Samsung LN40A650 40inch LCD HDTVSep 1st, 2008 | By Simon
Samsung LN40A650 40inch LCD HDTV
: 09/1/08 – 08:43:41 PM
Page 1 : Index
A TV isn't something you pick up without too much thought, but when I was given a list of available TVs to review by Samsung, the LN40A650 stood out to me and I knew I wanted to try it out.
Samsung has been manufacturing TVs for as long as I can remember and the LN40A650 is just one of three LNA650 models available. It is the smallest in the line at 40′ and the largest is a 52′ beast with a 46′ model in the middle. Released in April of 2008, this TV is very new to the market. However, the whole series has already been replaced with the LNA750. Does this make the LNA650 a bad buy? Of course not! Read on to see how this TV performs as the center of my entertainment system.
Page 2 : Package & Content
The package for the LN40A650 is like every other TV package: big and full of empty space for protection. A private courier dropped off the TV and it was a two person job to move the large box into the house. The TV itself can easily be carried by one person if there was no cardboard box involved.
At first I thought the package deviated from Samsung's typical brown-box packaging with the giant color box but I was fooled. The side of the box has a giant adhesive picture glued on which shows a portion of the TV and one of their slogans: ‘Design that performs / Great looks, high performance – only from Samsung’. This has set the bar for how the TV should perform. I've walked up and down the aisles at Best Buy and Futureshop checking out what's new in the market and I'm now expecting the LN40A650 to outshine everything I've seen.
Along the bottom of the box we see some of the features available on the TV.
On the other side of the box I saw the brown-box packaging I was use to seeing with Samsung products, particularly with their LCD monitors. The picture is actually identical to the vibrant color image but without the sharp colors.
On the top of the box we have some packaging instructions warning you not to step on the package, what side is the front, a reminder to register and how to unpack the TV.
On the side of the box we see a repeat of the features. Printed in big font is the screen size (40′) along with the fact that the TV is Wide Full HD LCD TV, has Auto Motion Plus (120Hz), has an Ultra Clear Panel, and is Full HD 1080p.
I must say that I'm quite excited about the TV and when I first got it, I ripped open the box and had the TV setup and in position about 30 minutes after receiving it.
Apart from the TV itself, Samsung includes a fair number of accessories. I got with the package a thick package of paper that covered the warranty, installation and registration, a panel cover, power cord, remote control, 2 AAA batteries and a cleaning cloth. I was a little disappointed not to get a small bunny-ear type antenna for the tuner. I realize these are often excluded accessories, but it would have been a very nice touch by Samsung.
Page 3 : Specifications
SAMSUNG 6 Series has the style and substance to complement your home perfectly. SAMSUNG's unique Touch of Colour design accent can elevate the décor of your home while delivering stunning picture performance with advance features like full HD picture, a lightning fast processor, and Super Clear Panel 2.
- Screen Size : 40′
- Resolution : 1920 x 1080
- DNIe : DNIe Pro
- Picture-in-Picture : Yes 1-tuner
There are a few points that stand out in the specification. The first to catch my eye is the 178/178 viewing angle. This is an amazing range that rivals some of the best LCD monitors available on the market. If you have a big crowd coming over to watch the latest NFL game then you don't have to worry about having a bad view because there won't be one. Another key feature to Samsung is the WISELINK. WISELINK allows you to display media off a USB drive or via a special hub that supports SD, CF, MMC, etc. This allows you to forego connecting your camera's cable to the TV and hoping that it works. The last key feature on the TV is Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC). Anynet allows devices to communicate with each other via HDMI. Once the devices are synced together, you can control them all through the remote control.
Page 4 : Installation & Setup
Installation of the LN40A650 is very simple. The first thing I did after opening the box was pull out the already assembled TV. From the box, you only need to plug in power and a video source before you can start using the TV. In the world of fancy gadgets and multimedia devices, there's not a whole lot required from the end-user to get basic features going. However, I should note that it's not easy to find the control panel should you not have your remote control. It's hidden above the power LED and is only visible under direct light. It is activated by a simple touch – no force is required.
Once you dive further into the features, you'll soon find out that you have several audio in and out options, VGA, 4 HDMI connections, antenna/cable input and a LAN port.
I sat the TV down directly in front of my couch so I wouldn't need to rotate the screen in anyway. However, Samsung provides you with a few degrees of mobility just in case your couches are not directly in front of you.
