Samsung's recent assault on the plasma and LCD market certainly seems to be causing some waves. The R87 is the "value" range from the LCD corner (being that it doesn't support 1080p), and we got our hands on the 26" model to see how smaller sizes perform for less demanding home users or those who want a second TV for another room.
The majority of the Samsung line follows a similar style in terms of design, with a distinctive piano black finish and chrome lined circular power control amidst the covered under-mounted speakers. It's pretty stylish by modern standards, and comes with a swivel stand that adds a bit of versatility. You'll find a DTV tuner built-in and it's quite a straightforward process to tune this and the analogue tuner in to populate a channel list. Samsung's EPG is particularly impressive, offering an adjustable transparent channel guide, a "now and next" list and a full guide that makes it easy to view and select programmes.
Samsung include a couple of interesting new features in the R87 series, including a "movie plus" setting which smoothes lines on fast moving images to create more of a cinematic experience. Gamers will also benefit from "game mode", offering quicker response times for fast moving titles.
Quality from the built in tuners is very good, in particular the deep black levels and accurate skin tones, although colours did occasionally seem a little harsh. You'd do well to play with picture settings to adjust the image to suit here, something that Samsung makes pretty easy with a range of presets and manual controls. The five-way remote makes this pretty straightforward being slim, light and well laid out. You'll also find an additional light control here that illuminates the volume and channel adjust buttons, although we did find some of them a tad unresponsive.
HD content looks great, and seems to eliminate the colour issues we had with the standard definition tuner. Though you're not really getting the full effect of these higher resolutions on a screen this size it's still an impressive experience. Sound quality from the 26" R87 is fairly good but we did notice a bit of rattle and distortion on bass-heavy programmes at higher volume levels, and to a certain extent the audio experience is limited by the physical aspects of the small screen.
In terms of connectivity you'll find three HDMI ports on the larger models in the range and two on 23" and 26" displays. You'll also find a PC input, component and scart and handily a set of composite and S-video on the side for easy access.
The R87 may be a tad small for a main screen but would work great for gaming or as a secondary display. It certainly shows off the recent advances in LCD design that have dragged them closer to plasma in terms of performance, is well featured with good DTV control and offers a range of options for fine-tuning.
Despite the lack of full HD capabilities the R87 performs very well and would suit anyone looking for a secondary display or small main display with HD compatibility.