Samsung's Iris

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!

COMMENTS
Dave Anderson's picture

This is for Maureen's blog on the LG "universal" player, but it's impossible to submit a comment to her blog:I have a $499 PS3 Blu-Ray player. For $500, I can get an HD-DVD player. Presto! Both formats for $1000. The ideal setup, using HDMI cables, would require just one additional cable than with a single player. This seems a superior solution, especially given the compromised HD-DVD capabilities on the "universal" player.

Bob Grant's picture

Good timing for my purchase of an RPTV. I have a number of questions. I watch movies and sporting events at night in a relatively dark room. Also, I occasionally watch sporting events during the day when the room is fairly bright (alot of windows). 1) Sounds like the Samsung with the Iris On would suite my viewing habits better? 2) If the iris adjustment was in the user menu is the iris setting something you would expect the end user to switch back and forth? 3) In your blog you state there is no easy way to switch back and forth. Yet, with the service codes its a couple of clicks away. I know nothing is idiot proof, but it doesn't seem to difficult for a person with the code to switch back and forth. Do you agree? 4) You indicate the contrast ratio (full on/off and ANSI?) wouldn't change much with the Iris On. Would the TV track D6500 as your test with the with Iris on? 5) If Samsung shipped this TV with the Iris On it seems like there wouldn't have been any "real" negatives

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

It's not quite as easy as it sounds, as entering the service menu resets your user picture controls. It does this every time you enter. So every time you want to switch the iris, you'll have to redo all your settings. That, to me, would get annoying very quickly. The iris shouldn

Steve Peters's picture

Geoffrey, I read with great interest the results of the RPTV Face Off in the February issue. However, I was wondering what I suspect many others might be as well, that being what would YOUR winner have been out of the six TVs tested? I'm assuming you had just as much, if not more, hands-on experience with them as any of the other editors.

Bob Grant's picture

Thanks for the info. on the set resetting to as-shipped settings. 1) Aside from turning off the DNIe were there many user setting changes made to get the Samsung as good as you reported? What I'm getting at is how much of a pain would it be to get back to the user adjusted TV settings after entering the service menu? I'm assuming that the service menu adjustments would not be reset when reentering the service menu to change the iris setting. 2)In your blog you mentioned the light output had gone down from 170 to 158 ft-L due to hours on the lamp. Would you expect within a short time (400 - 500 hrs) that the light output with Iris Off would go down to non-objectionable levels? 3) Given my viewing habits from my previously posted comment would you recommend the Samsung with Iris On or the maybe your #2 rated JVC TV? That is, would the Samsung have been #1 with you and your fellow judges with Iris On?

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

Steve: I

Chip Chockley's picture

Geoffrey-I'm looking at the Sammy and the Sony A2000, both in 50" versions. I'm having a hard time deciding-- they're both beautiful sets.Here's my question-- what the difference between the Sammy xx87 and the xx88 models? Are they the same set with different input options? From what I can tell, the 5087 is a couple grand less than the 5088.

Aron's picture

Chip: As I understand it, the only PQ (as opposed to feature) benefit of the xx88 over the xx87 is that the xx88 offer persistent 1:1 pixel mapping. I.e., uncalibrated, with overscan on, this TV does not do 1:1 pixel mapping, which means it can't quite fully resolve a 1080 line test pattern (and it has too much overscan -- something like 3.5%). If you have the TV ISF calibrated, the calibrator can go into the service menu and turn off the overscan, giving you 1:1 pixel mapping and thus full 1080p resolution (this also reduces overscan to ~1%). The calibrator can do this with both the xx87 and the xx88. But the advantage of the xx88 is that once the calibrator does this, it stays this way. With the xx87, this "fix" is not persistent -- it can revert back to the default setting (which is overscan set to on). Also, if you check on-line (www.pricegrabber.com) you will see that the price difference between the two sets is only ~$300 ($1400 vs. $1700).

Aron's picture

Geoff: 1. Instead of an iris, why didn't Samsung just offer a reduced power setting? Wouldn't this offer the same benefit but also save energy, not to mention bulb life?2. Got a technical question for you about the Samsung 5679 LED DLP: There's been some discussion on avsforum.com that the rapid switching of the LEDs (which eliminates RBEs) has the unavoidable negative consequence of reducing bit (color) depth. The argument is that each LED is on for only ~1000 microsec. (usec). And the mirrors on the DLP flip about once every 15 usec. So you can have only ~1000/15 ~ 60 mirror flips for each color, so you can only adjust the color intensity in 60 steps. And 60 ~ 2^6, so this gives you only ~6 bits of color depth (as opposed to the full 8). [It has been futher argued that you also need 2 bits for gamma, so really you are only left with ~4 bits of color depth.] Is this really true? For instance, the Samsung engineers could have dealt with this problem by integrating over 4 or more LED

Aron's picture

last message got cut off, should finish: "...over 4 or more LED cycles."Geoff: Two general housekeeping comments: (1) I've been a regular reader of your blog and those on your sister publication, www.ultimateavmag.com. I think there may be a problem with your server, because your blog (and others on this site) seem to take forever to load (as compared with those ultimateavmag). This has been a problem as long as I've been a reader. (2) About half the time I enter the exact security code I get back "The Security Answer Was Incorrect."Chip: Just for clarification: both the xx87 and xx88 have overscan on as their default setting, and both can be adjusted to overscan off in the service menu (SM), but the setting sometimes reverts to the default on the xx87. Also, I would not buy a Sammy without getting it ISF cal'd. (by a tech with specific experience in those sets). DNIe messes up the pic, and can only be completely defeated in the SM. And you only get the Sammy&#39

Bob Grant's picture

I read that the JVC TV only allows one HD input to use the Theater mode which is the only mode close to D6500. The review stated that the grayscale accuracy "can't come close to being duplicated" in the other modes (Standard & Dynamic). The reviewer stated this as a significant inconvienence. Having never had an HDTV I have no experience with the significance of this. What was your experience with the JVC regarding the accuracy of the other modes? Does the Samsung have separate video memories by input? If not can the other modes in the Samsung be made as accurate as the Movie mode? If so it seems like this wouldn't be a big deal at all. I'm leaning towards the Samsung and if the TV is unwatchable in a dark room, then have a professional calibrate the set and turn the Iris On. Your comments are appreciated.

Ted 's picture

I have read somewhere that the new Samsungs have a Dynamic iris. Is this the case and what does that mean? Also I read that they can be set up for 1x1 pixel mapping in the service menu. Does this mean they will work well with an external scaler? If they don't do 3:2 with 1080i sources, does that mean you will only see full resolution when feeding them 1080p?

Chip Chockley's picture

Ok, I've done some research and found the answer to my own question-- xx887 v. xx88. I meant to say "couple hundred" instead of "couple grand" difference above.Apparently there is a new firmware (Dec. 06) that allows the overscan setting to "stick" now on the xx87, as it does on the xx88. Otherwise, the picture is the same, and the only other differences are the bezel and firewire inputs on the xx88.I took the plunge and ordered the 5087. Should be here in a few days!

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

Aron: That doesn

Aron's picture

Geoff: Well, I thought the purported reduced bit depth on the 5679 might explain the posterization, which cannot be entirely eliminated, even with a calibration. Incidentally, if the 5679 had been included in the Feb. shootout, where would you rank it (assuming all TV's were calibrated)? As I understand it, it has even more accurate color and less noise than the xx88, as well as no possibility of RBEs (and it would not have the overly-bright light output). On the downside, it has some posterization, higher blacks, and poorer contrast. A non-fatiguing, low-noise picture is important to me, and I can live with poorer contrast if it merely means I don't get ultimate blacks; but I do want a TV with good dimensionality and that doesn't look washed-out. So I'd particularly like to hear your take on whether the 5679 is less fatiguing than other RPTVs, and on the visual effects of the 5679's low contrast and high blacks.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

It would not have done very well. Its high black level and low contrast ratio would have taken it out of contention very quickly. The difference in color accuracy between that and the 6188 would be very hard to detect on normal video material.There is way too much to a judgment like

Aron's picture

Thanks for the feedback. I suppose one thing I need to keep in mind in reading your shootout is that it is for TVs subjected to a consumer-level calibration only, and that if the TVs were ISF'd (which is what I plan to have done) their rankings might well change. For instance, most calibrators on AVSforum prefer the Sony over the JVC because, with a service menu (SM) level calibration, the Sony's colors can be made much more accurate than those of the JVC (see, for instance the ISF cal. tristimulus results posted for the 70XBR2 at http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=8792988&&#post8792988). By contrast, as you showed in performing a user-menu (UM) calibration, it's about a wash between the JVC and Sony for color accuracy (the JVC is overall more accurate, but the inaccuracy in the Sony is less bothersome). [I'm assuming that the shootouot was limited to UM only, b/c your tristim. for the Sony approx. matches the "before" results shown in the link above, and b/c you didn

Aron's picture

CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST: ... and because, as you explained in your article about the Samsung iris, you wanted the results of the shootout to only reflect those adjustments that are accessible to the typical consumer.] [Which is why you didn't do modifications that required entry into the SM, such as adjustment of the Samsung iris.]

