Samsung LN40A650 40" LCD HDTV Review
By: Michael Phrakaysone


On our very first HDTV review, we looked at the amazing plasma-based Samsung PN50A650 HDTV.  During the course of the review, it was found that the plasma-based HDTV was simply inspiring.  Samsung had done an amazing job.  Not only were colors vibrant, performance on the plasma excelled as it handled motion with ease and mimicked the CRT we’ve become accustomed to for so long; it felt like a television.  Besides the review, we also touched on the basics of HDTV, talked about the differences between plasma and LCD technology, and shared about the new digital ATSC standard.

I believe this new review will contrast the differences we’ve known theoretically but reveal if these differences can be seen in reality.  Today we take a look at the sibling of the Samsung 650 Plasma, the Samsung 40” LN40A650 (the Samsung 650 LCD).

Samsung is undoubtedly one of the names you come across when you purchase just about anything electronically related.  It’s just one of the names that come to mind when shopping around that it’s almost second nature. Their name sticks to the minds of consumers almost the same way the brand name Sony was years back. 

When you are on the market for an HDTV set, you will come across two different types of HDTV technologies.  One is plasma technology, and the other LCD technology. 

All modern day computer monitors are based on LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).  The technology has been around for a very long time and comes in many forms; the microwave display, your watch, calculator, cell phone screen, and laptop screen all derives from LCD technology.  Take the clock for example.  The LCD on the clock is probably protected by a clear plastic screen.  This is possible because LCD by nature emits little heat.  So when purchasing an LCD HDTV you’ll probably come across the screen utilizing a matte surface or coated with a glossy finish. 

In layman terms, an LCD panel is created by placing two transparent materials together with one of the layers containing liquid crystals that can either block or allow light to pass through, making an image appear.  However, liquid crystals on the LCD by nature cannot create their own light source, so an external one is needed in the form of a bulb, usually of the fluorescent kind.  The drawback of using a bulb to supply backlight is that it directly affects power consumption because the bulb is on all the time.  The LCD backlight in every circumstance, whether the image on screen is bright or dark, the power consumption is constant.  Another situation where the backlight bulb hurts LCD performance is in its color department.  Since the LCD backlight is on all the time and that the crystals are the only ones that are able to limit or allow light through to make an image, the LCD has a difficult time reproducing proper black colors, turning black into grey.  Opposed to LCD, plasma has the ability to turn off a pixel completely at any time.  The result is a black that is real and represented almost perfectly.

An issue associated with HDTV sets using LCD technology is ghosting (or motion-blur). Earlier LCD monitors suffered from extreme ghosting when viewing fast action scenes or playing a video game.  The problem with LCD technology was what it was originally designed for; viewing static images.  Remember this technology was to replace CRT monitors and back then PC’s were just used for getting work done, little of the multimedia, games and entertainment we see today.  Essentially LCDs are born with motion-blur and it’s always going to be present.  Now what have LCD manufactures done to try to “fix” this problem?

Create a feature called “120Hz” technology where the picture motion is reset twice the time of the normal 60Hz standard.  But, 120Hz technology has its own set of downsides.  I personally find 120Hz makes motion seem “unreal” and “too fast”.  Motions seem abnormal from what I’m used to and I’ve noticed on some sets that contain 120Hz, it can introduce artifacts on screen.  Frankly speaking, 120Hz is really a band-aid solution to the problem that has always plagued LCD technology.  On the other hand, plasma does not suffer from motion-blur.

Plasma technology has been out for some while, just not as long as LCD technology.  It might not have been as established as LCD technology but plasma technology has definitely come a long way over the past five years and is arguably better in every aspect.  In the early stages of plasma development, there were problems which instilled fear in consumers.  The biggest one being the issue of burn-in (where the picture on screen remains “stuck” even after you have shut off the television and resumed viewing the next day).  However, I remember the same thing happened to my old CRT tube television (burn-in).  Advancements have been made to stop this issue (such as the “pixel-shift” feature that shakes pixels from side to side and up and down from time to time).   Overall, the issue of “burn-in” comes down to the content you’re watching.  If you don’t abuse the panel by setting it to a mode like vivid mode, and watch a static image for hours, you will simply not get burn-in.  I can safely say that the issue of burn-in should not scare you away from purchasing a plasma HDTV. 

