Samsung's A656 TV range was marketed as the 'touch of colour' range, for, subtly injected into the familiar glossy black screen surround, was a deep red tone that becomes more visible towards the screen's edges.

This made the set look completely distinctive. What's more, the chassis was constructed without any adhesive or screws, which was an industry first.

The set also boasted four HDMI sockets, all built to the v1.3 specification for Deep Color compatibility and all capable of receiving 1080p/24fps sources of the sort output by most Blu-ray players. A PC input, an optical digital audio output and a USB 2.0 port for playing JPEG or MP3 files also featured.

The full HD LCD screen included both 100Hz processing and a less commonly found 120Hz mode to ensure the purest playback of 24fps sources.

Motion handling joys

One of LCD's biggest failings tends to be with motion handling and it's here that the 100Hz processing really proved its worth. Made to work extremely hard with sport, it went about its business impeccably, massively reducing the usual blurring effect as well as making movement more fluid.

What's more, even during moments of extremely fast motion, such as when a camera panned across a football pitch, the picture remained artefact-free.

The motion handling also excelled when playing 1080p/24fps Blu-ray movies, especially since the reduction in motion blur afforded by the 100Hz system meant there was less to stand in the way of the truly mesmerising fine detail response.

Rich black levels

Samsung's already strong black level performance was also enhanced by the 40A656. Its automatic contrast system was remarkably subtle, largely avoiding the common brightness 'stepping' problem, and the screen delivered much deeper, richer blacks than most rivals.

Joining the black levels in helping the 40A656 produce extremely dynamic pictures were some strikingly bold colours, yet crucially these rich hues still looked unusually natural by LCD standards.

The only real let down was the slightly waxy skin tones seen during standard-definition viewing.