350.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money8
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