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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Samsung LN-R3228W - LCD TV

Samsung issued a press release recently claiming to have sold 1 million 8-series models of LCD TVs, and it's not hard to see why these sets are so popular. Not only are they priced more aggressively than some name-brand LCD TVs, they look darn snazzy to boot. True, Samsung has left out such features as an HDTV tuner and a CableCard slot, but plenty of buyers see these options as unnecessary extras. They are available on some similarly-priced sets, however, like the Sharp LC-32D4U.

The first thing you'll notice about the Samsung 32-inch LN-R3228W is its distinctive all-black coloring. Unlike Sharp, which also has an extensive lineup of LCDs with a range of colors--but mostly silver--Samsung's LCDs are mostly two-tone silver and black. The LN-R3228W stands out with its black speakers and pedestal, although it's otherwise identical to the LN-R328W. The screen is edged with slick glossy black plastic, much like the Sharp LC-32D4U, but the Samsung's speakers are mounted on the bottom and shaped in a wide v formation. As a result, the LN-R3228W is narrower than many LCDs, measuring 31.4 by 25.6 by 9.8 inches. Including the stand, it weighs 39 pounds.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Samsung's remote is in dire need of an update. The bland gray wand included with the LN-R3228W is easy enough to use, but it lacks a backlight and just doesn't fit with the slick style of the TV itself. We're also annoyed that the important Aspect button hides behind a sliding door and that the remote can't control other types of devices. We like the all-inclusive layout of the LN-R3228W's internal menu system, which covers input selection and has a friendly feel. Speaking of friendly, a strange chime sounds when you start up the TV; happily, you can silence it.

The Samsung LN-R3228W has all the standard TV features covered but, as noted, lacks an ATSC tuner as well as a CableCard slot. To watch high-def on this set, you'll need to connect an external HD receiver, such as a cable or satellite box--not a major issue since most people have cable or satellite anyway. Its features include a picture-in-picture mode, an option to freeze the image, and Samsung's Anynet function to control other Anynet-equipped Samsung gear. We also appreciated that all three aspect-ratio selections, including an adjustable zoom, are available with both HD and standard-def sources.

Connectivity isn't quite as good as that of some competing 32-inch panels, such as Dell's W3201C, but at least it includes a VGA-style computer input (1,360x768 maximum resolution). There's also an HDMI connection--one fewer than we'd like to see--as well as a pair of component-video inputs and two A/V inputs, one of them with S-Video. We would also like to see side-panel inputs on a set in this price range. One nice touch: The LN-R3228W automatically deactivates unconnected jacks, speeding the process of cycling through all the inputs.

Overall, the Samsung LN-R3228W is a decent if not exceptional performer that offers more features than some budget panels but not as many as step-up models such as the Sharp LC-32D4U -- which costs about the same. Its principal appeal is its slick, compact shape and all-black styling. If you're looking in this size range and want an LCD with an attractive exterior, the Samsung LN-R3228W certainly qualifies. For picture quality and features, however, there are better choices available.

[via: cnet]

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