Samsung understands that a television becomes a physical piece of furniture that will sit in your home when it is turned off. No one really wants a big, bulky, black, plastic box sitting in the home, but they will make such a sacrifice to watch television.
Samsung generally adds some small points of design to spice things up, and this time they went with a copper-like bar across the bottom. Really, it's not that bad, you have to be very close to notice it at all. You can't even really see it in our close-up shot of the manual controls. Other than this, there is a clear plastic border running the entire outside of the bezel. The culminating result is subtly non-ugly television.
Samsung went with touch controls on this model. If you lose the remote, good luck changing the volume. We tried this as a test and had trouble increasing the volume very quickly, while also accidentally opening the menu. Maybe it requires more finesse than we have, but we had no problem using the remote or manual controls on other televisions. Also, the glossy finish loves to hang onto fingerprints and smudges, right there on the front of your fancy copper paneling.
The remote is a large, chunky affair with no rounded edges or contouring. The buttons are easy to distinguish by feel, but they are a little hard, requiring a very definitive push to engage them. We noticed that the remote needs to be pointed directly at the IR sensor on the right side of the display or it will not work. There is a backlight illumination button at the top right of the remote, lighting the buttons up with a soft red glow that will help you find what you need in the dark.
We opened up the box and, to no surprise, found a television, a stand, a remote, a cleaning cloth, a manual and some warranty and warning documents. No thank you letter, no candy, no confetti; very disappointing.
Here we see a great black level for an LCD television on this Samsung. Black levels are definitely getting darker on LCDs, becoming very competitive with the disappearing plasma market. A good black level makes for a strong contrast ratio, one of the most important points of quality on a television. More on how we test black level.
The peak brightness we recorded for the is intense. Anything over 300 cd/m2 is very bright. We are looking for a range of luminance on a television. The peak brightness is great, and the deepest black was dark, so we should see a great contrast ratio in the following section. More on how we test peak brightness.
And there it is: a contrast ratio over 5000:1. This means that the range of possible light and dark values is expansive. Having more values of light and dark is like having more tools to do a better job. This television has a large possible value gamut to make subtle light changes on edges and rounded objects. In other words, the can depict images more accurately than a TV with a contrast ratio of 1000:1.
You can see in the chart that the Dynex model has a higher contrast ratio, but that does not necessarily guarantee better quality. If you skip down to the greyscale gamma section we explain why. More on how we test contrast.
The tunnel contrast test tells us if the display is automatically dimming itself depending on the images on the screen. You can see some up and down movement to the graph, but it is on a small scale. The only noticeable difference may be at the end of the chart, where 100% of the screen is filled with pure black. You can see a sudden downturn where the screen does get a little darker. More on how we test tunnel contrast.
White falloff is like the tunnel contrast test, where we look to see if the screen changes brightness depending on the amount of white put on the display. Mostly the graph is a straight line, showing that the screen brightness does not change given different areas of white. With almost no white on the screen, right at the beginning of the graph, there is a slight dimming.
If the screen brightness is going to adjust at all (we turn off as many auto dimming functions as we are able), you usually want it to get brighter with smaller areas of white. Take the example of stars in a night sky. You wouldn't want the stars to be dull and blend in, you would want them to stand out brilliantly. It's unfortunate, but the amount dimming is reasonably insignificant, so it's not a chief concern. More on how we test white falloff.
We usually only see uniformity problems on an all-black screen, especially with televisions that show white values at almost 400 cd/m2, thus blowing out any inconsistencies with very bright light. On an all-black screen we saw a minimal amount of blooming where the backlights shined through the screen. This is a problem that is hard to eliminate entirely, given the way LCD screens are illuminated. Plasma screens tend to have very uniform all-black screens because each cell can just deactivate. The , relative to its LCD brethren, did not have much of a problem with blooming. More on how we test white falloff.