While it is true that plasma technology generally has greater maximum power consumption compared to its LCD counterpart, this really shouldn’t be an issue because this number really depends on the content you’re watching.  Honestly, the only way you’ll ever meet maximum power consumption specification is if you like staring at a blank white static image with your contrast and brightness set at 100.  It’s simply not going to happen and power consumption should actually be generally anywhere between 150-200 watts less than the maximum total specified.

Plasma technology is similar to the old tube CRTs of the past, being that they need to charge “elements” that are within.  With the LCD needing to have an external light source in the form of a fluorescent bulb in order to light up the liquid crystals, the plasma display needs to charge up the phosphors inside the display to generate an image for the viewer.  Instead of liquid crystals in between layers of materials, plasma consists of cells that are individually injected with what is known as neon-xenon gas and that are sealed in plasma.  Inside you have a grid dedicated to the three primary colors of red, green and blue.  Turning on the television will charge this gas and produces the picture from its red, green and blue phosphors. Upsides to plasma technology is that it can render deeper blacks (because plasma has the ability to turn off any pixels at any given time), provide better color reproduction, offer higher contrast ratios, and plasma technology has no problems handling motion, having no need for the 120Hz feature LCD’s are trying to compensate for.  I think the most important factor plasma has going for it is that for energy consumption, it has the ability to switch off pixels at any time (like when you are watching a scene with dark colors). 

With any purchase, my advice is to go in-store and “pre-view” existing plasma and LCD HDTV units and choose the one you feel is best.  Also factor in things such as the type of environment you’ll be placing the television in and that it suits your needs (big or small for what size room).

Regarding the transition into the digital era with the new ATSC standard, this transition from analog to digital broadcast will signal a new era that that will take place on February, 17, 2009. People who pull in analog over-the-air (OTA) content on their non-HD televisions via antenna will be the ones directly affected by this transition but they have three simple options to get around this issue; purchase a brand new HDTV set with a built-in ATSC tuner, purchase a ATSC card for viewing HD content on their PC, or purchase a ATSC converter box to utilize on their current non-HD television. 

Samsung has recently come out with new lines of HDTV for 2008, which is dubbed accordingly: Series 4, Series 5, Series 6, and Series 7.  Both Series 6 and Series 7 are considered to be Samsung’s “high-end” offerings and provide larger screen sizes and features coming in either LCD or plasma versions.

Continuing on the trend of beautiful looking products, Samsung has created models with TOC (Touch of Color), where the bezels are filled with an amber tint to the frame.  It is a sight to behold and not intrusive.

Features and Specifications


  • 40” widescreen (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • Touch Of Color “rose black” Bezel
  • 1080p HD Resolution (1920x1080)
  • 4ms Pixel Response Time
  • Auto Motion Plus 120Hz™ Technology
  • 10-bit color processing
  • 50,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
  • 4 HDMI v1.3 Inputs
  • RSS-Infolink
  • WiseLink Multimedia support
  • Built-in digital (ATSC), Clear QAM and analog (NTSC) tuner
  • Built-in speakers (10 watts x2) with SRS TruSurround XT audio
  • 178-degree viewing angle
  • Swivel stand included



As you can see, there are a couple of differences on paper but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll show up in reality.  Contrast ratio is advertised lower than the plasma PN50A650 but truth be told this number doesn’t make much difference.  I’ve seen no difference as the LN40A650 still boasts whites that can blind and overpower what the human eye can handle.  Our eyes only have so much dynamic range. 

