Samsung LA40A650

Deep red full HD LCD TV

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Samsung LA40A650

Pros

  • Great contrast, excellent motion rendering, accurate colours, well-implemented 100Hz mode

Cons

  • Some noise in the image, a little oversharpening on text, glossy finish

Bottom Line

While the image can be a little noisy at times, the incredible blacks and great contrast ratio, along with the speedy refresh rate, make the Samsung LA40A650 one of the better full HD LCDs on the market.

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The days of boxy, black, uninspiring TVs appear to be behind us. With manufacturers realising that a flat panel TV is also a fashion statement, all the latest units come with their fair share of coloured bezels, glass frames and chrome mags with bonus spoilers. Samsung’s latest top-of-the-line panel, the LA40A650, joins the party with the typically stylish Samsung shape and a very funky deep red colour scheme.

It is a full HD panel, meaning it has a 1920x1080 resolution. It also comes with the usual bells and whistles, such as a 100Hz playback mode, and it has a 50,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, which is one of the highest on the market.

In our image quality tests the A650 was an extremely strong performer. Most top-tier flat panel TVs offer great image quality these days, but this one distinguished itself by offering the blackest blacks we’ve seen from an LCD. They still weren’t up to the standard of the top-tier Pioneer and Panasonic units but they were excellent nonetheless. They made film watching and game playing a joy.

Colour balance was similarly impressive with accurate hues and rich, vibrant saturation. We found this panel needed a little more calibration than some others to achieve a perfect picture; flesh tones were quite warm by default and the balance was a little off but a few tweaks here and there and everything looked peachy.

As you’d expect, contrast was well handled; despite the extremely black blacks there was no detail lost in dark areas. Motion was excellent, too. The A650 sports a 4ms response time, which is incredibly fast for an LCD panel of this size and it does an excellent job of keeping ghosting invisible.

For sports junkies, the 100Hz mode has also received a much needed improvement. While still not perfect, a lot of the interpolation seen on earlier iterations of this technology has been wiped out. We still find it too disconcerting to use ourselves but some viewers will appreciate the eerily smooth finish it gives to the material. We also like the fact that Samsung lets you tailor the level of smoothness (low, medium or high) and even lets you see a comparison with and without it enabled.

The image was sharp with all the detail you’d expect from a current generation full HD screen. Our HD-DVD test films looked exceptional, with beautifully rendered detail and a crisp, sharp feeling. There was a little oversharpening evident in some of the Xbox 360’s menu text, but it was fairly minor.

Our one complaint with this display’s performance is in terms of noise. The picture was definitely a little noisier in our HD testing than on some other screens we’ve looked at recently. It wasn’t a huge issue but it was noticeable. Turning on the noise correction in the menu didn’t seem to help too much.

We encountered the same issue in our standard-definitions tests, too. It was a little worse here but that isn’t too surprising. Overall SD performance was pretty good. It suffered some minor scaling aberrations but colour balance, contrast and black levels were all excellent.

The A650 is rife with HDMI ports — three to be precise. It also has the usual other mixture of two component, one D-sub and a handful of composite and other jacks. A built-in HD tuner is, of course, also present.

The remote has received a redesign, with large, easy to press buttons that should please users with large hands. We found the menu easy to navigate and it contains a host of options. However, it does have a weird habit of displaying a ‘no signal’ error whenever the screen changes resolutions.

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