Samsung LE40C650 review
40in, Freeview HD, analogue, 1920x1080 resolution, 3D: no, 4x HDMI
The LE40C650 looks good even before you switch it on. Samsung has toned down its red accenting considerably and the result is a subtle design highlight that sets this TV apart from its peers. The bezel and stand are both finished in glossy black with a clear edge - this is a good looking TV.
The LE40C650 isn’t just a pretty face either; it’s packing a pretty heavy duty feature set. Connectivity is well catered for with four HDMI ports, component, twin SCART sockets and a PC VGA input. Talking of PC connections, you can get a pixel perfect 1,920 x 1,080 PC image via both HDMI and VGA inputs, with no overscan.
You get both analogue and Freeview HD tuners built-in, so you can watch broadcast HD content without the need for any other equipment. That said, HD programming over Freeview is still pretty thin on the ground. There are also two USB ports, which allow media streaming from external storage devices. The LE40C650 had no issues streaming XviD encoded video from USB devices, and the upscaling was also impressive.
There’s also an Ethernet port for hooking the LE40C650 up to your home network and the internet. While most TVs have some kind of internet apps, Samsung is definitely leading the pack. You can directly stream YouTube videos, or even subscribe to LoveFilm and get movies on demand. There’s also a BetFair app, so that you can place a wager on the football match you’re watching. However, the highlight of the internet apps is having the BBC iPlayer built into the TV.
Out of the box, colours looked a little oversaturated, but a little tweaking soon brought things into line. Black levels are surprisingly good for a CCFL backlight set, and there’s very little evidence of lost shadow detail at the expense of deep blacks. Watching Dark City on Blu-ray showed that this TV has no problem dealing with predominantly dark content, while still picking out all the subtle brown and green accents in the film’s muted colour palette.
Turning to the free running chase scene from the Casino Royale Blu-ray proved that the LE40C650 is just as adept at rendering high intensity images. The sun bleached location looked suitably bright, but not washed out, while colours and blacks were vivid and dark respectively. Meanwhile Coraline on Blu-ray looked stunning, with inky blacks and strong, vibrant colours.
Standard definition is also good, with little evidence of compression artefacts. There’s also a decent degree of sharpness in SD content, despite the scaling. The LE40C650 also does a good job with motion, managing to keep resolution loss to a minimum. However, as with all the TVs here, the frame smoothing technology does give movies a very unnatural look, so it’s best turning it off when you fire up a Blu-ray or even a DVD. Sound quality is OK, but the small internal speakers are never going to do justice to movies.
The Samsung LE40C650 is a well featured, good looking TV with impressive picture quality. But it’s the street price of around £620 that’s the real surprise with this set, making it the clear winner of our Budget Buy award.