The 40” LN40A650 is about 50 pounds lighter than the PN50A650 plasma which boasts an extra 10” in screen size.  Other differences from the specifications are that the color processor is only 10-bit on this LCD while the plasma has an 18-bit color processor.  Again, you can’t really see any substantial differences and I’m not a scientist but there’s only so much color the human eye can differentiate.  But I guess having 18-bit does help provide a wider gamut of color and more flexibility in the future when we have sources that actually can take advantage, but it’ll be hard pressed for the average Joe to notice any definitive differences.

On the audio front, both the plasma and LCD counterparts have the same exact setup.  The only difference is the position of the speakers.  On the plasma it is down-firing but on this LCD is out from the rear which seems to make a definitive difference.  The sound feels better on this unit and better than the one on the PN50A650 I’ve tested.

Not much is different between the 650 LCD and 650 Plasma.  They look the same, they feel the same, they smell the same, and they both have identical features, almost identical specifications.  The only differences you’ll see will translate when you turn them on and observe how the picture looks and how the performance seems different, because of the way LCD is made, and the way plasma is made, something I’ve touched upon in the introduction.

The Samsung LN40A650 is a 40” LCD HDTV that contains the same multitude of features such as four HDMI inputs and the interesting RSS-Infolink which provides information such as weather information and business news feeds instantly through the LAN port located at the back of the HDTV. 
The Samsung LN40A650 utilizes a glossy plastic screen.  The upside to this type of screen is the unlikely damage (shatter) compared to glass if something is thrown at it.  The glossy film will act as a barrier.  The downside is that the unit will feel warmer up front during operation.  Not a big issue anyways.

First Impressions and Design Overview


The Samsung LN40A650 comes in a large corrugated box surrounded by bodies of foam protection to prevent any damage and flex during delivery and no problems were had when delivered.  The box has a huge sticker that displays the LCD HDTV and some of its features, the same exact among its 650 series packaging.  Located around the sides of the cardboard container are plastic handles that you grab onto when lifting.  When you’re ready to open the box, don’t make the mistake of cutting the top because all you need to do is remove the plastic handles in order to lift the whole box upwards.

The LN40A650’s frame design is a little different from the plasma PN50A650.  This frame contains the straight 90 degree edge which makes it somewhat conventional in nature.  It does not curve as the PN50A650.  The bezel doesn’t feel cheap but rather made of a solid piece of clear plastic.  Tap it and it doesn’t sound nor feel cheap but upscale and something of quality. 

The lower right hand side of the bezel contains the flush mounted front-panel controls such as channel, volume, menu, etc.  These buttons aren’t of the conventional type but rather sensitive to the tap of your fingers.  Once you tap a button, the whole piece illuminates orange to display the full list of controls.

I have the Samsung LN40A650 situated the exact same way as the PN50A650 was positioned before, that is in a room with two large windows.  These windows provide great amount of light throughout the day and sometimes there is light facing directly on the television.  Sitting and watching directly in front of the LN40A650 presents very little problems.  You simply focus on the screen and all the colors are deep and are portrayed the way intended, the reflections aren’t an issue.  Viewing from the side, there are some reflections off the windows, it could be distracting, but it’s 100-better than what my old CRT television can do in these same conditions.  What really helps the LN40A650 in this regard is how powerful the whites are, despite the lower advertised contrast ratio rating. 

But not everything is perfect when viewing.  Specifically is the problem with viewing from angles. 

In regards to viewing angles, the LN40A650 is not better than the plasma PN50A650.  This is just the way it is and it has nothing to do with the television itself but the technology its using; LCD.  LCD has always been plagued with this issue.  The LN40A650 doesn’t perform the greatest in this regard but I would rate it still as good. 

Whereas the PN50A650 plasma displays colors without much fallout (when viewing from the side), the LN40A650 does the opposite. I could be using the wrong term but when I say fallout, I mean when you watch the LN40A650 from the side, the accuracy of color begins to shift/fade.  Let’s say the color is solid black that you’re seeing directly, stand up and watch at a different angle, the color begins to fade and change to a lighter shade or a different color altogether.  The result is you’re essentially not seeing a true depiction of a color such as black, but rather of gray/white and possibly purple.       

