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Samsung LE40A656 Operation

by Vincent Teoh
5 June 2008

The cascading user menu on the Samsung LE40A656 is essentially the same as those found across their 2007 range of HDTVs, but with one big improvement: navigation is speedier and much more responsive to key presses on the remote control, which is a boon considering the myriad of picture adjustment controls available on the Samsung LE40A656 LCD TV.

Picture submenu Page 2
Picture submenu

Pressing the [Menu] button on the remote control to access the user menu would summon the [Picture] submenu by default, where you can find the usual basic picture controls, and two further submenus in the form of [Detailed Settings] and [Picture Options]. Settings are saved independently per input.

Detailed Settings Picture Options
Detailed settings Picture options

Quite a few important picture tweaks are located in the [Picture Options] submenu of the Samsung LE40A656. Setting [Size] to "Just Scan" is integral to enabling 1:1 pixel mapping without overscan for 1080 source. [100Hz Motion Plus] of course determines the amount of motion compensated frame interpolation (MCFI) technology you wish to add to the picture, ranging from none ("Off") to a lot ("High"). Engaging [Blue Only Mode] will turn off the red and green subpixels, allowing you to adjust colour and tint in a more accurate fashion than the traditional method of using a blue filter.

White balance Colour space
White balance Colour space

Embedded within the [Detailed Settings] submenu of the Samsung LE40A656 are a set of white balance controls that will prove invaluable for greyscale calibration. New to their 2008 range of flat screen HDTVs, Samsung have also introduced a pretty functional colour management system which can be accessed by setting [Colour Space] to "Custom". Although more useful for aligning the secondary colours rather than the primaries, "Custom" [Colour Space] lets you modify the amount of red, green and blue components that make up each of the six primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta, yellow) colours.

Sound submenu Setup submenu
White balance Colour space

The sound originating from the down-firing speakers of the Samsung LE40A656 is acceptable for day-to-day use, but is really nothing to shout about. Activating [SRS TS XT] expands the soundstage and dynamic range somewhat at the slight expense of midrange tonality.

Three [Entertainment] modes are available in the [Setup] submenu: "Sports", "Cinema" and "Game". Meant to provide the optimal image and audio for sports, cinema and games respectively, engaging any of these [Entertainment] modes for a particular input source unfortunately locks that input into a non-adjustable preset of picture and sound settings.

While its main purpose is to conserve power consumption, [Energy Saving] can be used to adjust the overall image brightness. However, because its effect is global (i.e. all inputs are affected), we prefer using the [Backlight] control which can be set separately for each input.

EPG (Electronic Programme Guide)

EPG

If it ain't broke, don't fix it... the Samsung LE40A656 inherits the well-designed EPG system implemented on their 2007 range of flat panel HDTVs, which includes a clean layout, a small live-view window and a programme time progress bar among other thoughtful features. As is the case with the on-screen display, navigating the EPG is now quicker on the Samsung LE40A656... certainly a welcome improvement.

Infrared Remote Control

Remote control

Samsung has introduced a new infrared remote control (different from those bundled with last year's flat screen televisions) for the LE40A656. Slightly wider and heavier, the body of the remote control bulks up towards the bottom, giving a more reassuring sense of satisfaction when held in the hand. The individual keys are well-sized, clearly-labelled, and returns decent tactile feedback. There is even a backlighting function which can be toggled on and off as required.

On the downside, the front surface of the remote is coated by polished black finish which can be easily tainted by fingerprints and scuff marks. Also, be forewarned that the Samsung LE40A656 takes quite while to power up from standby, which – coupled with the absence of any audible click when doing so – may mean that you're never quite sure if you've switched on the HD TV unless you pay specific attention to the blinking power LED indicator at the front of the LCD panel.

Background Noise

Our Samsung LE40A656 emitted a low-pitched hum from the back of the panel, which bizarrely went away if the screen was brighter (e.g. [Backlight] "10" plus 100 IRE window pattern). Normal TV volume should be enough to mask this background hum, though viewers with sensitive ears may pick it up during silent scenes.

Occasionally too we would hear multiple clicking noises when switching the Samsung LE40A656 LCD television on or off. This is probably the result of chassis/ component expansion or contraction, and therefore is nothing to be worried about.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

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