When we first saw this set back in May, we hoped the price would drop. Sure enough, discounts are now available, reducing the price by £200 or so. However, now that it’s up against such a strong new rival from Sony, that couple of hundred quid price saving isn’t enough to prevent this set from losing its fifth star.

Things start very well. The ‘rose black’ translucent bezel is subtle and extremely attractive. Samsung describes this as the ‘touch of colour’ series, but ‘touch of class’ would be just as fitting.

Calibration of the ’656 is interesting, as the screen gains a purple tint if you lower the brightness of contrast settings too far. Avoid this though, and turn the backlight down a little, and the Samsung’s picture is very nice.

All in the detail

The Eastern Promises Blu-ray is sharp and detailed, adding a degree of texture to Viggo Mortensen’s shifty looks that few others can manage. A decent balance can be found between black levels and insight, so the seedy underbelly of London is both dark and detailed, though in both regards it can just be beaten. A colour-palette that verges on the reddish side of neutral means there is occasionally a ruddy tint to skin – especially when you’re watching Rumpole of the Bailey –  but it’s by no means over the top.

The Training Day DVD equally benefits from the Samsung’s detailed and sharp picture qualities, and the scaler does a brilliant job of keeping complicated patterns, like Ethan Hawke’s zip, extremely stable. Blacks still aren’t quite as deep or solid as those provided by the very best on test, but they’re satisfying.

Freeview pictures are clean and detailed, and with fine colours. There’s a touch of skin-tone smearing in fast motion, but it’s not severe, and the overall picture is impressive indeed.

Throw in speakers that produce a well-balanced, direct sound, and the Samsung’s a no-brainer.

Stuff says... 

Samsung LE40A656 review

A detailed and stylish performer, but you can get more for the same money