Media & Entertainment Industry Trends, Technology and Research

Samsung Smart TV Review – UA40D5900VR : First look

Posted In Connected TV, Reviews, Television - By Nitin Narang on Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 With 8 Comments
Samsung Smart TV UA40D5900VR

Samsung Smart TV UA40D5900VR

Sometimes one need not have a reason to treat oneself and hence despite the sudden downsize on my current account finances, I decided to bring home this svelte black mirror from Samsung – 40” LED Smart TV UA40D5900VR and since then lot has changed. Well apart from the size, space and loads of functional benefits, TV watching is now a visual treat compared to the small bulky CRT I had for last couple of years. I have only spent couple of hours playing around so this review is best judged as first impression but I do plan to spend time over the coming weekends to have a more objective assessment.
Launched in India in July 2011, UA40D5900VR is most superior model in Samsung LED series 5 supporting Smart TV functionality. It has a slim rear, glossy bezel and beautifully crafted crystal finish.  Overall build quality seems sturdy with high quality plastic
Resolution – 1920 x 1080, 100 Hz
Key Features – Clear Motion Rate, Digital Noise Filter, Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio, Wide Colour Enhancer Plus
Technology – Edge LED
Speaker – 2 built-in speakers (combined audio output of 20 W) – adequate
Connectivity – Standard options –  4 HDMI and 2 USB ports along with 1 each of Component In, Composite In, Digital Audio Out, PC In, RF In, Headphone Jack, PC Audio In, DVI Audio In and an Ethernet slot

Key Considerations for selecting UA40D5900VR

1. Size – Earlier I had planned for 32” LED, but watching 40” made 32” more of a compromise and hence decided for 40”.  46” seems too big for my bedroom and too costly on my pocket.
2. LED vs. LCD – General viewing I could not figure out much difference between LCD and LED but LED is a newer technology (best described as edge lit LED). Further I had decided to go for Smart TV which was not available in similar sized LCD models.
3. Model and Series– Keeping check on the budget, Series 5 seemed most pragmatic. I wanted Smart TV functionality so Series 5 was the minimum, was not interested in 3D so Series 6 onwards was optional. Although I feel having in-built wireless adaptor in UA40D5900VR or other model in Series 5 would have been smarter.
4. Smart TV – With an insignificant price difference between Smart TV and its counterparts in the same series (5) and size segment (40”) it made sense to put money on future technology and an additional feature. While traditional broadcast television has the most content, Video on Demand (currently limited offerings in India) access through internet connectivity provides more choice for content selection and convenience for anytime consumption. While I am not a firm believer of using TV for web browsing or social networking (which are prerogative for personal laptop or second screen devices – Tablets, iPAD etc.), applications like YouTube, VOD streaming and Video calling (Skype etc.) do hold significant potential. Internet connectivity extends interactivity and capability to search particular content based on social recommendations, personalization and ratings (what my friends and community at large are watching)

Samsung Smart TV UA40D5900VR

Overview on UA40D5900VR attributes and Smart TV functionality
Internet Connectivity– UA40D5900VR has LAN support and is wireless ready i.e. it needs an external wireless adaptor (USB dongle) sold as a separate accessory from Samsung. In-built wireless adaptor is available in Series 6 onwards. Last I checked wireless adaptor accessory was not available from my local Samsung store. Using wired Ethernet connection is messy but it worked absolutely issueless, something which I had doubted earlier.Decrypting Naming Convention– Samsung has introduced HD TVs across generations starting with Gen 4 and recently Gen 8 was introduced. Further there is categorization based on sub series (A, B, C and D) with D being the latest. Various models with subtle differences exist under a given generation and series e.g. LED 40 inch has 4 models which are available in India namely UA40D5000, UA40D5003, UA40D5500 and UA40D5900. There are feature differences across these models and Samsung official website has a great comparison tool. Not delving into aesthetic differences and without going into lot of technical details below is a brief comparison to review the pack
Comparison Samsung Smart TV 40 inches LED

Comparison Samsung Smart TV 40 inches LED

  • Each successive series has more add-on features and equally is more expensiv
  • None of the series 5 model has 3D, web-browser, Skype or in-built wireless adapter
  • If you don’t care for  a thicker bezel 40D5500 will suit just fine since the only difference between 40D5500 and 40D5900 is bezel design with 5900 sporting a more thinner make
  • Camera support is not available in Series 5, supported in higher series through add-on Camera accessory from Samsung
On Screen Menus : 
 UA40D5900VR Smart TV Main Menu

UA40D5900VR Smart TV Main Menu

The model supports a fresh, rich, colourful, one-stop on-screen menu. It can be activated by pressing “Smart” button on the remote which activates the main menu containing Samsung Apps, settings, favourites etc. and broadcast window in PIP mode.