The has some trouble with detail in shadow. You can see the left side of this chart represents the shadow values, where the graph is rather flat. The flat line indicates that there is not much difference of black from one given value to the next. What we want ideally is a straight line showing linear increases in output brightness for given signal values. The flat part of the line, where the shadows show little distinction, controls the rest of the curve because the values then need to increase too quickly to get to the brightest value.
Ideally, we look for the slope of this line to be 2.2, which would show an even increase and use of the full spectrum. A slope of 2.76 is just too high and will advance the brightness more quickly than the signal. The result is a loss of the finer value transitions, making the great contrast ratio less important than it may seem initially. More on how we test greyscale gamma.
The color temperature accuracy on the is mostly correct, until the darker end of the spectrum where the white point skews into the cool, taking on a blueish tint. The worst of it happens when the television displays black, but at this low luminance, you should not be able to see much of anything. More on how we test color temperature.
These color curves look alright. They stretch from darkest to brightest in a nice and even curve, with all three primary colors mostly in line with each other. The blue and red values peak a little early, meaning the few brightest values of these colors will not be different from one another thereby losing detail. Another detriment are the bumps in the graphs. We want these lines to be smooth as mercury. Each one of the bumps represents an inability to reproduce the color brightness given by the signal. Instead of what was asked, the produced a different value, either brighter or darker. All things considered, not a bad performance, but not the best we've seen either. More on how we test RGB curves.
The strips you see below show each one of the 256 luminance values of each of the primary colors produced by the , matched up against the ideal signal response and a few competing models.
The comes with a motion interpolation mode called AutoMotion Plus. There are a number of different settings that vary the amount of judder and blur reduction. We like to use the custom mode because motion interpolation generally makes film based content look overly smooth, and quite uncomfortable to watch (check out this Article by one of TelevisionInfo.com's staff of brilliant dreamboats to find out why). In custom, you can select exactly the level to which the motion interpolation is engaged, thereby allowing users to add some smoothness without ruining their picture.
For our motion tests, we try to give every television the best results, so we increased the motion and judder reduction to 10. We move objects back and forth across the screen and look for retention of detail and artifacts (disruptions in the picture that are not part of the intended signal, caused by the display's inability to reproduce an accurate signal).
Retention of detail in motion was fantastic, rendering closely drawn lines as obviously separate, not blurring faces, and showing no trailing colors. Artifacts were unfortunately obvious. Moving rectangles distorted into parallelograms, and edges picked up jagged lines. This tells us that the processor has difficulty rendering the entire picture at the same time. The processor starts renewing pixels from the top row to the bottom, but it is not fast enough to keep a straight vertical edge. The edge slants in this case. Jagged lines are further evidence of a slow processor.
When watching film based content, we did not like the motion processing. Not only did it look overly smooth, but something about the blur reduction caused ghost images in scenes with lots of motion. We suggest turning on a movie, adjusting the blur and judder reduction in custom to a point where it looks weird, then back it off until it no longer does. The result will be some interpolation and blur reduction without losing picture quality. More on how we test motion performance.
There are two auto modes for detecting and adjusting for 24fps content. We tested both with dense patterns and a pan of stadium seats using a 24fps signal. We found that Auto 2 was not really an improvement over no adjustment at all. Auto 1, on the other hand, significantly reduced flicker endemic to mismatched frame rates. Auto 1 seems to translate 24fps content into a very watchable, flicker and judder free 30fps. This frame rate factor that works well with the , which has a native 60Hz refresh rate. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.
The is a native 1080p display. We threw everything we had at this screen: High frequency patterns, moiré patterns, and some really small text. In each of these difficult categories, this Samsung displayed everything to the highest degree. Our only exception, is that the smallest text we put on the screen, though legible, was slightly smashed together. It is our job to be persnickety. More on how we test resolution scaling.
When you change the incoming resolution, the changes the screen size setting, storing a different setting for each possible resolution. In 480p, the option for Screen Fit was no longer available. 16:9 produced the best picture, but 3% of the picture all around was cut off, for a total of 12% loss of the picture.
