Samsung LE40B550 review

It's hard to believe that a 40 inch LCD television could be this cheap, but cheap it is, and with great performance and useability too Tested at £550.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The fact that it significantly undercuts every other comparative TV is impressive enough – the fact that it’s also better than most of them is astounding


  • +

    Deep, insightful blacks

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    pure whites

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    vibrant but natural colours

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    brilliant detail and definition

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    clean SD images


  • -

    At this price, nothing

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For more than a year now we've been hearing about inevitable price rises in the flatscreen market. We can only assume Samsung never got the memo.

A 40in screen for £550 is astonishing, and makes the LE40B550 the cheapest set on test by quite some margin.

It's not as if the spec's rubbish, either. True, it does without fancy motion processing and an internet connection, but the 'B550 is still Full HD, has four HDMIs, and even a USB socket for playing MP3 music and JPG photos.

What's more, its performance is way above and beyond what you'd expect for this money, too.

More than a match for pricier sets
Kicking off with Inglourious Basterds on Blu-ray, it's immediately apparent this is the best sub-£1000 performer in these parts. It digs up tonnes of Perrier LaPadite's perspiration as he's interrogated in the opening scene.

It has the deepest blacks of the most affordable sets in its genre too, but there's still enough insight in them to reveal the detail in the dimly lit corners of the house.

The light shining through the windows is also brighter and punchier than that produced by price-comparable rivals.

Although it's obviously not as punchy as some other large-screen sets, whites are still pure, while colours are lush and vibrant, but never overblown.

No judder either
As mentioned, this Samsung does without motion processing, but there's no significant judder to slow pans and very little discernible smear.

Spin The Hangover on DVD and the Samsung matches the detail offered by more expensive sets, but once again adds extra vibrancy and black depth.

The images are impressively stable and solid here, as they are with Freeview broadcasts, which are enjoyably colourful without being overly garish – even when pushed by insane children's programmes like In the Night Garden.

Samsung continues to make a fuss of its down-firing speakers, which are supposed to make the 'B550 sound ‘deeper and clearer'.

While they're far from brilliant, they're no worse than other designs we've seen, and do the job just as well.

Add an initial, automatic ‘home' calibration (that requires very little tweaking) and smart menus, and the £550 Samsung LE40B550 turns out to be a genuinely fantastic all-rounder – as well as a quite extraordinary bargain.

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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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