Second generation LCD TV with LED backlighting, although in this case, it is edge lighting...
This Samsung is the direct descendant of the Samsung LE40A786 LCD TV which I had first. Because of an interior change, the 40inch model turned out to be too small (I sit at 5,5m distance) and I decided to buy a 55inch model, the one under review here. Because I actually own both of them, I was able to do extensive comparisons. They're both 7-series TV's but there are notable differences.
A LED-TV really is just an LCD TV but with LED backlighting instead of fluorescent tubes. It just sounds more catching if you call it LED TV I suppose. Marketing is a very powerful tool. Anyway, let's proceed to the comparison in the technical sense.
The first Samsung I had, was the first generation LED-TV. It has individually dimmable clusters of leds behind the screen. Although not perfect, this way it is possible to create tremendous contrasts. In blacks, the leds behind those parts of the screen are simply low or off while behind the bright parts they can be brightly lit. This way a contrast ratio better than that of good old CRT TV is possible. And I'm not talking about those inflated projector values. I'm talking real contrast. The newer Samsung is so thin (less than 3 cm) that backlight LEDS wouldn't even fit. Therefore it has edge lighting. This actually works very well, creating a quite uniformly lit image but it loses the ability to highlight or dim specific areas of the screen. Instead it analyses the entire image and adjusts the lighting accordingly.
It is also said that the colour gamut is also larger with LED backlighting. And indeed it is obvious that the image is much more brilliant and colourful than cheaper regular LCD TV rivals.
EDGE LED LIGHTING
The result is in fact very impressive but if you have an ey for it, you can see it work if you watch programs with subtitles. When the image as a total fades to black, the intelligent backlight dims along, but you can see the subs dim as well. Although this is unnatural, the image itself is never less than credible. And I don't know how they did it, but I feel that the blacks on this TV are just as good as those on the other TV. Also, the brightness and sharpness are very good, maybe even better than that of the older model.
What's better than the older model is the built in tuner. It is much quicker at flipping channels and it reduces noise and smear much better than the older one. On the older Samsung, I really hated watching off air broadcasts. Instead, I watched DVD/Blu-Ray and other HD material exclusively. With the new Samsung, regular broadcast material is of course not as sharp as real HD material but it is very watchable because the contrast is so good and the noise is suppressed so well. straight out of the box, the image is already impressively dynamic but this time also even and natural. The older model was supposedly tweaked for maximum dynamics and although that would probably attract buyers in a shop, at home you would need to do considerable tweaking in the system settings before the image was both contrasty as well as natural. The new model is almost perfect straight out of the box.
Plasma used to be the first choice for videophiles who had always had a regular CRT TV. Plasma consists of thousands and thousands of tiny CRT cells, filled with plasma and coated with Fluorescent fosfor coating, just like a regular TV. That's why it shows a comparable sort of picture quality. Plasma does have its drawbacks though, like power consumption, heat, burn-in and decreased brightness with age. I have to say that with the invention of LED TV, you no longer need to look at plasma. LED TV is that good. In fact, I feel that it is better, especially in contrast, the aspect that used to be LCD's achilles' heel.
Because it is so very flat, all connectors are somewhat hidden in cavities on the back and all connectors don't plug straight in the back, but sideways. This can be difficult to achieve when the TV is mounted but at least there are many connections and in the box is material to hide away all cables neatly. Also, although contrast in general and black levels in particular are incredibly good, the edge lighting does have its drawbacks. Besides the aforementioned dimming of the entire screen as opposed to local dimming per segment, there is some clouding that is visible if you watch in a totally darkened room. The 4 edges as well as the center top and bottom part of the screen exhibit soft white spots. But again, this is only visible if you're watching at night in a totally darkened room and are displaying a mixed content image, so dark areas combined with light elements. Because if the entire image were dark, then the backlighting would dim and you wouldn't see this effect. Very clever actually. But an example of when the effect is visible would be watching letterboxed movies. The black bars on top and bottom can then display the clouding.
This is a very impressive TV. It really is capable of stunning images and I say this as a professional video editor. At work I deal with broadcast quality material on professional monitoring on a day to day basis. Even though it is 55 inch diagonally, its scaling is so good that lower res material is still very viewable. It uses half the power that the older generation did, which is approximately 250 watts. For a 55 inch screen that really isn't much. It also doesn't develop any heat so doesn't need colling by means of fans. Built in speakers are tiny of course but there are 4 of them and I have to say that the resulting sound isn't even terrible. But the audiophiles amongst us will want to use a home cinema receiver and decent speakers. Viewing angle has improved compared to its predecessor which is good news.
LED TV is more expensive than regular LCD TV's but they're well-worth the cost because of their much improved contrast levels and rich colours. And the cost should come down further as the technology becomes more widely-used.
So thin that you can -literally- hang it on the wall like a painting. It seems to have been glued to the wall and because of its thin bezel and thin transparent edge around it, it blends smoothly with the wall behind it