UPDATE: We've just been informed that the LE40 has already dropped in price by £100. It's now officially £1299.99.

In our continued spirit of bringing you exclusive reviews online before they appear in the magazine, this week we've been casting our eye over Samsung's brand-new 40in Full HD LCD TV.

It comes in a rather fetching shade of what the manufacturer calls 'rose black', but we prefer to call 'red'. Still, it's a stylish set, and to find out exactly how it performs, read our verdict in full.

Samsung LE40A656

LCD TV

£1300

5 stars

For

Lovely looks; comprehensive spec; poised picture-making

Against

Gives away a little black detail; occasionally uneven backlighting

Verdict

It's not easy to stand out from the flatscreen herd, so the Samsung would be interesting even if it wasn't such a complete performer

Flatscreen prices are volatile at the best of times, and at a time when every major TV manufacturer is readying huge new model ranges they're more flexible than ever. Samsung, who established a reputation for elegant, aggressively priced tellies some time ago, is quick out of the traps with this 40in LCD model - it's part of the new L650 series, designed to offer high-end style and performance for less-than-high-end money. Odds-on that the price will tumble in the next few months.

In terms of looks and specification, the LE40A656 makes perfect sense. Full HD resolution (with 24fps capability), four HDMI inputs and a claimed contrast ratio of 50000:1 are among spec highlights, and the distinctive 'translucent bezel' makes the Samsung the standout screen in any showroom. The 'rose black' (or, as we prefer, 'red') accent to the frame is an unexpectedly subtle and very successful design feature.

A well-judged colour palette

Performance is fundamentally where it's at, though, and the Samsung keeps up the good work. Images from our Die Hard 4.0 Blu-ray are crisp and natural, with believable textures and depth of field, and the colour palette is particularly well judged. 50000:1 or not, contrasts are impressive: whites are bright and clean, and the Samsung produces impressively deep blacks (though they lack ultimate detail). Motion is handled confidently, too.

Commendably, the above is broadly true of television reception, too - though obviously on a lesser scale. The Samsung's an assured TV, even the hectic text-scrolling and primary colours of shopping channels handled without alarms.

So if you want a well-specified flatscreen capable of great images and with a lot of aesthetic cachet, add this to your shortlist. Don't buy it straight away, though: we'd wait for the price to drop a bit.

Tech specs

  • Screen size: 40in
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Progressive scan: PAL, NTSC
  • Inputs: PC, composite, S-Video, 2 x Scart, component, 4 x HDMI, RF, USB, CI
  • Dimensions (hwd): 64 x 100 x 8cm
  • Weight: 20kg

Also consider

Toshiba 40XF355D

£1100

5 stars April 2008

Brilliantly slim bezel makes this the choice for people who can't ordinarily accommodate a 40" screen. Fine images, too

Sony KDL-40W3000

£1400

5 stars April 2008

Vibrant, detailed pictures are only improved by a recent price cut. A must-see

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