- Excellent image quality, Attractive design, Good price
- Over saturation in red with no calibration options.
The Samsung LA40S71B is a great alternative to the R series, for those that don’t want or need a digital tuner.
Price$ 3,299.00 (AUD)
When looking at the 40in Samsung LA40S71B LCD television (S series), you can't help but compare it to the LA32R71B (R series). Essentially they are the same television with a few slight variations. The only two differences are that the R series has a digital tuner built-in and has a higher contrast ratio. For those features, the price difference is $1000. If those things aren't important to you then the S series is a more viable and cost effective option as the image quality, connection options and aesthetics are basically equal on both units.
We tested the Standard Definition performance of the unit by watching various test DVDs via the Xbox 360 at 576p. We use Digital Video Essentials, the Philips CE 2006 Demo DVD and the lobby scene from "The Matrix". The first two use still test patterns and specially shot video sequences to reveal any problems a television may have in producing its image. In High Definition we use the Xbox 360 video game system to play HD games
The Philips CE 2006 Demo DVD revealed a moderate amount of motion jitter during the video tests which was on par with most LCD TVs we have reviewed. In the colour tests we found that the blacks had a slight magenta tinge but the other colours were reproduced well including excellent skin tones. There was a minor loss of definition in red objects but it was barely noticeable. In the contrast tests, the panel performed well, rendering differences between light and dark areas without any problems. There were no stepping issues in the sharpness test and though some over-sharpening artifacts were seen on edges, this was easily removed with some calibration.
Digital Video Essentials revealed no noise in the grayscale block test with good separation and definition on the black on white contrast test. Just like the LA32R71B, the colour bar test showed an over-saturation in reds which could be minimised with some calibration. However, this caused the yellows to become a little too subdued and the whites, which were very bright and pure on the default settings, to appear rather dull.
The SMPTE colour bar tests have two very subtle grey bars embedded within the black areas in the image which we could not see at default settings. When properly rendered these bars are meant to be visible. Increasing the brightness allowed them to emerge but it resulted in the reds becoming even more overpowering. Unfortunately, the LA40S71B doesn't have advanced six axis colour control so the only calibration options are in the brightness, contrast and sharpness areas which limits the control a user has over the image.
When watching the lobby scene from "The Matrix" we were pleased that there was no discolouration in the granite textures of the lobby interior. This is a problem that we often see so it was impressive that the Samsung avoided it. However, we did notice some noise in the dark areas of the image, above and beyond normal film grain, which look like small grey pixels excitedly dancing in the shadows. When watching a DVD on a high definition panel there will always be a certain level of pixilation due to the interpolation process and the level of this on the Samsung was on par with most of the panels we have reviewed. The pixel response time was good with no excessive ghosting and while there was some over sharpening on edges, it could be negated via calibration.
To test the high definition capabilities of the LA40S71B we played Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas on the Xbox 360 video game console. The level of detail was excellent with no pixilation or image noise. The colours were good, although the reds were, once again, overpowering and the pixel response was above average with no noticeable ghosting problems. The only real issue when playing the 360 was the noticeable over sharpening which caused an unwanted grey shadow on text, however, this could be removed with proper calibration.
We also viewed High Definition trailers to test how well the panel could handle HD video. We watched the trailers for the Xbox 360 title BioShock and the films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mission Impossible 3. The level of detail was brilliant in all, especially the animated samples, with no image noise, excessive blur or ghosting and no over sharpening.
PC, TV & Sound
We connected the panel to a PC via D-Sub at a resolution of 1280x768 pixels. We ran our test software, DisplayMate Video Edition, to check how well the panel performed at a fundamental level. The first thing we noticed was how perfect the desktop looked, with awesome clarity on text and no over sharpening on icons. The DisplayMate tests were all rendered with ease. There were no problems with the geometry and distortion tests or the sharpness and resolution patterns. The colour charts showed what we already knew to be true with respect to the red issue but there was no noise in the block colours and the grayscale was rendered flawlessly with a good blend and no stepping.
Unfortunately since this is the cheaper of the 40in models in Samsung's range, the built-in TV tuner is only analogue and as such you will need to live in an area with a very strong signal to get a worthwhile image out of it. If you plan to pick up this unit, we suggest you get a set top box as well, to take advantage of the quality of digital television.
The speakers on the LA40S71B are well hidden along the bottom of the bezel and produced excellent sound with a good volume range. Considering the lack of a sub-woofer, the bass levels were quite good and the treble was adequate, though slightly truncated at times. The mid tones were rich and free from distortion at moderate volumes. At high volume there was some distortion of the bass and mid tones though this wasn't a big issue.
Since Samsung has developed a particular aesthetic across all their models, the S series looks almost the same as the R series. However, whereas the R series had a "V" shaped pointed bezel and was glossy black on all surfaces, the S series is square and the rear side of the unit is a matte black. The connections include two component, one HDMI, one composite and one D-Sub.
If you are looking for a high quality panel but don't need a built-in digital tuner, then you may want to consider the S series over the R series. Since the contrast ratio difference will be barely noticeable to most people the only real point of difference is the tuner, especially since the image quality on each unit is almost the same.
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