Samsung UE40D5520 review

Samsung leaves premium aspirations aside to deliver a superb budget 40-inch TV

Samsung UE40D5520
The Samsung UE40D5520 is a low-cost 40-inch LCD TV that shuns 3D and embraces smart features

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Samsung ue40d5520

While the Samsung UE40D5520's picture quality understandably doesn't scale quite the same all-round heights as Samsung's D7000 and D8000-series flagship LCD TVs, it's actually almost absurdly accomplished for a sub-£600 40-inch LCD TV.

Particularly outstanding when compared with its peers is its black level response. Most affordable LCD TVs suffer a fairly apparent greyness when trying to show black colours, but provided you're sensible with its contrast and backlight settings, the Samsung UE40D5520 delivers black that actually looks black.

This immediately gives all pictures – not just dark scenes – a sense of solidity and believability that's not by any means common at the affordable end of the TV market.

LCD TVs that produce good black levels generally only manage to do so by taking so much brightness out of pictures that shadow detailing becomes almost non-existent. But as proof of just how good the Samsung UE40D5520's native contrast performance is, it manages to produce its really quite inky blackness without leaving dark scenes looking hollow and flat.

So aware is Samsung of the importance of shadow detail, in fact, that it even provides a shadow detail adjustment as one of its more useful picture fine-tuning tools.

The Samsung UE40D5520 also does remarkably well for its money where colour is concerned. Hues look rich and bold, yet their aggressive saturation levels don't come at the expense of a good sense of subtlety when portraying colour blends and tonal shifts.

There's a slightly overly warm colour when you first boot up the TV straight from the box, which you can sort out quite satisfactorily via the white balance adjustments. Aside from that, it's a pleasure to report that the Samsung UE40D5520's colours look predominantly natural, avoiding the tendency to over-ripeness that's common among cheap screens.

Samsung ue40d5520

While certainly not perfect, the Samsung UE40D5520's motion handling is pretty good for a cheap LCD TV, too. There's a detectable amount of blurring over fast moving objects, but this seldom extends into the sort of smeary trails you often get at the budget end of the market.

The most unfortunate thing about the Samsung UE40D5520's motion performance is arguably the fact that the trace amounts of motion blur reported can't be tackled satisfactorily by the provided TruMotion 100Hz system. While this does indeed reduce the impact of the blur and make motion look slightly more fluid, it also generates some rather distracting side-effects such as haloing around moving objects, and a flickering effect if the motion is particularly fast.

Still, overall it wouldn't be fair to harp on about the Samsung UE40D5520's motion issues too much, because at the TV's price point, they're actually very restrained. This joins with the set's strong contrast and brightness performance to help the Samsung UE40D5520 do a fine job of delivering all the detail that distinguishes HD picture quality too.

Even its standard-definition pictures are passably sharp, if a touch noisy. However, the Samsung UE40D5520's upscaling results aren't as accomplished as those of Samsung's higher spec LCD TVs, particularly models in the D7000 and D8000 ranges.

The main complaint that could be levelled at the Samsung UE40D5520's pictures, though, is that there's a small amount of that all-too-common problem of backlight inconsistency. In other words, if you're watching a very dark scene in a dark room, some patches of the picture look marginally brighter than others when they're not supposed to.

However, again this issue is actually much less overt than it often is on affordable edge LED TVs. You can minimise its impact quite successfully if you take care to nudge down the brightness and, particularly, the backlight settings, from their factory preset levels.

The final test thrown at the Samsung UE40D5520 is the one predominantly aimed at gamers: the input lag measurement. Again the TV didn't let us down, producing a likeably low figure of just 35ms when using its Game preset that really shouldn't have any significant negative impact on your gaming skills.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.