In judging the UE42F5000, it’s all about perspective. As in, if you compare it with the glories on show higher up Samsung’s current range it struggles to keep up. But if you – much more fairly – consider it against other 40-42-inch TVs costing less than £400, it’s actually a mini marvel.
Kicking things off with Blu-ray playback in a darkened room using the basic set up adjustments noted previously, at first we have to say we were rather unimpressed with the lack of black level response the set displayed, as dark scenes looked distinctly grey instead of black.
However, you can greatly reduce this sense of greyness by shifting down the backlight setting, and once you’ve done that you notice something very impressive: namely that even with the backlight low there’s still an impressive amount of shadow detail visible in dark areas. This ensures that the UE42F5000 almost completely avoids the distracting hollow look to dark scenes that’s so common in the budget TV world, helping your viewing experience feel consistent and involving.
The appearance of plenty of shadow detail in dark scenes joins forces with a crisp, clean look to HD pictures in helping the UE42F5000’s HD images appear detailed and well textured. The set’s ultimately credible contrast performance helps it deliver a wide and subtly shaded colour palette that’s far beyond the basic, usually rather over-wrought colour palette of many budget TVs.
There are a few more issues with yellow and pink bias and the colour palette is more compressed than you see with the brand’s best-quality sets. But neither of these issues are a big deal for such a cheap TV.
The UE42F5000’s HD clarity is bolstered further by some very respectable motion handling by budget TV standards. Many very cheap TVs suffer noticeable blurring and even smearing when showing fast motion, but while the UE42F5000 doesn’t enjoy the extreme clarity of Samsung’s 6 series and upwards, the sense of resolution loss is subtle enough not to represent a serious distraction.
The UE42F5000 is a little less exciting with its tuner playback, as both HD and standard definition broadcasts look a touch softer than we’d like. Though this does have the benefit of making sure that digital broadcasts don’t look as rife with mosquito and MPEG blocking noise as they can on TVs that put more of a premium on sharpness.