At that price, you might be thinking... Whoa nelly. Gots me a deal. And really, you do—Samsung has priced this series cheaply because it's "only 720p." The reduced resolution means almost nothing lost at such small screen sizes, however, and the F4000's contrast and color performance are decent enough that—should you need a tiny TV—it's worth looking into.
If black rectangles are cool, this TV is Miles Davis.
It's a well-known fact that some of what you're paying for with any expensive product is design. Be it a stainless steel exterior, champagne-hued hardware, or a beveled set of bezels, you (usually) get what you pay for. Well, by modern TV standards, the UN29F4000 is cheap—and it looks that way.
Like most other Samsung LCDs, you'll find the F4000 to be particularly lightweight. It's molded out of generic black plastic, and does nothing to stand out; then again, it isn't really supposed to. A 29-inch TV is for serving up content, not hosting a spotlight in your living room. The remote that's included is similarly simple, though it has more buttons and control keys than average.
From a functionality standpoint, this little TV cuts the mustard. Alongside two HDMI inputs, you'll find a USB port, a shared component/composite cluster, an RF jack, and an analog-out for headphones. That's not much, but it's certainly enough for a smaller display like this one. Put it on your desk, plug in your favorite cans, and voila, personal viewing station.
Using this TV feels very... "traditional"
Having just messed around with the Sharp Elite, the UN29F4000's menu feels particularly bare bones. In short, this is absolutely not a home theater kind of TV: There is no CMS (Color Management System) on board, so what you see is what you get. There's more to the menu than in previous years, though.
Beyond basic Picture and Sound controls, the F4000 only does a little. Users can, of course, select the usual settings like Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, and Tint, but defaults in the Movie picture mode are pretty much perfect out of the box. There's a motion smoothing setting buried in the menu, options for power saving, and processing functions such as noise reduction—nothing too wild, but at least Samsung gives us a few things to tweak.
As for extras, the only thing the Samsung UN29F4000 really does is play files off of a USB stick. Movies, photos, and music can be played, though tampering with menu settings within the playback menu is not possible—kind of a silly software design, if you ask me.
Not great, but good enough for general use
Really, the breakdown here is simple: This entry-level model does exactly what you'd expect it to. Television scientists (yes, they exist) insist that each TV ought to produce a certain range of colors, and that they should be just so colorful. I agree with that point, but I also think it matters a lot more on an 80-inch TV than it does on a 29-inch unit like this one.
That's not to say the F4000 doesn't perform decently—it's just not the powerhouse of color production and black level you might get for a few-thousand dollars. Tests revealed decent color saturation, an even balance throughout the grayscale, and only mildly shifting color temperatures.
One place where I was particularly impressed by this little Sammy was its motion performance. While there is a backlight scanning motion enhancement setting, its unassisted motion was quite good. Further, the 720p resolution is not as much of a deterrent as you might think—"Just Scan" aspect ratio over an incoming HDMI signal eliminated overscan and improper bit-mapping.
All in all, don't expect plasma blacks or graphics monitor colors, and you'll be well-satisfied.
A decent budget buy
The Samsung UN29F4000 is a good choice if you need a smaller TV for your bedroom, a guest room, or even sheltered poolside—it's certainly bright enough to combat some sunlight. Cable content is going to look best here, as 1080p Blu-ray discs won't have room to breathe at this resolution. The F4000 would make a decent companion for playing games off of Steam or a PS3, too, as its motion responsiveness is better than average.
At $270, you're still paying more than you would for a similarly sized TV or monitor from another manufacturer, but the F4000 has the performance chops to make plenty of content look good. If you're going to buy a small display anyway, spring a few extra bucks for the F4000.
For its price and resolution, the F4000 performs well-enough for easy tasks. It's no home theater television, but its color integrity, motion handling, and black/white dynamic range will make all but the most detailed film content palatable. Just keep in mind, you get what you pay for—there's basic grayscale control here, but no advanced color tweaking options, so Movie mode is the best calibration possible.
That'll do, pig
The UN29F4000 didn't test with a terrific contrast ratio by any means—especially not compared to some of the superstar plasmas we've reviewed this year—but at its lesser resolution and small size, a 2832:1 contrast ratio is usable. The F4000 will look its best in normal room lighting, as very dark or bright environments are going to mar the quality of its blacks. We tested a black level of 0.08 cd/m2 and a peak brightness of 226.60 cd/m2 , which is pretty average for a 2013 LCD.
More viewing real-estate than you need
Normally, we'd like to see as much horizontal viewing angle as possible. LCDs typically struggle to maintain decent luminance integrity at off-angle viewing, but the F4000 did better than its comparison group. We measured a total horizontal viewing angle of 51°, or ±25.5° from center to either side of the screen. While this is decent for this panel type, it's also kind of unnecessary: It's a 29-inch display, so you're likely going to be watching it alone.
Great curves... color curves, that is
Our color test involves checking a television for three crucial adherence points: color gamut, color curves, and color temperature integrity. The F4000's color gamut ought to match up to the international standard for HDTV: Its red, green, blue, and white points at 100 IRE should land set coordinates. Unfortunately, it tends to slightly oversaturate blue and red, meaning they're more colorful than they should be. Fortunately, this is less noticeable to human eyes than if there were error in green.
As for color curves: They're great! While red tends to ramp up a little too quickly, the primary color curves maintain a balanced greyscale across the intensity input, moving in a gradual curve, which means ample definition along neighboring hues and shades. The F4000's greyscale curve is particularly good, moving in uniform increments from 0 to 100 IRE.
Finally, this display's color temperature integrity could be better. We found error towards the lower end of its greyscale, where blue tends to grow too luminous, causing a cooling tint to affect white parts of the picture. Just beyond that, however, shadow tones overcorrect, adding too much red to the picture and pushing it into orange hues.
Meet the tester
Editor, Home Theater@Koanshark
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
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