The LE40A559, LE40A558, LE40A557 and LE40A556 are essentially the same, i.e. they share the same panels and picture processing technology. Slight cosmetic differences serve to differentiate some of these models, and the A556 is sold exclusively by Dixons/Currys/Amazon as mark of their greater purchasing clout - we imagine ...
Alongside Samsung's 'Crystallized' Rose-Red finish series LCD TV's, the A559 seems rather plain. No clever design touches or extra embellishment in any shape or form leaves us with a standard glossy black unit. But over time these looks grow on you as you begin to appreciate the merits of design in its purest form.
Initially disappointing aesthetically, the 40A559 reminds us of the simple pleasures of a no frills look. Samsung's ultra smooth gloss black finish presents in this panel a supremely simple but effective and ultimately pleasing design.
As a step down model from the higher spec '6' series, the LE40A559 loses 'Motion Plus', Samsung's 100Hz processing technology. HDMI inputs are also down, from 4 to 3.
The LE40A559 does however retain the Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution of its higher spec sibling and manages a claimed 30,000:1 contrast ratio. The screen also benefits from a dynamic contrast system where a backlight is dimmed to boost black levels for darker scenes.
The LE40A599 features the latest incarnation of Samsung's picture processing technology, DNIe + (Digital Natural Image engine). With a Motion Optimizer, Contrast Enhancer, Detail enhancer and Colour Optimizer, DNIe + works to improve these four main aspects of the LE40A599's performance. DNIe has a track record of producing impressive results on previous LCD and Plasma offerings from the Korean electronics manufacturer.
Samsung's 'Clear Panel' technology has been designed to reduce screen 'glare' and it also works to improve contrast ratio and black levels. Whatever the lighting conditions 'Clear Panel' is constantly making small adjustments by actively changing its responses depending on ambient conditions.
Rather than tweaking the TV's settings for optimum viewing of different material, Samsung 'Entertainment mode' provides 3 built-in picture settings. These three options allow you to access an optimized viewing environment for Movies, Games and Sports.
Testament to the great strides LCD technology has made and continues to make seemingly on a day to day basis, the LE40A559's black level ability comes as no surprise. What does come as a surprise is such an accomplished black level ability for the price. The Samsung LE40A559 is redefining levels of performance in the budget/mid-range category and looks set to significantly raise expectations.
Black level performance for a 40in LCD is not quite as rich and not quite as deep as the best Plasmas or even Samsung's own A656 series, but the performance is not far off the best LCD TV's and is certainly class leading at the time of writing. Again, for the price, not much can match the subtle graduation of shadow detailing on darker scenes which gives depth and realism in these situations.
Providing an excellent backdrop for on-screen colour the superb black level ability has the potential to get the best from the on-screen hues. Slightly disappointing then that colours are not as subtle as we had hoped. While tricky areas such as facial tones are handled reasonably well, they do tend to come across as a little over cooked at times. Placed into context however, for such a reasonably priced screen, the performance in this respect is above what we would normally expect.
Feed the LE40A559 some Blu-ray (High Definition) material and you could be forgiven for thinking that this panel was in a significantly more expensive price category. The Full HD (1920 x 1080) panel presents every nuance of detail, producing pictures of incredible detail, sharpness and vibrancy.
While it is reasonable to expect a stunning HD performance from a Full HD screen, translating the 576 or so lines of a poorer quality Freeview source was always going to be a much sterner test of the LE40A559's abilities. The LE40A599 actually does as good a job as we could have reasonably expected with Standard Definition (SD) material. There is an element of on-screen noise and motion blur (the 40A559 suffering to a degree from the absence of 100Hz 'Motion Plus') but pictures are generally stable and composed. With cable or satellite (especially Sky's 1080i) the A559 is one of the more accomplished SD performers we have come across displaying a composure that few LCD TV's can match.
Along with most LCD TV's we come across these days, the LE40A559 has a rather under whelming acoustic performance. Sacrificing large visible speakers for a compact design inevitably weakens the acoustic ability of the screen. To be fair to Samsung, most manufacturers have taken a similar route and the acoustic performance is more than adequate for general day to day viewing.