Another small but effective change between the plasma PN50A650 and this LN40A650 being reviewed are the way the internal 20-watt (10 watt x 2) speakers are positioned.  Whereas the PN50A650’s speakers are facing down, this LN40A650’s speakers are facing straight behind the television.  Basically instead of sound bouncing off the base of the television, it is now bouncing off the wall behind your television.  If you remember, I was complaining how I could never find the “sweet spot” even after tweaking with the equalizer on the PN50A650.  Well that problem isn’t so bad anymore.  Although I still recommend another set of speakers, the sound on this LN40A650 just comes out much better with the way the speakers are positioned.  They are much better than what I feel about the PN50A650’s speakers that I can actually live with it.  This is a great positive.

Another small thing that is different about the LN40A650 is the rear panel.  The PN50A650’s rear panel was just boring matte gray plastic.  It didn’t fit the design philosophy of the whole HDTV.  The rear panel on this LN40A650 unit is much more fluid with the whole design philosophy because instead of a gray matte color that stands out like a sore thumb, the rear of the LN40A650 has a glossy black finish.  It just blends the whole HDTV together.  Again you have your standard vent holes to keep the entire HDTV as cool as possible.

In terms of inputs, you have plenty of everything you need.  The Samsung LN40A650 contains everything you could possibly need. 

  • Four (4) total HDMI v1.3 connections although one (1) of those is actually for DVI to HDMI use via adapter with its own dedicated RCA L/R input for audio.  Three HDMI at the rear and one HDMI on the side. 
  • Two (2) component video inputs (can do up to 1080p)
  • PC Inputs which includes an Analog RGB D-Sub 15-pin port and 3.5mm jack for PC audio
  • LAN port for RSS-Infolink.
  • RCA L/R input for audio if you want to use a dedicated speaker setup instead of the onboard speakers.
  • Optical Digital audio out input if you want to use a dedicated speaker setup.
  • A dual ATSC/NTSC/Clear QAM tuner
  • (1) S-Video on the side
  • (1) composite video on the side
  • (1) headphone jack
  • A WiseLink USB port for displaying JPEG images and playing MP3 audio

Purchasing the Samsung LN40A650, you will find these items located in the box…

  • 40" LCD HDTV
  • Remote control with "AAA" batteries
  • AC power cord
  • Bottom cover (used for when wall mounting)
  • 2 Mounting bolts with a lock-washer and flat-washer attached to each one
  • 5 Ferrite cores for anything – power cord, headphone, video cables, etc
  • Screen cleaning cloth
  • User Manual
  • Quick Setup Guide
  • Important Safety Instructions
  • Limited Warranty to Original Purchaser sheet

Samsung provides a sufficient bundle of goodies with your purchase.  You have a fairly thick user’s manual which goes over all the features and menu options on the LN40A650.  Everything is clear and concise.  I will say some of the things are redundant because the LN40A650 provides on screen information already for most menu options, located at the bottom of the menu screen.

Some of you may be wondering about the ferrite cores included and what they are used for or even if they are even needed.  Samsung throws in five thick ferrite cores for anything you want to use it on such as the power cord.  Ferrite cores are used to reduce electromagnetic interference (noise) from leaking through affecting other transmissions.

Let’s watch some HDTV!

A melody chimes to greet you the moment you turn on the Samsung LN40A650.  In the event you don’t like the melody, you can turn it off in the setup menu.  The first thing I did was scan for some HD channels!  So I headed into the menu and selected to scan for (over-the-air) OTA HD channels.  Remember that the Samsung LN40A650 contains a single dual TV tuner that can bring in new ATSC digital channels and the older analog fuzzy NTSC signals.  If you are in the US and have access to digital encrypted cable service, you will be happy to know the LN40A650 has Clear QAM support.  Remember that OTA analog NTSC content will become nonexistent in the USA coming February 2009 and for Canadians in 2011, yet whatever affects the USA will surely affect Canadians receiving these signals from the US.

