In the February issue, the Samsung HL-S6188W was derided, and rightly so, for it’s staggering light output of almost 170 ft-Lamberts. For a 61-inch display, this is way to bright to watch in a dark room. It’s the kind of light output that hurts, literally.
I mentioned in the article that buried in the service menu there was a way too enable an iris. We didn’t review it this way in the magazine because I don’t think it was fair to assume that every ISF calibrator would know how to do this (though by comparison it is fair to assume that they will know how to calibrate the grayscale on every TV). The fact that there is an iris, but there isn’t a control for it in the user menu is a conundrum that is above my ability to figure out. So we tested this iris, and it certainly works.
There are only two settings for the iris, on and off. Default, as you can imagine, is off. On drops the light output by half. The contrast ratio essentially stays the same, but now instead of 158 ft-Lamberts (what we measured this week now that it has many more hours on its lamp), it drops by more than half to 77.06 ft-Lamberts. This is still bright, but lacks the pop that you would expect if you’re used to this TV in its brighter mode. That said, if you watch this TV in a dark room, it’s well worth it, not least for the drop in black level that also goes down by half.
In reality of the article, it doesn’t matter that the TV does this, as it wouldn’t have affected its ranking one bit. But if you want to get a highly accurate TV, and one that doesn’t blow you out of the room, this TV can give you both. Unfortunately, you have to choose between the two settings, as there is no easy way to switch between them.
How to do it
I will not tell you how to get into the service menu, so don’t even ask. I don’t care if this annoys you. One way to look at this is “plausible deniability” another is “lack of liability.” If you screw up your TV, it’s your own fault. So when your ISF calibrator is at your house calibrating this TV, or you’ve found the codes to screw it up yourself, this is how you enable the iris:
Under the “SP Actuator” section of the service menu, turn “DB On/Off” to Off. Then in the same section of menu, scroll down to the now available “DB Aperture” setting. Set this to “Close.” It’s that easy.
Feel free to make fun of me for my paranoia about end users using the service menu, but remember that anyone can post the service codes on a website, and not get blamed for you making your set unwatchable (and losing your warrantee). If I print it, on the other hand, it’s my ass. So otherwise… have fun!