The overscan did not affect the picture performance however. We saw no problems producing high contrast, high frequency patterns in any of our resolution tests at 480p.
Again, you must change the screen size option at 720p to eliminate overscan. You can select Screen Fit at this resolution for no overscan.
At 720p, we saw some banding in our moiré patterns, where intricate matrices of pixels were no longer separate as intended, but overlapping, thus not correctly rendered according to the input signal. You may see some checkered or tightly lined shirts producing some weird clumping at this resolution. Stick to 1080p if you can, and you should have no such problems.
The displays natively at 1080p and can handle all standard NTSC formats.
The viewing angle is satisfactory for an LCD model. It's not great, but it is more than passable.
The screen on the shined lights back relatively strongly. We didn't see any dispersion patterns that would indicate that the screen has mechanisms in place to handle glare. The shine was not as strong as glass, but the reflected glow of our LED lights was strong. The high peak brightness of this Samsung will help deal with any reflected glare.
There are a number of video processing modes on the . Most of them we find to be distasteful; a detraction from a well-produced picture. We list their functions and our impressions below.
We tried a couple of different calibrations before we reached this one. In one scenario, we retained more detail in the brightest colors. This allowed for more values of red and blue at the brightest end of the spectrum, at the cost of losing detail at the darkest end of the black and white spectrum. Readjusting, we did the best we could with the black and whites, while maintaining a high retention of color values.
While calibrating we noticed some processing issues with high density patterns. Often, when these patterns showed on the screen, there was heavy crossover of lines, instead of intricate delineations. But, when we entered the menu, these clumps of lines magically went away and our test patterns were accurately displayed. This tells us that the processor is not very strong, and that it makes snap judgements about how to produce images.
We presume that the will quickly try to send out a signal of what it thinks the screen should look like. If it senses that the signal is not changing, it will not expend the power to update the image. So, for our static high density patterns, it's first guess as to what the image should be was incorrect, but it did not change because the signal was consistent. It did change to the more correct pattern once we changed the signal by opening up the menu.
This lengthy explanation is a description of a problem that you will not see when watching actual content. Anything you watch will be constantly changing, thus encouraging the processor to keep updating the picture, and this snap judgement will not come in to play. We just thought you may want to know.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
There are only a couple of different video modes on the , we tell you about them here.
The ports on this Samsung are grand both in number and variety. We like to see the two component and singular composite ports. Analog is going the way of the polar bear, but it's not completely dead yet, especially for Wii users. You also get four HDMI ports and two USB ports; great numbers for any television. The number of analog-in connections is impressive. The versatility here will let you connect pretty much any device there is.
The ports are located on the right side, some on the side, some just behind the display. The stand rotates about 30º in either direction. With this mechanical articulation, we connected a whole load of devices without much effort.
Not only was the placement of the ports thoughtful, we liked the arrangement as well. HDMI ports above the component ones, audio options to the left and right. There is a cable tie near the neck in the back that should keep all those nasty black wires out of sight.
We tested the audio as we always do, by watching a whole bunch of explosions and excessive machine gun fire. We noticed immediately that the speakers on the just weren't cutting it. We could hear the inability to reproduce such booming sound waves; a moment when the sound seems to max out. With a pair of 10W speakers, this is no surprise. We watched the same scene with the SRS Surround mode turned on, and found that we liked what we heard. Sounds seemed to come from far off to the sides of the television, but it did not remedy the lack of power that was so noticeable. For about 50 bucks, you can get a pair of 120W speakers, an investment we heartily encourage.
We really liked these menus. If the television is simple, keep the menus simple. Samsung has done just this, with some attractive menus that start on the left side of the screen when you press the menu button. Navigation is very intuitive. Menus tier out from the left side and each option has a helpful description written in a bar at the bottom of the screen. The look of the menus stays consistent throughout, which always helps to keep confusion to a minimum.
The instruction manual is rather extensive with over 50 pages, covering both the LND610 and the LND630 series. There is an excellent table of contents, further supported by a helpful index in the back. The pictures are large and helpful, and the text is easy to read. We were thoroughly impressed with this instructional booklet. You can find a digital copy of the manual here.
