That efficiency is partly due to the set’s rather extensive power management system that’s automatically on with the default Standard picture mode, and which includes an ambient light sensor on the front panel. During the initial testing phase however, there were slight but nonetheless noticeable jumps up and down in overall picture brightness, indicating some sort of coarseness in the power management system. That’s not too much of a big deal however, as switching over to the preferred Movie mode disables those features (and numerous other features of dubious value), and the picture quality improves greatly.
Brightness was up overall, and the measured power consumption was up only a tad. With a reasonably bright screen image that would be entirely suitable for daytime viewing, the set’s power consumption hovered in the 300~350 watt range, which is more than a comparably-sized LED TV would consume, but is still nonetheless relatively low power consumption compared to earlier generation plasma TVs that were a lot thirstier.
New for Samsung 3DTVs this year is the addition of a 3D depth control, which allows the viewer to shift the 3D focal plane forward or backward. Not everybody sees 3D the same way, and having a so-called “Z-axis” 3D depth control provides for fine-tuning of the 3D image. With 3D content that was originally produced in 3D (and not upconverted from 2D), the control had a noticeable effect. With upconverted 3D programs, the adjustment effect was much milder.
These days, most buyers will be connecting their source components to the set via HDMI, so the Samsung’s four HDMI inputs should be enough. All four of them are arrayed along a side-facing input panel. There’s an RGB PC input with a companion audio input, and they’re joined by two USB ports and an optical digital audio output. The set also has a single component HD input and a standard definition composite input, with stereo audio inputs for both connection types. The TV has a wired LAN port, and is also equipped with built-in Wi-Fi.
On Screen Display
New for this year’s Samsung smart TV models is a completely re-designed OSD with big, bright colorful icons that are easy to discern even from afar, along with the ability to customize the OSD layout for your preferred Internet apps. System start-up time is also relatively quick, coming at around ten seconds or so (some smart TVs are glacially slow to get going after the power button is pressed).
The conventional side of the remote features soft bluish backlighting, but the lighting time is quite short, at about two seconds or so. We griped about this when we tested Samsung’s LED 8000-series set a few months ago that ships with the same remote, and the answer came back that it was to save battery life. If Samsung had sized the remote just a tiny bit bigger there would be room inside for AA batteries and not the puny AAA types the remote requires. Still, for a compact remote, most of the buttons are large enough, although the bottom three rows of buttons are downright teensy, with itty-bitty labeling that’ll have some users reaching for their reading glasses.
All the buttons on the QWERTY side are small, but overall keypad layout is roughly similar to the slide-out QWERTY keypads found on many of today’s smartphones. Touch typists used to a full size keyboard will be grumbling, though.
For some years now, Samsung TVs have consistently provided picture mode that pretty much deliver benchmark HD performance (though the challenge lies in figuring out which picture mode to pick). Here’s the solution for this set; switch the set out of the default Standard mode and swing on over to the Movie mode, and then select the Warm 2 color mode. Do those two simple steps and you’ll be rewarded with a picture quality that’s as good as you’ll find anywhere (in the process, the misbehaving power management system is disabled, as are some other picture processing modes that can be dispensed with).
Picture Mode: Movie
Color Tone: Warm2
HD size (pixel-to-pixel): Screen Fit
Motion Lighting: Off
Energy Saving: Off
Eco Sensor: Off
Cell Light: 16
Black Tone: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Color Space: Auto
Flesh Tone: 0
Edge Enhancement: Off
Digital Noise Filter: Off
MPEG Noise Filter: Off
Film Mode: Auto 2
HDMI Black Level: Low