|Samsung LN-T4681F 46-inch LCD HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs|
|Written by Adrienne Maxwell|
|Tuesday, 01 January 2008|
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The one way in which the LN-T4681F reveals its LCD nature is in its viewing angle. Image saturation diminishes when you move even 45 degrees off-axis, but it’s not as dramatic as the drop-off you get with most normal LCDs. The image retains more detail, but you lose the great contrast and color accuracy you get when viewing the TV straight on. As I mentioned, the screen also reflects light, which is another reason to be mindful of where you place the TV in your room.
Because the TV is so bright, I was more aware of compression artifacts in my DirecTV signal. Also, the LN-T4681F’s picture can be a bit noisy through the HDMI inputs, and the digital noise reduction circuitry didn’t offer any clear improvement. The Video Essentials white-to-black ramp (DVD International; title 17, chapter seven) revealed a number of uneven steps in the mid to dark grays. As a result, the smoke that hangs over chapter 10 of the Ladder 49 DVD (Buena Vista Home Entertainment) looked a little artificial, and there was more noise in the darker-colored backgrounds of HDTV shows. This wasn’t excessive, and higher-quality Blu-ray and DVD transfers were generally clean. Add in the fact that the HDMI inputs don’t do a very good job of deinterlacing 480i sources, creating a fair amount of artifacts. Ultimately, I preferred using component video with my DirecTV set-top box, as the picture was much cleaner with both standard- and high-definition sources. HDMI was a better fit with my Blu-ray player, or with a good progressive-scan/upconverting DVD player.
As I said at the start, I’ve reviewed a lot of LCDs over the past few years, and the LN-T4681F is easily my favorite. I’d go so far as to call it the best-looking LCD I’ve seen to date. It delivers that bright, detailed, grabbing image we’ve come to expect from LCD in a well-lit room, yet it’s up to the challenge of a creating a rich, well-saturated image in a darkened theater space. High-definition content can look gorgeous, and the TV doesn’t stumble when asked to handle standard definition. All in all, the LN-T4681F is worth the price premium in terms of performance, versatility, aesthetics and features.
Of the many LCD solutions I’ve seen, LED backlighting is the most promising answer to overcoming common LCD drawbacks like black level and motion blur. Black-level purists may take umbrage with the technology’s shifting blacks, but even they must admit it’s a big step in the right direction. Remember, this is a first-generation LED display; theoretically, it will only get better – and less expensive – as time goes by, which should make plasma manufacturers very nervous.