The single best thing about the UE40D5520's handling of dark scenes, though, is how much shadow detail it manages to produce while delivering its deep black colours. Most other highly affordable edge LED TVs tend to have to take so much brightness out of the image to produce convincing black colours that really dark parts of the picture look hollow and devoid of detail. But with the UE40D5520 dark scenes tend to look almost as deep, layered and detailed as bright ones. Samsung has even provided a dedicated adjustment to help you refine the balance between black level depth and shadow detail to suit your tastes.
Turning to the UE40D5520's colour response, initially a curious hint of orange infused the colour palette when using the TV's presets. But happily, despite only having a white balance adjustment and basic colour saturation/tint controls to play with, we managed to rein this problem in to our satisfaction, leaving us able to appreciate instead the impressive punchiness, dynamism and, indeed, accuracy of the vast majority of the expansive colour palette on offer.
The UE40D5520's pictures look effortlessly crisp and detailed with HD sources, except for when there’s minor blurring caused by lots of motion in the picture. Even the set's standard definition pictures look great - clean, detailed, and natural. In fact, along with its black level performance, the UE40D5520's standard definition efforts are arguably what most sets it apart from rival budget models.
For much of the time, the UE40D5520's audio is OK. Certainly normal, day to day TV viewing sounds just fine. However, things go a bit awry if you feed the speakers anything approaching a thumping action movie scene, with male vocals starting to sound slightly distorted, and the speakers getting overloaded to the point where the soundstage suddenly seems to dip rather than increase in volume when the going really gets tough!
Screens like the UE40D5520 are increasingly being used as gaming monitors. So it's good to find that placed in its game mode (bizarrely accessed via a System menu rather than the picture preset menus), this Samsung set delivers a respectably low input lag of just 34ms.
While there are plenty of other perfectly decent affordable 40in TVs out there this year, the UE40D5520 is clearly the best of the bunch we’ve seen to date - despite being also one of the most affordable.