When it comes to choosing a TV size, the terms “bigger” and “better” generally come to mind.

A few years ago, that would’ve seen you splashing out on a 40in set with all the trimmings, but the recent boom in 55in and 65in TVs has meant smaller screens have generally been downgraded to ‘second TV’ status.

That’s no more obvious than the fact that all flagship now sets start from around 49in and above. If you want smaller, it’s the midrange that is now your friend. And lower midrange at that.

However, while the Samsung UE40MU6400 may well give up a few of the top-range specs to hit its sub £500 price point, it also means an affordable 4K performance that may prove hard to top. 

Performance: crisp, natural, impressive

Before we dive in to the review, let’s cover off some basics. The MU6400 is not a 10-bit panel, nor does it have the peak brightness figures to bag itself the Ultra HD Premium certification that pricier sets do. But manage those expectations from the get go, and it’s hard not to be impressed at the 4K picture the MU6400 is capable of.

Sure, the extra clarity offered by 4K seems a little hemmed in on a screen so small, but it’s still easy to see the extra level of detail that the format has over full HD.

Outlines are crisp, textures are well defined and colour balance is pretty much spot on. It’s natural with landscapes and skin tones, but knows when to break out the vibrancy for good impact.

Contrast is impressive too, with deep, insightful blacks that also help the highlights to look bright and punchy against darker backgrounds.

That said, the MU6400’s restricted peak brightness means HDR scenes aren’t quite as striking as you’ll see them on TVs higher up the range – even with the backlight turned up - and you might find yourself a little underwhelmed by its performance here.

It’s a compromise that most affordable TVs have to make. Thankfully, its sharp, nuanced 4K performance goes a long way to make up for it, and at this price, it’s a knock we’re willing to take on the chin.

Switch to 1080p and you’ll see the likeable picture character is largely unchanged, thanks to a decent upscaler that ensures the HD image is almost as sharp, detailed and solid as the 4K one.

Colours stay believable too and contrast is just as strong – and that even continues into standard-def material.

Of course, you should be prepared for an understandable drop in detail and sharpness but the picture is still very watchable and stable.

The MU6400 should prove itself a worthy gaming companion too, with an impressive input lag in Game Mode of around 21.3ms. Not bad at all.

Sound quality: soundbar required

It’s hardly surprising from a £500 TV, but the speakers here aren’t really up to much, and sound lightweight, hard at volume and lack a good deal of subtlety.

That means action scenes lack impact, and though voices are clear and direct, they’ll still sound fairly hollow without the help of a soundbar.

While you get one on order, there are a handful of processing modes that aim to improve the TV sound for the time being – standard being the best and most neutral option of the three.

Stuff says... 

Samsung UE40MU6400 review

A 'small' TV with a big mentality, the UE40MU6400 delivers an outstanding 4K performance for under £500
Good Stuff 
Crisp, detailed picture
Natural colour balance
Strong contrast
Excellent value
Bad Stuff 
HDR performance isn't as convincing as pricier models