Samsung have always been producers of quality electrical goods, and their range of televisions are popular around the world. They also frequently produce something that is if not revolutionary then at least evolutionary, and that is just what the LE40B650 aspires to be. Basically the LE40B650 is an HD TV set like many others you will see, but its one feature that trumps every other TV on the market is that it can connect directly to the internet via Ethernet cable. This allows the various widgets or programs to offer the user various online services. In the last sentence there was a lot of jargon that some may find confusing, so I’ll try and demystify the LE40B650’s power and make clear what it is that Samsung are offering.
Unwrapping the Widget
A widget in computing terms is a small program or application that has basic but useful functions, and you may have come into contact with a widget on one of Samsung’s smart phones like the Tocco or the Omnia. Windows Vista users should also be familiar with this use of the word. On the LE40B650 this means that there are various applications accessible whenever you want them, giving you access to news headlines, weather reports, YouTube videos and even the photo sharing social networking site Flikr all on your TV. Of course there’s no need to connect anything other than an Ethernet network cable to your LE40B650 for all of these widgets to be instantly accessible. The widgets are all stored on an SD card which is removable, presumably so that in the future you’ll be able to add more by attaching it to your PC, though expect automatic updates to download straight to the LE40B650 itself. These widgets are not the only networking function of the LE40B650, as streaming standard definition video from your PC over your home network to view on your TV is also possible, and there are even 2 USB ports for connecting memory sticks to and playing even more media from. The sheer range of connectivity and functionality that is offered by the LE40B650 is simply astounding, and means you no longer need an independent media streaming box to watch your digital content in your living room. If you’ve got a wireless home network then for an additional £50 you can pick up a dongle that will allow the LE40B650 to go wireless. This is great, but I can’t help feeling that out of the box wireless connectivity would have been extremely desirable.
The Samsung LE40B650 As a TV
Of course the LE40B650 isn’t just an internet surfing, widget spewing power house, it also works as an HD TV. It’s 40″ screen is capable of displaying full HD content in 1080p and like all Samsung television products the image reproduction is exquisite if you’re using an HD video source like a Blu-Ray disc player or an HD satellite TV service. However, the LE40B650 also performs well when displaying standard definition programs which it upscales on the fly using built in technology. This means even ropey old programs look decent and re-invigorated on the LE40B650 with rich, diverse colours, deep blacks and bright whites.
Like all decent HD TVs the LE40B650 has a wealth of connections, in this case mounted at convenient points around the TV. There are four HDMI ports, three on the rear and one on the side, Component video, two SCART slots, Composite video, a PC connection and both analogue and digital audio outputs for those with stereo and home cinema set ups.
The Samsung LE40B650 is the first mainstream TV to offer stand alone network connectivity and the innovative widget platform developed by a partnership between Yahoo and Intel. This means that it is quite simply the cleverest HD TV on the market. Whilst there are bigger screens with better pictures for the price you’d be hard pressed to find a TV that is as forward thinking as the LE40B650. Critics and customers alike have already been singing its praises around the internet, and if you’re not a technophobe and can handle new developments then this is certainly an important one to get a grasp of. For people who already have their own digital living room set up with a dedicated media PC or streaming PVR then the LE40B650 is not as essential as similar functionality can already be cobbled together from existing, disparate pieces of technology. However, for an all in one internet TV package with lots of room to expand and grow as the years progress, the Samsung LE40B650 widget TV is the best option at this moment in time.