Samsung LN-T4071F LCD HDTV 
Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs LCD HDTVs
Written by Andrew Robinson   
Saturday, 01 March 2008

I find it amazing how far video quality has come in such a short amount of time. It seems only yesterday that I was reading and lusting over flat panel EDTVs that cost more than I made in a year to today’s endless buffet of HD sets at prices my 16-year-old brother can afford. It appears, at least for the time being, that 1080p is the Holy Grail for all things HD video. However, not wanting to rest on their laurels, manufacturers have pioneered new ways of making 1080p stronger, faster, better. Now, your 1080p display has to have 120Hz refresh rate and be able to accept a native 24p signal from today’s leading-edge HD sources.

I was first introduced to 120Hz earlier this year with the Sony Bravia KDS-55A3000 rear-projection TV, which I thought was utterly fantastic. I was so smitten by the improvements 120Hz afforded me that I went out and purchased the Samsung LN-T407IF, reviewed here, for my bedroom system. Was it worth it? We’ll see …
The Samsung LN-T407IF retails for $2,399, which is a lot for a 40-inch HD LCD these days. However, many retailers are selling the Samsung for much less, as seems to be the case with all HDTVs these days. The Samsung LN-T407IF is a sexy-looking TV, among the most visually appealing ones I’ve come across in a while, with its piano black lacquer finish and flush-mounted, touch-sensitive controls. The Samsung LN-T407IF is stylistically minimal, to say the least, but there is a sort of design oneness that makes it far more elegant than most of the competition. The Samsung LN-T407IF measures 43-and-one-eighth inches wide by 24 inches tall and four inches deep. It comes with an attached (but removable) table stand that increases its depth to just over 11 inches. The Samsung LN-T407IF weighs a manageable 43 pounds without its stand and 52 pounds with it. Needless to say, this isn’t the sort of TV you’ll need a great deal of help moving around.

Outside of its physical dimensions, the Samsung LN-T407IF sports a 40-inch 16x9 LCD screen with a semi-gloss coating, boasting a pixel resolution of 1920x1080. The Samsung LN-T407IF claims a six-millisecond response time, as well as a reported contrast ratio of 25,000:1 in Dynamic mode. The Samsung LN-T407IF also states a 178-degree viewing angle with fluorescent backlighting for a wider viewing sweet spot for the whole family to enjoy. The Samsung LN-T407IF comes with built-in side-mounted stereo speakers that aren’t all bad, believe it or not. Turning my attention to the rear of the Samsung LN-T407IF, I noticed a host of connection options, as well as a few more mounted along the left side of the display. Suffice to say, those still rocking the yellow, white and red cables of yore are covered, but for those a bit more with the times, you’ll find two 1080p-capable component video inputs, as well as three 1080p HDMI 1.3 inputs. A word on the Samsung LN-T407IF’s HDMI inputs: two are located on the back, with one resting along the side for those impromptu HD demonstrations. Most HDMI cables are so damn thick that they don’t allow for a great deal of flexibility, and even with my most flexible cable, I could see the connector dangling off the side of the display, which marred the Samsung LN-T407IF’s otherwise flawless appearance. So if you’re going for a more professional-looking installation, you’re going to want to use the back inputs, saving the side one for when your kids want to play Nintendo Wii. There is also a PC input, as well as analog and digital audio inputs for each of the video connections. Lastly, there is a USB 2.0 input on the side for those of you who like to view digital photos on your TV.

Behind the scenes, the Samsung LN-T407IF has quite an arsenal of features that keep in line with, if not ahead of, the ever-changing competition. For starters, the LN-T407IF features a 120Hz refresh rate with Samsung’s own Auto Motion Plus “anti-blur” technology, which interpolates and creates unique frames between the existing ones for a more lifelike and flicker-free presentation. Samsung’s version of this Auto Motion Plus technology is not unlike Sony’s MotionFlow and similar incarnations from other leading manufacturers. Like the others, Samsung’s Auto Motion Plus technology has several settings, ranging from low to high, each affecting the image differently in both good and bad ways – I’ll get into that later. The LN-T407IF has built-in digital and analog TV tuners for snatching up over-the-air broadcasts, as well as single-tuner picture and picture capability. The LN-T407IF also features x.v. Color Technology, which is the new color standard, developed by Sony for HDMI 1.3-capable HDTVs. Do not fret about the x.v., for it’s not really anything new, but rather a re-branding of Sony’s xvYCC color standard, which many HD manufacturers use today. One notable feature that the LN-T407IF has that does nothing to enhance picture quality, but does enhance daily livability is its Anynet+ HDMI capability. In a nutshell, Anynet+ HDMI connections allow you to control compatible HDMI-connected components from a single remote without having to utilize expensive control systems or signal boosters. Anynet+ is a cool concept and, if you own a barrage of other Samsung gear, like their Blu-ray player, you’re in business. However, after doing a few Google searches for other Anynet+ products, I was unable to find any outside of Samsung’s own brand. Still, system control via HDMI is an interesting concept.

