Given the state of all our finances right now, it's distinctly possible that the £1,100 LE40B651 will prove Samsung's mass market proposition; certainly last year's roughly equivalent mid-level 6-series proved to be the range that most captured the public's attention. So let's stop bitching about a few missing high-end bits and pieces and set about (hopefully) embracing what's actually popular!
This is a section which is of particular interest with this new display from Samsung, primarily because of Scaling. The process inside this TV which resizes Standard Definition images to the High Definition resolution of the panel appears to be done in an unusual way, making use of some sort of edge-adaptive process which I hope will become the norm on video devices over the next couple of years. It ends up making standard definition video look more natural than on several competing devices (assuming everything's set up correctly, of course). Whilst other scaling processes tend to create ringing around high frequencies (small details), this TV keeps it to an absolute minimum, whilst still preserving a good amount of detail. The closest way I can describe its look is to say that it looks like a less harsh version of what the Playstation3 does for upscaled DVD (step up the Sharpness control and the image looks uncannily similar). For Digital TV broadcasts, it looks very good, and an added side-effect of the fact that it doesn't overdo high frequencies is that it also doesn't have the tendency to exacerbate MPEG mosquito noise, which is always a plus (particularly when the bar for compression quality is set so low in consumer standard-def video). It'll also please you for most DVDs, too, but for the handful of more detailed titles out there, I sometimes preferred to use my player's own upscaling.
The deinterlacing performance is great for the most part, too: 3-2 and 2-2 NTSC cadences passed, and more importantly for us here in PAL-land, the PAL 2:2 test passed, too. One area where deinterlacing could be a little problematic, though, was with the Digital TV functionality. Quite often after a scene cut, things would judder and flicker for a few seconds, as if the TV was somehow confusing the Field Order of the content. In the typically problematic scenario of mixed 25p/50i content (such as a scrolling video-speed news channel ticker running along the bottom of 2:2 film-speed content), the ticker occasionally showed combing, but this didn't happen often and is what I expected. Even if it did, Samsung's Film Mode control offers an alternative mode as well as an option to turn off film cadence detection as a compromise, anyway: the control is in the user's hands, where it belongs.
But the key thing about the LE40B651 is its flexibility. For it gives you the tools to get round or hugely reduce processing glitches, via judicious tweaking of the Custom 100Hz mode. For instance, I personally felt that having the Blur reduction set to 5 and Judder reduction set to 3 really minimised the processing side effect problems.
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