The E550 is a decent television with fairly deep blacks for a budget TV and bright, natural colors. Off-axis performance is very good, making it suitable for wide rooms, and the TV has excellent uniformity, making dark scenes easy to watch. Only a slight softness -- particularly to movement -- tarnishes an otherwise solid performance.
There are two TVs in the E550 range, a 40-inch and the 46-inch; the smaller model looks like the better deal at $430 at the time of review. If you're looking to spend this amount of money, though, there are plenty of other options, including the surprisingly good TCL P60.
Last year's Samsung D630 was one of the biggest surprises of that year's budget LCDs. Here was a TV with dated styling and old-hat fluorescent lighting, but it was one of the best TVs at the price. While there are some similarities between it and the newer E550, the successor can't quite live up to the former's performance.
The Samsung E550 does offer fairly deep blacks for an LCD at the price and saturated, natural colors. In cheaper sets one of the oft-compromised picture qualities is shadow detail, but here on the E550 it's one of the TV's best qualities. The E550 is able to make sense of darker scenes, placing figures in a 3D space in a way its LCD competition isn't able to. It's dark-room performance is also complemented by very good lit-room performance -- it's quite the all-rounder.
Where the TV falters is in picture detail and movement -- the Samsung suffers from a slight softness that could be attributed to the kind of LCD panel the company has used and/or the TV's onboard processor.