You’ve got to hand it to Samsung: a decade ago, few could have predicted the Korean company’s dramatic rise to TV prominence. But now, not only is Samsung one of the top-selling TV brands in the UK, it’s also one of the best.
Buy a set like the LE40M86, and you’re getting quality and capability to match the gorgeous looks and enticing pricetag. There’s a Freeview digital tuner, Full HD resolution, three HDMI 1.3 inputs, plenty of set-up and fine-tuning options and – most importantly – a good picture for the price.
As with most LCD sets at this screen size, Freeview TV isn’t necessarily the most flattering source to make the most of the Samsung’s high resolution. It can suffer from a little digital blocking, its image occasionally giving way to some disconcerting fizz on background details, while motion can appear a little unnatural at times, too.
However, switch to HD content, and in particular to Blu-ray signals sent at 24fps, and the Samsung is much happier. Its natural assets – strong colours, considerable sharpness and bright, punchy whites – ensure that animated movies like Ice Age 2 look scintillating, while Casino Royale looks suitably cinematic, especially in the pulsating opening sequence.
There’s only one real weakness, and that’s black depth: the LE40M86 doesn’t enjoy rendering deep blacks, or relaying scenes shot in low-light conditions. That’s an issue with the likes of The Lord Of The Rings movies: you’ll find a similarly priced Panasonic plasma will give you far more insight into those murky cave sequences.
Still, in the main, this a cracking telly at a very decent price (and that’s before you start shopping around). There’s only one other issue you need to know about: Samsung’s policy of making specific models of its televisions for the Dixons Stores Group can cause some confusion.
The LE40M86 tested here is the ‘exclusive’ Dixons model, with its LE40M87 sibling being more widely available. Since both are theoretically identical, our advice is to buy the model you can find the best deal on.