The LE40B651 does a great job, too, of rendering the detail levels and clarity we know and love from our favourite HD sources. And it does this without the slightly grainy, forced look experienced on some previous Samsung sets. So long, at least, as you avoid the set’s over-aggressive Edge Enhancement setting.
I’m happy to report, too, that this HD sharpness isn’t reduced much when there’s a lot of motion in the picture. For the 100Hz engine can take out the vast majority of LCD’s traditional motion blur.
What’s more, provided you’re careful with the 100Hz system’s settings, it can do its thing without generating many of the sort of processing side effects that have blighted some previous Samsung TVs.
That said, the LE40B651’s motion handling certainly isn’t perfect. I did occasionally spot shimmering and flickering artefacts during fast camera pans, for instance. Yet I also found that turning off the 100Hz engine completely, resulted in a large rise in blur.
But the key thing about the LE40B651 is its flexibility. For it gives you the tools to get round or hugely reduce processing glitches, via judicious tweaking of the Custom 100Hz mode. For instance, I personally felt that having the Blur reduction set to 5 and Judder reduction set to 3 really minimised the processing side effect problems.
Another issue I found harder to get round is the LE40B651’s standard definition performance. Colour tones tend not to look as natural and dynamic as they do with HD, and the picture looks slightly soft and noisy if you don’t keep the backlight setting well down.
The final negative thing about the LE40B651 is that its audio is average. As with numerous previous Samsung sets, there isn’t enough bass, leaving the soundstage sounding a bit one-dimensional and, at times, slightly harsh. On the upside, treble detailing is pretty acute, and the soundstage is wide if you use the default SRS TruSurround HD system. But ultimately there’s no escaping the feeling that pictures as potentially great as those of the LE40B651 deserve a more robust sonic accompaniment.
The LE40B651 is another one of those darned tormenting TVs that’s got me really torn over what final mark to give it. For while its feature count, design and HD picture performance are all more or less outstanding for its price point, its standard definition pictures are only good rather than great, and its sound definitely doesn’t support the visuals as powerfully as it should.
In the end, the set’s design flare, HD quality and pioneering spirit (as represented by the Yahoo Widgets functionality) ultimately persuaded/seduced me in to giving it a 9 out of 10 – with the recommendation that you try and feed it as much HD as you possibly can.
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