More 32-inch televisions are sold today than any other size, and Samsung's are among the most popular. To help maintain its lead, the Korean company has tweaked the design of one of its most successful models, emphasising the curves. Even better, you get three HDMI inputs.
Like most of Samsung's televisions, the R87 is attractive to look at. It's finished in piano black, and has pleasant and unusual rounded edges. The TV sits on a funky oval stand, which despite looking good feels a little cheap, as it's possible to rock the TV.
The front of the screen has almost no buttons. At the centre there's a power button, which sits under the Samsung logo. To the right of the screen are touch-sensitive buttons for selecting input source, entering the menu, increasing and decreasing the volume and changing channel.
On the right-hand side, there are easy-to-access inputs. These include one HDMI socket, S-Video and composite video inputs and a headphone socket. Unusually, the common interface socket for adding a TopUpTV card is also found here.
At the back you'll find the two other HDMI sockets, a VGA input for connecting a PC, as well as audio in for the PC. There are a pair of Scart sockets, one of which is RGB-enabled. There is also component video in and audio inputs to complement them. The LE32R86 also has an optical digital output to allow connection to a home-cinema amplifier. Handy if you happen to think the speakers on small LCDs are rather weedy.
The remote control is the same as with every other Samsung TV. It's long, thin and quite light. It's not the most responsive remote control we've ever used either, and the buttons feel cheap. That said, it's a fairly nicely styled object, and won't offend your eye.
The LE32R87 is a 720p screen -- at 32 inches we wouldn't expect support for 1080p, as at this size there isn't much point spending money cramming extra pixels on the screen.
By way of features, the LE32 is pretty basic. It features a built-in digital tuner, so you can watch Freeview channels. There's also an analogue receiver if you can't access digital transmissions in your area. Auto setup and tuning takes around one minute, which is pretty fast.
There's also a wealth of image-adjustment options. Everything from backlight and colour to white balance and sharpness can be adjusted. This is a mixed blessing: while we love the fact you can set up the TV to suit your needs, we don't think most people will bother doing this. On its default settings, the picture isn't perfect and most people will probably suffer this rather than mess about with the settings themselves.
There's also picture-in-picture, a feature that can be useful if you're playing a game, but want to keep an eye on the cricket score while you do it. You'll more than likely get yourself killed if you try this while playing Gears of War.
While watching high-definition material we found the LE32 to be very capable indeed. Our HD DVD test disc, Serenity, was sharp and full of detail. At the start of the movie where we zoom into the Earth, the planet has an almost 3D look to it. In Happy Gilmore, everything looked bright and colourful. We found that motion also looked natural and there was no judder.
To get the most accurate black reproduction we turned the backlight right down. In a normally lit room, this should be sufficient to have a bright image. In more strongly lit environments you may want to push it up higher -- but remember, the brighter you set the backlight the less dark your blacks will be. At this level, there was plenty of detail in the image, even in the darker areas.
For upscaled DVD the Samsung remains a strong performer. Pictures had plenty of detail, and we were pleased to see that The Big Lebowski had all its usual charm. There was some film noise, but this was generally reduced by the set's electronic processing. Colour was well reproduced and there were times we forgot we were watching standard definition.
Freeview performance was good, although we weren't blown away by it. Colour reproduction was strong, but a little unrealistic at times. We found reds seemed to bleed over somewhat, especially on daytime quiz shows. Generally the LE32 did a good job at deinterlacing TV -- we didn't see too many of the jagged edges you sometimes find on standard-definition material. The picture was quite sharp too. Close ups of faces held plenty of detail, although long shots were much less crisp.
Samsung's movie mode ensures that the picture is free of grain and noise. It also smoothes motion slightly. This is good if you find that progressive film material looks a little jerky. Some people may not like the adjustments the Samsung makes to the picture, but you can turn the settings off if they don't suit you.
Like most LCD TVs this one has a separate menu system for all things to do with the digital TV. This is slightly confusing, because it's accessed through a different menu button on the remote control. It also looks uglier, and soft. This isn't a huge deal, but the inconsistency grates.
We rather like the LE32R87: the picture quality is good, the screen is bright and clear and for the most part a pleasure to watch.
When using the movie mode, especially the 'movie plus' setting, remember that it can dramatically change the way films look. So if you notice your movies have lost some of their atmosphere, it may be because this mode does such a good job of stripping the jerky film motion and makes movies look like normal TV.
If you're looking for an alternative, the Toshiba 32WLT68 and the Sony KDL-32V2000 are both good options, albeit more expensive ones. Overall, though, the LE32R87 is a great TV, once you've fiddled with the picture settings.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Nick Hide