Mirror Mirror on the wall...
The audio system
built into the 40" Samsung LCD HDTV is modest, just 10W per speaker, but
provides enough kick to get the job done. It supports SRS TruSurround XT, which
is a virtual surround sound system. Audio output is taken care of
via a SP/DIF optical, co-axial, or RCA outputs to connect to a speaker
This 40" HDTV is actually
in the middle of Samsung's 650A family of displays, which range from 19'
all the way up to 52". Like its siblings the LN40A650A HDTV has Samsung's Touch
of Colour design, so its glossy translucent bezel is actually a very dark red, instead of the
typical black which has become common with other high-definition
is sleek and smooth to the touch, and even the control buttons are made smooth
with the outer bezel of the display so as not to break with
LCD TVs have come down
significantly in price over the past few years, so Samsung's asking price of
$2100 CDN ($1600
USD, £1150 GBP) actually makes the
Samsung LN40A650A about average when compared to other LCD HDTVs of its size
course, size and features are only half the story when it comes to a
three-inch thick slab of LCD glass. What really matters is how it looks with a
1080p blockbuster exploding on the screen!
Buttonless Control Panel Blends In
Samsung has tried to make the LN40A650A's controls as unobtrusive as possible to keep
a clean, simple look for the front bezel of the display.
This certainly looks nice, and from even a few
inches away it's difficult to tell that this 40" Samsung LCD TV has any buttons
on it at all. Unfortunately not being able to see the buttons from more than
a few inches away can make it somewhat difficult to use.
This problem is
exacerbated since these aren't physical buttons that depress or give some element of tactile feedback, these are non-haptic,
touch-sensitive zones that are flush with the bezel of the television.
In low-light situations accidentally pressing the wrong button a common
occurrence. Having these buttons illuminate when in use, or having raised bumps
on them (like the raised bumps on the F and J keys on your keyboard) could go a
long way to making the television's physical controls easier to use.
Remote control - big buttons for old eyes?
The remote control bundled with
the Samsung LN40A650A television works from distances up to about
25 feet away and is compatible with all other Samsung
Anynet+ displays, DVD players and so on. It's nice that one remote
can basically be used to control all your home theatre devices... provided you're
fully outfitted with Samsung hardware.
The black remote fits comfortably in
adult-sized hands, with large, rubbery buttons that are easy to depress and
spring back nicely afterwards. These buttons can also be illuminated for use in
dark rooms and during movies.
remote works with any Anynet+ peripherals, including Blu-ray
players and home theatre systems. It uses the TM98B
itself has the standard channel-surfing, volume and source selection buttons you'd expect to find on
a TV remote, but there's also a series of buttons to
control the LN40A650A LCD HDTV's special features, like InfoLink and WiseLink features.
For other Samsung devices
that support the Anylink+ feature, like Blu-ray players, there
are basic forward, backwards, pause and play buttons. These aren't quite the equivalent of
having a dedicated remote for these functions, as the remote didn't have
buttons to skip chapters on the Samsung Blu-ray player we were using.
The scroll wheel doubles as a d-pad, and
is used to navigate through the LN40A650A's menu screens.
For navigating through the various sub-menus and on-screen displays of
the Samsung LN40A650A, the remote uses a combination scroll-wheel and four-directional pad. The
wheel is used to scroll through the longer menu lists, while the
d-pad is used to select sub-menus.
While this sounds like a great
idea, the implementation could use improvement. The first problem is that the LN40A650A's
menus are too slow to keep up with the speed of the
scroll wheel, which spins quite freely. Even
spinning the scroll wheel all the way around only made the menu
system jump forward a single spot.
In PCSTATS tests it was actually faster to just give up on the wheel and
just use the d-pad to navigate. Unfortunately the scroll wheel still gets in
your way if you accidentally scroll upwards or downwards while trying to click
sideways. Removing the scroll wheel and having faster menus would make this
remote a lot easier to use.
Okay, now lets take a closer look at this 40" beauty...
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