Samsung LE46M51 review

  • £2300

The big set with small ambitions

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

An HD TV that really should be performing better for its price and size

For

  • Sleek black design

    Good colour reproduction

Against

  • Images aren't sharp enough

    only 720p resolution

    Not enough connections

This isn't only one of the biggest LCD displays we've ever seen, at 46-inch and £2,300 it's got one of the lowest quid-per-screen inch ratios we've ever seen.

The second impression the LE46M51 makes, after 'it's damn big', is that 'it's very pretty'. The glossy black surround, reminiscent of the ultracool black iPods, is offset by a silver strip running along the bottom of the frame at a steep angle, just below the set's speakers.

The list of sockets is as expected for a HD-ready flatpanel: the standard analogue links (two Scarts, S-video, composite video etc), a VGA input for PCs, component video inputs and an HDMI.

We'd have preferred three RGB Scarts and another HDMI, especially as Samsung can't argue that there wasn't enough room for them.

Likewise, the screen's 1366 x 768 resolution is what's expected of an HD-ready LCD, and the screen can still handle (downscaled) 1080i and 720p feeds.

Bigscreen letdown

On the image processing side, the set has Samsung's Digital Natural Image Engine (DNIe), which aims to increase fine detail, smooth motion, and boost colour and contrast levels.

The only other highlights are noise reduction options, a backlight that automatically adjusts to match the room's ambient light (handy), picture-in-picture modes, and colour tweaks.

The big disappointment is the lack of a digital tuner. Samsung has made some impressive claims about this set's performance, including a 3,000:1 contrast ratio, 500cd/m2 brightness level, and the ability to render 6.5billion colours. If these hold true the picture quality should be astounding, but it falls short.

The good news is colours are bright and saturated, and fine detail is rendered accurately, while movement is free of smearing. Fight Club's finale of falling skyscrapers has rarely looked as impressive.

Problems occur in two areas - blacks aren't black, and standard-definition pictures aren't up to scratch. Shadows have a blue-grey tint that can loose detail, and standard-definition images are grainy and suffer from high levels of digital artefacts.

Shockingly, it seemed DNIe emphasised the grain, rather than reduced it. Dot crawl was also apparent using or an HDMI high-definition feed.

The Dynamic Contrast setting caused irritating shifts in contrasts levels that led us to turn the feature off. White edges were overly pronounced, and colour tones tended to shift in low-light scenes. The speakers didn't impress either. Sound was serviceable, but came across flat and muffled at times.

A 46-inch LCD for £2,300 is impressive, but this set's performance doesn't meet our hopes. It's not a bad TV but it could of, and should of, been much better.

Tags