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Samsung LE40B650 Operation

by Vincent Teoh
14 March 2009

On-Screen User Menu

The cascading user menu on the Samsung LE40B650 internet TV is now more comprehensive than ever. Its main menu has also been jazzed up with sprinkles of animated icons, and contextual explanations at the bottom of the screen. Not surprisingly, navigation felt a touch more sluggish than that on the A656 series.

Picture Menu Sound Menu
Picture menu Sound menu

Like all other Samsung HDTVs we've reviewed over the last couple of years, settings on the LE40B650 can be saved independently per input. In the [Picture] menu, there exists an [Advanced Settings] submenu which contains the all-important (for video enthusiasts anyway) white balance controls and colour management system:

Advanced Settings Advanced Settings more
[Advanced Settings] submenu

By setting [Colour Space] to "Custom", you can tweak the hue (and to a lesser extent intensity) of each of the six primary (red, green, blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta, yellow) colours by adjusting the amount of red, green and blue components that make up each colour.

[White Balance] controls, on the other hand, let you adjust the RGB cuts and gains on the Samsung LE40B650 LCD TV for greyscale calibration:

[Colour Space] submenu [White Balance] submenu
[Colour Space] submenu [White Balance] submenu

On the Samsung LE40B650 HDTV, 1:1 pixel mapping without overscan for 1080 source can be attained by setting [Size] to "Screen Fit" (was known as "Just Scan" on previous models) in the [Picture Options] submenu.

[Picture Options] submenu [Film Mode]
[Picture Options] submenu [Film Mode] options

Samsung has also introduced a [Film Mode] setting with the following options:

  • Off: suitable for video-based material
  • Auto1: suitable for film-based material
  • Auto2: suitable for film-based material with video text overlay

We'll explore the deinterlacing properties of these [Film Mode] options in the "Benchmark Tests" section. Meanwhile, let's have a look at the [100Hz Motion Plus] submenu on the Samsung LE40B650 LCD television:

[100Hz Motion Plus] submenu [Blur Reduction] & [Judder Reduction] options
[100Hz Motion Plus] settings Custom settings for [100Hz Motion Plus]

Three [100Hz Motion Plus] presets are available: "Clear" (the least aggressive), "Standard", and "Smooth" (the most aggressive). There is also a "Custom" setting which allows you to finetune the amount of motion interpolation to be applied specifically for blur vs judder reduction. Remember how we used to complain about earlier MCFI (motion-compensated frame interpolation) implementations destroying the "filmic" look of movies despite delivering higher motion resolution? This ingenious measure by Samsung – separating the two ingredients of their MCFI system – may be the solution.

[Setup] menu [Setup] menu more
[Setup] menu 

Engaging [Game Mode] on the Samsung LE40B650 LCD HDTV restricts you to the "Standard" [Mode], and disables certain picture processing features such as [100Hz Motion Plus] and [Film Mode] (well, the latter can still be engaged with [Game Mode] set to "On", but no actual film mode deinterlacing will take place). At least you still have access to the basic picture settings (such as contrast, brightness and sharpness), unlike the A656 series which locked you into a fixed preset of picture and sound parameters.

[Application] menu [Support] menu
[Application] menu [Support] menu

The [Application] menu is where you can unleash the Samsung LE40B650's full potential in networking and third-party content playback. [Media Play] allows you to view JPEG photos, listen to MP3 music, and watch video files (supported formats are AVI, MKV, ASF, MP4, WMV, 3GPP, PS, TS container) from a USB drive or DLNA-compatible PC. Here's the full list of supported video and audio codecs taken from the manual:

Supported Video Formats

Based on the list, we threw an assortment of video files (including MKV) at the Samsung LE40B650, and – with the exception of DiVX AVI videos above 720p, and some 1080p Planet Earth rips in MKV format – most were played back successfully. We did notice some dropped frames when the bit-rate was very high, for example when we watched the WMV HD trailer of Alexander (incidentally we got no sound from this particular video as the LE40B650 returned an "Unsupported Audio Data" error).

Update 16 March 2009: Samsung has advised us – and we have indeed verified – that the picture and sound settings in [Media Play] can be adjusted by pressing the [Tools] button on the remote control. Our apologies for this oversight.

But our biggest gripe with using [Media Play] to play video files on the Samsung LE40B650 is the fact that we can't change any of the picture settings. And because [100Hz Motion Plus] is engaged by default in [Media Play], movies and American dramas like Prison Break looked more like hyper-real amateur videos than high-quality films.

[Media Play] [Content Library]
[Media Play] [Content Library]

[Content Library] refers to certain contents like still images, recipes, games and children stories that are stored inside the TV memory. Using the [Content Management] option, you can either delete existing contents, or add selected contents (downloaded from Samsung.com website) to the TV via a USB memory device.

Internet@TV

As more and more manufacturers jump on the "internet TV" bandwagon, Samsung has incorporated Yahoo's internet widget platform into the LE40B650. After plugging in an Ethernet cable (alternatively you can purchase a £50 USB dongle from Samsung if you wish to go wireless) to the Samsung LE40B650, (auto)configuring the network settings, and accepting the disclaimer, you can launch selected widget applications like Youtube, Flickr, news, stock quotes and weather from a swanky horizontal taskbar at the bottom of the screen.

Internet Taskbar Youtube widget
Internet@TV taskbar Youtube widget

Once launched, the widget sits on the left side of the screen (though Youtube videos will be blown up to fit the entire screen). While innovative, unfortunately the Samsung LE40B650's "Internet@TV" is more beautiful than useful due to slow loading, sluggish navigation and time-consuming text input (typing out search terms using the on-screen keyboard can be a frustrating experience).

EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) 

EPG

The EPG on the Samsung LE40B650 LCD TV retains largely the same layout as that on the A656 series, with the notable exception being the omission of the programme time progress bar which was found on previous models. The small live-view window which occupies the top left of the screen looks absolutely fantastic, offering a glimpse of what the new scaling chip on the Samsung LE40B650 is capable of.

Infrared Remote Control

Sporting a bulky bottom, well-sized buttons, and glossy black coating on its front surface, the infrared remote control for the Samsung LE40B650 HDTV looks almost identical to the one bundled with the A656 series. However, a few keys have been introduced to account for the Samsung LE40B650's new-found networking prowess. For example, the [Internet@] and [Media Play] keys grant direct access to the respective functions on the LE40B650.

Remote control

Users who are tired of fumbling in the dark will be pleased to know that the Samsung LE40B650's remote has a backlighting function which can be toggled on and off as required.

4.5 Star Rating: Highly Recommended

Back to: LE40B650 Review

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