Product Type: Samsung 3D LCD TV
Newest Review: ... explain it's rather thick chassis though this is not a real problem. Though the Samsung does use this dated technology there is little ev... more
2D, 3D & HD: A Smashing Samsung That Delivers the Lot
Member Name: Hishyeness
Advantages: Superb 2D performance in both SD & HD, feature rich and excellent value for money
Disadvantages: 3D performance is a little disappointing. No integrated WiFi. Only one pair of 3D glasses.
THE TV THAT WOULD NOT DIE
Two years ago, the picture on my trusty old 32" Philips CRT TV started to wobble a bit at one of the corners. I have never been quite as overjoyed at the prospect of an expensive household appliance giving up the ghost as I was at that moment. I had been hankering after a sexy flat screen TV for some time (and the resultant upgrade to high definition) but couldn't justify the expense whilst the old monster at the corner of the sitting room soldiered on. However, like a cat with nine lives, it simply refused to die. Finally, when my luddite father-in-law recently announced he had invested in a swish new LCD, I ran out of patience and, in exasperation, decided it was time for a change.
I am an avid reader of What HiFi magazine, and having consulted the oracle that is their buying guide, visited a few TV showrooms and done my due diligence, I opted for the 46" Samsung LE46C750. To future-proof as much as possible, I wanted a unit with full high definition performance, a Freeview HD tuner, but also 3D capable so that I could take advantage of the new media being released in that format. Having paid just over £1000 for my old Philips (back in the day) I was comfortable with a similar budget, and, after shopping around, managed to find the C750 (with free delivery) at around £1,150.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
For the money, you get a 46" LCD TV with a purpose built four-legged chrome stand shaped like an "X" (which inexplicably reminds me of a Cylon base star). There is an extensive and easy to follow manual, a quick start guide, and a Samsung remote with two AAA batteries provided. Mine also shipped with a single pair of Samsung's proprietary SSG-2100 AB/X active shutter, battery operated 3D glasses (including separate manual, flat watch style battery, a cloth pouch and a cleaning cloth) which normally sell separately for around the £55 mark - but check before you buy as they are not always included. If you are intending to regularly use the TV's 3D capabilities (more likely now that Sky have launched their dedicated channel) this is a welcome bonus, but keep in mind that each viewer will need a set. For a family of four, that's an additional outlay of at least £150 to £250 to consider, although Samsung do offer a set of two active shutter glasses, bundled with the film Monsters & Aliens in 3D BluRay, for around £115.
Given the attention given to the styling of the TV, the remote control is something of a disappointment by comparison. It is comfortable to hold and relatively intuitive to use, offering a useful timed backlight function which helps you find the buttons in the dark. This is just as well, given it has a rather busy and cluttered feel to it. The TV is listed as Internet@TV capable, which allows a direct connection to the internet through your home wireless router or a via an Ethernet connection. However, to use the wireless option (which allows you to access the likes of iPlayer and YouTube) you need a proprietary Samsung dongle - about the size of a USB memory stick - which sells separately for a vastly overpriced £45. The hardware really should have been included in the cost of the set, especially as the companion 3D-capable Samsung BluRay player that I bought at the same time (for £220) has WiFi already integrated as standard.
SET-UP & CONNECTIVITY
Once assembled on its stand (a two person job given its size) and connected to the TV aerial, the initial set-up (setting date and time, language preferences, searching for and storing both analogue and digital channels) was easy and hassle free. The unit has a number of well positioned inputs. In keeping with a new HD generation TV, but perhaps surprisingly for its price point, there are a generous 4 HDMI slots, three at the back of the unit, and one on the right side of the frame. I currently have a Sky+ HD Box and the previously mentioned BluRay player connected via HDMI cable, leaving two slots free for other equipment. There are a wealth of other connection options - two traditional SCART sockets, two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA connection for your PC, the previously mentioned Ethernet connection for your home network, as well as component and composite video inputs, aerial, headphone socket and audio out. The full spec is available on Samsung's UK web-site.
If your head is spinning from the jargon, its enough to know that most older equipment can be connected to this unit in some way. That said, keep in mind that the quality of the picture you get is largely dependent on the source material and the quality of connection, so naturally, where possible, HDMI or SCART connections will always be your best bet. Don't be tempted to skimp on the cables either - having forked out over a grand for the TV set, and probably around £200 for a BluRay player, using the in-box cables provided with your peripherals is a little like sticking ketchup on a fillet steak. Decent upgrades are available for around the £20 mark and are well worth the investment. The other point worth mentioning is that the cables will stick straight out of the back, so allow sufficient clearance if you are considering mounting it on the wall.
LOOK & FEEL
The C750 is an attractive and stylish looking unit that would grace any wall or living room. The screen is encased in a gloss black Perspex bevelled frame, with a transparent edge, that could easily be mistaken for glass. There are no raised buttons on the front surface, instead the controls (power, volume and channel selection) are discreet and touch operated. The back panel is made out of a light metal, rather than hardened plastic, which gives the unit a solid, quality feel to it. Paradoxically, even though the screen real estate is a full fourteen inches greater on the diagonal than my old CRT, it makes the room seem bigger, mainly because the unit is so thin (a measly 80mm) that it sits much further back than the previous incumbent.
The sturdy stand complements the TV quite well, and allows the unit to be swivelled left and right to adjust the viewing angle. The screen itself has a matte finish which resists reflection and makes viewing comfortable even in a relatively bright room. It won't cope with direct sunlight, but judicious positioning should prevent that problem anyway. The viewing angle is a generous 180 degrees, which is sufficient for most living rooms, but it should be noted that the colour integrity, contrast and brightness begin to suffer once you get much beyond a 40 degree angle. The unit has a small red LED light on the bottom right corner to indicate when it is in standby, and it delivers Samsung's two note signature tune when turned on (and off).
