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LE40M86BD Review Final Conclusion

by Vincent Teoh
15 April 2007

SUMMARY
Samsung LE40M86BD is a massive improvement over its predecessor, and one of the best LCD TVs in its class.

PROS
> Excellent black level + high calibrated contrast ratio
> Super Clear Panel™ adds depth and realism
>
Generous connectivity (three HDMI 1.3)

CONS
> Less-defined shadow detail
> Inaccurate colours
> Awkward film mode deinterlacing

Pros

  • Best black level among all the LCD TVs we've tested so far (now surpassed by F86)
  • Super Clear Panel™ adds depth and dimensionality to image
  • Pin-sharp detail from high definition source
  • Multiple calibration options available in user menu (near-6500k colour temp achieved)
  • Three HDMI 1.3 ports, all capable of 1:1 mapping without overscan
  • DNIe can be turned off entirely without accessing service menu
  • Independent input memory settings
  • No buzzing or humming
  • Quick setup: no stand assembly required
  • Well-designed Electronic Programme Guide (EPG)
  • User friendly remote control
  • Picture-in-picture function that can enable audio on daughter window
  • Value-for-money

Cons

  • Less-defined shadow detail due to skewed gamma tracking
  • Inaccurate colours (saturation is acceptable)
  • Movie Plus introduces unnatural motion, yet is required for 2:3 pulldown
  • Movie Plus not available with Just Scan on (needed for 1:1 mapping)
  • Movie Plus automatically engaged with each change in source/ resolution/ aspect ratio (this issue has been corrected in newer panels loaded with later firmware version)
  • Reflections during dark scenes and if ambient light is not controlled
  • A lot of tweaking needed to get the picture right
  • Slightly sluggish on-screen menu and digital/ analogue channel navigation
  • Off-axis screen unevenness
  • Glossy panel is a fingerprint and dust magnet

Verdict

The Samsung LE40M86BD was a joy to review. From the moment we placed it on the TV stand, I was wowed by its sexy design, its black level par excellence, and its expansive contrast ratio. The reflective Super Clear Panel™ never bothered me (I had good ambient light control); in fact I think it enriched images with a sense of depth and transparency that you don't normally get from a matte screen.

While Samsung deserves credit for overloading the user menu with options, it's not easy to get the picture right without the help of light-measuring instruments and/ or professional calibrators... the permutations possible are simply too mind-boggling. But once you get it sorted, you'll be rewarded with a smooth flowing three-dimensional picture that outshines most LCD TVs.

You get the feeling that Samsung LE40M86BD is an LCD TV that's trying to transform itself into a plasma with its reflective screen, excellent black level, and near-D65 greyscale. Yet it falls short in two areas where plasmas reign: colour accuracy and shadow detail. The colours on LE40M86BD are saturated but mildly inaccurate which is typical of most LCD TVs. Due to skewed gamma tracking, dark films will expose the LE40M86BD's less-defined shadow detail compared to some of the best HDTVs.

But I'm nitpicking here... mild colour inaccuracy and less-defined shadow detail are probably too subtle for most viewers to pick up. Make no mistake, the Samsung LE40M86BD is easily among the best in its class, certainly miles better than its predecessor LE40F71BX (if only by virtue of being able to turn off DNIe in its entirety). Unless you're a videophile who demands the absolute best in shadow detail and colour accuracy, I don't think you can go wrong with this LCD TV.

Recommended

Also Consider:

Disclaimer

  • I don't own a PS3 and Xbox 360 so I can't test their compatibility with LE40M86BD.
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