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Even the most affordable TVs need core picture quality, but it's here that the UE42F5000 falls short. Our biggest concern is a lack of detail. With Simon Reeve's Pilgrimage on BBC One HD playing, the UE42F5000 produces a soft image that lacks any kind of wow factor, with standard definition channels faring even worse, even with both Digital Clean View and MPEG Noise Filter on their highest settings.
Low-bitrate TV channels are blocky and almost wobbling with softness; we're actually glad there's no way of watching YouTube on the UE42F5000.
A spin of Game Of Thrones on Blu-ray and things do get a little better, though close-ups not only lack ultimate detail but as soon as the subject moves the resolution drops dramatically. A shot of Lady Stark walking against a white background is worrying; the movement of her head leaves after-images and is uncomfortable to watch.
We're not hugely surprised here – the UE42F5000 is a 50Hz screen and the ineffective 100Hz Clear Motion Rate is purely marketing jargon – but it's a shame nonetheless.
This kind of motion blur is endemic to the UE42F5000 and applies to all sources, and unfortunately can't be cured by such basic motion processing circuitry onboard. Although we've seen it employed successfully on other Samsung TVs, LED Clear Motion – accessed via the Picture Options menu – immediately dulls the backlight and removes the lustre from colours, but doesn't appear to add any extra sharpness to camera pans and fast-action sequences.
Motion blur is what you have to put up with at this low level of the market, but it makes the UE42F5000 less than ideal as an HDTV. It might be one of the few 42-inch TVs of this price with a Freeview HD tuner, but it doesn't have the skill to use it.
The picture presets also need some work; only the Movie mode comes anywhere near watchability, and even then it's too bright. There's a need to delve into the picture settings, something that many buyers just won't get around to.
Colours are well judged on the Movie setting, but the bright panel plays havoc with contrast and black levels. Even with the backlight toned down, we noticed some blotchy areas of light on the panel – LED clusters – most noticeably along the right-hand side and in the corners.
With below-average contrast, mixed brightness scenes lose their dynamism to a levelling-out by the UE42F5000, while colours lack zing and black never gets beyond a grey mush. Watch from the wings and the images lose contrast, which badly affects colours, too.
Jamie is a freelance tech, travel and space journalist based in the UK. He’s been writing regularly for Techradar since it was launched in 2008 and also writes regularly for Forbes, The Telegraph, the South China Morning Post, Sky & Telescope and the Sky At Night magazine as well as other Future titles T3, Digital Camera World, All About Space and Space.com. He also edits two of his own websites, TravGear.com and WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),
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