Colours are outstanding too. There’s a touch too much blue around for our tastes using the set’s out of the box presets, perhaps, but this is easily rectified via the set’s excellent calibration tools. And after this small tweak, we were free to revel in a terrific combination of extremely punchy saturation levels, natural hues, and almost infinitely subtle blends and tonal shifts. It’s this latter touch of finesse, in particular, that tends to separate excellent TVs form merely good ones.
Yet more good news concerns the TV’s motion handling. For while the set needs to warm up for a few minutes before it’s at its best (a trait shared by many LCD TVs), once it’s firing on all cylinders it keeps a lid on blur without making film sources like Blu-rays look too much like video, and without introducing many distracting processing artefacts.
The only catch is that you can see some momentary ‘trailing’ while panning around when playing video games unless you set the motion processing on its highest level. But with the processing set this high, the gaming experience feels rather sluggish and unnatural. The best news in gaming terms is that we measured input lag at a respectable 40ms – though please note that you must have the screen in its game mode with as much other video processing turned off as possible to get these measurements. Using other presets pushes the input lag up over the 100ms level.
Where input lag isn’t such an issue as it is when playing games, setting the MotionPlus system to Clear and to better appreciate the 40D7000’s extremely impressive sharpness with high definition sources, plus, arguably even more impressively, its superb delivery of standard definition images. These look crisp and naturally coloured without tipping over into noise as less able upscaling engines can when trying to make standard def look as sharp as the 40D7000 does.
It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that we haven’t mentioned 3D yet. But don’t worry, that’s not because the 40D7000 has many problems in that area. As with the larger new Samsung screens we’ve tested, it’s immediately striking just how effective the 40D7000 is at producing the detail and depth present in a good-quality 3D Blu-ray transfer, thanks to a combination of the screen’s good 3D motion handling, big reduction in crosstalk noise compared with last year’s screens, and unusually high brightness level for an active 3D set. This helps colours look nearly as punchy as they do in 2D mode, while also bringing out exceptional amounts of shadow detail in dark areas. In this respect the 40D7000 outguns even Panasonic’s recently reviewed P50GT30.
However, while crosstalk is certainly much less of a problem for Samsung than it was last year, it still appears quite a bit more regularly than it does on Panasonic’s P50GT30 – and Panasonic’s L32DT30 LED 3D model, come to that.
One other philosophical point is that 3D inevitably doesn’t enjoy as much impact on a 40in screen as it does on bigger screens. But that’s not exactly the UE40D7000’s fault, really.
Finishing up with the UE40D7000’s audio, it’s not bad considering how slim the screen is. There’s certainly more power and clarity than we’ve heard from the past couple of Samsung flat panel generations, and even a touch of bass. There’s still a way to go, though, before we’ll be truly satisfied.
While Panasonic’s L32DT30 has proved that LCD can do active 3D without suffering as much crosstalk as you get with the 40D7000, overall Samsung’s latest 40 incher is still a superb LCD all-rounder that also just so happens to have excellent multimedia capabilities and one of the coolest designs ever.