Samsung is not a company that likes to leave you wanting when it comes to features. Although a mid-range set, the 40-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated UE40D6530 LCD TV packs in just about everything you could want from a telly, including plenty of picture-processing options, Internet features and 3D support -- and it still comes in at around £800.
Over the last five years or so, Samsung has led the field when it comes to TV design, and the UE40D6530 is another blinder. This is a supremely stylish set, right from the transparent stem on the pedestal stand to the extremely narrow, brushed-metal bezel that measures a little over 15mm thick. Add to this the fact that the LED backlight has helped Samsung to slim the chassis down to just 30mm, and you've got a TV that really is a cut above the competition when it comes to style.
The slim chassis hasn't prevented Samsung from adding a copious range of connectivity options. Along with the four HDMI ports, you'll also find connections for Scart and component inputs, although you'll have to use adaptor cables. The set has no fewer than three USB ports too, and, as Wi-Fi is integrated, there's no need to trail an Ethernet cable across the lounge to make use of the Internet features. There is an Ethernet socket just in case the Wi-Fi's on the blink, though.
As we've come to expect on this year's models, the UE40D6530 has a Freeview HD tuner. This lets you access high-definition services from the BBC and ITV, among others. In the not-too-distant future, it may also enable you to get your 3D fix too, since the Beeb is dipping its toes into the three-dimensional waters and broadcasting the Wimbledon finals in 3D on Freeview.
Samsung has been making a huge fuss about its new Smart TV Internet platform lately, and rightly so -- it's one of the best on the market at the moment. The so-called 'Smart Hub' brings together the TV's settings menu, electronic programme guide and Internet services in one beautifully presented screen.
The range of Internet services on offer is excellent. Along with BBC iPlayer, you'll find both the LoveFilm and Acetrax on-demand movie-rental services. There's also access to YouTube and Dailymotion. Social-networking apps include Facebook, Twitter and Skype and there's an app store from which you can download various games, as well as apps for other video services. To top it all off, the UE40D6530 includes a full Internet browser, although navigating this using the remote is a rather sluggish process.
The Smart Hub also gives you access to the TV's digital-media playback features. These are extremely well implemented -- the set had no problem finding and streaming a range of content from our PC and network-attached storage drive, including HD MKV files. Playback of videos from a USB key also worked beautifully.
If you hook a hard drive up to one of the TV's USB ports, you'll be able to record live TV or schedule recordings via the electronic programme guide. The set only has a single tuner, so it doesn't give you the functionality of a full PVR, but it's still a handy feature to have.
The UE40D6530 may sit in the middle of Samsung's current TV line-up, but it's not lacking in picture-processing options. Along with the Clear Motion Rate 400Hz processing, there's also Samsung's Wide Colour Enhancer Plus and the Digital Noise Filter system.
The TV really does a super job when it comes to 2D images. It renders Blu-ray movies and high-definition channels from the Freeview HD tuner with superb crispness, and it also does a fine job of upscaling DVDs and standard-definition TV channels. In fact, it's one of the best sets for upscaling standard-def content that we've seen in a while.
Motion is handled what aplomb, so even quick pans during footy matches offer impressive levels of sharpness. Although there are some slight backlight inconsistencies during very dark -- almost black -- scenes, the TV's black levels and contrast performance are generally first-class.
The TV has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter to control active-shutter 3D glasses, but Samsung doesn't include any with the set. Each pair will set you back £50 to £80.
The investment will be worth it, as the UE40D6530 is less prone to cross-talk (ghosting around the edges of 3D objects) than Samsung's previous generation of 3D LED TVs. Cross-talk hasn't been completely eliminated, but it's much less intrusive than before, so 3D images generally look more solid. Also, the impression of depth is amplified because you're not being distracted by image-ghosting problems.
The Samsung UE40D6530 impresses on almost every level. Its design is super-stylish, its Internet features are top-notch, its 2D pictures have serious bite, and even its 3D performance is above average for an LED TV.
Edited by Charles Kloet