Samsung LN-T5265F LCD 1080p HDTV Page 3
I had mixed feelings about the Dynamic Contrast control. It did punch up the image on some programming, particularly video-based material such as sports, and improved the black level. Its Medium setting worked best for me when I did use it. But it also made most movies look more like slightly hyped video, rather than film. I left it Off more often than not, particularly for movie watching in a dimly lit or darkened room.
But the characteristics of the Samsung's screen did much to reduce the distraction level of gray-looking blacks. If there is a small but reasonable amount of light in the room (preferably where it does not fall directly on that reflective screen), the blacks on the screen look much darker than they do in a very dimly lit or darkened room. While I've seen this illusion before on other LCDs, it was much more dramatic on the Samsung. If you plan to watch the set primarily in normal room lighting, this will be an important plus for you. But if you like to watch films in the dark, or in very dim lighting, also keep this in mind, particularly when evaluating the Samsung in a brightly lit showroom.
Not only was the Samsung's color largely free of uniformity issues (black and white movies displayed no obvious tints anywhere on the screen), but it got the two hardest colors right: green foliage and flesh tones. We might not know what the colors on inanimate objects in a movie or television program are supposed to look like, but we're intimately familiar with grass, trees, and faces. There was enough variability in all of these on the Samsung to confirm that the set wasn't simply locking these characteristics into a predetermined color, as was the case in the past (and still is, on some sets) with "flesh tone" controls. Just as important, apart from the creative coloring used in many films (such as the green tint in the Matrix scenes from The Matrix), and the all too common sight of news anchors lathered in inches of pasty-looking makeup to hide age lines and acne scars from HD cameras, nothing about the colors in any of these familiar things rang false.
Speaking of acne and The Matrix, the Samsung can produce exceptional detail, provided the source is up to it. The Matrix is one of the sharpest looking high-definition discs available, and unmarred by edge enhancement. I could see every pockmark on Morpheus' face in all but the dimmest scenes.
The Samsung's impressive detail wasn't limited to high-definition sources. I've always been impressed by the quality of the video in Gladiator. I'll welcome a high-definition version, but in the meantime the current release leaves very little to be desired. The close-ups in this transfer were remarkable on the Samsung; only the medium and long shots—limited by the SD format—were a bit compromised. You won't be disappointed by the look of good DVDs on this set.
Broadcast (over cable, in my case) could also look good but, not surprisingly, was much more variable in quality. Nevertheless, I sampled everything from live or near live broadcasts of news, reality shows, and sports to shows and movies on the major networks, plus HBO, and HDNet. The best of these looked amazing, but even standard definition analog cable, such as one of my favorite haunts, The History Channel, was satisfying. Of course, then there's the Sci-Fi channel. I'm still looking for the display that will make that source look pristine!
I checked the Samsung's standard definition video processing (deinterlacing and scaling from 480i to the set's native 1080p) with a component input, since HDMI will not accept a 480i source. I also turned on the Film mode for these tests, where appropriate.
On my usual cocktail of video processing tests, the Samsung earned a satisfactory if somewhat mixed report. It passed the Coliseum flyover test on Gladiator (Chapter 12) with flying colors. On the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark SD test disc, its performance was fair on the first test for deinterlacing jaggies, but it failed the second. It earned fair grades on the fluttering flag test, another fair on the 2:2 cadence test (Film Mode Off) and good on the 3:2 cadence test (Film Mode On). It did well on mixed content (film- and video-sourced material combined in the same image).
On our high-definition deinterlacing tests, starting with the HQV Benchmark HD test disc, it properly deinterlaced 1080i-to-1080p, but did not recognize and properly process 3/2 pulldown when present in a 1080i source. The latter was confirmed by similar telltale artifacts (flicker and/or moiré) in the racetrack test for 3/2 pulldown on the Stacey Spears/Don Munsil HD DVD test disc, the details in the Vatican wall in Chapter 7 of MI3 on Blu-ray, and the staircase at the start of chapter 8 in the same film.
In my time viewing most real world programming on the Samsung, however, distracting video processing artifacts were rare.
The Samsung will accept a 1080p/24fps input, but it converts it internally to 1080p/60fps prior to display. Whether you will be better off simply changing the output resolution on your high-definition player to 1080p/60 to begin with will depend on which device—the player or the set—does a better job in converting 1080p/24 to 1080p/60. It's likely you won't see any difference, but do experiment.
Oddly, it turns out that early samples of this set, including ours, will accept a 1080p/24fps input from most Blu-ray players that offer it, but not from Samsung's Blu-ray player, the BD-P1200! While Samsung has told us that there is an update for the set to correct this, it cannot be installed via the Wiselink USB slot mentioned earlier. But since the set converts any 1080p/24 input to 1080p/60 anyway, this issue may be moot for most users. I did most of my Blu-ray viewing on this set via Samsung's BD-P1200 player, at 1080p/60.
As with many LCDs we've seen, even recent ones, the Samsung's off-axis viewing is less than ideal. Yes, you'll see an image when seated at the specified maximum viewing angle of 178 degrees, but you won't want to spend much time there. Once you move more than 25-30 degrees off center, the image fades significantly and progressively loses more of its punch and depth.
Even viewed from an optimum location, the extreme left and right sides of the image were just slightly lighter than the center. This was more obvious with a full screen medium or dark gray image than with a fully black screen (or as close to black as the set would go). It was not a dramatic flaw. I saw it primarily on darker program material, but never noticed it on scenes at an average or higher brightness level.
The Samsung was much better than I expected in one performance aspect that's been an ongoing problem for LCDs: motion lag or blur. While there is some motion blur in this set, and still room for improvement, I rarely found it distracting. Even on sports.
I did see some occasional false contouring and noise, but these nearly always turned up in dim scenes on HD cable programming (where it can originate from numerous places in the chain prior to hitting the display). They were rare on more tightly controlled, high quality sources like Blu-ray or HD DVD.
When I noticed one recent Saturday afternoon that a big race was being telecast in high-definition (the Breeder's Challenge), I tuned in. Later, I realized that the images I saw of this race on the Samsung reminded of one of my first and most compelling high-definition experiences. It was at a CES more than ten years ago: a race played back on a large screen by a stacked pair of 9" CRT projectors. That setup cost over $100,000.
I'm not saying that this 52" Samsung produced the same immersive experience, or that I recall that earlier event in pinpoint detail, or that it isn't far harder to produce such an image on a screen that's nearly four times the size of the Samsung's. But it did make me realize just how far we have come in that span of time. LCD barely existed then; CRT was the undisputed king of display technology.
Now we have displays like the Samsung that, while still not perfect, can outperform the CRT displays of the past in many important respects. And if the LN-T5265F is an appetizer of what Samsung has in store for us in the fall, it's going to be a tasty year.
Sharp, crisp image without enhancement
Relatively light weight makes for easy setup
Limited off-axis viewing
Video processing only fair
Some motion lag