Between the two of us, we've fallen a little bit in love with Samsung’s D6530. Maybe it’s the way it doesn’t try too hard to look gorgeous, or the seductive silkiness of its blacks. Whatever the reason for its magnetic allure, we just want to sit and stare at it all day.
Not that we meant to feel so drawn to this particular screen. It’s positioned some way below Samsung’s high-end products, a modest 40-inch girl-next-door that you can generally pick up for less than £800. But hey, they say love is blind, right?
Samsung has cultivated quite a reputation for design, and this 40-incher doesn’t disappoint. Fashionably thin at 29.9mm, the screen has a stylised transparent edge and a tiny bezel, just 12mm wide. The finish is a steely grey, which contrasts dramatically with the panel which looks jet-black when switched off.
Connectivity is good, comprising four HDMI inputs, SCART and component (via supplied adaptors), a PC input, three USBs, Ethernet LAN and a digital audio optical output. Wi-Fi is built-in, so no need to fuss about with an optional dongle.
The UE40D6530 is well specified. It’s obviously Smart, in the connected sense. Samsung’s investment in online content is really beginning to pay off, with the number of apps available for download mushrooming at an exponential rate. A good 70 per cent are tish, but the sheer volume is impressive. The Hub’s user interface mixes up a live TV window with Smart functionality, media streaming and setup buttons. It can also be customised: individual folders can be created to store various apps. This allows a family to assign folders to each member, or genres of apps to be grouped together.
Streaming services include YouTube, LoveFilm, Daily Motion, BBC iPlayer and Acetrax. There’s also free 3D in the form of the brand’s Explore 3D channel, which offers trailers and assorted full-length movies, from the IMAX stable. The quality of this side-by-side stream is actually rather good.
The Smart Hub home page also has a simple movie database allied to a 'My Videos' Search function. Enter a movie title and the TV scours the interwebs for relevant content, and offers you the chance to VOD the movie if it’s available.
And if you need to check out what’s new on Pocket-lint between programmes, you can call up a fully featured web browser, with Flash support. You won’t miss the start of your show, because a live TV window is overlaid in the corner of the page.
Calibrating this telly doesn’t take too long, once you work your way through the extensive picture menus. Take care with the sharpness setting, anything much beyond 17 on the sliding scale will introduce nasty ringing around fine details.
Colours are vibrant and the aforementioned blacks are terrific. This screen delivers eye candy with generosity.
The set’s motion resolution is high, making it a particularly good choice for sports fans. Proprietary Motion Plus picture processing retains a full 1080 lines of clarity, although it does bring with it some motion artefacts, seen as smudgy ripples around certain moving objects. The most benign setting is Clear.
That said, it’s worth delving into the Motion Plus Custom settings to find the best balance between clarity and judder. Our recommendation is take Judder down to 0. This keeps motion image sharpness but reduces the motion artefacts.
We don’t much care for MotionPlus when watching movies, as it robs an image of cinematic texture and makes everything look like it was shot on video. The good news is that even without MotionPlus, this 40-incher does a good job of holding detail.
The third dimension
The set’s 3D performance will entertain the kids - if you’re brave enough to let them play with expensive Active Shutter 3D eyeware. Brightness is high, although double imaging crosstalk is evident on verticals. You can fiddle with 3D perspective and 3D optimisation adjustments but these really just shift problem in and off the screen plane.
2D-to-3D conversion is also on hand to convert any flat source, be it images from the Freeview+HD tuner of regular Blu-ray or DVD discs. The quality of this conversion tech is high, although frankly we see little point to it - contrary to James Cameron’s opinion, we really don’t want to watch everything through shuttering bins. There are no 3D glasses provided in the box, although you’ll probably find your local dealer offering a bundle deal of sorts.
Media playback from USB is robust. All key video formats are supported, including AVI, MOV and MKV. Streaming across a LAN is more problematic, with MKVs unplayable from a NAS.
The set’s audio performance is perfectly functional. The 2x15W sound system makes enough of a noise, although it obviously doesn’t have any great depth.
Overall, the 40D6530 should be considered something of a star performer for the price. Its images are enticing, it looks as pretty as a picture and the feature set hits all the hot buttons. Isn’t love wonderful?