Product Type: Samsung 3D LCD TV
Newest Review: ... one area that LCDs are really dropping the ball, there are a few pc monitors that can do <10ms input lag (eg Samsung 226bw or L... more
A good priced, great looking LCD feature packed,
Member Name: SnooP_WiggleS
Advantages: Good colours once tweaked, plenty of inputs, great looks too.
Disadvantages: Lots of video tweaking required to get good picture. input lag. average sound and black level.
The stylish 32inch LCD from Samsung promises the world. The main bulletpoint specifications are:
'dynamic contrast': 8000
vertical frequency: 50hz*
response time: 8ms
Native res: 1366x768
HD tuner: yes
viewing angles: 178degrees
Analogue tuner: unfortunately yes too
hdmi ports: 3
component/svideo/composite out: plenty of each
digital out: optical only
In terms of appearence, Samsung have done well with a stunning gloss black look. There isn't a sharp edge with wonderful rounded corners and a base. The speakers are completely hidden too. Even the on light is a nice aqua blue. The panel itself is thankfully a matte finish, so nicely diffuses any light sources that reflect off the panel, no seeing your reflection in the screen like you could with the old CRT displays. Is somewhat concerning that lcds seem to be gradually moving towards glossy panels, as they are far less forgiving - even the slightest light source in the view of the panel shows up clearly and can be quite distracting.
Connector wise this panel has almost everything. 3 hdmi is enough for 99% of users, 2 component for older dvd players etc, a vga in for older computers, and 2 svideo/composite for everything else. Note that hdmi to dvi cables are avaliable which is the preferred way to hook up a computer. On that note, the useful resolutions supported for input on dvi/hdmi of note are: 1280x720p, 1360x768p, 1920x1080p. The middle one is interesting as it is 1:1 pixel mapping, with 3 pixels either side left black (after all its a 1366x768 panel). Unfortunately only 60hz is avaliable for that resolution, so motion is skippy since its a 50hz panel. I use a 720p for the dvd player and 1080p for the computer, both to great effect. Digital audio out is available, but only optical is avaliable, so make sure your home theater receiver has one.
The remote is huge, though doesn't feel uncomfortable at all, buttons feel fine and responsive and are big enough that even people with huge fingers will be able to use most of the remote, range is excellent. Theres a few nice touches like being able to change the picture size on the remote without having to go through any menus, useful especially if your dvd player (pretty much any non hdmi based) doesn't scale non 16x9 enhanced material so you end up with a squashed picture when watching 4:3 dvds eg. older tv shows.
The menus are quite comprehensive even down to being able disable the blue on light. The digital tuner works fine, and easily managed to scan all the avaliable channels and mapped them automatically. There is the ability to define a 'favourite' set of channels to which is nice to cut out the useless channels that do nothing like (from Australia) "prime view1,2,3' or 'abc3' that are unused. The digital tuner handled seven HD fine too (of note because any pc based software i've used so far has failed to find it even when HD material is showing and just ends up using the SD channel instead). The picture picture adjustments offer the standard brightness, backlight, contrast, tint, sharpness, colour temperature etc along with a few extras. Theres a some digital noise reduction/post processing that can be enabled, handly for poor video full of macroblocking and compression related artifacts like pay tv, otherwise its best left off. The 'movies plus' is an interpolater that takes 25fps content like movies and tries to double the framerate to 50fps, resulting in smoother motion. It also looks somewhat unnatural and can't keep up with some types of motion resulting in subtle but weird artifacts. Again video purists should turn it off. Finally there is limited amount of individual Red/Green/Blue adjustment.
Picture quality wise this is a reasonable, but certainly not the best. Out of the box the picture quality is simply aweful, Its way to bright, way too blue, the usual settings to try and 'stand out' in the display room. The dynamic contrast feature is awful and is utter bs really, and the first step to improving picture quality was to disable it. The blacks are no better, often worse with it on. On that note black levels are average as far as lcds are concerned, but not at all brilliant. Certainly fine for well lit rooms, but serious HT users will want better, and will be better off looking at high end plasmas that can actually honesty do contrast ratios of 8000. FYI the contrast ratio of this would be under 1000. The 'too blue' look is rectified by changing the colour temperature to 'warm2' which results in fairly accurate colours. Tuning down the red a couple of notches and the colours are as good as you'll get for lcd technology justabout. Brightness of around 50 and contrast of 75 works well, with a backlight of 2 or 3 for a dimly lit room, and perhaps 3-5 for a well lit room give good results. sharpness is fine as any lcd is. Its also a forgiving display, poor quality video sources like pay tv or divx movies don't look as bad as most lcds in terms of blockiness where other lcds can make the blockiness very obvious. Response time is fine with no obvious ghosting or blurry motion.
Viewing angles are not that great, the black levels in particular deteriorate when looking off center. As a rough guide viewing angles are good for about a 3 person couch at about 3 metres away (tv centered about the couch), passable for the seat next to the couch, and poor for the next seat after that. Video Input lag (delay between receiving a picture and displaying it, not to be confused with response time) is somewhere around 50-120ms, it seems to depend on what source is used (tv vs dvd etc) and what settings are used. In short if your using external speakers you'll need a hometheater receiver with audio delay, preferrably at least 150ms and ideally as much as 200ms (so badly synced tv stations/dvds can be compensated for too) to have the audio in sync with the picture and not the unnatural 'sound comes out before their lips move' look. This also makes it far from ideal for hardcore gaming, theres a 'game mode' that reduces the input lag a little but its still not the best, and the gaming mode disables the ability to uses the 'warm1' amd 'warm2' colour temperatures, so you've gotto put up with the over blue look to use it. Its certainly one area that LCDs are really dropping the ball, there are a few pc monitors that can do <10ms input lag (eg Samsung 226bw or Liama E2201w) But for lcd ttvs they vary anywhere between 30ms (acceptable) to well over 100ms (unusable). behardware gives a good guide on input lag, for example:
In terms of audio its nothing to write home about. The built in speakers are passable to watch the news or other undemanding audio sources. Theres no bass though, so anyone watching movies/tv shows should get some proper speakers and a home theater receiver. The optical digital audio out is the best way to output audio, passing the audio unmeddled so 5.1 sound (the ocasionaly tv show on the hd channels has it) is passed through fine. it also has the usual RCA stereo audio outs and ins. Sound options include an equaliser and those awful useless 'surround sound' capabilities that every tv seems to have.
Reliability wise its not the best, the first unit had a problem where it would blank out for a few seconds after watching a tv show for about 10-20 minutes. The replacement one didn't do those, so at least its not a universal defect just a one off dud.
Overall, Samsung have done well to make this LCD visually one of the most striking tvs around, its certainly quite a fashionable piece of equipment. Feature wises its got the goods, sound wise it doesn't (but what tv does?) but at least theres ways to get the sound to a receiver that does have the goods. Video quality is good once tweaked, but it shouldn't need to be tweaked so much. The steps required to achieve a good picture are beyond what most consumers are capable of doing, and the default settings are simply awful. Again its a case set by default to stand out in a showroom, not to look good at home. Reliability quible asside this is a good lcd to get for a well lit room, but serious users will be better off with a high end plasma to get even better colours and much better black levels than current generation lcds can achieve.
Summary: A good all round choice of lcds for a well lit room, but make it look good out of the box next time!
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