There are no internet features here, so maybe the header is a bit of a misnomer, but the Samsung Allshare feature is pretty cool. You can setup an Allshare server on your phone, computer, or other devices and share whatever media you have stored there right on your television.
That is, unless you have any Apple devices: No iPhone, no iPad, no MacBook, no nothing. Unfortunately, this describes a hefty amount of people that would have content to share in on their television. Oh well, next time Samsung.
The USB connection supports playback of video, music, and pictures with so many different formats supported. Check the manual for a full list, it is a couple pages long.
The interface is easy. The main media menu pops up when you hit the media button on the remote or choose the media option in the menu. Within one of the media options, you can choose how the files are sorted, by date, by name, by size, etc.
Photo playback has many options. You can zoom in on a photo several times, rotate it, edit it slightly, play a slideshow, and add music.
We were pleased with how simple this whole system is. It is quick to access, easy to navigate and supports just about any type of media you would like to throw on there. If having a USB connection with your television is important to you, take note that this is one of the best USB media systems we have seen.
At our minimum recommended backlight setting, the will cost about $17 for an average year.
There are a couple features that can help reduce these costs as well in the Eco Settings menu. The ambient dimming feature will dim the television in low light situations, but you can also set a minimum backlight number so that the TV will never dim below a certain level. There is also a feature that just dims your TV by dropping the backlight level significantly. We are not sure how useful or how much money this feature will save you. The best of these is a TV shut off feature, that after a set amount of time, will shut your TV off when it is not receiving a signal on its current input. We think about a situation where you have turned off your cable box and gone to bed, without remembering to turn off the display as well. After ten minutes (or whatever time limit you have set) this Samsung will shut right off, saving you money and the entire planet some invaluable energy.
We looked at the Samsung website and found that the only differences Samsung claims between the and the LN46D550 is a higher contrast ratio and a difference in Clear Motion Rate (CMR). The CMR for the is higher, therefore it earns a higher model number. The CMR is determined using the refresh rate of the screen and motion processing capabilities combined. We generally advise that you leave the motion processing features off because they make film based content look all wonky, but we liked the ability to control this feature using the custom mode. If smooth, but not too smooth, motion is really important, you may want to pay the extra $100 for it. However, we would suggest the LN46D550 over the for having better color performance and a better contrast ratio, two undeniable points of superiority, for less money.
Our tests show that the and the LN46D550 have very similar contrast ratios. We generally look for a deeper black level to discern higher quality, as the scale works logarithmically, and thus miniscule changes at the darkest end are very noticeable, and larger changes are not as noticeable at the brighter end. We will give the win to the LN46D550 because it has such a nice deep black level of 0.5 cd/m2.
The LN46D550 has better color performance in both of our testing categories and should be considered a better color producer.
The LN46D550 only has an advertised Clear Motion Rate (CMR) of 60, whereas the is listed at 120 on the website. CMR is a strange measurement involving the actual refresh rate of the screen (a factual number determined by the hardware built into the display) with the addition of the motion processing features added as well as a hefty smattering of voodoo. In any case, the CMR seems to be the only difference between these two Samsung models.
The Samsung model that we have reviewed here, the has a wider viewing angle than the LN46D550.
The connection options are very similar between these two. On all the important points, they hit the same marks: 4 HDMI ports, 2 USBs, ethernet connectivity with the option for WiFi with a separate purchase.
This is a tough call. As an educated generalization, Samsung televisions show strong numbers in all of our performance categories. The is no different, and with an affordable MSRP of $799, this 40-incher would be a great buy for anyone. If, however, screen size is slightly more important than overall quality, you can't go wrong with a 46-inch Dynex for $200 less than this Samsung. It may come down to ports actually. The Dynex only has two HDMI ports, and this could hinder your connectivity if you plan to build a home entertainment system with more than just a cable box and a BluRay player.
