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Samsung LE40A656 40in LCD TV review

John Archer

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Samsung LE40A656 40in LCD TV

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

We guess Samsung had a bit of a problem as it started trying to design its latest LCD TV range. For with most critics - and punters - appearing to agree that Samsung's previous LCD TV range was already the prettiest around, it must have been hard to come up with something even better. But as any English football manager would tell you, with the new mid-range LE40A656, ‘the boys done good'…

The clue to the main design feature of the 40in LE40A656 is the ‘touch of colour' phrase Samsung has been using to market the TV. For while last year's range was almost universally all about black, for the 600 range Samsung has injected a subtle deep red tone (called Rose Black by Samsung) into the bezel that becomes gradually more apparent the further the bezel extends out. This proves to be a masterstroke, giving the TV a unique identity without becoming too overstated.

The TV's build quality is exquisite too, ensuring that the TV looks almost as nice from the back as it does from the front. This is down in part to an industry first, whereby the bodywork doesn't employ any glue or screws in its construction. Presumably this means it's all held together by magic or something.

Not that its opulent-looking design and build are the only things the LE40A656 has going for it in these early stages. For starters, its connections include no less than four HDMI sockets, all built to the v1.3 specification for Deep Colour compatibility; all equipped with CEC functionality for control of compatible sources via the TV's remote; and all capable of receiving 1080p/24 sources of the sort output by the majority of Blu-ray players. Cool.

Elsewhere, you get the customary component video input, a D-Sub PC input, an optical digital audio output, two SCARTs, an S-Video input, a composite video input and, last but not least, a USB 2.0 port for playing back JPEG stills or MP3 audio files.

The 40A656 incorporates a 1,920 x 1,080 full HD resolution and promises a supremely high contrast ratio of 50,000:1, delivered with the assistance of the inevitable dynamic contrast system where the TV's backlight is dimmed to boost black levels during dark scenes. Also playing its part is some innovative filtering technology in the screen itself, which drastically reduces contrast-spoiling reflections.

A quick delve into the rest of the LE40A656's features finds something that on paper ought to fill us with glee: 100Hz processing. This technique for doubling the normal PAL refresh rate has proven very successful at reducing LCD's problems with portraying motion without the normal levels of resolution loss. Yet we've also seen it occasionally make pictures look worse if the processing engine driving it isn't up to scratch. And we're concerned about its appearance on the LE40A656 because we weren't entirely convinced by the Movie Plus motion-enhancing system found on Samsung's previous LCD sets. Fingers crossed Samsung has upped its game this time…

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ian bloomfield

October 7, 2008, 8:12 pm

I purchased this TV after reading this review, what a fantastic set, so good that my father in law bought the same one. I cannot praise this set highly enough, they all come with a 5 year warranty now so even better value for money

Jim O

October 17, 2008, 2:26 pm

I also bought this TV after reading the review above. I've had it just over a month now and i have to say it is fantastic. The day we got it we watched a Blu-ray DVD and the picture quality is amazing. The colours are so vibrant and clear. Set up is easy and the menus are fairly intuitive. I would recommend this TV to anyone

HDtvwannahave

October 19, 2008, 2:20 pm

he there currently is a LE40A756 on the market anyone have that one already i am currently in the market for a 40 inch lcd tv and the 6 series is now very well priced in holland (994 euro) i was wondering if the 7 series is worth the extra 2 or 300 euro

Jon 3

February 2, 2009, 10:40 pm

I am considering the newer LE-37686, would this review apply?

Mike Jones

February 23, 2009, 5:00 pm

Probably a bit late to this but purchased one two days ago from PC World with a great offer on blue-ray. Got it home, set it up in less than 20 minutes, popped the blue-ray in the cabinet and away I went. SD through an aerial is excellent, HD through Freesat is awesome (best I have ever seen) blue-ray is just astonishing as is the up scaling in 1080p, watched Harry Potter Goblet of Fire and where the underwater scenes were hopeless on my Panasonic 37" 1080i the Samsung made me believe I was watching genuine blue-ray, we only sat to try I tout and ended up watching it all again.





After I tried Iron-Man (blue-ray version) and could have sat and cried with excitement, WOW< WOW< WOW & can't offer further superlatives really. From SD through to blue-ray it’s incredible, only later did I realise I didn't have the TV set up with motion flow and 1080p, 'No-way,' I said to myself, 'there are not words to describe my pleasure.'





Only tiny downside is the in-built sound, background is too loud so speech suffers, to be fair though with so many different settings I may have it on the wrong one, I'll look later.





As for the look of the black rose, nothing compares (IMO) I always likes the Phillips Ambi thingy with the changing colours round the edge, in Curry’s it is now half price � down to under �, and I almost didn't get the Samsung, oh boy am I glad I did.





11 out of 10 apart from the sound and that may yet be better, it’s probably me.

Niall Jackson

November 9, 2010, 6:05 pm

Was a good TV until it broke down - will never buy Samsung products again. Sub standard parts and terrible customer service. TV only lasted 16 months...

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