Curses, Samsung! There are two things we can’t resist: sexy little HD flatscreens and raspberry donuts. All well and good until the two come together and the Samsung’s lustrous black finish is unforgivably soiled.

Gorgeous and glossy

But just because our greasy fingers can’t resist the LE26R74BD’s gorgeous, glossy black curves doesn’t negate the Korean firm’s good work in transforming a prosaic medium-sized TV into an attention-grabbing fashion model.

The sensible might argue that it’s a mistake to place so much emphasis on the style front when you’re designing a piece of furniture that will be expected to last for years, but then no one ever accused us of being sensible…

Looking past the sexy, curvaceous lines, the Samsung lets itself down a little ergonomically with a skinny, button-heavy remote featuring poor back-lighting that makes the unintuitive set-up menus even harder to negotiate.

But that’s all forgotten when you get the thing up and running. With TV pictures you get a vibrant, believable, high-contrast image with very little noise except during the most chaotic of scenes. Blacks retain a hint of detail and it grips determinedly to motion.

Hot in hi-def

And when you get an HD source hooked up to the Samsung’s (stingy) single HDMI socket, you’ll be rewarded with even greater detail.

The picture is subtle and involved, with lovely natural colours and blacks as glossy as the ’R74’s gloriously shiny cabinet. Contrast is clean, textures are believable and motion-tracking is the equal of most rivals.

The sound, as is often the case with a flat panel, is a bit of a let down – not poor, just weedy.

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