Samsung UN46C8000 LCD 3D HDTV Page 2
Poetry in Motion?
The Samsung UN46C8000 operates at a 240-hertz refresh rate for 2D sources. For 3D, it refreshes at 120 Hz for each eye and is used with active shutter glasses. With a 1080p/24 filmbased 2D source, it repeats each frame nine times to bring the source frame rate up to 240 Hz. So with 1080p/24 3D sources, the set refreshes at 120 Hz using a combination of repeated frames and dark frames (LED Motion Plus defaults to on for 3D). If the set receives a filmbased source other than 1080p/ 24—that is, one mastered with 3:2 pulldown—it recognizes this, converts it back to 24 Hz (using reverse 3:2 pulldown), and again repeats frames as dictated by the 240-Hz refresh rate. If the source isn’t film-based, the Samsung repeats frames as needed for a 240-Hz refresh.
Samsung’s Auto Motion Plus 240Hz feature is also designed to reduce motion lag. When you select it, the set interpolates the added frames instead of simply repeating them. While this dramatically smooths the motion and cleans up motion blur, it can leave a movie source looking like video. To answer this criticism, you can set Auto Motion Plus 240Hz to Custom. This setting has separate controls for Judder reduction (for film-based sources) and Blur reduction (for video-based material). If you don’t like what interpolation does to movies at any setting, you can set Judder to 0 and Blur to perhaps 7 or 8. The set will then automatically switch on frame interpolation when it recognizes video programming, such as sports, but leave it off for films. Apart from checking it out, I didn’t use Auto Motion Plus 240Hz for any of the measurements or viewing in this review.
If desired, you can use Auto Motion Plus 240Hz together with LED Motion Plus (the other motion-blur feature).
Some of these controls aren’t available in all 2D modes or for all types of inputs and sources. However, most of them are available in Movie Mode with an HDMI input and a 2D source.
The Samsung has a completely separate 3D adjustment menu that automatically switches on when the set recognizes any 3D source or when you engage the set’s 2D-to-3D conversion feature (more on that below). The 3D menu options are more limited than those for 2D. 3D playback entails a considerable loss of brightness from both the 3D glasses and the additional processing required. Because of this, the Backlight and Contrast controls both default to maximum in the 3D menu. LED Motion Plus is also permanently on for 3D. This reduces image lag and minimizes the potential for 3D ghosting, which can occur when one eye sees an image that was intended for the other eye.
The 3D glasses produce a significant color shift, so the 3D mode also includes separate White Balance calibration controls. But the 3D White Balance adjustments are two-level only (no 10P option), and there’s no 3D color management system.
You need to switch on the 3D glasses manually, but when you insert a Blu-ray 3D Disc, it should automatically switch the set into its 3D Mode. However, this might not happen if you pass the signal through a non–HDMI 1.4 device, such as an HDMI 1.3 or lower switcher in your AVR, before it gets to the set. Future 3D sources, such as cable or satellite, might use other formats that may or may not produce an automatic lock-on. For those, the Samsung provides several manually selectable 3D Mode options. You can also shut off the 3D effect in the 3D menu (the 3D-to-2D setting). This might come in handy if you have unexpected movie-night guests and not enough 3D glasses.
The Samsung’s video processing was excellent. It passed all of our Video Test Bench hurdles.
Samsung doesn’t offer sets with full LED local dimming for 2010. Instead, it has developed a variation on LED edge lighting that it calls Precision Dimming. LEDs are positioned in clusters behind both the top and bottom edges of the screen frame. The light from each cluster modulates individually as the image requires, then diffuses behind the screen. This set’s uniformity is the best I’ve yet seen in an edge-lit set. But buyers take note: Not all of Samsung’s LED-LCD sets have Precision Dimming. The MIA candidates include Samsung’s flagship 9000 series.
On most images, Samsung’s Precision Dimming offers excellent subjective contrast and solid blacks. There’s little sign of the gray fog that still afflicts some LCD sets on the most difficult material. I only started to notice grayish blacks on the lowest-contrast scenes. However, even then, I didn’t find them distracting. The star field that opens Stargate: Continuum has a more varied mix of stars than you usually find in such shots, ranging from very dim to very bright. I can’t recall any other LCD set that has done a better job with this scene. For example, the LG INFINIA 47LE8500 (HT, June 2010) fell down badly on this test. It showed clearly visible halos around the brightest stars, despite the fact that it uses LED backlighting with full local dimming.
Viewed side by side with the Samsung, the LG demonstrated that well-implemented local dimming still offers the best overall results on most program material. In this respect, the differences between the LG and the Samsung weren’t dramatic, although they were clearly visible. When the image faded to black, both sets’ screens disappeared into the blackness of a totally dark room. Black bars on 2.35:1 films were virtually invisible on the LG. While I could still see them on the Samsung, they were a relatively inconspicuous dark gray. In addition, small areas of white against an otherwise black background could lighten part or all of the background to gray on the Samsung. The black background on the LG remained largely unchanged. In short, Samsung’s Precision Dimming isn’t a perfect substitute for local dimming, but it is impressive and very effective.
I had no reservations about the Samsung’s color. When I compared it side by side with the LG, the small differences I noted were well within small setup variations. These included slightly better fleshtones and slightly better subjective depth with 2D sources on the Samsung and better greens on the LG. Both sets excelled in detail.