The drawback to having a single TV tuner and not separate ones is PIP (picture-in-picture).  On the LN40A650, PIP only exists for analog NTSC broadcasts and there is no way seeing digital ATSC channels right beside.  On this LN40A650, PIP only works when you are on an external video source (say you’re playing a video game, you are able to view PIP analog content no problem).  To make things worse, there is no PIP button on the remote, but you have to go through the setup menu in order to enable PIP.  I’m really puzzled with this and wonder why PIP is even offered if it’s a hassle just to use.

Scanning for OTA HD channels takes about five minutes which is relatively fast.  My attempt with a homemade UHF antenna (UHF because digital channels are broadcasting on this spectrum) brought in nine (9) DTV (Digital Television aka ATSC) channels in HD and 15 analog NTSC channels.  One of the things I was disappointed with was the fact that you aren’t able to tune into channels manually (it has to be picked up through the channel scan) and with each new channel scan, it’ll erase your old channel list, essentially starting from scratch.  The problem with this method is that I have to delete all the channels that are duplicates or the ones I don’t want.  I’d like it if there were a personalized channel list that was unchanged and that by scanning for new channels would only add channels that were not previously there.  

One of the great things about OTA HD is the fact that it is free and 100% legal.  It also prevents you from shelling out monthly charges to your local cable provider, saving you lots of money in the long run.  Lastly, OTA HD content comes in uncompressed from the source and thus provides better quality picture than if you are watching HD content through your local cable provider.  This is because there can only be so much channels going through one cable because of bandwidth limitations (check up multiplexing).  So be confident that you’re watching uncompressed high quality HD content when going the OTA route with an antenna.

Switching between digital channels takes two seconds while switching between analog channels takes only a second. 

Among channels you can view the EPG (Electronic Programming Guide) that shows information regarding the show being watched and in addition, can see the programming schedule of a specific channel looking ahead at programs you may be interested in watching.  You can also set select to see a show later on and it will remind you when the show is on.  With a tap of a button you can view text captions if desired.

The Samsung LN40A650 produces spectacular color and picture quality similar to that of the plasma PN50A650, although the “feeling” was a little different between the technologies.  Let me give you an example at how easily the difference could be picked up.  We were watching Prison Break and my sister whom has no idea about the differences between the new HDTV verses the old CRT televisions came downstairs, looked at the LN40A650 and said “why does it look different, it looks like British filming or something…I like the old one better” (referring to the PN50A650).  She also noticed how the television handled motion on screen differently, saying it was slower, and yes she was correct.  It was a step below the PN50A650 in terms of how it handled motion.  Out of the box, definitely it did look much different than what we had been used for a couple of months but over time, I personally had gotten used to it, especially after calibration (well most of what it offered).

Remote Control

The Samsung LN40A650 comes with a full size remote control and is the same exact one that comes with the plasma PN50A650.  This remote is the one that sets a clicker wheel in the middle of the remote.  The hard plastic shell is reminiscent of the TOC bezel as the top portion is painted in a deep dark red color.  The remote has ability to illuminate orange at night and works very well.  All buttons are large, easy to read and rubberized.  The buttons feel and perform well and this time did not have the annoying crunchy feeling I got when changing channels, something I got with remote supplied with the PN50A650.  Again, with this remote some folks will find it to be either a hit or miss. 
The wheel and clicker takes some getting used to and there are times when the wheel is often too slow or too fast for the GUI.  I don’t even turn the wheel anymore; instead I just tap up, down, left, or right.

