The second key area of improvement with the LE40C650 comes with its colours. These are more dynamic and vibrant pre-calibration, and also become – post-calibration – more consistently natural and accurate than those we got from the C580. Couple these improved colours with the superior black level response, and you’ve already got a picture that looks seriously dynamic and, with HD movies, cinematic.
The LE40C650 further improves on the C580 with its motion handling; there’s markedly less evidence of motion blur or resolution loss over moving objects. This is especially true, of course, with the set’s motion processing active. But we’d urge you to be very careful if you do use this processing, as setting it too high can result in obvious undesirable processing side effects.
The LE40C650’s HD presentation isn’t the absolute sharpest we’ve seen, even with all the noise reduction processing deactivated and overscanning turned off (using the screen’s Screen Fit aspect ratio mode). But this only manifests itself as a marginal lack of the grain some Blu-ray films contain; pictures still look definitively HD and crisp.
The LE40C650’s talents even extend to standard definition playback, as its upscaling engine delivers a winning combination of added sharpness and reduced MPEG and other noise.
Considering that the LE40C650 delivers its mostly excellent pictures for under £650, we can only muster two complaints. First, there’s evidence of backlight inconsistency, in the form of pools of extra brightness in the picture’s corners visible during very dark scenes. Thankfully, this all but disappears with the backlight reduced to our preferred 10 or less level, but it could sometimes aggravate people who prefer/need their pictures to be substantially brighter.
The other issue concerns the screen’s input lag. While playing Modern Warfare 2 online on the TV, we found ourselves dying even more regularly than usual, and the game just somehow felt slightly sluggish compared with our usual experience of it on a JVC D-ILA projector.
Wrapping up with the LE40C650’s audio capabilities, it’s a real relief to find Samsung improving considerably on the seriously malnourished audio efforts of its 2009 TV range. There’s still nothing much going on in the bass department, but the mid-range is notably more open, allowing the set to retain clarity during action scenes, while also painting a larger soundstage.
The LE40C650 thankfully proves that Samsung hasn’t become so obsessed with LED that it’s forgotten about its CCFL LCD sets. The LE40C650 is for the most part a really excellent picture performer that delivers some of the most cinematic, contrast rich pictures yet seen using CCFL lighting – and at a great price, to boot.
It’s also rich in features and calibration aids, with really its only big weakness – if you’re a console gamer – being its apparent input lag. We wouldn’t describe this as severe enough to necessarily spoil single-player games, but it definitely affected us online.