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Samsung HL-S6187W 61-Inch DLP HDTV Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 November 2006
Article Index
Samsung HL-S6187W 61-Inch DLP HDTV
Page 2
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Movies
I decided to kick things off with the HBO HD presentation of the Nicholas Cage melodrama City of Angels (Warner Bros.). Besides being a wonderful transfer, which can be problematic with slightly older films, City of Angels showed off just about everything the Samsung had to offer. For starters, the Samsung's colors were just brilliant. The warmer side of the color spectrum was rendered beautifully with punch and accurate saturation, with nary a sign of bloom. Reds were especially magical, which I find to be rather rare in today's oversaturated HD world. The Samsung's proper color balance made for very realistic and accurate skin tones. City of Angels features a lot of close-ups, especially on the less than perfect skin of Nicholas Cage, which I'm pleased and a little sad to say the Samsung rendered without restraint. It seems HD isn't good for everyone (Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz – you are next on my list). More impressive than its color rendering was the Samsung's ability to portray blacks. Blacks have been better through DLP technology than through LCD or plasma for years. However, blacks through any sort of projection system have always seemed to suffer. Well, if Nicholas Cage's black duster is any indication, the folks over at Samsung have gotten blacks pretty much figured out. The sheer level of detail and texture found within the film's darker regions was astonishing. The blacks were inky smooth, with excellent edge detail and definition, which leant a true three-dimensionality to the image. Sadly, getting the darker portions to blend with the light proved to be a bit problematic at times, causing excess breakup and patchiness. Also, when placed alongside a bright subject like direct sunlight, the black values could become grainier and “float” or become disjointed from the rest of the image’s lighter elements. Also, complex textures, like Denis Franz's plethora of pattered and tropical t-shirts, proved to be quite a task for the Samsung's internal video processing, resulting in a bit of a visual shiftiness. I have to say, though, this anomaly has just as much to do with the broadcast as it does with the television. Even so, it was present.

Next, I cued up my TiVo for ABC HD's presentation of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Disney). Right off the bat, the Samsung's edge fidelity proved to be most impressive. The sharpness only added to the sense of depth, especially through out many of the film's wider shots. Speaking of wide shots, director Gore Verbinski captures some pretty spectacular ocean vistas, which, were crystal clear through the Samsung, wonderfully detailed with true to life color and saturation. The frothy white tops of the crashing waves were free from digital artifacts, break-up and excessive noise, the latter a problem that can often plague HD sets. Once again, the blacks were sharp and plenty deep. Pirates has a number of scenes that take place in the bowels of a ship, yet I never felt as if I was locked in a closet with Samsung's seemingly limitless black detail. However, when I turned my attention toward the portholes in a few of these scenes, the image still didn't transition quite as smoothly into the light as some. Breaking away from endless scenery and beautifully rendered set pieces, I focused on the actors themselves. Unlike Nicolas Cage’s otherworldly character in City of Angels, Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow is supposed to look like 50 miles of bad Utah road. I could write a whole review on the endless amounts of information and detail I saw in Johnny's makeup design, yet it was Keira Knightley's face that caught my eye. Not only was her skin void of any sort of noise or splotchiness, it was faithfully rendered in terms of color and saturation that at times appeared to protrude out from the screen. This effect was no doubt assisted by the Samsung's excellent sharpness and detail retrieval, but it was also the result of the projection aspect of the set itself. More so than plasma, rear-projection images appear to pop out in space in a darkened room due to the screen material and often thinner frames, creating a more realistic movie theater feel. If you're going for that megaplex look on a smaller scale, the Samsung may just be the answer.

I ended my time with the Samsung DLP with the best HD demo I could muster, Fight Club (20th Century Fox) on D-VHS. This time around, I couldn't blame anything on the broadcast or bandwidth. This was pure HD, baby. I bypassed my Denon receiver and connected my JVC D-VHS player straight to the Samsung via a set of Transparent Reference component cables. Director David Fincher's crossed, processed visuals can wreak havoc with a number of today's best HD sets. For starters, in terms of ultimate black levels, Fight Club is the best. Through the Samsung, black levels were not robbed of even an ounce of their punch. They were textured, vivid and, above all, deep. In a pitch-black room, portions of the screen appeared to be black holes, sucking in light and not letting go. However, the Samsung was still a bit noisy coming out of darkness towards the light. Once again, this meeting of deep blacks and light proved to make the Samsung a little finicky, causing the image to "clump" a bit. Another thing that I noticed with Fight Club was that the Samsung tended to succumb to showing slight motion artifacts or "jaggies" during the film's many rapid pans. It was minor but present. Moving beyond these issues, the Samsung's way with color was magnificent. Even the slightly metallic and muted color pallet of Fight Club looked brilliant. Every color was held firmly in check, with zero signs of blooming, even against absolute white. Speaking of whites, the Samsung presented them beautifully. Normally HD sets go about providing whites in two ways, either with excess noise or with excess brightness, causing you to squint or simply look away. I'm happy that the Samsung doesn't fall into these categories. Overall, Fight Club was the best demonstration of the Samsung's strengths and weaknesses. Beautiful colors, endless detail, wonderful black levels all help give the Samsung one hell of an amazing image, and go a long way toward helping the viewer look past its faults.

The burning question still left to be discussed is, how does this Samsung HL-S6187W do with standard-definition broadcasts, which still sadly make up the vast majority of your broadcasting day? The simple answer is, despite internal video processors that scale all sources ranging from 480i to 480p to 720p to 1080i up to 1080p, the standard-definition picture is lackluster, just as you will find with nearly all of the HDTVs this set competes with in the marketplace today. The internal processor just isn’t up to the challenge of taking low-quality, distorted, squished video and making it look like HDNet or Sunday Night Football. But is all lost? Not at all. There are a new crop of video scalers on the market that can take crappy-looking SD images, even from sources like a DVD player or the progressive output of a cable box, and nicely upconvert them to 1080p. The new DVDO VP50 comes to mind, but it will cost the majority of the purchase price of the set. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable upgrade path for those who want to get their SD looking more like their beaming HD.


 
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