The Famous Five
Three years ago, Samsung initiated a cleanup operation to simplify its television models. Instead of relying on confusing monikers, the Koreans decided it was time to to go back to basics. This led to the use of 'Series' to define a line of similar products. Ironically, the succinct branding also served to confuse as much as it was meant to simplify. The main reason is that Samsung has a leg in all three types of HDTVs. They do CCFL-backlit LCDs, LED-backlit LCDs, and of course, the Plasma kind as well. All three categories end up with intersecting labels like "Series 5". Yes, a Series 5 exists in all three display segments.
Consequently, consumers were compelled to seek out unique identifiers to distinguish one model from the other. To avoid any misrepresentation, we are about to review the 40-inch Series 5 LCD TV equipped with CCFL backlights, otherwise known as the LA40C550J1M. The letter "C", in this instance, denotes Samsung's third Series 5 generation. We'll call it the C550 for short.
Slotting into the middle of Samsung's LCD hierarchy, it is understandable why the C550 does not bear expensive hallmarks such as Ultra Clear panels, 3D capabilities and Internet@TV as sported by the likes of its flagship Series 7 models. Rather, the C550 is more suited for the budget seeker looking for a Full-HD solution with decent features. So, if you are scouting for an affordable HDTV, then this review is for you.
Like a subtle game of cloak and dagger, Samsung, and more recently Sony, have been playing coy with certain numbers from their specs list. Once inflated with ridiculous numbers, Samsung now believes a simple "High" would suffice for its Dynamic Contrast ratio stats. While we can't give you the exact figures, we do have, however, our trusty eyeballs and reliable benchmarks to determine this HDTV's capabilities. That said, let's get started with the C550. Or should we say, the relatively famous Series 5.