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Samsung LE40A656 Conclusion
- Excellent black level with decent shadow detail
- Very good standard-def video processing (especially video and film mode deinterlacing)
- Comprehensive set of picture adjustment controls available in user menu (including white balance and a rudimentary colour management system)
- [100Hz Motion Plus] reduces motion blur (but may cause interpolation artefacts; see Cons)
- "Just Scan" allows for exceptional detail from 1:1 pixel mapping
- Displays 1080p/24 video signal from Sony PS3 without exhibiting telecine judder
- Generous connectivity with 4 HDMI 1.3 input, USB port, etc.
- Settings can be stored independently for each input
- Can accept and display 1920x1080 progressive video signal over VGA
- User menu and EPG navigation quicker and more responsive than last year's models
- Swivelling table-top stand comes pre-attached out-of-the-box for quick setup
- [100Hz Motion Plus] may introduce interpolation artefacts like tearing, stutter or shimmering around moving objects
- Shiny "Ultra Clear Panel" reflects ambient light and causes glare
- Mild input lag (except in "Game" mode or over VGA) may affect sensitive gamers
- Some clouding and backlight unevenness (though reduced to unobtrusive levels after calibration)*
- Slight low-pitched hum from back of TV unless the screen is very bright*
* Denotes problems which may be specific to our review sample
The Samsung LE40A656 LCD HDTV is more than a worthy successor to last year's models. Almost every aspect that could be improved has been improved: black level is slightly deeper; shadow detail is more revealing; flesh tones are more realistic; standard-def video processing is better; and on-screen display navigation is a lot less sluggish.
Best of all, the interpolation artefacts that come with [100Hz Motion Plus] have been attenuated to a level where they're tolerable for day-to-day viewing on the Samsung LE40A656, though we still wouldn't engage it for film-based content, as it makes movies look like videos even on the "Low" setting. Once we've come to accept that no 100Hz MCFI (motion-compensated frame interpolation) technology can be perfect (for the foreseeable future at least) due to the very nature of what it's trying to do (i.e. create frames that aren't there in the first place), the increase in motion resolution can be pretty appealing when [100Hz Motion Plus] is applied to the appropriate material such as sports and video games.
So, in LE40A656, has Samsung finally come up with a candidate that can mount a serious challenge to Sony Bravias at the top of the LCD hill? We believe so. Make no mistake, the Sony Bravias still hold the edge in colour balance and gaming response. And when present, their 100Hz MCFI technology is slightly more accomplished than Samsung's. But with standard-definition video processing, connectivity and most importantly price stacked firmly in Samsung's favour, the future looks extremely rosy for the LE40A656 indeed.
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