Samsung LE26R74BDX

30th Jun 2006 | 23:00

Samsung LE26R74BDX

Probably the best-looking 26-inch TV in town

TechRadar rating:

5 stars

Not as imperious as its predecessors, but its still one of the finest 26-inch LCDs around


<p>Great looks</p>


<p>Disappointing sound</p>

Looks might not be everything, but they sure help. For instance, scan down a shelf loaded with every LCD TV available, and the one your eyes will be drawn towards will be Samsung's LE-26R74BDX. For with its high-gloss black screen frame and stand, offset by a dazzlingly bold silvery triangle along its underside, this 26-inch LCD TV really is an object of absolute beauty.

A quirk of this TV's design is that it doesn't appear to have any speakers. Just because you can't seem them doesn't mean they're not there. They're down-firing affairs tucked in a ledge above the triangle. Let's hope this design-driven idea doesn't compromise the TV's sound too much.

Finding only one HDMI, rather than two, and only two Scarts when we'd have preferred three, is a touch disappointing, but at least there's a PC input, and a digital audio output in case Freeview starts broadcasting Dolby Digital soundtracks. The mention of Freeview can only mean one thing: the 26R74BDX carries a digital tuner - not bad for such an affordable LCD TV.

Another key feature is Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) picture processor. This is the cover-all name of a set of operations targeted at upping contrast and sharpness levels, making colours richer and more natural, and cleaning up motion.

A separate dynamic contrast system, meanwhile, claims to produce an exceptional (for LCDs) contrast ratio of 3,000:1, while a new way of constructing the LCD's pixels should see the picture viewable over a wider angle than normal. Samsung's previous generation of LCD TVs rewrote the price/picture quality equation, so it's not great surprise to find that this flatpanel delivers impressive picture quality.

Top of the league

High-definition pictures benefit from a winningly sharp, crisp presentation that really brings out the HD advantage, even though the screen is only 26in in size. Watching HD World Cup games reveals the set to be unusually good with handling motion. Even a full-tilt Thierry Henry showed only the slightest trace of LCD's traditional smearing problems.

The World Cup matches also proved illuminating when it came to colour, as the screen pumps out almost frightening levels of intensity and vibrancy. Critically, though, this vibrancy doesn't come at the expense of all subtlety, with enough finesse in the Samsung's colour blends to help pictures look three-dimensional.

High-definition feeds produce very little video noise, leaving it as one of the finest 26-inch HD performers on the market. That doesn't mean this TV is perfect. With standard definition sources, especially the analogue tuner, the picture is softer and noisy, with even the odd colour tone slipping off.

Secondly, while the set's black levels aren't bad, they don't go deep enough to rate as excellent by today's standards - even when the Dynamic Contrast mode is in use. The hidden speakers sound OK, but nothing more. There's some decent clarity in the soundstage, but it's rather muted and thin, and fails to expand to accommodate a loud action movie scene.

Overall this is one hell of an LCD TV. Its looks alone will tempt you to part with your £850, and with a wealth of features and stunning HD pictures, this TV is perfect for the new football season. What Plasma Staff

HDTVHigh definitionHome cinemaTVSamsungDigital home
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