Face Off: The Bridge on the River DTV Samsung TSK3092WF
We'll take full credit for the nostalgic Sesame Street flashback that you may have had while looking at the cover of this issue. Remember the old one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others game? Samsung's TSK3092WF ($2,199) is a 16:9 set; however, in all other respects, it fit into this group quite nicely. Ultimately, you'll have to decide whether to choose the 16:9 or 4:3 route in this bridge period, and you should consider issues like those I raised in the Sony section concerning the different approaches.
The Samsung has a nice lineup of features, including a pretty good line doubler, a wide selection of aspect-ratio controls (remember that all widescreen sets automatically adjust for anamorphic DVDs), and plenty of secondary tricks. The quality color decoder offered accuracy and punch, which meshed nicely with solid black levels to create a nice-looking picture overall. Our test patterns showed a bit of phosphor burn, indicating that the set doesn't like a lot of white for long periods of time, but this is something that you'll probably never run into with regular program material. The Samsung offers multiple color-temperature controls, and we measured it at around 8,300 degrees K at its lowest setting. Granted, it's not 6,500 K, but it's a lot more accurate than some of the sets in this group.
The Samsung handled both DVD and broadcast material well. Maureen again liked the punchy whites of Toy Story, and the Samsung's handling of Gladiator and Fight Club was right on par, if not above. Naturally, the Samsung held a considerable advantage for DTV broadcasts in that it offered the proper aspect ratio with no black bars. (Unlike many movies, the native aspect ratio of DTV is a true 16:9.) Remember, though, that the 4:3 window on this set is pretty small and needs bars on the sides, so you'll have to consider that for the next five years or so.
Peripherals were also above par. The set's widescreen shape gives it an aesthetic kick to go along with the performance advantage (keep in mind, the Sony and Panasonic offer true widescreen modes). While the audio ports on the top of the cabinet didn't do much for me, they're sure to garner some positive attention from many buyers. The onscreen menus and manual are both intuitive and extensive, especially the latter. The remote is also pretty good, and Geoff simply couldn't get over its flashing LEDs. Methinks the fellows at Samsung have been watching Battlestar Gallactica reruns lately.
All in all, the Samsung TSK3092WF is a solid unit. If you're in the market for a widescreen set this size, you'll probably want to give it a look.
• 16:9 aspect ratio
• 16:9 Plenty of peripheral features
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