Which brings me to the remote. While complete system control without line of sight via HDMI is cool and all, it would help if the remote was a bit more user-friendly to facilitate that dream. The LN-T407IF’s remote is long, narrow and as cluttered as they come. It features some of the smallest buttons I’ve seen in a long time and has the most useless backlighting I’ve ever come across. I’m not opposed to push-button backlighting, but when the button is never illuminated, you have a huge problem. The only buttons that light up are channel and volume, which are about as useful as a third tit when watching a Blu-ray disc in the dark.

The Samsung LN-T407IF took the place of the Sony KDS-55A3000 in my bedroom system. While not as large as the KDS, the LN-T407IF proved to be a much better fit. Connecting it to my associated equipment was a snap, for I’m currently between 5.1 audio systems in my bedroom, so I only had to connect my Playstation 3, AppleTV and Dish Network receiver to the LN-T407IF via one-meter runs of UltraLink HDMI cables.

I went ahead and brought my Toshiba HD-A20 HD DVD player into the room for calibration purposes, as I own Digital Video Essentials on HD DVD only. From a calibration standpoint, the LN-T407IF proved to be rather simple. The LN-T407IF’s menus were clear and legible, and navigating them was simpler than most. My particular LN-T407IF came from the factory in Dynamic mode, which on LCD TVs is a bit like looking into the sun, especially in a darkened room. LCDs have their share of calibration woes due to their need for backlighting, which differs from standard picture controls like brightness, picture, etc. that you’ll find on plasma TVs. I ended up tweaking the LN-T407IF’s Standard setting and arrived at a custom setting roughly between Samsung’s own Standard and Cinema factory presets. All in all, I was up and running in roughly an hour or so.

I kicked things off with some SD material starting with the anime follow-up to Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Go Fish Pictures). Ghost in the Shell 2 is one of those films that you inevitably have to watch a few times in order to fully understand it, unlike its predecessor, which was digestible after a single viewing. Beyond the story Ghost in the Shell 2 features some stunning visuals and eye-popping colors, which on the LN-T407IF was quite a treat. I played Ghost in the Shell 2 through my AppleTV and ripped it (yes, I own the DVD) at full DVD resolution and turned the AppleTV’s internal up-sampling off for a true 480i image. Keep in mind the LN-T407IF’s internal processors scale all content to 1080p via its HDMI and component video inputs. The colors were magnificent, punchy, well-saturated and among the best I’ve seen this side of Pixar’s Ratatouille on Blu-ray. I can’t call them natural, for this is an animated flick and everything takes on a bit of hyper-realism, but nevertheless, animated or not, the color rendering was awesome. Black levels were good, although absolute black did escape the LN-T407IF’s grasp on this particular selection. Absolute black is a hard pill for many LCD TVs to swallow and the LN-T407IF proved to be no different, but in comparison to budget LCDs, the Samsung faired exceptionally well. White levels were brilliant and well-composed amidst the copious amount of detail crammed into every frame. Edge fidelity was better than what I expected from a 480i signal and there was clarity and depth to the image that bordered on feeling more HD than SD. Motion was smooth and digital artifacts and jaggies were kept to an absolute minimum. I experimented with the Auto Motion Plus settings, but with this particular film, they seemed to be more of a hindrance than an advantage, so I left them off.

Next, I cued up the James Cameron epic, Titanic (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) on my AppleTV. This time, I set the full resolution transfer to 1080i. Again, the LN-T407IF took the 1080i signal and converted it to 1080p for this test. This time around, the colors were less hyper and more real, albeit a bit stylized for effect but true to the theatrical presentation. Skin tones were warm and hard-to-render colors, like metallic surfaces, looked like the real thing. Getting back to skin for a moment, the LN-T407IF didn’t smooth over the details, presenting lifelike texture in the characters’ faces, as well as in the period clothing and costume design. From my viewing position, I could easily tell the difference between the various textiles that made up many of the elaborate costumes. Black levels remained about the same as in Ghost in the Shell 2, as did the white levels. Edge fidelity remained strong and, while the image didn’t posses quite the same depth, it was nevertheless impressive and had more to do with the cinematography than with the LN-T407IF itself.

