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Samsung UN32H5203 LED TV Review

This 32-inch wonder is one of the best deals on the market.

$329.99 MSRP
Buy now at Amazon
32 in.
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Rarely do low-level TVs outshine their high-end counterparts in categories other than price. For the most part, the purchase of a lower-tier television is a compromise; an agreement that with great discounts come great shortcomings. The Samsung UN32H5203 (MSRP $329.99) is an exception to this rule.

With praiseworthy picture performance and a smart platform to boot, the H5203 is a sure-fire bargain for those looking to dip their feet in the inviting waters of full HD entertainment. If the 32-inch screen isn't big enough for you, Samsung's got you covered: There are 40-, 46-, and 50-inch models in the series, as well.

Looks & Experience

The Smart Hub elevates an otherwise dull design.

We've noticed a fair amount of disparaging user reviews stating that a number of the H5203's smart features are broken. It's unfortunate that these features aren't ready to go out-of-the-box, but with up-to-date software installed, streaming Netflix is a relatively painless process.

Smart features aren't ready to go out-of-the-box.

TV manufacturers don't usually equip low-level models with radical design features. For the most part, TVs in this price range follow a formula: black/charcoal colored plastic and basic, utilitarian shapes. That said, there have been a few recent examples of low-level TVs featuring stylish stands and back casings. Samsung's own H5500 immediately comes to mind, which features a handsome brushed metal stand in place of the typical glossy plastic.

Unfortunately, Samsung didn't outfit the H5203 with a similar, class-defying design. A circular plastic stand and disappointingly thick panel paint the H5203 as irrefutably entry-level. On the back are AV component and composite ports, two HDMI ports, two USB ports, a digital audio port, an ethernet port, and a coaxial connector.

The remote control isn't flashy, but it gets the job done... most of the time.

The remote control isn't flashy, but it gets the job done... most of the time. After downloading the latest software update and connecting to the Smart Hub, the remote control's performance began suffering considerably. It's as if the menu software becomes tethered to the wireless network instead of operating independently of it, so any hiccups in the network will result in severe input lag.

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The Picture

Punching above its weight

In terms of performance, the H5203 is head and shoulders above most of its low-level competitors. Although it has its limitations, with properly managed expectations (and a little bit of calibration), the H5203 may satisfy even picky picture sticklers.

Users searching for an inexpensive TV to showcase Blu-rays or play current-generation console games needn't look any further.

The H5203 excels in just about every area of performance. Its colors are accurate, its black level is considerably deep, and at full 1080p HD, the resolution is a cut above other TVs in the same price range.

Users searching for an inexpensive TV to showcase Blu-rays or play current-generation console games needn't look any further. The H5203 out-performs televisions well above its weight class and blows away just about every other entry- and low-level TV that we've seen thus far this year.

This TV suffers from a seriously questionable viewing angle and poor motion performance.

Now for the flaws: This TV suffers from a seriously questionable viewing angle and poor motion performance. Generally speaking, people need to view the H5203 head-on in order to experience the TV at its best. Of course, this doesn't matter much for a 32-inch panel, but if you're purchasing this TV in a larger size for group-viewing, it's certainly something to bear in mind.

The motion performance issues are harder to ignore. Horizontal camera pans and fast-moving objects often appear choppy, which is a bummer during action sequences or scenes where the spatial orientation of certain objects is critical. For example, you will undoubtedly notice the jumpy movement of cars during a chase sequence.

If you consider TVs to be reproducers of art, accurate colors and rich black levels are absolutely critical in delivering a director's intended vision. For anyone in search of brilliant color and detail-rich shadows on an inexpensive TV, that is precisely what the H5203 offers.

The Verdict

A perfect personal TV

With fantastic picture performance, a commendable smart platform, and an attractive price tag of $329.99, there's no doubt that the Samsung H5203 is a dynamite deal. There are a few performance-related drawbacks, but the H5203 excels where it matters most.

The H5203 is a bargain even before factoring in the Smart Hub. The ability to stream content makes it the perfect personal TV for a bedroom or small living room–and it won't break the bank.

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