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Before we let matters of mere aesthetics weigh us down too much, though, the 40LE700E’s ugly rear does try to put some sort of smile back on my face by carrying a reasonable bounty of connections. These kick off with a handy tally of four HDMI inputs, with other highlights being an optical digital audio output and a USB port through which you can play JPEG and MP3 files.
In an ideal world the 40LE700E might have included some sort of Ethernet connection for streaming files from a PC or even accessing the Internet. But then this would likely have pushed the set’s price up, and surely what really appeals about the 40LE700E is the fact that it makes direct LED technology so ground-breakingly affordable.
The 40LE700E isn’t without its interesting features, though. Particularly important could be its 100Hz engine, which should hopefully reduce LCD’s traditional motion reproduction problems. It’s also keen to push its green credentials, which include a mercury-free design, and its ability to use 40 per cent less energy than traditional LCD TVs.
Impressive, too, is the set’s reasonably fulsome if slightly unwieldy colour management engine, a gamma sliding bar adjustment, noise reduction routines, and the option to deactivate the 100Hz engine if you don’t like what it’s doing with some specific sort of source material.
In assessing the 40LE700’s performance, the first thing to say is that the set really does deliver on direct LED’s contrast potential. After a spot of calibration in the company of our Digital Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray - during which we mostly tweaked the backlight and colour settings - I was struck by just how profoundly deep the set’s black levels are capable of getting. There’s practically none of the greyness around that’s so evident to some extent on almost all CCFL LCD TVs, leaving dark areas looking cinematic and natural.
Even more striking is the way these profound black levels are achieved right alongside - as in, within the same frame - really bright and punchy light picture elements. The overall brightness of the image just doesn’t have to be reduced as much as with normal - or edge LED - LCD TVs in order for the screen to produce a convincing black level.