There needs to be a better way at changing video sources.  Hitting the source button brings up the GUI where it lays out all the connections.  The input labels that are grayed out mean that there is no signal found whereas the ones that are white are moved to the top of the screen and mean a signal is found and thus can be selected.  Since there are many inputs on this HDTV, sometimes switching between all the inputs take a while.  Although the ability of naming each of your inputs makes it easier to know what is connected to whatever input.  For example, I can name HDMI 1 “Game” and HDMI 2 “Blu-Ray” and so forth.  This makes it easier but like I said, having each input already on the remote would speed things up.

The time it takes to switch between sources was identical with what I experienced with the PN50A650.  It depends on the gear you running but for example, the LN40A650 took about eight or nine seconds to switch from TV viewing into HDMI 1 which housed the Samsung Blu-Ray.  Additionally switching from the Blu-Ray player into TV mode took about two seconds.  Your mileage may vary but these are numbers you can expect.

User Interface Menu – Tweaks galore

The Samsung LN40A650 has the exact menu system and features such as the PN50A650.  It has a user-friendly menu system that has multitude of options and probably the most options I’ve seen yet on a television dedicated for tweaking only the image.  The amount of picture options you can tweak is simply astounding.  Not only do you have your standard color, saturation, contrast, and tint, Samsung goes as far to provide white balance, color space, black adjust, dynamic contrast (I don’t use this – this overexposes the image), gamma, flesh tone, edge enhancement (like sharpening), blue mode (to tweak hues) and more.  There are so many tweaks that sometimes you find things that are redundant but they all work to achieve what you want to see better.

Some digital channels still broadcast in 4:3 format, so you need to switch picture sizes from time to time to get it in full screen.  Thus on the remote is a button labeled “P.Size” which means picture size.  You can view channels in 16:9, Zoom, Wide Fit, 4:3, and Just scan (this actually is the option to see the content in its native resolution as 16:9 actually expands the picture just a little bit, I know I made a mistake on the last review regarding this point.)

Unlike the plasma PN50A650 I reviewed previously, you do not have to worry about screen burn-in that is associated with plasma displays.  This is obviously an upside to LCD technology but I’ve already told you that advancements have been made to prevent this from happening on plasmas and really shouldn’t be a problem nowadays nor a determining factor whether or not you should purchase an LCD or plasma.  Again my advice to you is to “pre-view” each technology in store and purchase a HDTV based on your liking. 

Earlier I told you about the audio system on the LN40A650; it just works better.  There aren’t many audio options on the LN40A650, but the amount of options is good enough.  The LN40A650 provides different audio preset modes such as movie mode, music mode, speech mode and standard mode.  It also supports SRS TruSurround XT which mimics a surround sound environment.  Top it off with an equalizer to tweak the sound to your liking, there’s not much more I can ask to have on this front, the positioning of the speakers makes all the difference and the LN40A650 edges out the PN50A650 on this front just by positioning alone.  It’s amazing since they both use the same speakers and have the same specs (that being 20 watts total).

The options I have given you here are not a total listing of options provided on the Samsung LN40A650.  For a full list, download the user’s manual provided on Samsungs website.

How does it perform?

Overall the LN40A650 is very good.  For the most part it can hold its own against the PN50A650 in terms of its picture quality and color rendition.  I actually think it manages to do white balance a tad better than the PN50A50 for some odd reason. 

Again on the issue regarding motion handling, the PN50A650 plasma comes out on top, there is no contest.  The LN40A650 LCD cannot match the performance of the PN50A650 on handling motion.  I would rate it as good, but not great nor excellent.  The Auto Motion Plus 120Hz technology is no substitute for motion-handling.  The only manageable setting I would use for Auto Motion 120Hz is the “LOW” setting, and for the most part I just leave it off other than for games.  Auto Motion 120Hz does work well on video games but for viewing television/movies it just makes the content look really fake and abnormal.  Auto Motion does have medium and high settings but they introduce artifacts on the screen and sometimes when panning, the picture looks to judder/chop, it just doesn’t look right.  If you’re a sports fan, like I am, motion is acceptable to good with just a little trail that I notice on some objects.  Again with the PN50A650 plasma, you don’t have any of these issues.   

