Samsung LE40B651 40in LCD TV Review - Samsung LE40B651 Review


There are essentially two key points about the LE40B651’s ‘Internet’ access. First, it’s actually not Internet access at all, but rather access to a special Samsung online portal from which you can access online content from a series of service ‘partners’. But second, the amount of content you can access is much more diverse than it was on last year’s Samsung ‘online’ TVs or, so far as we can tell, the majority of its rival brands.

Particularly notable are the addition of YouTube, the Flickr photostorage/viewing/vague networking site, and Yahoo Widgets. This Widgets compatibility is exclusive to Samsung until September, and is a genuinely big deal. For the Widgets platform (a JavaScript runtime engine) is designed to allow all manner of little tools and applications to be developed by more or less anyone who knows what they’re doing.

As you’d expect, the TV ships with the Widget Gallery ‘browser’ installed as standard, so that you have a means of tracking down any Widgets you fancy using. But the catch is that for now, at least, the only Widgets I could track down were the ones already installed on the TV. The thousands of others available to PC users just didn’t show up, reminding me again that for better or for worse, Samsung is trying to craft a controlled, ring-fenced TV experience more like an ultra-sophisticated teletext service rather than a free-form Internet experience.

But even with this in mind, the extent of what’s on offer with the LE40B651 really is a far – and welcome – cry from the simple news, finance and local weather reports that marked the sum total of what was possible with Samsung’s previous Internet TV generation. And it’s nice to know, too, that the architecture now in place with the LE40B651 opens the door to more service providers and features being added over time.

On the downside, I experienced a few connection hiccups with some of the content – YouTube, in particular. And there’s a part of me that still yearns for full Internet access, despite all the numerous navigation and presentation issues that this inevitably presents for a TV as opposed to a PC. But in the end, the draw represented by the online system’s slick presentation and user experience keeps you coming back for more.

Another Samsung innovation making a return after debuting last year is the Content Library concept, whereby the TV ships with a wealth of pre-loaded interactive content, including photo screensavers, recipes, children’s stories and songs, and even a very basic game.

This has been improved this time round thanks to a slicker interface and the provision of 189MB of built-in memory, into which you can add extra content (via USB) promised to be made available on Samsung’s website in the future. You can also delete content from the Content Library if you don’t want it to free up extra memory for things that you do.

But to be honest, aside perhaps from the artistic screensaver gallery, I still have my doubts about how much you’ll really tend to go back to this feature after your first inquisitive exploration of it.

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