Nowadays, though, Samsung LCD TV owners are no longer forced to have obnoxious image enhancement functions locked on at all times, nor are they stuck with having the backlight lamps behind the panel pumping out light at eye-burning levels. In fact, most of the company's displays, like the LE40B651 here, are a minefield of image processing options and tweaks which allow you to get the best (or worst!) out of them. The whole package is topped off with 4 HDMI inputs (one of them side-mounted), Ethernet/LAN connectivity, an analogue VGA input, 1 RGB SCART terminal, another standard SCART, and USB inputs, and is available for just over £800 from retailers such as Amazon. Today, we're going to take a look at how all of these come together when this 40 1080p LCD has been configured to the best of its abilities.
The LE40B651 hasn't really put a foot wrong for a TV costing £1,100. And in many ways that continues with its picture performance. Particularly startling is the set's black level response. Samsung's Ultra Clear panel design, featuring a polariser that reflects room light to enable the reproduction of deeper blacks, appears to have been improved considerably, enabling the set to resolve even the darkest of film scenes with a credibility that rivals many good plasma screens.
There's hardly a trace of the dreaded grey misting effect, but plenty of the shadow detailing information that helps to give dark scenes depth and life. Only LED-based LCD screens can deliver deeper black levels still. What's more, the set's black levels hold up better than they do on most LCD TVs when viewed from an angle.
What makes the black levels all the more remarkable is the fact that the relatively inky black levels are maintained even if you turn the set's dynamic contrast feature off, so that you don't have to worry about the picture's brightness levels 'jumping' in response to changing light levels in your source images.
Black levels as intense as those of the LE40B651 generally sit side by side with rich, vibrant colours. And so it proves here, as the lush animated colourscape of Wall-E on Blu-ray simply explodes off the screen.
Of course, though, even pretty dodgy TVs can look good with lovely animated fare like Wall-E. But the LE40B651 also delivers a rich but credible palette with standard HD video like the demanding casino-based scenes in Casino Royale. Skin tones look subtle and credible, without diminishing the stylised lighting effects or the rich colours of the cards.
Standard-def still has the capability to impress when done correctly, and the LE40B651 has the necessary options to make for impressive SD video. The aforementioned scaling algorithm in use here looks nice, although depending on the content, you might want to give the Sharpness control a gentle nudge to the right.
Using an outside scaler (in this case, the HQV processing in my own Onkyo TX-SR876 AV receiver) didn't necessarily make images look better, just different. That's a pretty impressive thing to be able to say about a TV's built-in scaling.
Of course, what I really wanted to take a look at was some 1080p content. Connect a Blu-ray player, hit TOOLS on the remote, and change the “Picture Size” option to “Screen Fit” to enable pixel-by-pixel mapping, and enjoy. Just be sure that, after calibrating, you see to the “100hz Motion Plus” option, which is implemented with better control than on just about any other TV I've reviewed.
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Article Added on Friday, February 12, 2010
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