Like the Mitsubishi WD-52627 reviewed on page 54, the Samsung HLR5668W comes with two potentially hot features for TV watchers: the TV Guide On Screen (TVGOS) interactive program guide and CableCARD. I was able to work around my local cable provider’s incompatibility with the system by splitting the cable signal and running the second leg to the RF2 input (see “Misadventures with Cable- CARD” on page 56).
However, the Samsung did not have all the functionality of the Mitsubishi. The most obvious difference: only an analog VCR can be set to make recordings with the guide; scheduled digital recordings via FireWire are not possible. This is a glaring omission in an HDTV claiming to have two-way FireWire, since FireWire is the only way to send high-definition signals from the display to a recorder. I attempted to make a recording on an RCA digital video recorder (DVR), bypassing TVGOS’s TiVo-style programming. The HL-R5668 had no problem recognizing the RCA DVR, and the set was able to play and fastscan any of the recordings I had previously stored on it. However, the Samsung would not allow me to record any new cable content on the DVR. Instead, it displayed an on-screen notice that the content was copy-protected. This occurred with my local digital-broadcast channels (terrestrial channels that are rebroadcast on digital cable) as well as premium content such as HBO. Copy restrictions are prohibited on rebroadcast channels, so that couldn’t have been the problem.
I finally learned from Samsung that the HL-R5668 does not have a PID (Program Identifier) filter. This filter is essential for recording digital-cable signals, which carry two complete HD channels in the same 6MHz bandwidth as single-channel over-the-air broadcasts. A program ID filter allows only one channel to pass through the FireWire cable to the recorder, which can’t record two channels at once. Obviously, the Mitsubishi has a PID filter, since it can be used to record digital-cable signals on a digital recorder. The Samsung rep I spoke with assured me that digital recordings of terrestrial broadcasts can be performed, but I didn’t try it. Is the Samsung right for you? The answer has to do with your primary source material, whether you want to record high-definition cable content, and how precisely you want to control images. This set doesn’t give you highlevel precision. However, if you simply want a high-definition 1080p display, this Samsung may thrill you. The HLR5668 provides a good picture, while hanging out at the lower end of the 1080p rear-projection price curve.