STANDARD & HD PERFORMANCE
Aesthetics are all well and good, but the bread and butter of any TV is its picture and sound quality, especially at a price tag of just over £1000. The good news is that the C750 delivers in spades. Samsung use some nifty technology called "motion interpolation" to reduce judder, ensure that moving images remain smooth and give objects more substance. As a result, the picture is rich and vibrant, with natural looking colours and deep blacks that make for an excellent viewing experience. The remote gives you access to a number of intuitive and easy to navigate menu's for tweaking the settings, including a number of pre-set picture (Bright, Standard, Movie, Natural etc.) and sound options. I find the Movie mode to be the easiest on the eye and leave it on that setting for most programmes. There is a noticeable difference in picture clarity (as there should be) between regular, standard definition (SD) images and those broadcast in HD (from Sky and Freeview HD), and although we now find it difficult to watch SD programmes without commenting on the difference, the images lose none of their dynamic colour and vibrancy.
That said, objectively viewed, even the SD performance is a considerable step-up from our previous Philips CRT TV. A lot of LCD's share the same panels from the same suppliers, so what differentiates one model's performance from another is the software that drives the unit and the clever things it does in the background to deliver the picture. Samsung suggests you check regularly for "firmware" updates that correct errors and tweak performance. These can be downloaded to the TV if you have the previously mentioned dongle, or downloaded to a PC and transferred to the TV with a USB memory stick.
Speaking of USB, we regularly download movies and TV shows from the internet onto an external hard drive, plug it in to one of the two USB ports, and watch it effortlessly on the Samsung. The unit automatically recognises the external media source and pops up a message on screen asking you if you want to access it. Otherwise, it can be accessed - along with all of the other inputs - using the "Source" button on the TV's remote. You can also use this method to watch downloaded home video, photos, play music, or use it as a PC monitor for that matter. Content can move the other way as well - if you have a USB Hard Drive, you can record Freeview HD straight onto it.
Finally, sound quality is pretty good, but not without fault. For a TV of its size, you expect a more cinematic experience, however, although the two 10 watt speakers, mounted on either side of the unit, cope quite well with day to day viewing, they lack the "oomph" to deliver sound proportionate to the quality and size of the picture. It would definitely benefit from a dedicated 5.1 or 7.1 channel receiver, sub-woofer and speaker set-up to get the best out of it, but that's generally the case with most large LCD, LED & Plasma TV's, so it would be unfair to single the Samsung out for it.
The C750 is Samsung's entry level 3D TV and is one of the cheapest 3D options available. Given that 3D is relatively new technology, still feeling its way into the consumer marketplace, those expecting perfect performance (like in the movies) will frankly be disappointed. I would not go so far as to say that the whole thing is a gimmick - given the investment that media companies and TV manufacturers are making in bringing it into the mainstream, it is likely to become standard, but while 3D performance on this unit is pretty good, it is not without significant issues.
To view 3D, you need a dedicated 3D capable input (such as a compatible BluRay player and 3D movie, or Sky's 3D channel which is currently only available to Sky HD subscribers). The feature is accessed by a button on the remote, which activates a 3D emitter from the left hand corner of the TV (so make sure its not obscured). To the naked eye, the TV picture goes fuzzy, but all is resolved once you don the active shutter glasses and turn them on. For the first time viewer, the initial impression of 3D is quite startling and amazing. The depth of field achieved literally makes you feel like you could dive into the screen into a fully realised world beyond.
However, after a while, you start noticing that images don't quite track perfectly, especially in fast moving programmes like sports and action movies, and it gets a little distracting and tiresome. The main problem is what is termed in the industry as "crosstalk noise" (a fancy name for ghosting - where the signal to the right eye overlaps with the signal to the left). The technology will get better, but if you are determined to watch 3D TV on a regular basis, you are probably better off waiting for the technology to improve and bed in, especially given the dearth of 3D content currently available (Avatar is scheduled for Summer 2011, Alice in Wonderland is due just before Christmas, but otherwise there are only a handful of animated and natural history titles available).
THE (ALMOST) COMPLETE PACKAGE
The unit has taken pride of place in the corner of my living room for the best part of four months now, and I couldn't be more happy with its performance. It is worth every penny, and more, of the money I paid for it. The C750 delivers exceptional high definition and standard definition performance, and its wealth of connectivity options makes it the ideal viewing platform for HD content, our Wii console, as well as movies and video downloaded from the internet in MP3 and MP4 format.
Although its 3D capabilities leave a little to be desired, it is still one of the best value for money entry level options for the 3D format. The main difference between this unit and its higher spec stable mate (the Samsung C8000) is that the higher end model uses the ultra-thin LED platform, which shaves off a few more centimetres of screen width compared to the C750's LCD platform.
There are some other, technical differences, but If you can live with a slightly thicker screen, the C750, at £900 less than its big brother is much better value for money. In conclusion, if you are considering an upgrade to a large screen LCD TV, then you won't get much better than the Samsung LE46C750. It is fantastic Full HD TV, with the added bonus of 3D capability for not much more than its well appointed 2D rivals. The only minor disappointments are the lack of integrated WiFi and the teething issues with 3D (crosstalk noise and the expense of active shutter glasses).
© Hishyeness 2010
Summary: A cracking all-rounder which provides a great introduction to 3D at a mainstream price point.
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