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Almost two years ago, my trusty old 14inch Cathode Ray Tube television began to fail; the free view digibox worked well, yet oddly, only when the weather conditions were poor. Rarely in the summer time could I get a decent signal for any of the free view channels.
Time, I thought, to consider buying a digital telly and retire the old one along with the digibox.
Our local Protec shop had several models of HD ready, flat-screen, LCD Tvs on display and working.
I was immediately struck by the picture quality of the Samsung model, compared to some of the other screens on display. The picture was so sharp you could almost cut yourself on it.
The shop assistants were very knowledgeable and patiently answered my many questions, in terms I could understand. My main queries were about the reliability of reception throughout the seasons and the ease of set up. I was impressed on both counts.
It didn't take long for me to decide that this was the set for me. There were several size screen to choose from, the smallest being 23 inches.
The smallest screen size was plenty big enough for my sitting room, so without further ado, ordered a 23 inch Samsung LCD TV model LE23R86, which was delivered and set up for me the following week.
Interestingly, Cathode Ray Tube pictures are made up of hundreds of lines, but the LCD pictures are composed of millions of tiny dots of light (pixels) which give a much better quality and sharper picture.
So ends my limited knowledge of the workings of televisions.
The overall size of the TV set are as follows:
Height: 16 inches
Depth: 2.4 inches
Width: 23 inches
Screen size: 23 inches - measured diagonally
At the back of the set are sockets for the aerial, power cable and ones for various devices such as DVD player, Video recorder and games consoles.
On the left hand side of the frame are extra sockets for external devices such as headphones and camcorders.
A highly glossed, black frame surrounds the matt, rectangular screen.
In the centre of the bottom of the frame is a sensor and on the right of of the screen, the manual controls set flush with the frame. Its loudspeakers are concealed at the front, along the bottom.
The whole framework can be hung on a wall, although the wall mountings are not included and have to be bought separately if required. Or the set can be mounted on the oval shaped stand supplied.
A remote control, two AAA batteries, a power cord and stand were all included in the package, plus a 54 page, well illustrated, manual, which I found easy to understand.
The remote control can also be used to operate, not only the TV, but the DVD, Cable and VCR by selecting the appropriate button on the control.
For the TV, its delivery and installation, I paid £300.
The reason I decided to have it professionally installed was to make sure that the reception was good enough in my area and that any adjustments needed were made on the spot, otherwise it would have meant my travelling back and forth to the dealer for advise. As it turned out, the signal was strong and no further adjustments to set or aerial were required.
Initial set up:
Once the TV was connected to the aerial and power switched on, the screen displayed the words "Start Plug and Play." All that was required then, was to follow the simple on-screen instructions using the remote control and pressing "ENTER/OK" where appropriate; the system automatically found and stored all the terrestrial and digital channels. At this point the TV clock is also set.
On occasions, updating of the digital channels is necessary for all TVs, This is simpley achieved on the Samsung, by pressing the menu button, scrolling to the sub-menu required and following the easy to understand instructions, a bit like computers really - simpler to do than to describe.
As with most TVs, the channels can be stored automatically or manually, and each channel reception finely tuned. Also, a useful child-lock feature can be applied to prevent children viewing unsuitable programs. The lock can only be released by the remote control, so has to be hidden from the child.
I am impressed with its 'Low Noise Amplifier' (LNA), a feature which can boost the incoming signal to the TV: this is helpful when situated in an area where the signal is weak. For there are some areas even around here where the signal is not so strong.
Many of the features, I have no need to use and are probably incorporated in most digital televisions, but I will list them, since they will be of interest to some, no doubt.
The Picture Standard can be changed "to suit individual viewing requirements," for example, The 'Dynamic' setting selects the picture best suited for viewing high definition programmes in a brightly lit room. The 'Standard' setting is for normal viewing. and the 'Movie' setting selects picture for viewing in a darkened room.
The Colour Tone, can be changed to suit individual tastes. There are 5 settings to choose from, one will make the colour temperature bluer, another makes the whites bluish, while another will keep the whites white; another setting makes the whites reddish and the last, makes the colour temperature red; this is analogous to altering the tones and colour temperatures of photographs on the computer.
The Picture Size can be changed, to automatically adjust pictures to the wide screen shape, rather than square shape.
The Picture in Picture (PIP) feature is one whereby a sub-picture can be displayed within the main picture, so that if need be, one can either watch and listen to a video or DVD whilst also watching the main picture, or watch and listen to the main picture whilst watching a video.. Why anyone would want to use this feature, I have yet to learn.
The Sound Standard feature enables sound to be changed so that music is emphasized ove voices,or voices emphasized over other sounds.
The Automatic Volume Adjustment, is a particularly useful feature; for when channels are changed, or the adverts shown, there are sudden increases or decreases in sound volumes. Without this automatic feature we either tolerate the noise or reach for the remote.
There is also a feature whereby the TV can be set to turn on and off automatically.
For those, who are hard of hearing, a Subtitles feature can be selected to show sub-titles at the bottom of the screen for every program.
All the settings can easily be reset to factory defaults if need be.
Although the engineer who delivered my Samsung set it up for me; I, like an annoyingly inquisitive nipper, watched and questioned every move. He cottoned on and began explaining and demonstrating the ease of set up, and I am confident that I would certainly have been capable of setting it up for myself should I have had too.
The signal in this area was strong therefore no new aerial or signal booster was required.
The picture quality was excellent, and on the rare occasions when the picture began to break up for a short period of time, I could simply revert to the terrestrial channels. When we go completely digital next year, the signals will be so much stronger and less likely to pixelate.
At the moment we are experiencing an unusual phenomenon here in the West country. The Devonshire area is now completely digital, but Somerset will not go completely digital until March, next year.
The Devonshire signal is much stronger than the Somerset signal, and so the local Devonshire news is received in Somerset. The only way people, in some areas of Somerset, can view their own local news is by reverting to the terrestrial channels.
I am glad to say that picture quality of all but one of the terrestrial channels are on a par with the digital channel quality. The BBC1 terrestrial channel is viewable but not particularly good in this area.
To summarize; I am very pleased with the quality and reliability of my Samsung TV. The instruction manual is easy to understand and instructions simple to follow. In fact no one would ever suspect that I was a borderline technophobe.
Two years on and as would be expected from a quality product , I am still very happy indeed with this set, the picture quality has remained excellent.
December: 2013 Update: Still no problems with this set, but then I do not expect any for many a year yet.