Samsung's uncanny knack of combining form, function and value raises our hopes for the LE40A558, despite it's position relatively far down the firm's current range ladder.

Our expectations grow with the discovery that, while it doesn't boast the red or grey-tinged bezel of its costlier siblings, this set is still seriously stylish, with its tastefully sculpted, gloss black frame.

It's pretty well connected for its money, too, with highlights of three HDMIs, a PC port and even a USB slot for MP3 and JPEG playback.

Picture processing

The LE40A558 provides plenty of picture tweaks too, including no less than three different processing engines: the broad-remit DNIe, Edge Enhancement and Movie

Plus, which adds extra frames of image data to make motion appear to flow. Also, you can play around with noise reduction routines, skin tone adjustments, the white balance and gamma levels, all of which exceeds the remit of a budget 40in TV.

The screen is a full HD affair, too, with a 30,000:1 claimed contrast ratio that promises deeper black levels than is typical on such an affordable 40in LCD TV.

LCD Blur

The only area for concern is with the lack of 100Hz processing. And sadly this worry proves more than justified. For as soon as we feed the TV any motion-heavy picture content, such as a Premiership footie match or a Blu-ray action scene, the screen distractingly exhibits the classic LCD failings of blurring and smearing.

Calling the Movie Plus system into play can reduce the blurring, but this is a trade-off for some equally distracting flickering and shimmering processing side effects.

We're unconvinced by the LE40A558's Edge Enhancement system, too, since to our eyes it just makes the edges of objects in the picture look too defined, so that they no longer look like an organic part of the picture as a whole.

Quality colour

While the LE40A558's motion problems cost it dearly, in many other ways its pictures are as good as those of Samsung's higher-end sets. And so we find colours looking both incredibly rich and generally very natural; black levels looking really good except for when they're dented by a slightly inauspicious viewing angle.

There are high levels of fine detail during high-definition viewing except for when motion blur gets in the way; and standard definition pictures look generally sharp and clean.

It's back to Averageville with the LE40A558's audio, though. For the same action scenes that trouble the TV's pictures also expose a lack of dynamic range and raw power in its 'hidden' speaker setup, sounding thin and unconvincing.