As we’ve come to expect from Samsung’s value TVs in recent years, the UE42F5500 is a very capable performer for its money. Standing out in this case is the exceptional sharpness and detail in HD images, as such HD minutiae as the weave of clothing, facial pores and textures in background walls are remarkably clear for such a cheap TV.
This sharpness does look a touch forced using the default sharpness setting, as noted a moment ago, but the sense of acute detailing remains good even with the sharpness setting reduced to take out the noise.
The UE42F5500 isn’t as nifty at handling motion as higher-end Samsung models. But while this can mean that pictures suffer a bit of judder during camera pans, this isn’t joined by the sort of blurring and resolution reduction you might expect to see on such an affordable 42-inch TV.
Yet another contributing factor to the UE42F5500’s sharpness is its impressive reproduction of shadow detail in dark scenes. This indicates right away that the UE42F5500 enjoys a better native contrast performance than most budget TVs, since the backlight doesn’t (often, anyway…) have to take so much brightness out of the picture to achieve a decent black level depth that shadow detail gets crushed out.
The UE42F5500 is also a cut above most rivals with its colour handling, as it achieves levels of punch and range that tend to elude other similarly priced TVs. This rich colourscape is not accompanied either by any serious tonal imbalances, and there’s enough subtlety in the set’s colour handling to stop even large expanses of a single colour starting to look cartoonish.
The UE42F5500 doesn’t quite hit the ‘classic’ heights of some of Samsung’s other recent TVs, though. The main reason for this is that while the screen’s native contrast is good, it’s not brilliant; there’s a degree of greyness hanging over dark scenes even with the backlight set low.
You also have to work a bit harder than you probably should to keep noise out of high-definition pictures – a fact that’s made to look more odd by the way the UE42F5500 is unusually good for an affordable set at taking noise out of standard definition sources when upscaling them to HD.
How we test televisions
We test every TV we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.