Samsung HL-R6168W 61-inch DLP HDTV Page 2

The range of available picture tweaks excited me at first, especially because each of the four picture presets - Dynamic, Standard, Movie, and Custom - can be adjusted individually for each input, allowing a tremendous amount of customization based on source and ambient lighting. There's also a control that's supposed to affect the intensity of certain colors (My Color) and a second one that lets you adjust red, green, and blue (Color Weakness). For the most accurate picture, these settings should be left at their default values.

The Short Form
SAMSUNG.COM / 800-726-7864 / $4,700 / 57 x 41.625 x 18.375 IN / 95 LBS
•Deep blacks. •Accurate color. •1080p input for PCs.
•No off switch for DNIe processing. 0512_samsung_movie
Key Features
•$4,700 •1080p DLP light engine •Built-in HDTV tuner •Digital cable-ready with CableCARD slot and TV Guide On Screen •2 HDMI, 2 FireWire, 2 component-video inputs •1080p-capable VGA computer input •4 customizable picture presets per input
Test Bench
Multiburst resolution patterns revealed that the Samsung couldn't resolve all 1,920 horizontal lines of a 1080i-format signal via HDMI, component-video, or VGA, nor could it fully resolve all 1,280 lines of a 720p signal. Standard-def 480i and 480p signals were fully resolved. Color temperature in Warm2 mode was relatively accurate if a bit uneven in the mid-tones. Color decoding was excellent for both high-def and standard-def sources. Geometry was slightly off, but focus at the corners was excellent. Overscan measured 4% on average, and the entire image was shifted 2% toward the bottom. Hot-spotting was a bit worse than usual on most full-raster gray patterns, but overall picture uniformity was very good. Full lab results
The one adjustment that was decidedly absent, however, was a switch to turn off Samsung's DNIe (Digital Natural Image engine) processing, which adds edge enhancement and other effects that can improve the look of standard TV but degrades images from high-quality sources like HDTV and DVDs. The processing engages automatically as soon as you switch inputs, and the only way I found to defeat it was to manually change from one preset to another after switching inputs. For example, upon switching to an HDMI input I noticed signs of artificial edge enhancement until I changed the preset from Standard to Movie, where I had set the Sharpness control at zero. Samsung should put a global "DNIe off" option back in its HDTVs.

PICTURE QUALITY Like most DLP HDTVs, the Samsung HL-R6168W is capable of excellent contrast: its whites are bright and its blacks dark, creating a powerful picture. The two are more closely tied than on other DLP sets I've tested, however, so turning contrast up too high made the dark areas too bright. I settled on a contrast setting of 34, which still produced a bright picture in my completely dark home theater and kept the dark areas of the picture nice and inky - something I noticed immediately after I slipped the Ultimate Edition DVD of Carlito's Way into my player.

During the nightclub scene where Carlito (Al Pacino) and his lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) celebrate Carlito's release from prison, the black in their suits and in the letterbox bars was notably deep. As they discussed the future, the dark fabric of David's suit faded realistically into the shadows, but in the dimmer areas of the picture I still saw plenty of detail, like thin gray pinstripes and folds in the fabric.

The party clothes of the dance-floor denizens stood out beneath the lights, the ladies' purple, red, polka-dot, and leopard-spot dresses creating a riot of color. The ruby-red lipstick of the two women who accompany Carlito and Kleinfeld shone on their bored faces, and I detected natural-looking variations in the ladies' skin tones.

To really push the set's capabilities, I tuned in a Yankees game in 1080i. The pinstripes on Alex Rodriguez's white jersey appeared realistically thin yet crisply resolved - a good example of the Samsung's extra resolution. Individual blades of infield grass and the folds in the pitcher's uniform were crisp and sharp, but I did notice a little too much "sharpness." The sign behind home plate looked excessively bright around the edges of letters - a clear indication of edge enhancement. Sure enough, the exaggerated brightness disappeared when I switched picture presets to disengage DNIe. Without the ability to easily turn off the processing, I'm afraid most viewers will end up watching edge-enhanced images when they could be seeing sharper, cleaner high-def.

BOTTOM LINE Samsung's HL-R6168W delivers a very good image overall, and an even better one when you take the time to disengage the DNIe processing. Its jumbo screen takes great advantage of the extra resolution afforded by 1080p, and the set's punchy picture and vivid colors are just the thing for high-def Sunday Ticket holders. If the big weekend match-up calls for a big TV, this one can take you deep into the game.