Samsung announces second generation of LED-LCD screens

Wednesday and Thursday, Samsung held a showcase of new products on New York's west side. I attended the shindig, and got a good look at some of the company's new and upcoming home theater products. The biggest pieces of gear was Samsung's new Series 9 950 LED-lit LCD TVs.

They're the second generation of Samsung screens to use Samsung's "LED SmartLighting," a backlighting system built around a matrix of LEDs instead of CCFL lights (see left), that turns off individual LEDs to better reflect black parts of the picture. We were pleased by the first iteration of that technology, which brought out surprisingly dark blacks for an LCD television. Samsung claims that the system gives the Series 9 screens a dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, double that of Series 81 screens like the LN-T4681F, that so impressed us last January. Of course, whether those numbers will mean anything in a home theater installation remains to be seen.

Samsung_a950_smaller Refresh rate also doubles from the previous generation; the 950 HDTVs boast Samsung's "Auto Motion Plus" 120-Hz technology and a response time of 4ms. The higher rate should help reduce blur, and make motion appear smoother on the screen. Finally, just for even more feature-doubling, the Series 9 TVs feature four HDMI inputs, compared to the Series 81's meager two.

Samsung will ship the Series 9 950 LCD HDTVs next month, and will offer them in two sizes: a 46-inch model and a 55-inch model. Both versions are nearly the same, save for their on-board sound; the 46-inch television offers 10-watts-per-channel stereo, and the 55-inch television offers 15-watts-per-channel. They'll retail for about $3,200 and $4,200 respectively, and if you're building a home theater with a big screen like that, you're probably planning to hook it up to your own sound system anyway.