Self Help Documentation :

While a brief hard copy manual (19 pages) comes bundled in the box , there is a handy inbuilt e-manual which can be activated by pressing a dedicated button (E-MANUAL) on the remote.

Connect Share : Samsung scores ahead in this segment and boasts of having the widest range of media format support across the competition (.wmv, .flv, .mkv etc.). One can connect a USB or an External HDD and render the content on TV.

Mounting : Both table mount and wall mount options exists – rest assured your LED can be hung with just a single nail using the slim wall mount support. Interestingly LED wall support is adjustable in case you want to change the angle of your TV which I believe is not the option with LCD mount.

Remote : Standard one sided remote having basic TV functional buttons and few add-on for Smart TV functionality

Open Web Browser :There is no web browser support in Series 5 LED models with support available in Series 6 and onwards. I personally feel browser is of not much use unless there is support for external wireless keyboard and again I don’t intend to use my TV for general web browsing or tweeting

Data Input :Standard remote available is the source for data entry and is quite tedious and painful process if one needs to enter large textual data. There also exist android based app (install-able on Android based Smart Phones) which can be used for data entry as well as an accessory remote (two sided) from Samsung with one side as remote and other sporting a full featured keyboard (Currently not available in India). In comparison LG has introduced a sleek pointer remote (again an additional accessory) which is better equipped for data entry and is easier to use

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV Apps

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV Apps

Application Store : Smart TV features work only when internet connection is active (a warning is thrown off in offline mode and control return backs to main menu). Samsung has a lead compared to competition with more than 200+ apps available in the store front, although it is debatable as how many of them are actually active or usable from TV context. I did try few apps and I must say except data input intricacies, overall experience was pretty good.

Apps Store Layout –Thestore features dozens of apps and few streaming services in well-defined categories like Video, Lifestyle, Info, Music etc. Brief description about application along with memory requirements is available which helps in app selection. Apps are available free of cost.

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV YouTube Content Play

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV YouTube Content Play

Download and Install– Once an app is selected, it needs to be downloaded and then installed. Both download and installation process is quite smooth and download time will wary based on the speed of internet connection and size of the app selected.  Similar to installation, existing apps can be un-installed/deleted. Few apps which I installed had a memory footprint of 2-4 MB, one need to be mindful of installing apps since there is limit (available memory) for total number of apps which can be installed. After installing few apps there still existed another 920 MB+ of free space – so can make a reasonable assumption that total available system memory is approx. 1 GB.
Online Streaming 
I haven’t still got a chance to stream HD movie but limited experience with few content play-outs has been encouraging. I tried couple of SD content from YouTube and few trailers from BigFlix (more popular streaming services like BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Hulu or LoveFilm etc. are not yet available in India). Buffering logic for content streaming and play-out seemed decent – it took almost 20-30 seconds before the movie/trailers  actually started playing but henceforth it just went on to play quite smoothly … I am still on wired LAN so actual test might  be with wireless and some true HD content.

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV YouTube

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV YouTube

Few apps which I tried were

 YouTube – There exists a customized app for YouTube with options for most viewed, last viewed, library, search etc. Search option enables user keyword input for searching specific content

BigFlix – I installed the BigFlix app which was not pre-installed. BigFlix provides access to couple of  movies, music videos and trailers which can be played-out free of cost. Content available through BigFlix app is limited but the website promises to introduce 500+ HD movies on 7th Dec 2011- no details on pricing yet.
UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV AP news ticker

UA40D5900VR Samsung Smart TV AP news ticker

AP news ticker – An innovative app which overlays a news bar at the bottom of the screen with TV content playing in the background. It updates stories in real time and also providers the option to get more detailed stories
Picasa – Except for the painful process of logging in, it syncs to one’s account and shows off the entire library of images on the customized and well planned layout
Detailed review is available from Samsung website

Brief Summary

Pros: Sleek design, Bright display, Lightweight, Easy install, Smart TV

Cons: no in-built wireless adapter, no camera support, un-optimized input interface, limited usable apps
Cost – MRP for UA40D5900VR in India is Rs71,000, but one can bargain once way for almost 15-18% discount. Also check for 0% EMI option which is  available from most retailers under 12/18 month payment plan.

About - Digital Media Technology Consultant. I have passion for TV technology, digital convergence and changing face of Media and Entertainment industry.

Displaying 8 Comments
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  2. Ankit says:

    Thanks for great post. I really needed this information. I am also planning to buy one but I am still confused whether to buy Samsung LED 40D5500 OR Sony Bravia KDL-40EX520.

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