Though the Dynex has a better contrast ratio, you should also compare the greyscale charts within the actual review. You will see that, having a bigger possible range of light and dark, does not mean a better black and white performance. In fact, knowing what we do, we would say the Samsung shows a better range of blacks and white than the Dynex.
The Dynex showed fewer white point color errors, though the graph may look like it has more color on it. If you look closely, you can see that the couple of errors that the Dynex does show are not large enough to be noticed, except for the darkest end of the spectrum where the luminance is so low you will probably not see any color regardless.
The Samsung, on the other hand, has better color curves, showing more even transitions in brightness from darkest colors to brightest. You will have more color detail on the Samsung than the Dynex.
Samsung's motion processing features are some of the best on the market. Though the is not their top-tier model, it benefits from the same creative and precise engineering of the flag-ship models. Video processing gets developed at the top and trickles down to the lower models, unlike the fallacy of trickle down economics. Anyway! The Samsung edges the Dynex in this contest with superior technology.
The Dynex in this comparison had a strong viewing angle for an LCD screen, a mark of quality with which the Samsung had a hard time competing.
The dominates the Dynex here. We were very impressed with the breadth and number of ports offered on this Samsung.
The biggest advantage the has over the VIZIO is contrast ratio. Looking at color accuracy, viewing angle and advanced features like 3D imaging and some online streaming video, we see that the VIZIO is a superior television. For less money, you can get advanced features, two more inches of diagonal screen size, and some better color and viewing angle performance out of the VIZIO.
The VIZIO in this comparison does not have a very comparable contrast ratio. The Samsung is clearly better in this category.
The VIZIO had a perfect color temperature accuracy and better RGB curves according to our tests. Without any subjective conjecturing, we have to say that this VIZIO model displays more accurate colors.
Using some high powered motion processing technology, the moves objects across the screen more smoothly than the VIZIO here.
This VIZIO has a strong viewing angle for an LCD model. The doesn't have as wide of a viewing angle as this 42-inch VIZIO.
The has more HD and analog ports than the VIZIO. We really liked the port selection on the Samsung we have covered in this review.
The VIZIO here displays 3D images and can connect to some online streaming content. This is a pretty big bonus that the Samsung does not have. This extra functionality could really tip the scales for some consumers. We compared these models because of their size and price point, but with these advanced features, you have to consider that these two televisions are quite different.
Samsung produced some of the most feature-packed televisions in 2011, and from what we saw at CES, they have no intention of slowing down in 2012. The ($799 MSRP) is a much more basic television from their 2011 line. You won't find any internet or 3D imaging on this TV. You can use the Allshare function, but only with a PC computer.
We liked how it tested in our black and white, color and motion tests. This had a great contrast ratio and strong color accuracy, especially looking at how well the colors matched the international standard. The motion processing functions retained a very high amount of detail, and one of our favorite aspects was being able to control the amount of blur and judder reduction manually to achieve the best looking picture.
Disappointing were the greyscale curve and the lack of improvements on the LN46D550, a cheaper Samsung model. The greyscale curve showed us that much of the great contrast ratio is wasted due to crushed blacks and a rapid increase in luminance, such that quite a bit of white and black detail will be lost. We also noticed, in our comparison with the LN46D550, that the only improvement was the addition of a motion processing overdrive feature, at the cost of contrast ratio, color accuracy, and $100.
We finish by saying that the is a really solid television. In not one of our tests, did this Samsung do so poorly as to welcome our oft caustic cynicism (except maybe the tour section discussing the copper panel on the front). We recommend this as a great television for people looking for a basic, high-quality television that won't break the bank.
Two mid-level models (a 40'' and a 46'') from Samsung make up the LNxx630 series. Models in this series are some of the only ones left in the Samsung cadre that still use CCFL backlighting. These televisions cannot connect to the internet and they do not show 3D images. You can access some DLNA from the AllShare software, but mostly these TVs are straight forward 1080p displays in the 2011 Samsung line.
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Christian Sherden is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email