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Samsung LN-T4681F 46-inch LCD HDTV Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 January 2008
Article Index
Samsung LN-T4681F 46-inch LCD HDTV
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Television And Movies
I immediately put this LED technology to the test with some of my favorite black-level demo scenes, starting with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on Blu-ray (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). When we first meet Captain Jack in chapter two, it was a bright, sunny day, with gorgeous blue skies, majestic seascapes and lots of precise detail to showcase an LCD’s strengths. And the LN-T4681F did a great job here: its great contrast made the image pop, colors and skin tones looked very natural, and detail in both facial close-ups and brick buildings was excellent. But then came the nighttime pirate attack of chapter four, a much more difficult feat for a normal LCD. The LN-T4681F maintained great image saturation in a darkened room and did a very nice job rendering the fine black details in these complex scenes. The effects of LED SmartLighting weren’t invisible, though: at times, I noticed the aforementioned glowing effect around objects, and, during one pan across a dark scene, I could see the black level fade sequentially across the screen as the LEDs turned themselves off. Purists will point out that this local-dimming approach is technically cheating, as the overall black level isn’t really that low. Maybe so, but it’s a pretty effective cheat. It’s not as if the black level is only good when the LEDs are completely off, something I feared would be the case. Using my Gefen HDMI distribution amp, I compared the LN-T46812F’s performance directly with my reference Epson LCD projector, which is capable of great blacks. This LCD more than held its own in terms of image saturation, even in complexly-lit nighttime scenes that required most of the LEDs to remain on.

The same proved true with the standard-def DVD versions of The Bourne Supremacy (Universal Studios Home Video) and The Prestige (Buena Vista Home Entertainment). The LN-T4681F did an excellent job rendering the fine details in dark scenes, and image saturation in a completely dark theater was very good. There were times when my projector’s blacks looked better and times when the LCD’s blacks looked better, but overall, the two were comparable, which is saying a lot for an LCD panel. To remind myself of this fact, I turned off the LED SmartLighting for a while. What I got was a more LCD-like image in a dark room: grayish blacks, a lack of fine shading and black detail, and a generally washed-out picture.

Obviously, those good blacks continue to pay dividends with brighter high-def content, but another benefit of LED SmartLighting is that the TV doesn’t have to limit its light output to produce better blacks. Even at the lowest backlight setting, the LN-T4681F has great light output, so brighter HD content really pops, regardless of whether you view it in a bright or dark room. Scenes from Kingdom of Heaven (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) and Shooter (Paramount Home Entertainment) on Blu-ray disc had wonderfully rich contrast, while high-def sporting events looked spectacular, thanks to a combination of great contrast, natural color and excellent detail. The green grass in football and baseball broadcasts looked a little off, but wasn’t overly exaggerated or cartoonish. I took in a hockey game on HDNet, switching LED Motion Plus on and off as the camera panned quickly around the arena. With LED Motion Plus in effect, I could easily follow the puck and saw better delineation between the fans in the background.

The LN-T4681F does a nice job of deinterlacing 1080i sources. My HQV Benchmark test disc shows that it correctly deinterlaces 1080i and picks up the 3:2 sequence in film-based sources. I didn’t see jaggies or other artifacts in prime-time 1080i shows like Heroes and Law & Order, or in high-def DVDs output at 1080i from my Sony Blu-ray player. It’s not mandatory that you mate this TV with a good 1080p-capable player, but if you do, the HDMI inputs accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24.

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