Just one notch down from Samsung’s top of the range 9 series models, the LE40A856 LCD television is promising to blend the performance of its flagship sibling with a clean, modern design.

One look at the 40-incher shows that it’s certainly achieved the latter. The screen is pancake thin and wears its ‘crystal rose’ finish (a glossy, semi-translucent frame with a tinge of scarlet) very well – it’s a big step up from the plasticky look of cheaper LCD tellies. You even get nifty glowing, touch-sensitive buttons on the front.

Movie, music and photo streaming

The socket selection is similarly impressive, with no fewer than four HDMI connections on offer, in addition to component video and both USB and Ethernet for digital media playback.

Yep, thanks to DLNA streaming skills the TV can snaffle photos, videos and music from your PC, and the Ethernet also allows it to access the web in order to grab RSS feeds.

It’s not in the same league as browsing the net on your laptop or even your mobile phone, of course, but it’s a welcome addition to the feature list all the same.

And what a jam-packed feature list it is. On the picture front there’s 100Hz and DNIe Pro processing to stomp out motion judder, boost detail and reduce noise, plus an ultra clear screen that manages to boost black levels to some of the best we’ve ever seen on an LCD TV.

Standard-def and HD master

These slices of tech wizardry, coupled with a full HD 1920x1080 resolution, result in a truly superb picture no matter what you’re watching. HD stuff, whether games or Blu-ray or Sky HD, looks particularly impressive, of course, but the TV also excels with good old-fashioned standard def DVDs and digital TV, mainly by virtue of its noise reduction talents.

The high contrast and deep, dark blacks mean you get a beautifully textured image with HD material, though – and motion is also smooth thanks to 100Hz Motion Plus, which slots extra frames between the originals to rid movies of judder. This does result in the occasional odd side effect, but you can tone it down or switch it off entirely if it starts to get on your wick.

Average audio

One area that doesn’t shape up so well is audio. The Samsung’s built-in speakers are tinnier than a tuna cannery at times and lack body, meaning that while they’re okay for basics like watching the news, they don’t impress with beefier material. It’s well worth teaming this TV up with an external sound system for movies, games and music shows.

The menus are also a tad ponderous and unresponsive, but aside from that this is a fantastic 40-incher that weaves together beautiful design with bags of features and peeper-pleasing picture quality.


Stuff says... 

Samsung LE40A856 review

A superb, stylish high-end TV at a mid-range price. If only the speakers were better