After reviewing the 8000 series, (UE55ES8000), 7000 series (UE40ES7000) and 6000 series (UE40ES6300 and UE40ES6710), we've finally gotten our hands on the 5500, more precisely the UE40ES5500. Don't let your eyes fool you: while the design of this TV looks a lot like the ES6300, it's actually a different, scaled-down model that does not feature 3D compatibility, integrated Wi-Fi or motion interpolation. Like most Samsung TVs, the ES5500 has Edge LED backlighting and access to the brand's online services via the Smart Hub.
It comes in four sizes: 32" (UE32ES5500), 37" (UE37ES5500), 40" (UE40ES5500) and 46" (UE46ES5500). As we've only tested the 40" and can't attest to the origin of the panels in the other models, this review applies only to the UE40ES5500.
If there's one thing Samsung knows how to do, it's make good-looking TVs even on low-cost models. This 40" screen is surrounded by a 1 cm-wide glossy black frame with a transparent plastic border around it, supported by a fixed glossy black stand. The design is simple and effective and to cap it all off, the manufacturing quality and finishing are impeccable. Bravo!
Samsung's Smart TV function has, we feel, the widest range of practical features on the market with its countless apps, games and VOD options. Added to that are PVR for recording and storing digital content (shows and movies) and a USB-connected media player that supports a range of video containers (AVI, MP4, MKV, MOV, MTS and M2TS) and codecs (AVC-HD, H.264, X.264, WMV, DivX and XviD).
The UE40ES5500 comes with a thin remote control with well-proportioned buttons in a layout that makes it easy to use with one hand. The only minor downside is that the buttons aren't backlit.
2D Image Quality
Interestingly, Samsung decided to use a Sharp panel instead of one of their own. As you can see from the subpixels in the image above, it's a UV²A panel similar to the first-generation Philips 40PFL5507H.
After selecting our recommended settings (see inset), the ES5500 gave a good image with accurate colours (average Delta E = 3.4). Unfortunately, the shadings of grey could use some work: the darker tones aren't quite dark enough with an average gamma of 2 instead of 2.2 and there are overtones of blue throughout (the average colour temperature is 7,680 K instead of 6,500 K).
With a ratio of 2,800:1 the UE40ES5500 has similar contrast to the ES6300 and ES7000. That's enough to watch a movie with low lighting on, but if you turn the lights on all the way then blacks come out a bit grey.
As usual with LCD the viewing angles are quite narrow. At 45 degrees we measured them at 1.8/5 due to dark greys that become 200% lighter and extremely light greys that get 55% darker. But things are a lot better when it comes to homogeneity; we measured only 9% variation in brightness across the surface of the screen.
Light Dark Average
This graph shows ghosting time, which is measured in milliseconds and indicates the time it takes for the TV
to remove each frame after displaying the following frame. The shorter the ghosting time, the more fluid the moving image will appear.
It's too bad this is such a slow panel. We measured an average ghosting time of 18 milliseconds (16 ms with lightly coloured backgrounds and 20 ms with dark grey). Fast movement is always followed with a trace of ghosting. The input lag, however, is only 33 ms, making for a lag of two frames, which gamers should appreciate.
Clouding is simply not an issue on this TV. Only a very minor patch appeared when we took our photo, but onscreen it's invisible to the naked eye. Samsung aced this one!
Compared with what we've heard on other TVs we've reviewed, the ES5500 could be worse. It renders the vocal range well, which is just right for watching the evening news. But if you want the full cinema experience when watching a movie, these speakers won't do. The complete lack of bass and the distortion in the high-end won't be enough to give the viewer the sensations needed to really plunge them into the film. A home cinema system will do the trick.
As we were expecting the UE40ES5500 doesn't consume too much power. It uses only 84 W when turned on. When spread across the 40" diagonal screen, that comes to 190 W/m². That's good, but not the best. The TV with the best per-square-metre energy use is easily the Sharp LC-60LE635E with 100 W/m².
- Accurate colours (average Delta E = 3.4)
- High contrast (2,800:1)
- No clouding
- Compatible with numerous video formats via the media player
- No motion interpolation
- Narrow viewing angles
- Grey shading could be improved
- Panel not very responsive: 18 ms on average
It may not have the best picture out there, but the Samsung UE40ES5500 should be good for anyone looking for a TV in this price range. Plus, the model we tested showed no signs of clouding (bright patches in dark areas of the screen). That gets a big thumbs up from us.