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9/10

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Samsung LE46A756 46in LCD TV - Samsung LE46A756

Another spectacular success of the LE46A756's pictures is how sharp and detailed they look when showing HD. The breathtaking image quality of the first six minutes of The Dark Knight, filmed using IMAX cameras and included as a bonus feature on the Batman Begins Blu-ray, is delivered with exceptional panache by the LE46A756 thanks to a combination of impeccable fine detailing, perfectly blended colours, and perhaps most exciting of all, precious little in the way of either motion blur or the sort of visual artefacts often caused by motion-enhancing processing.

I should clarify here that you do have to be a little careful with the TV's settings to achieve this impressive motion. In particular you should only have the 100Hz Motion Plus system set to its ‘Low' level, for pushing it higher invariably results in clear glitching around edges, while leaving it off altogether results in judder and a generally less distinct look to moving objects.

I'd also recommend using the Standard image preset (not the awful Dynamic one) with contrast set between 75-80, the backlight set around 5, the brightness no higher than 50, Dynamic Contrast set to Low, the black adjustment switched off, and finally the Edge Enhancement tool set off too, as to me this over-exaggerates contrasty edges and makes the image look inconsistent and rough as a result.
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Follow the above measures and as well as the picture looking stunningly sharp and rich in black level, it will also enjoy a scintillating combination of vividly saturated but also unusually natural colours. Maybe the colours produced by Philips' Wide Colour Gamut sets (such as the 42PFL9703D) are even more expressive still, but it's a close run thing. And don't forget that this Samsung set costs considerably less than an equivalent-sized 9703 model.

I do have a trio of gripes with the picture, though. Firstly, there's one traditional LCD weakness the LE46A756 has not been able to overcome: an uninspiring viewing angle. Watch from 45 degrees or more, and the familiar problems of diminishing black levels and colour saturations set in.

Secondly, I found the screen to be a little more reflective of ambient light in my test room than most TVs I see these days, to a degree that really could become tiresome if you happen to have one of the lights in your room positioned in such a way that it's likely to be reflected by the LE46A756.

Finally, there's occasionally a sudden moment of edge smearing even with the 100Hz Motion Plus system correctly set. But thankfully these moments are seldom truly distracting, and so the positives of the system far outweigh the negatives.

The LE46A756 isn't nearly as outstanding sonically as it is visually. There's a bit more of an open feeling to the soundstage than we noted with Samsung's A656 and lower models, but a shortage of deep bass and a tendency to sound thin during action scenes still keep it out of the audio A-list.

Verdict

The LE46A756's lovely design proves to be an entirely appropriate portal into a world of LCD picture quality that's up there with the very best we've seen. What's more, the set's feature count is as prodigious as it is groundbreaking, and its price really isn't out of the way at all considering what's on offer. In other words, the Samsung boys have done good. Again.

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