Samsung UE42F5500 review

An excellent value TV that isn't quite perfect

Samsung UE42F5500

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The UE42F5500 is a competent, but unremarkable HDTV. Its main problem, as we had feared, is motion blur. A basic LCD panel with a 50Hz refresh rate that's long been considered outmoded among higher-priced TVs, the UE42F5500 displays fast-moving images and video with a constant ghosting and blur that makes Blu-ray discs seem less than Full HD.

During our test disc, Hugo, we encountered many camera pans that juddered, and as it does so the detail is glossed over and lost.

LED Clear Motion is the key technology here, though only in theory; engaging it while using the Movie preset picture mode doesn't cure the motion blur problems at all, but does lower the backlight's brightness, and very visibly so. However, by doing so at least the black levels and deepened somewhat and swap from blueish grey to something akin to black, though there's little shadow detail within Hugo's jet-black hair, or in pavements on the dark Paris streets.

Samsung UE42F5500

The stand has a hint of Cylon Basestar about it

When the images are still – largely close-ups of the faces of the station's colourful characters – the UE42F5500 does display some fine Full HD detailing, though even the slightest movement and all that good work is lost.

Colours are excellent, natural-looking and well saturated, while the LED backlighting system – which isn't the edge array normally seen – has created a uniform brightness, so avoiding any issues with clouding or light leakage from the sides of the screen.

Turn to a standard definition broadcast of Operation Hospital Food with James Martin on BBC One and the detail takes a big dive, though pleasingly there's almost no trace of mosquito noise around logos or low bitrate mess. This clean, if soft, style of upscaling appears to be a native trait of the TV since its Digital Clean View feature – available in three strengths – doesn't significantly affect the picture either way. People passing through the camera shot quickly are ghost-like blurs, but the decent colour and black levels remain.

Later on, a BBC One HD transmission of Match of the Day provides another big reason to buy the UE42F5500, which handles the green expanses rather well amid a decently detailed image despite the constant motion resolution loss.

Ease of use

The UE42F5500 is mastered by what Samsung calls its 'Golden Bridge' user interface, the central pillar of which is Smart Hub. It's a great user interface – right up there with Panasonic and LG in 2013 – and it's easy to use thanks to the UE42F5500's Wi-Fi module. It's split into five different panels: Apps; Movies & TV Shows; Social; Photos, Videos & Music; and On TV.

Once you've selected what source of TV you're using (we went for the inbuilt Freeview HD), the central On TV page comprises a live TV box on about a quarter of the screen, with the rest taken up by thumbnails of TV channels and a Coming Up section that details six TV programmes the UE42F5500 thinks you'll want to watch. This is S-Recommendation, which monitors your viewing habits and makes suggestions, but it's flawed; despite including a useful readout of minutes until the show will be broadcast, the programme's title isn't listed. We're left wondering what the UE42F5500 has selected for us on BBC One in 46 minutes … the thumbnail merely shows a bald-headed man.

Also viewable from this page is the excellent, and more traditional, Freeview HD electronic programme guide (seven channels over two hours, which works lightning-quick), a Timeline View (a pretty, but hard to comprehend grid of thumbnails ranged across 24 hours) and a list of programmes recorded to a USB stick or HDD.

Samsung UE42F5500

The interface is quick to navigate

The Films & TV Shows tab is another cover art-filled page, this time of seven films available on various on-demand services, though in our review everything came from a Samsung-owned app called VideoHub which – oddly – wasn't actually installed on the UE42F5500. There are various other ways to surf film content, such as via genre, as well as a link to a page of TV shows. Again, however, VideoHub is required; why isn't Smart Hub searching the plethora of on-demand, catch-up TV apps and the likes of Netflix and Lovefilm? However, if you do download and sign-up for VideoHub, you can then watch the same content on other Samsung devices.

The Social page is dominated by links to four YouTube videos and a bar listing recent Skype activity, with Video Call slightly misleading given the UE42F5500's lack of a built-in camera. Delve into the Smart Features menu and account details can be registered for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Skype for a more personalised experience.

By far the best and most useful page is the Apps page, though it's the least impressive in terms of design. This basic grid displays thumbnails for eight apps and an advert in a top Recommended bar, above a grid of 30 additional apps up to a maximum of 1.4 GB.

Samsung UE42F5500

Browsing, tweeting and Skyping are on the Apps page

Almost as impressive is the outlying Photos, Videos & Music page, which displays large thumbnails for the eight most recent videos, music tracks and/or photos viewed, which makes things easy to access. Separate tabs for music, photos, videos and recorded TV are also viewable. Crucially, file support is fantastic; we managed to play MKV, AVI, MPEG2, MPEG4, MOV and WMV video, JPEG photos and an array of lossless music files (WAV, OGG and FLAC) in addition to MP3, M4A,WMA files.

Smart Hub isn't perfect, but does it make the UE42F5500 almost irresistible? Absolutely.


Built-in audio isn't one of the UE42F5500's strong points. Despite having almost 50mm to play with in terms of depth, the two down-firing 10W speakers prove good enough only for dialogue-heavy TV programmes. Fine for watching the news – and with plenty of low frequency audio for that purpose – switch to a movie and everything falls flat. Take advantage of the UE42F5500's optical audio output and take everything into a home cinema system or soundbar.

Jamie Carter

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 He also edits two of his own websites, and that reflect his obsession with travel gear and solar eclipse travel. He is the author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (Springer, 2015),