Samsung LE40A656 review

A well-specified flatscreen capable of great images and with a lot of aesthetic cachet Tested at £1100

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This is a detailed performer and stunningly stylish TV, but it's got some strong competition.


  • +

    Excellent detail levels and edge definition with all sources

  • +

    stunning looks

  • +

    terrifically stable DVD pictures


  • -

    Can’t quite do the deepest blacks and greatest insight simultaneously

  • -

    slight ruddiness to skin tones

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Things start very well for this Samsung. The ‘rose black' translucent bezel is subtle and extremely attractive. Samsung describes this as the ‘touch of colour' series, but ‘touch of class' would be just as fitting.

Calibration of the ‘656 is fairly interesting, as the screen actually gains a purple tint if you lower the brightness or contrast settings too far. Avoid this though, and turn the backlight down a little, and the Samsung's picture is very nice indeed.

The LE40A656 gives extra texture
The Eastern Promises Blu-ray is fabulously sharp and detailed, adding a degree of texture to Viggo Mortensen's shifty looks that few others can manage. A decent balance can be found between black levels and insight too, ensuring that the seedy underbelly of London is both dark, and detailed, though in both regards it can just be beaten.

A colour-palette that just verges on the reddish side of neutral means there is occasionally a ruddy tint to skin (which you see a lot of in the shower scene!), but it's by no means over the top.

The Training Day DVD equally benefits from the Samsung's detailed and sharp picture qualities, and the scaler does a really brilliant job of keeping complicated patterns, like Ethan Hawke's zip, extremely stable. Blacks still aren't quite as deep or solid as those provided by the very best on test, but they're satisfying.

Freeview pictures are also clean and detailed, and with fine colours. There is a touch of skin-tone smearing present in fast motion, but it's not severe, and the overall picture is very impressive indeed.

Throw in speakers that produce a well-balanced and fairly direct sound, and you have a very solid, stylish entry from Samsung.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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