Samsung offers some of the best-value televisions on the market and now it's getting in on the budget act with this 'Full HD' 40-inch LCD. With plenty of features such as a memory card reader, Picture in Picture and MP3 playback, the Korean giant is trying its best to show the more established manufacturers a thing or two about hi-def tellies.
We're big fans of this television's design, especially the way that, apart from a large power switch, the front of the set is devoid of any fussy buttons. If you like piano black then you'll love this set, although bear in mind that the glossiness means you might be able to see the rest of the room reflected in the surround. The speakers are also hidden, and fire on to a strip of silver material. This means there is very little to distract you from what's happening on screen.
Unfortunately the stand is a little cheap looking, although we'll give Samsung some credit for making it swivel. It is possible to wall-mount this television if you buy a separate kit.
The TV features the usual set of inputs. There are two HDMI inputs, two Scart inputs, component video in and a PC D-Sub input for hooking up your computer. You'll also find composite and S-Video inputs at the side of the set, along with a variety of memory card sockets. Most of the popular memory card types are supported, as are USB memory keys.
The headline feature of this television is the 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. This means, if you've got a 1080p HD DVD or Blu-ray player, you'll be getting the maximum possible quality from it.
One of the nice features of this television is 'Wiselink', which lets you look at photos or listen to MP3s stored on a memory card, USB stick or USB host device. You can also set up slideshows, which will play to music if you choose -- it's a clever feature and it comes in handy for parties. The main downside is that the MP3 playback doesn't have any controls other than start and stop -- if you want to fast forward a long track, you're out of luck. You can even print photos via a PictBridge output, turning the TV into the world's largest preview screen.
If you want Picture in Picture, the LE40F71B works very well indeed. It's possible to have any input displaying in the secondary window, something that isn't possible on some of the other televisions we've seen.
The lack of Freeview receiver is a big downer -- we can't work out why Samsung hasn't put one in. To see what standard-def pictures look like, we hooked up our Freeview receiver via Scart. It doesn't do too bad a job, although we have seen televisions disguise digital artefacts better than this one does.
Colour looked accurate and the brightness level is good, too, although blacks weren't always as deep as we would have liked. The colour and brightness controls can easily be tweaked to get the most out of the screen.
We are very pleased to see that the television will allow PC input resolutions right up to 1,920x1,080 pixels. We've seen other televisions that support 1080p, but that won't allow a connected computer to output at the full resolution. This results in stretched PC images, which is far from ideal if you're using a media centre.
The strongest area for this television is high-definition material. Watching Superman Returns at 1080p from awas truly stunning, especially the scene where Superman proves he's faster than a speeding bullet. Popping on Happy Gilmore was a genuinely exciting experience. The colour on this film makes it a good test disc -- the Samsung did itself proud. We were also impressed by the sharpness of the picture.
Sound quality was passable -- the hidden speakers aren't really large enough to produce any real bass, but dialogue is easy to understand. If you watch a lot of movies, or want good surround for online gaming, you'll want to add a proper surround-sound setup.
If you want hi-def on the cheap, Samsung's LE40F71B is a good choice. With support for 1080p, it's future-proofed in the most important respect. It's the ideal companion for a games console, however the lack of a Freeview tuner is unforgivable, and there are better televisions at standard-def out there. Ultimately, it can't hold a candle to the , but it is slightly cheaper.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield