Samsung LN55A950 LCD TV Comparisons & Conclusion
At $5000 list, the LN55A950 is priced the same as the awesome Pioneer Elite PRO-111FD Kuro plasma. The Pioneer has a slightly smaller screen (50 versus 55 inches on the Samsung), but that's pretty much equivalent as far as I'm concerned.
Unfortunately for the Samsung, the video performance of these two competitors is not equivalent. The Pioneer's blacks are very nearly as good as the Samsung's, and they do not suffer from any haloing or light pumping at all. In addition, the Pioneer has a much wider viewing angle.
When you look the opening title sequence of Stargate: Continuum on both sets, there's really no comparison. The Kuro shows more stars in the background, they stay at the same brightness at all times, and you can even see that some of the stars are slightly different colors. In chapter 3 of the same movie, the ship is brighter and more well-defined on the Pioneer, and you can make out textures such as the ship's rusty, stained metal walls and the nubby, red-flecked cloth of the captain's sweater. The Samsung looks good on this difficult, dark material, but the Pioneer looks great.
On the other hand, the Pioneer is slightly noisier than the Samsung, and as a plasma, it is subject to image retention. Still, unless you plan to regularly use the set to display video games or mostly 4:3 material, this isn't a major consideration.
After living with the Samsung for some weeks now, it has became readily apparent to me that, a few years down the road, all high-end LCD TVs will have LED backlighting. And, as with all things digital, the technology will get better and cheaper with each generation. Problems such as haloing and light-pumping will be solved, or at least reduced to the point where they aren't significant. For now, the LN55A950 is easily one of the best-looking LCD TVs—if not the best-looking—on the market. But it's no Kuro killer, and at its current price point, that road looks a bit rocky.
Incredible blacks/contrast ratio
Virtually no motion blur and no artifacts with frame interpolation on
Beautifully vibrant and natural color
Haloing and light-pumping
Poor off-axis performance
Mirror-like screen surface
Annoying user interface