Samsung LN-T5265F LCD 1080p HDTV

Samsung has been pushing hard to improve LCD flat panel televisions. Though the company still makes plasmas, its LCD R&D department, judging from the cutting edge technology demonstrated at last January's CES, must be busy. With 120Hz operation, segmented illumination of the image, and LED backlighting, LCD technology at Samsung is big priority.

These latest developments are not employed in the LN-T5265F ($3,999 Minimum Advertised Price), reviewed here. They will show up this fall in two new Samsung lines, the 71- and 81-series. But even with its more "conventional" LCD innards, the 65 series, which consists of the model under discussion here plus 40- and 46-inch designs, is formidable.

The first thing you notice about the LN-T5265F is its sleek black bezel, which extends around back interrupted only by a silver-trimmed seam along the sides. The back of the set is nearly as sleek as the front.

The second thing you'll spot is the highly reflective screen—more like the shiny glass front of a plasma, or many of the latest LCD computer monitors, than the more diffusive screens of most LCD televisions.

And if you find yourself unpacking and lifting the set, which comes with its detachable stand already installed, you'll find it an amazingly light 75 lbs. I might still pine for some of the characteristics of the rapidly disappearing CRT, but 250 lbs for a 36" direct-view set isn't one of them. In this case, less can definitely be more.

Most of the Samsung's inputs are around back. These include dual HDMI (1.3) and component inputs, a PC input on a VGA-style 15-pin jack, and a combined composite/S-Video input. You can use either the composite or S-Video connection, but not both. Audio inputs are provided for the analog video inputs. Audio for the HDMI inputs, of course, is normally carried on the HDMI cable itself. But a L/R audio input is also provided for the HDMI 1 port, for audio from a possible DVI source (with a DVI-to-HDMI breakout cable for the video link).

There are two RF inputs (Air and Cable) for the set's onboard NTSC and ATSC tuners. There is no CableCARD.

There is also a Toslink optical digital audio output for feeding audio from the ATSC tuner to your AV receiver or pre-pro, a L/R analog audio output, and a jack labeled "EX-Link." The latter is a serial port that may be used either for RS-232 control chores, or to connect an optional Samsung wall bracket that provides motorized tilt and swivel for the display. The latter can be controlled from the set's own remote.

An additional input panel on the side of the set provides a third HDMI input, a second combined composite/S-Video in/out set with L/R audio, and a "Wiselink" USB port. The latter can be used to view JPEG video files, listen to MP3 audio files, or load firmware updates from a USB storage device such as a flash memory drive.

Operation and Control
Setting up the Samsung is straightforward. After you've made all the necessary connections, the set's "Plug & Play" feature guides you through the steps, many of which, such as the usual channel memorization procedure, are performed automatically.

The Samsung's remote can control four other components, once programmed with the proper codes. While it's not illuminated, the most important buttons are reasonably large and well spaced. But it's nearly identical in size and shape to the remote for the Samsung BD-P1200 Blu-ray player. There are a few easily recognizable differences in their button layout, but I still tended to grab the wrong one as often as not.

The only serious complaint I had about the remote is the lack of direct access to inputs—a failing common to many sets. Instead, you either have to cycle through the inputs using the remote's Source button or call up the input menu. On the plus side, however, only those inputs with a source connected to them are included in the loop you navigate to reach and select the input you want (plus the TV/antenna input, which is always included whether it's in use not).

The set's on-screen menus are neatly laid out and, for the most part, wrong-turn proof. The only oddity is that several adjustments that (in my opinion) should be in the Picture menu with the other picture controls are in the Setup menu in instead. These include Film Mode (which can be engaged only with 480i sources), HDMI Black Level (which was grayed out and therefore inaccessible with the sources I tried), and Energy Saving.

The Energy Saving control in the Setup menu would appear at first to serve the same purpose as the Back light control in the Picture menu. It does, more or less, but the Energy Saving control is global (it operates on all inputs simultaneously) while the Back light control setting may be set separately for each input. You can, of course, use both controls together, but I never did. I stuck to the Back light control to set the optimum overall image brightness.

The Picture menu offers three automatic settings or modes: Dynamic, Standard, and Movie. All of them may be individually changed from their factory settings. I stayed in the Movie mode exclusively, with a few appropriate tweaks to the user video controls and, midway through the review period, a full calibration.