Review: Samsung UN55D8000 3D LCD HDTV Page 2

Setup

The UN55D8000’s Movie mode and Warm 2 color temperature presets turned out to be the best bets for getting an accurate picture. Other settings that I adjusted were Gamma (–1), and Smart LED (Standard). I also turned on Cinema Black, a new Samsung TV feature that shuts off the side-mounted LED modules at the top and bottom of the screen when displaying Cinemascope-ratio letterboxed movies. The TV’s Auto color space options mostly delivered dead-on accurate color points (see Test Bench), although I was able to improve things a bit by making adjustments in Custom mode. Same thing held for grayscale: Out of the box, the UN55D8000 measured okay, but its 10-point White Balance adjustment allowed me to dial in near-perfect numbers.

The TV’s Auto Motion Plus mode provides a Custom setting that lets you independently adjust the level of blur and judder reduction. Although the effects of judder reduction below the –3 mark were mild, settings above that point introduced a “video look” to film-based programs.

Samsung’s 3D picture adjustments include a 2D-to-3D conversion mode, along with presets to handle the side-by-side and top-bottom formats used by cable and satellite TV providers. You can set the TV up to kick in automatically to 3D display when a compatible signal is sensed. Other settings include perspective and depth adjustments, L/R image switch, and 3D Optimize settings.

Performance

Samsung’s Smart Hub screen interface, though workable, comes off as a bit cluttered in its default layout. (An edit mode lets you modify things to a degree.) With so many available apps, however — Samsung seems to be well ahead of the game here — you’re bound to find something of interest. For my own purposes, I found its Search feature, which can scan all network-connected computers, devices, and drives for content, only partially useful. You can enter an actor’s name — Vin Diesel, for example — and it will display related hits on the Web, as well as a filmography with a Watch Now option that links to VOD sites like Vudu (but strangely omits Netflix).

Picture uniformity is typically a problem with edge-lit LED TVs like the UN55D8000. Dark movie scenes often reveal uneven black levels across the screen, and in some cases the backlight irregularities can affect brighter pictures as well. I did note uniformity issues with the Samsung when looking at test patterns and some movies, but I can’t say they proved too problematic during most regular viewing.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a fairly dark Blu-ray movie. After final setup of the Samsung, black letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the screen looked consistently solid, as did the deep shadows in the movie image itself. In a scene where Lord Voldemort and his council meet to discuss a strategy for capturing Harry, I could also see a good range of dark gray tones in the clothing of the goth- looking crew. However, when watching another fairly dark movie on Blu-ray, the medieval-era drama Black Death, I noticed a sort of “reverse vignette” effect in a few scenes where the black areas at the picture’s edges looked considerably lighter than its center.

The Samsung’s accurate color helped skin tones to look natural and nature scenes with lots of green to appear balanced. There aren’t too many shots in Deathly Hallows where everything doesn’t look dim, glum, and diseased. In a scene outside Xenophilius Lovegood’s house — one of the few sunny scenes in the entire movie — the fields surrounding the structure and the ivy covering its walls displayed rich, realistic green hues. And in hockey and basketball games I checked out, colors in the players’ jerseys looked vibrant without being unduly emphasized.

While Shrek Forever After isn’t the best example of 3D I’ve seen, a few shots really managed to pop on the Samsung. In a shot of a hall interior where Shrek’s kid’s birthday party takes place, for instance, there was a strong sense of layering, with the rows of partygoers extending far back into space. And in another scene where the now-erased-from-existence ogre breaks into his old home, the strands of vegetation hanging down in the tree-trunk interior, and the twisted roots climb- ing the walls, imparted an excellent sense of depth.

Unlike with the Samsung 3D LED-based TV model I tested last year — the company’s first — there was no crosstalk (ghosting) to be seen in this or any other movie I checked out. Its 3D picture was uniformly solid and crisp. The only real complaint I have was the UN55D8000’s relatively dim picture in 3D mode.

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