Samsung LE46A656 review

Samsung’s Series 6 range of LCDs is born

Our Verdict

This is great LCD TV; one that will impress almost as much when switched off as on. It matches the care and attention in design with a deft picture performance, and, until the brand unveils Series 7 or 8, this 46in beauty is as good as it gets


  • Superb design
  • Well built
  • Stunning pictures


  • Disappointing audio
  • No ethernet connectivity

With the 46in LE46A656A1F, Samsung's Series 6 range of LCDs is born.

And, thanks to the company's proprietary Crystal Design concept (ironically named 'Touch of Color' in the US), it really stands out amongst its shiny sable peers.

Classy Design

Utilising Dual Injection technology similar to that adopted by the German car industry, the screen's bezel is created by combining clear and red plastics, and overlaying the result on a black surround.

It's not a simple technique to master and, at present, there's only one machine capable of manufacturing such fascias on a large scale, but the end result is worth the extra effort.

While the overall effect is not exactly a massive evolutionary leap from a gloss black bezel, the added hint of red (or 'rose black') exudes class, while, most importantly, remaining unobtrusive to the viewing experience.

In short, the brand has once again set the aesthetic standard for its rivals to follow.

Full HD from Samsung

The outward appearance isn't the only feature to be upgraded from the company's previous models. This 46in TV has more bells and whistles than a football referee's wedding.

It's Full HD (although, to be honest, that's a no-brainer for screens over 32in nowadays), with 1080p24 compatibility, and comes with 100Hz Motion Plus - the company's frame-doubling technology to eliminate LCD blur and judder.

The screen is one of the first to use Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel (a step-up from the Super Clear Panel found in older models). And the DNIe picture processing engine has morphed to DNIe Pro. Add Wide Color Enhancer 2 and you've a very impressive feature list.

Impressive connectivity

Similarly, the connectivity audit yields numerous options: Four HDMI 1.3 sockets adorn the set, with three on the rear and one on the side.

Two Scart inputs, component and a VGA port make up the backside video quota, while a couple of stereo audio inputs sit next to an optical audio output (capable of routing Dolby Digital or PCM stereo to a waiting amplifier).

The side also offers S-video and composite ins, alongside stereo audio and a headphone jack. But the most interesting side-mounted addition is an USB port for what Samsung calls WISELINK...

Using an USB memory stick, or an MP3 player that supports drag-and-drop hard drive management (such as, er, Samsung's), the Series 6 screen can display pictures and even play music via an intuitive graphical user-interface.

It's a gimmick really - few would buy a TV to listen to music while scrolling through a slideshow of snaps from Magaluf - but it's a nice addition and a nod to further 'convergence' opportunities for models in the future (such as DivX playback without a dedicated deck, perhaps? WISELINK Pro? Watch this space).

Staggering picture performance

However, while this function has survived the trip over the Atlantic, another that is bestowed upon the US Series 6 TVs has not. While we may have reported InfoLink RSS-feed compatibility and Ethernet connectivity a while back, it has sadly failed to make the transition to these shores.

I've been informed by Samsung that the deals with content providers to supply the relevant internet data for weather, news, etc, couldn't be struck in time for release.

It's a shame, especially as this was definitely a feature that caught the eye of all those traipsing around the Samsung stand at this year's CES.

You probably won't care anyway, when you see the HD (and, equally, SD) performance of this bad boy.

Thanks to a combination of the aforementioned Ultra Clear Panel, DNIe Pro picture processing and Wide Color Enhancer 2, the picture results are nothing short of staggering. After a thorough bout of calibration, that is...

Interesting picture presets

Out-of-the-box there are three picture and sound presets, under a general 'Entertainment' umbrella; Sports, Cinema and Game, each with their own unique properties.

For example, the Game mode, which I tested with the excellent Xbox 360 game, Lost Odyssey, increases the panel's response time, lightens the contrast in dark areas so you can see more fine detail and increases the bass response.

The Sports mode optimises the colourfield (specifically greens and blues) while treating audio to retain clarity in commentary.

You'll definitely want to setup your own Cinema mode, though; the supplied one is too vivid. It makes Blu-ray content scream itself hoarse with radiant and intense hues, but the effect is so over-the-top that it's similar to being punched in the face by a clown.

Excellent contrast

Toning things down is advisable and, thankfully, there is an exhaustive set of advanced options for fine-tuning. Adjusting the colour temperature to closer to 65K is little hassle.

One thing you'll probably not want to fiddle about with, though, is the Dynamic Contrast Ratio; it works a treat. Whenever I've encountered the system in the past, the method of increasing and decreasing brightness and contrast depending on the black content of the image, has been a bit flaky.

I've seen many screens that exhibit visible contrast 'waving' where the screen continually dulls and brightens too radically. Here it is seamless, and the black level response benefits greatly.

Indeed, the contrast level is excellent all-round. Although Samsung's LED backlight technology is absent in this instance, it's inclusion would simply have been the icing on the cake.

But the Ultra Clear Panel, by decreasing light reflection even more dramatically than ever before, displays deep blacks that should suit even the most discerning of image aficionados. It's no Kuro, but for an LCD TV, wow!

Audio performance doesn't quite match, it's a stereo TV with two 10W speakers after all.