It may not be the cheapest 48in screen we've seen recently, but Samsung's UE48H6400 still represents stunning value for money. The design, while not especially original – the X-shaped stand seems a bit dated – is still attractive, with a glossy inner bezel and see-through outer frame. And the Samsung scores points over its rivals by providing four HDMI inputs, joined by copious multimedia support in the shape of three USBs and Ethernet and Wi-Fi hookups.

Samsung’s Smart TV platform is excellent, providing an impressive array of video streaming apps, including catch-up services for all the UK’s terrestrial broadcasters, plus Netflix and Amazon Instant. There's also a highly-developed content recommendation system based on continual analysis of your viewing habits. Samsung could do with streamlining its Smart interface a little, but content-wise it can’t be beat.

Picture obsessives can indulge in a fulsome set of image adjustments, including colour and white balance management. Other key features include a 100Hz screen backed up by processing and backlight scanning to emulate a 400Hz effect, and Samsung’s Micro Dimming technology to enable accurate processing results. The UE48H6400 provides Active 3D playback, complete with two pairs of glasses.

Take the time to reduce the backlight to its 8 or 9 level when watching films, and the Samsung is capable of pumping out some outstanding pictures for its money. Colours are exceptionally appealing, with a richness that never leads to a loss of tonal balance or blend subtlety. I fed it the card game sequences in Casino Royale, which contain difficult to handle, diffuse colour tones, and it didn't falter.

The UE48H6400 handles dark scenes astutely once you’ve reduced the backlight. While some rival models (such as Panasonic's TX-48AS640) go slightly deeper with black colours, the Samsung can certainly leave dark scenes like Kill Bill’s buried alive sequence looking (scarily!) immersive and involving. The set is very good at reproducing shadow detail, and doesn’t suffer badly with backlight clouding once tweaked.

Its HD images are effortlessly sharp, and superbly for £600, this sharpness is scarcely reduced at all during full-on motion fests like the mass slaughter in Kill Bill’s House of Blue Leaves. In fact, out of the box it's a little too in-yer-face, tipping over into noise on occasion. This is easily fixed by reducing the sharpness setting (don’t use the noise reduction options, as these result in pictures looking over-processed).

Bright 3D star

The TV delivers an enjoyable experience with 3D, too – nobody makes stereoscopic Blu-rays look more detailed and HD than Samsung, for starters. Brightness and colour richness are mainly retained with 3D images despite you having to don those Active spex. This strength is especially obvious with dynamic animated 3D content like Tangled. The brightness isn’t marred by any serious flickering problems either. In fact, the only issues are a little crosstalk ghosting over distant objects and slightly more judder than you get with 2D viewing.

Accompanying the UE48H6400’s very-strong-for-its-money pictures are some more average sonics. Samsung's 20W-rated driver array manages to get quite loud without distorting or cabinet stress, and the soundstage proffered is detailed and clear, with vocals surviving all but the most cacophonous film moments. Bass sounds pretty thin and unconvincing, though, which leaves action scenes rather unbalanced – a common flat TV failing.