With the execption of Apple, most electronics companies follow each other around like lemmings. Many products seem to lack mindful makers: someone who has actually thought about what the product is supposed to do and how best to optimise it for both functionality and style. In the '80s, we had TVs with faux wood. Then we had black plastic, then silver and now we're trudging through the tedium of shiny black plastic. Yawn.
Samsung's A6 range breaks this follow-the-leader mentality with a more cheery design approach. The company's screen styling has always been ahead of the curve, and its recent introduction of the 'rose black' bezel has once again proved that Samsung is happy to veer off the beaten, shiny black plastic track. Available for around £1,200, will the Samsung LE40A6 LCD TV get us marching to a different beat?
The LE40A6's rose black style winks at the ladies and nods at the gents. The effect is quite simple; in a dark room, you'll barely notice the red in the bezel. Look closely in a well-lit room and you'll see the deep red swatch that runs around the screen. While we applaud Samsung for trying to jazz up TV design this way, we can't doff our caps completely. This decision isn't the best the company has ever made -- the red won't appeal to everyone.
We do, however, like the rest of the styling. The TV is plain, with the controls on the front limited to a set of touch-sensitive buttons on the right hand side. This keeps the TV looking sleek, and the whole package works really well.
Still, the shiny black plastic isn't missing completely from this TV: it's in the remote. It's sturdier than the older Samsung product remotes and sports large buttons. Plus, the remote's controls are segmented by colour. Programme and volume controls are blue; menu and directional controls are green; everything else is white-ish. The remote has a backlight too, so you can use it with cinema lighting. The only downside is that it's a slightly unwieldy size and shape.
The connections at the back of the TV include a massive four HDMI inputs. Those lucky people who own a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Elite and a Wii -- which connects via either of the two Scart inputs -- will be able to hook the consoles up at the same time. They'll even have room for SkyHD and even an HD DVD player. Bully for them.
Along with more connections than you can shake a remote at, the LE40A6 boasts all the usual features of a high-end TV. It supports 1080p/24 and has 100Hz picture processing, designed to smooth out films so they look more like video for those who can't stand motion judder in movies. The TV also employs an 'ultra clear panel', which aims to increase the contrast of the set by using a specially-treated LCD.
Those people with all three major games consoles are in luck again, and will be pleased to learn that this Samsung continues the company's tradition of producing excellent gaming TVs. The usual gaming modes are present to decrease motion blur.
It would be great if we could start off saying something nice about the TV's Freeview performance. Sadly, the best we can do is to call it adequate. Even for a TV this size, we felt that the picture could have been sharper. Fiddling around with the menu settings didn't really improve the situation either. Sure, the picture isn't horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but we can envision a set with better Freeview detail: there were times when the picture felt washed out.