Out of the box, the picture quality and colors looked a little off, but after calibration, it improved dramatically.  The video processing unit does an amazing job at rendering things the way they were intended to be.  Colors are eye-popping, flesh tones are true.  The experience is just out of this world and no ATSC card for a PC can match what the real thing can provide – the experience.  Watching television shows and movies (on Blu-Ray) make you feel that you’re immersed in action and that you’re a part of what you’re watching.

Being an LCD, there are just some things that are always present.  This issue has plagued LCD since forever; LCD clouding and backlight bleeding.  Viewing a blank black screen, you notice the corners and other parts of the screen are uneven and not even the correct color, it’s obviously brighter than the rest of the screen.  This is clearly backlight bleeding and a clouding issue.  There is an image in the gallery showing this and that picture isn’t when the backlight is at its highest level, in fact its only half way.  Raise the “cell-light” to the level 10, and it becomes worse. 

Calibration Settings

I thought it would be helpful to post my picture settings for the Samsung LN40A650 for HDMI input (these are similar for TV viewing as well) and I thought it would be a good idea to help out users who have purchase this television set. Your mileage may vary since units sometimes are a little different than each other but here they are.

(Under HDMI)
Mode: Movie
Cell Light: 6
Contrast: 85
Brightness: 38
Sharpness: 0
Color: 54
Tint: G49/R51

Detailed Settings Menu
Black Adjust: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Gamma: +3
Color Space: Auto
Flesh Tone: 0
Edge Enhancement: Off

White Balance
R-Offset: 25
G-Offset: 20
B-Offset: 18
R-Gain: 31
G-Gain: 21
B-Gain: 23

Picture Options Menu
Color Tone: Warm1
Digital NR: Off

The dual ATSC/NTSC tuner works really well.  The tuner is very sensitive to the signals it can receive and is consistent throughout picking up signals.  There is a 10-bar signal meter that can be enabled to help you position your UHF antenna in the right spot and with the minimum of at least 2-bars can provide you with picture and audio on the screen.  Receiving at least 1-bar on the meter will bring in video but is choppy and audio is sometimes not present.

The audio department, like I mentioned earlier, it’s actually better than the PN50A650 because of the positioning of the speakers.  I was surprised but I guess I shouldn’t be because as I’ve said in speaker reviews, positioning is important and this case is no different.  I still advise you if you can afford separate speakers, then that’ll be great.   The LN40A650 provides an audio RCA input connection as well as digital output so you can hook up a home theatre system or even dedicated speakers in replacements of the built-in speakers.   

I like it that the Samsung LN40A650 provides picture settings that are independent of each other.  So if you tweak picture settings on HDMI 1, those settings won’t affect and be the same settings for Component 1.  All inputs have their own individual picture settings and this is a very important feature to have. I’m glad Samsung noticed and implemented such.  There are different preset entertainment modes that you can choose as well ranging from sports, cinema or game modes but I prefer to set settings myself. 

Regarding some of the features on the Samsung LN40A650, one thing I’d like to take a look at is the WiseLink feature which allows the HDTV to become a multimedia pod.  WiseLink allows you, through a USB port, to show JPEG images in the form of slideshows and play back any MP3 audio files you have on the HDTV.  The GUI is very appealing to the eye with large icons representing a photograph and music playback.  While playing back your photos on screen, you have the ability to do small things like have background music (on your device) playing while viewing your slideshow or the ability to do small things like rotating and zooming.  WiseLink doesn’t have special features but it does what it’s supposed to do well.  If WiseLink had the ability to play back video of different formats, then the multimedia experience would be set, but I guess that would be stretching it since it’ll have to integrate different codecs.  The very same USB port also allows firmware upgrading on the LN40A650 if there are new updates.