Satisfied with the LN-T407IF’s internal processing on standard-definition material, I fired up my PlayStation 3 for some Blu-ray fun, starting with the remake of 3:10 to Yuma (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. With my PS3 set to 1080p/24, 3:10 to Yuma proved to be a visual treat. Black levels improved as the LN-T407IF inched towards achieving absolute black. While I’d say the LN-T407IF got 98 percent of the way there, it was the level of detail in the darker regions of the picture that got me excited. Transitions from dark to light were smooth, with no signs of the banding that you find on cheaper LCDs. White levels were brilliant and showed no signs of blooming, even when faced with the neutral colors of the desert on a hot summer’s day. Fine details, down to the grains of sand and dirt on the canyon floor, were present and accounted for. Once again, the LN-T407IF’s color rendering was exceptional. As with Titanic, details and colors in the actors’ skin and clothing were lifelike and the whole presentation was enhanced by the LN-T407IF’s already stellar edge fidelity. During the film’s wide shots, the depth to the image was among the best I’ve seen in an LCD display. I went ahead and turned the Auto Motion Plus setting on and achieved some interesting results. With the setting maxed out, the motion was overtly smooth, resulting in a not-so-lifelike presentation. Focusing on things like the wagon wheels with the Auto Motion setting on High was rather jarring, much like focusing on a single fan blade on your ceiling fan and watching it yank endlessly around in a circle. Turning the Auto Motion to Low proved to be much more acceptable. Fast-moving action smoothed out a bit and the sense of separation from the surrounding elements improved without seeming like a bad green screen composite. I ultimately left the Auto Motion on Low when viewing Blu-ray discs, but left it off for everything else.

I ended my time with another Blu-ray disc, Spider-Man 3 (Sony Home Entertainment). With the Auto Motion setting on Low, Spider-Man 3 was a visual blitzkrieg. The film itself was horrid on nearly every level and suffered the third installment of the franchise disease I’ve come to loathe in Hollywood. Not much changed performance-wise between Blu-ray discs that caused me to take note. Once again, the LN-T407IF’s attention to detail was excellent, as was its rendering of color, especially when presented with the almost Crayola-inspired color pallette of Spider-Man 3. Spider-Man 3 possessed the best blacks I’d seen so far through the LN-T407IF, showcased successfully in the CG-rendered character Venom, played by Topher Grace. The Sandman looked equally impressive on the LN-T407IF, with seemingly every grain of sand and debris appearing on the screen with terrific dimension and detail.

The Downside
I would classify the Samsung LN-T407IF as better-than-most-in-its-class and far better than the budget labels. However, it is not perfect. For starters, I would have liked to see a bit more control over its backlighting, for I felt the incremental movements were too drastic, thus ultimately affecting its overall black levels or lack thereof, depending on your source material.

Keeping with increments, I would love to see the Auto Motion settings be adjustable beyond just Low, Medium and High. This is more of a universal annoyance, but I’m going to bring it up here. Often, Low proved to have the right amount of trickery to enhance the viewing experience when watching Blu-ray discs, but when two-thirds of your touted features are unusable, it begs the question, where is the value? If Low became the highest point, with varying degrees below that, I could see it being utilized more often, resulting in a true benefit to the consumer. I say this because I like technology such as Auto Motion and don’t want it to disappear someday because manufacturers failed to improve upon it.

Lastly, while I appreciate a side-mounted HDMI input, I would’ve preferred it on the back panel, as those wanting a clean, installed look will undoubtedly leave it unused, which basically makes the LN-T407IF a dual HDMI input set.

With a retail price just shy of $2,400, the Samsung LN-T407IF is a bit pricier than the competition, yet is competitive enough to make it worth it. Honestly, it’s the first time I’ve personally bought an LCD TV (I’ve been a Plasma guy for years) and the experience has proved to be a good one. The LN-T407IF color and detail rendering is impressive enough for me to overlook its minor deficiencies in its overall black levels. While most displays shine in one way or another over the Samsung, its performance proves once again that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, for it is a fantastic display for all sorts of material, including standard definition. If you’re in the market for a good HD LCD TV and you’re willing to spend just a bit more than the other guys, the Samsung LN-T407IF is feature-packed and equipped for the future. It would be easy for me to say, “Hey, if it was my money, I’d buy one,” but clearly I’ve already done that. So I’ll end with this: having now owned the Samsung LN-T407IF, I’m not tempted to replace it.
Manufacturer Samsung
Model LN-T4071F LCD HDTV
Reviewer Andrew Robinson
Diagonal Screen Size 37 to 42-inches
Native Resolution 1080p
Refresh Rate 120Hz

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