You can also use the wall mount features available. It's a VESA 200mm system which you need to buy on your own.
On the back you will also find the product information label identifying the serial number, model code and manufacturing date.
Once the TV is in position and your inputs connected, you're ready to spend the next few years in front of your brand new TV. The red trim making it a Touch of Color on the bezel is not as bold as I originally thought it would be and that's a good thing. I thought it would be overpowering, standing out whenever I use the TV but instead it's a nice touch.
Before you power on the TV, you'll want to peel away the features sticker that covers up a portion of the screen. At this stage in the game where you've purchased the TV and set it up, I don't think Samsung really needs more product feature advertisement.
The first thing you'll want to do with the TV is to run the auto setup or jump into the manual setup so you get the most out of your TV. I don't want to bore you to death with every single feature on the TV and how they work as that would a couple of pages to go through. Instead, I
recommend you visit Samsung's website and download the PDF linked here. You can also download the quick start guide here. I'll only show you a few pictures of the main menu and then we'll jump into the TV's performance.
If you have regular cable service fed by coaxial cable, you can plug that directly into the TV. If you want free high definition TV, you can pick up over the air service using an antenna (not included). Both systems will require you to complete an auto-programming so the TV knows what channels are available. With the ATSC tuner, I was able to pick up 21 high definition channels depending on how the antenna was positioned. This will vary depending on where you live.
Trying out some of the different buttons on the remote, you can hit the Tools button to quickly change some of your settings.
If you have multiple inputs connected to the TV, you can press the Source button and enter whatever source you want. Picture-in-Picture is available if you have multiple inputs connected, one not being the ATSC tuner.
Page 5 : Remote Control & TV Features
The Samsung included remote control is a good size and the weight is balanced nicely. The curve of the remote control fit my hand nicely. The buttons are soft and push down easily. On the odd occasion, I had trouble getting the second digit in a channel to display, so if I wanted to switch to 46, I could enter the 4 but the 6 wouldn't appear. This might be a result of having my PC sitting beside the receiver or a sensitivity issue with the remote control.
The remote comes with a light feature which is extremely sensitive. The slightest nudge would cause all the keys to glow a soft orange. This is very handy at night if you don't know where the remote is. Slightly nudge where you think it might be and it'll light up. Don't forget that with each nudge you use a tiny bit of power.
One qualm I had with the remote control is the location of the enter button. I can be impatient at times and I don't like waiting a few seconds before the TV automatically changes channel. Instead, I like to key in the channel I want to go to and hit the enter button. However, the enter button is located in the middle of the control wheel – too far for most hands to reach. I would like to see a second enter button closer to the key pad for the impatient few like me! I should also point out that the spin dial has an odd level of sensitivity, sometimes it jumps to or three positions when I just want it to move down by one level but sometimes it doesn't move at all. I recommend going back to the four button design: up, down, left and right.
The LN40A650 comes with two 10 watt speakers discretely at the bottom corners. I found it to produce clear sounds through a very large volume range. Sitting ten feet from the TV, I found the volume of 20-25 to be perfect. The range is from 0 to 100 so you can imagine what 100 would do to your ears!
One really neat feature I found and liked was the InfoLink option. If you connect the TV to your router, the InfoLink system will connect you to USA Today and provide you with a variety of information. I personally would have liked Samsung to make a few more sites available so Canadians can use the feature too.
The InfoLink feature gives you stock quotes for the NYSE, NASDAQ, weather for any US zipcode, and headline news. If I lived in the USA, the weather and stock would probably be my favourite feature. InfoLink is controlled by the colored buttons on the remote.
You need to manually scroll through the stock listings to add ones to your favourite for display. This is a little tedious and it would be nice if Samsung could implement text input to the remote control like cellphones for SMS messages.
This is the long range forecast for New York; you can also do a one day display.
I mentioned earlier that WiseLink allows you to view and listen to photos and MP3s. I thought I'd show you this feature in action. The USB drive needs to be plugged in when the TV has been turned on. The storage device must be formatted to FAT32 and connected directly to the TV, not through an extension cord or USB hub. JPEG images are limited to 15360×8640 and named in English, French or Spanish. WiseLink will allow you to delete pictures, view them and put them into a slideshow. You can also zoom, pan and rotate the pictures as you please.
