With the UN40H5203, Samsung attempts to create a more affordable Smart TV. Boasting a 40-inch screen (measured diagonally), the UN40H5203 takes users on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows, only to end up stuck on the tracks. With a thickness of 3.39 inches and a bezel that measures almost an inch, a solid plastic stand, and uniform black color, the UN40H5203 doesn’t look awful – it simply looks dated and a little clunky.
The non-swiveling stand is functional and sturdy. The screen has very good black uniformity, meaning that the surface is evenly black and does not have any lighter areas. The result is that, in a dark room, the blacks appear very deep. In a room with average light, the picture remains sufficiently deep and saturated, with an average amount of reflectivity off the screen. Screen colors are well-calibrated right out of the box, although users have the option of several presets and can adjust to preference.
The UN40H5203 boasts ports for two HDMI cables, two USB cables, Composite In, Component In, Ethernet, RF Input, one Headphone Out, and one Digital Optical Audio Out, so there are plenty of options for connecting other devices. Samsung also offers a wide selection of apps for download from their website, giving users a choice of 605 apps usable on this model. Apps range from Netflix and YouTube, to TuneIn Radio and National Geographic for Kids, so there is an app that will appeal to every member of the family.
Unfortunately, the areas in which the UN40H5203 excels are overshadowed by the areas in which it fails. The screen has a narrow optimal viewing angle outside which color saturation, even in blacks, becomes noticeably washed out. The screen also does poorly on the gray uniformity test, with corners that are noticeably darker than the center of the screen, producing a vignette effect. Screen brightness is also a disappointment, as the screen fails to get bright enough to produce decent images in a brightly lit room.
The biggest problem, however, lies in the processor speed. The processor copes well with traditional television-type chores, with an exceptionally low lag time to carry out remote control commands. However, when the smart features are used, such as web-surfing or apps, the lag time between remote and television response can become quite lengthy. Similarly, while the UN40H5203 boots up into television mode reasonably quickly, the wait time for the apps menu to be ready can be quite long, up to two minutes in some cases.
Another problem with the processor speed is that it results in significant motion blur when watching sports or playing video games, although the blur is not apparent during other uses, such as watching movies or regular television.
The UN40H5203 is a good television with a decent picture, provided the room lighting isn’t too bright. It performs traditional television duties with ease and speed. Consumers who are looking for Smart TV capabilities such as web surfing, Netflix or other advanced features would be better served by choosing a model with a more powerful processor. Video gamers should avoid this model altogether, as the lag and blur issues render it virtually unusable for gaming. However, for those looking for a more traditional television, who aren’t sports fans and want smart features as an occasional option, the Samsung UN40H5203 could be a solid choice.