Bob Grant's picture

Geoff - Thanks for the reply. Is it correct that by input (HDMI-1, -2, Component 1, etc) that you can program specific UM settings for the Theatre mode. Then depending on what input is the source for your picture when you press the theatre button on the remote you get different brightness, contrast, etc?

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

Aron: Calibration was performed on all sets, as mentioned in the text of the article and in the measurement box for each TV. This was to dial in the grayscale. It is my opinion that it is unfair to assume that ever ISF calibrator would know every single tweak on every single TV. So adjustments in the service menu past that (like the Samsung

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

(

Aron's picture

Thanks for your response. [It was not clear from the face-off article precisely what was meant by

Aron's picture

[CONTINUED FROM LAST POST.] Yes, there

Mike's picture

Geoffrey, after setting DB Aperature to "close" did you adjust SB Gain at the very bottom? The famous AVSforum site also comments on how to close the iris, but they also mentioned adjusting SB Gain between 100-170. Value of 0 is default but sure seems kinda dim now. Just wondering if SB Gain was adjusted with your test unit.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

I respond to a letter about this in an upcoming issue. The short version is this: It may seem a simple thing to add an additional mode, or to calibrate them correctly from the factory, but it isn

Aron's picture

How do you convince them? You point out that while the number of videophiles is small, they include among their ranks virtually all video reviewers, who typically use, and base their evaluations on, measurements of color and gray scale accuracy. So better accuracy equates to better reviews on Cnet, etc., and that certainly drives sales. Also, Consumer Reports (CR) is slowly getting more sophisticated about, e.g., color accuracy. Ask their marketing depts. if it

Bruce's picture

I am not smart enough to understand all this iris stuff. If the TV is to bright why can't you just turn down the brightness control?

Geoffrey Morrison's picture

It

Bob Grant's picture

Having decided on the Samsung TV, I wanted to view at a store with a better viewing environment than BB or CC. I called the local Tweeter and they can no longer get the 6188. What I learned from the manager there was that Samsung stopped making that model in December and will release the new lineup in April. An obvious low cost/big benefit enhancement to the next model years TV would be to have the iris control in the user menu as a variable per input or picture mode. When and how will be get our first clue of what the new Samsung models will offer?

Bruce's picture
Bruce's picture
Bob Grant's picture

Bruce - Thanks for the AVS link. After reading way to many posts, there seems to be alot of interest in the forum for the LED based Samsung sets. I recall reading a review in HT magazine or one of the others that was not to flattering of the 1st gen Samsung LED sets. I'll have to dig it up and see what was written. Hopefully, Geoff will review the new gen Samsung sets in the May timeframe.

Moe's picture

So, you won't tell me how to turn on the iris via the service menue and even if I have an ISF tech come in, he may not know to do it. Brilliant. I accept the former but find the latter unacceptable. Would a tech charge more $$ over an above the standard calibration to turn on the iris? Presumably yes.

By Paul F.'s picture

Geoffrey- I just got samsungs HLS56. The problem I'm having even after calibration is that it seems as though I'm looking @ it through a dirty screen protector lots of shadowing. Had a tech. come out 2 look @ it & he told me after a few service menu adjustments that there was nothing wrong with it. Same result even on HD channels & DVD's but not so much on HDDVD. Can I fix this myself ? Or do I have 2 find someone else 2 take care of this?

Bruce's picture

With my Samsung 5088:1. After 300-400 hrs. the light output droped that I never had to use the 'Movie" mode setting again. Durning the day, I now use the 'Dynamic' setting. I never found this set as bright as you guys claimed.2. In the 'Dynamic' mode the lamps output does increase by 10 watts (measured by a AC watt meter), the increased output of the lamp can be seen behind the set due to all the light leakage. This is terrible and worse than other designs which wasn't mentioned in the review,3. You never test the absolute most basic function of any TV, the internal tuner. What, you don't watch OTA?? How can you NOT test the tuner(s)? DVDs' are a option. In this country OTA is what it's about. Not everyone has HD DVD players (or wants them until they can record). Almost everyone can access at least one OTA digital station, and it's free! You need to change your thinking on this.4. How about measuring AC current draw. A $20 'Kill-a-Watt' meter

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