October 31, 2012
- Very affordable price
- Deep black levels
- Good color quality
- Only two HDMI ports
- No digital audio output beyond HDMI
- Image lacked sharpness at times
The Samsung LN40E550F is a 40-inch LCD HDTV that offers deep black levels and good color quality. It also has a great price at around $450, which is always a great selling point. However, images seem to have a noticeable softness to them and lacks some connectivity seen in similar TVs.
Samsung has always been known as one of the great HDTV makers but they have become squeezed a little by other manufacturers like Vizio and LG. Some of these other manufacturers are making TVs that are as much as half the cost of their Samsung competitor, which is helping to drive buyers to these alternatives. Samsung hopes with the LN40E550F this will change as it has both an affordable price and great black levels.
The design of the Samsung LN40E550F is fairly straightforward. It has a plastic bezel that has a black finish with a slight tint of deep red. The included stand is sturdy but it does not swivel. The included remote control is basic but works well. It is not backlit. The menu system the TV uses is the same as Samsung's other lower-end models use, which is simple and easy to use.
Because this TV is sub-$500 in price, you should definitely expect a reduction of features and connectivity compared to a TV that costs twice as much. It is backlit with CCFL fluorescent bulbs and not LEDs, but that isn't much of a loss in our opinion. Plenty of LCD HDTVs have comparable images with the best LED models out there. The screen's refresh rate is 60Hz, which is less than the typical 120Hz for TVs of this size and larger.
For connectivity, Samsung limits you to only two HDMI ports, a shared component/composite port, cable TV in and one USB port. Most people will use up both of those HDMI ports with a cable receiver and a DVD player, so it would have been nice to have one additional side port for a video game console or computer. There is also no Internet connectivity, even Ethernet, for playing music or videos from local network computers. This ability is available, however, via the USB port. We should also mention the lack of an audio output beyond the HDMI port, so connecting a sound system via digital or analog audio output is not possible.
Image quality is fairly good especially considering this is a sub-$500 TV. Black levels were very deep and colors were saturated and seemed natural. Viewing angles were also good and the display has a matte finish, so it's not too affected by reflections. Where we noticed some issues was in the sharpness of the image. At times it seemed overly soft, which may be due to the TV's onboard processing system.