Samsung LE-40F71B

19th Jan 2007 | 00:00

Samsung LE-40F71B

Does it sound as good as it looks?

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

A beautiful, attractively priced TV thatĀs just a refinement away from excellence

Like:

<p>Picture quality is good</p><p>Decent price</p>

Dislike:

<p>No digital tuner</p>

Cue the LE40F71B: Samsung's first TV with Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution and the ability to accept Blu-ray's much- vaunted 1080p output natively.

Like most of Samsung's current screen range, design is a high point. The glossy piano black screen bezel is elegance itself, and its given added impact by a back-angled silver strip along the bottom edge.

This strip isn't just there to look pretty, mind; it also 'bounces' outwards sound from down-firing speakers cunningly tucked alongside the TV frame's underside to preserve its minimalist aesthetic.

Connectivity hits the right notes, too. It sports twin HDMI inputs, backed up by a component video, two Scarts, a PC input, and a '9-in-2' input system for inserting a variety of JPEG-storing multimedia cards or USB devices.

Also worthing noting is Samsung's new 'eXtended Wide Colour Gamut' (XWCG) backlight. This uses a different CCFL illumination to allegedly produce 27 per cent more of the full colour gamut of the real world than you'd normally see from a PAL picture. Meanwhile its Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) processing focuses on improving colour saturations and tone, black levels, sharpness and motion.

Elsewhere, 10-bit processing, together with automatic backlight control, claims to let the TV serve up 25.6 billion colours. There's also a stonking claimed contrast ratio of 6000:1. For a more realistic contrast figure, check out our lab results...

Something's missing...

The 40F71B does not have a digital tuner. This means it automatically falls foul of our 'no digital tuner, no top marks' policy.

There's a potential flaw with the set's 1080p situation, too, since 1080p sources delivered via the HDMI or component jacks aren't mapped 1:1 to the resolution of the glass. Instead Samsung 'overscans' them by around three per cent. The only input that permits 1:1 pixel mapping is the VGA, with 1920 x 1080 @ 60Hz being the recommended optimum connection.

First impressions of the 40F71B's pictures are rather bewildering. I first found them garish and unnatural. But over an extended period, and having massively altered the picture settings from the insane factory presets, I found a balance I could live with.

The main reason for any initial confusion is the set's aggressive approach to colours. For instance, during colour-rich scenes like the shot from Kill Bill Volume 1 where the bride arrives at Vernita Green's house in her gaudy pink and yellow truck, saturations are so full, and are driven with such intensity and brightness, that I had to squint to handle them. You'll probably need rather different picture settings for the 40F71B than you'd expect for an LCD.

Considering how bright and vibrant the 40F71B's picture is, it's surprisingly decent at suppressing video noise. A Sky HD transfer of Kill Bill Volume 1 shows little evidence of either MPEG noise or general dot crawl.

HD pictures on the 40F71B are predictably sharp. Even with the overscan scaling, it's possible to make out a level of texturing in the floor of Vernita Green's kitchen that precious few rivals can match.

Colour combinations

The combination of rich colours and extreme sharpness make it a good friend of HD Xbox 360 games like Test Drive Unlimited too - especially now that the console has an 1080p output via VGA.

Black levels are pretty good, too. Not outstanding enough to avoid greying over during dark movie scenes like the opening of Alien but good enough to give 'normal' fare plenty of punch and snap. Also the set's picture holds up better than most when viewed from extreme angles, and proves adept at handling good standard definition sources like DVDs or clean Sky broadcasts.

But there's a negative price to pay for all the colour aggression: inconsistency in colour tones. For instance, while watching Deal or No Deal, Noel Edmonds' complexion in the studio looked perfectly natural. But then when he walked outside into daylight, the TV really struggled with his facial tones, making them look overly red.

The 40F71B's sound is sadly not as aggressive as its pictures. The idea of hiding the speakers is good, but in practice it stops the TV producing enough raw power or frequency range to avoid sounding rather flat and thin with a big budget movie like Jarhead.

The 40F71B's lack of digital tuner and average sonics make me unable to proclaim this a perfect HD TV. But, if you like your HD pictures bold, you're TVs beautiful and your 1080-line resolutions affordable, the 40F71B is worth a gander (just remember to wear shades).

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