Something small I forgot to mention is that the Samsung LN40A650 has an internal fan and from what I’ve heard it is specific to this model and possibly one other.  In any case the fan is used to cool the panel and is very quiet.  All you hear is a small whisper of the fan blades that will drown out once you increase the volume of the HDTV.

Unlike the PN50A650, the LN40A650 does not have that buzz noise I experienced previously.
One of the weak points I experienced with the PN50A650 was the component video inputs.  I don’t have that issue with the LN40A650, so I’m going to assume that maybe the inputs on the PN50A650 review unit was bad.  HDMI input performance on the LN40A650 is excellent.


The Samsung LN40A650 LCD is not terribly different from the Samsung PN50A650 plasma.  In fact they are identical in almost every regard but there were differences that were seen.  Some of these differences were minor cosmetic changes, the positioning of internal speakers, the addition of a fan, but the major differences came during operation and how the HDTV handled motion and the “feel” of the picture.  And this major change is resulted by the fact that we have two different technologies here with different strengths and drawbacks.  We see both here on the LN40A650.  Overall it does indeed have great color rendition, much so like the Samsung PN50A650 but it also does worse than the plasma brethren when you view from different angles; the color accuracy begins to change.  The further away from viewing directly straight on, the worse the color accuracy got.  Another drawback was the fact that the picture seemed a softer than that of the plasma and we have the question of feel.  Simply put, with the Samsung LN40A650 LCD, I felt like watching through a computer monitor, and not an actual television.  With the Samsung PN50A650 plasma, I felt like I was watching through an actual television, much of that like of an old CRT, but 100-times better.  

Another big factor we have between the plasma over LCD is how these two different technologies handled motion on the screen.  The plasma PN50A650 has the upper hand on this front excelling brilliantly and mimicked that of the CRT’s of the past.  The Samsung LN40A650 LCD isn’t the worst performer in this regard, but if you had these two televisions side-by-side, you could immediately tell the difference.  The LN40A650 was just slower at handling motion and while it does have Auto Motion Plus 120Hz technology, it just isn’t a substitute.  120Hz on the LOW setting seemed to help improve motion but again it gave it a hint of fakeness, although this setting was the best choice among the settings offered.  It however does work well for games (the LOW setting). 

Don’t make the mistake; I really like the Samsung LN40A650 LCD HDTV. To be honest, I didn’t think it would do this well but I was wrong.  The biggest for me personally is handling of motion on screen and the feeling I got when watching.  Again, with the Samsung PN50A50 plasma, I felt like I was watching through a TV and with the LN40A650 LCD it didn’t feel that way, it felt like I was watching through a computer monitor.  Additionally motion handling on the LN40A650 wasn’t excellent or great but good. 

Would I personally buy the Samsung LN40A650?  That’s a tough one but my answer would be yes, if there was a big difference in price between the plasma and LCD variants in the Samsung 650 lineup, then I probably would purchase the LCD if it saved me $500 or so dollars and put that money saved into investing in a dedicated speaker setup (or a receiver + tower speakers).

Overall I think the Samsung LN40A650 LCD is a very good choice if you’re on the market for an LCD HDTV.

Pros and Cons

    • + Picture quality is top-notch
    • + White balance/color seemed to look a tad better
    • + Beautiful Touch of Color
    • + ATSC tuner is great
    • + Anti-reflective coating is good
    • + Good amount of features like WiseLink and Info-Link
    • + Swiveling stand
    • + Independent picture settings for each input
    • + Bundle of ferrite cores and mounting gear
    • + Illuminated remote
    • + Better sounding audio than PN50A650 because of positioning
    • + The rear of the HDTV is now glossy black, instead of boring matte plastic
    • - Switching video sources needs improving
    • - Channel list shouldn’t be erased after scanning, just add new channels onto existing
    • - Anti-reflective coating doesn’t fully eliminate reflections in bright conditions
    • - PIP is somewhat useless for me
    • - LCD clouding
    • - LCD backlight bleeding
    • - Bad viewing angles. Color accuracy changes.



    Custom Search