Standard def playback is notable, too, for how relatively free of MPEG and mosquito noise it looks compared with the efforts of most ultra-affordable Full HD sets.
Relatively static HD images, meanwhile, such as the shots of Bond recuperating on a gorgeous hillside following his eye-watering testicle/knotted rope interaction, reveal the 40A558 to be quite excellent at pulling out all the lovely fine detail that makes HD so lovable. Leaves, individual grass shoots, stubble, skin pores – all these traditional signs of HD quality are present and correct.
There is, of course, a degree of irony to this, in that the sharpness of static footage to some extent emphasises the smearing and softness introduced when things start moving around. But hey – at least it’s nice to know that the core detailing talent is there.
It’s not just the 40A558’s pictures that are caught out by action scenes, either. They also prove a bit of a challenge for the set’s audio. In standard mode, for instance, the sequence where Bond averts an attack on a new ‘superjet’ lacks dynamic range and clarity, ending up sounding slightly thin and muddled.
Turning to the provided SRS TruSurround XT processing improves the soundstage width and even the sound’s general frequency range, But since this mode can’t suddenly conjure extra speaker power out of thin air, there’s a price to pay for the expanded dynamics in the form of subdued vocals.
The various motion issues exhibited by the 40A558’s pictures make it impossible for me to give it a whole-hearted recommendation, and will likely make it a non-starter for AV purists. In other words, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t seriously consider buying one myself, saving up instead for something from the A656 series or beyond.
However, if you’re one of the growing number of people out there more interested in raw screen size for your buck economics than the last word in AV quality, the 40A558 has far more going for it than the vast majority of its cheap and cheerful rivals.