WiseLink will automatically detect what's available on your storage device and give you the option of what to do. Moving into the Photo options, you can view one picture, create your own slide show, or view them all in a slide show.
Pictures can be viewed with background music supplied through your USB drive. The setup is very straightforward; you hit the Tools button, enable the music and pick what's available on your storage device.
To listen to music on its own, just select the Music option when you go to the WiseLink feature.
Just for fun, here are some panoramic pictures from my last trip.
It would be really nice if downloaded music videos, movies or TV shows can be played directly off WiseLink in DIVX/XVID format.
The last feature we'll cover is Anynet. By connecting my Samsung BD-P1500 to the TV via HDMI, Samsung will detect it as an Anynet capable device and you don't need to find the Blu-Ray player's remote control in order to use it. It simply shows up as another device in the list of sources.
Page 6 : Display Performance
To thoroughly test out the LN40A650, I sat myself in front of the TV for hours upon hours. Yup, I have a really tough job here! I tested out several different inputs: Over the Air digital TV via the ATSC Tuner, my regular non-digital cable TV, input from my PC via VGA and HDMI and HDMI from the Blu-Ray player.
The picture from digital TV is absolutely amazing. The best part is that the channels are free and you're likely able to pick up a few channels from wherever you live. If you decide to use regular cable service, you may still capitalize on digital reception as many stations are starting to switch from analog to digital images. Sometimes you may find one channel uses a 4:3 aspect ratio whereas another will have a 16:9. In such instances, you can press the picture button on the remote control to change the TV's aspect ratio so you get the best possible image.
Here a few pictures I took when watching high definition TV via over the air reception.
Here's a few pictures I took when watching a movie with a Blu-Ray player. The image quality is remarkable.
Using my PC, I was able to watch movies and shows directly off my hard drive. The colors of different action movies and games were superb, far more enjoyable than my 24′ LCD. Comparing VGA to HDMI, it's a no brainer. If your PC can handle it, I recommend you use your HDMI connection. I found the display to be a tiny bit clearer than the VGA. I haven't gone back to VGA since my HDMI cable arrived. With 1920×1080 resolution, you can definitely browse the web, check your email, etc. From gaming to Facebooking to YouTube video watching, my PC experience has definitely changed with the TV. I don't know if I'll be able to play games or watch my videos on the ‘small’ 24′ screen anymore!
Command and Conquer
With resepect to view pleasure, you can get a good view of the TV from any angle.
There was no ghosting or blurring of the images seen on the TV, thanks to the AutoMotionPlus which outputs at 120Hz versus the usual 60Hz we see in most devices.
Here's a quick comparison of four preset display modes that you can choose from.
When you have two difference sources connected, for example digital cable and a Blu-Ray player, you can use the Picture-in-Picture option. I found a PC or USB drive connected to the TV does not qualify. With picture in picture, it's worth nothing that you do get a few size options but I prefer the classic: a big image of what I'm always watching with a small shot of a secondary source. Just to note, there is not picture-in-picture button on the remote, you need to find it through the setup menu.
Page 7 : Conclusion
Jumping into the LN40A650 review was a blast. Over the past few weeks that I've had the LN40A650, the time in front of my TV has nearly doubled because of the HDMI connection to my PC. Samsung continues to lead the industry digital display products and it's no wonder why they are number one in the LCD market.
The LN40A650 comes packed with features including multiple HDMI inputs, VGA input for older computers, ATSC tuner, LAN, InfoLink, WiseLink and Anynet. The Samsung panel produces magnificently stunning and mouth dropping pictures. Everyone who has seen my new TV was envious of it.
This doesn't mean the LN40A650 is perfect; there are a few changes I would have liked to see. While none are related to the visual performance, I would have liked to see dual antenna inputs, one to allow for over-the-air signals and another for regular cable service. As well, some minor changes to the remote control would be nice: a relocated enter button, changes to the spin wheel and a less sensitive backlight to prevent battery drainage. That said, if you went out and bought the LN40A650, the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages and you'll definitely be pleased with your new TV.
- No blur, clear and crisp image
- Great alternative to regular PC monitor
- Ample features to use
- Makes you the envy of all your friends!
- Remote control could use some fine tuning
Overclockers Online would like to thanks Samsung for making this review possible