Turning to 2D Blu-rays, the 40D6530 is capable of looking seriously impressive. Spectacular, even. All the familiar Samsung LED traits are there: outstanding levels of fine detail; dynamic, natural and subtly blended colours; well-upscaled standard definition pictures; inky black level response; and good motion handling.
Motion doesn’t look quite as polished without any of Samsung’s motion processing in play as it does on the D7000 and D8000 models. But it still looks perfectly watchable, and you can remove pretty much all traces of judder and motion blur if you do call in the motion circuitry. Just be aware that setting this any higher than its ‘Clear’ mode can result in films suddenly looking video-like – something that certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
While the 40D6530 mostly looks brilliant, though, it has an Achilles Heel in the shape of that dreaded edge LED phenomenon of inconsistent backlighting. During very dark scenes you can make out some quite extensive areas where the screen looks brighter than it does elsewhere – and whenever you see these ‘clouds’, they inevitably distract you from what you’re watching.
You can certainly reduce the impact of the clouding if you avoid the crazily high backlight levels favoured by the TV’s limited set of picture presets. But even with the backlight reduced to 6, at which point the picture really starts to lose shadow detail and punch, the clouding could still be seen on dark scenes like the one where Bond, um, probes a lady friend for information in his hotel room in Casino Royale.
It must be stressed that the sort of backlight inconsistencies we’re talking about are subtle with the backlight set to 10 or less, and can’t be seen at all if you’re watching a bright scene. Furthermore, your awareness of the problem is massively reduced if you’re watching the TV in a bright room. So if you’re not the sort of person who likes to dim the lights when you’re watching your TV, the backlight flaws likely won’t trouble you, and will leave you free to wallow in the considerable glories exhibited by most aspects of the 40D6530’s pictures.
If, however, you consider yourself a serious movie fan who likes nothing more than to draw the curtains tight and turn the lights right off when watching a film, the chances are that the UE40D6530‘s clouding issues will disturb you at least a handful of times during any given movie.
One other issue that gamers need to think about is that our input lag tests on the UE40D6530 shifted rather erratically between a respectable 40ms and a potentially performance-affecting 70ms, even using the set’s Game mode.
Finishing up with a the 40D6530’s audio, it’s fair to middling – which actually counts as a decent achievement versus the puny audio of previous Samsung TV generations. There’s not a lot of bass, but the mid-range and treble parts of the soundstage are just about open and clear enough to do the business. Oddly, the set actually sounds better at high volumes; at lower levels the sound seems thinner.
Under the right conditions, the 40D6530 can produce pictures good enough to make you purr like the most pampered of cats. Its design is sublime too, and it delivers a likable if not state of the art 3D performance. Throw in ample multimedia talents, moreover, and you’ve got a TV that does an awful lot for its surprisingly affordable price.
However, we can’t quite bring ourselves to give it an unconditional rave on account of its minor crosstalk and middling backlight issues.
Score in detail
3D Quality 8
2D Quality 8
Sound Quality 7