Samsung HL-T5687S 1080p DLP Rear Projection HDTV

Everyone, it seems, wants a flat panel television these days. Not to hang on the wall mind you—studies show that most buyers use them on a stand—but because they're, well, cool.

While the rear projection set has fallen on slow times on the sales floor, most manufacturers, including Samsung, make both flavors of one-piece video displays. There are good reasons for this. The new rear projection displays are far smaller, lighter and shallower, than the old CRT space hogs. But, more importantly, they are still cheaper, per inch of screen area, than flat panels.

And rear projection sets are coming up with their own, new, technical innovations. Samsung's HL-T5687S ($2,599) employs DLP imaging, a technology not available to flat panels. DLP, of course, isn't particularly new in digital displays. But what is new here is the light source. This Samsung, like its stable mates in the 87S series, employs LEDs as a light source rather than the usual projection lamp.

LED Up My Life
One of the claims made for LED lighting is a wider color gamut than more conventional light sources. While this may be true, the more important consideration is whether LEDs can provide an accurate color gamut—one that conforms to the high-definition ATSC color space as closely as possible. While manufacturers can—and do—use an expanded color space as a selling point, the fact remains that wider than standard color points distort all the colors produced by a set. Fortunately, the Samsung can be set up for more accurate colors than it delivers out of the box—though even the latter are above average in accuracy—if you choose the right Color Gamut.

LED lighting also eliminates the color wheel used in lamp-based, DLP displays, but at least in this set, it doesn't eliminate rainbows for me (although I admit to being very sensitive to them). Rainbows from here are caused by the sequential, rather than simultaneous, flashing of the primary colors.

There are, however, at least two very real benefits to LED lighting. It turns on and off nearly instantaneously, and, in theory, LEDs should last the life of the set. Gone are the $350 (or thereabouts) replacements that conventional UHP lamps demand after about 2,000 hours. And though some manufacturers claim longer life than that, lamps do dim progressively with age.

While no one has enough experience with LED lighting to say for certain how reliable it will be over time in the field, the technology certainly has a lot of promise.

Around the Block
There are sufficient inputs for most applications, including three HDMI and two component connections as well as Wiselink (for viewing or listening to JPEG video and MP3 audio files stored on a flash drive or other mass storage device).

There is also a jack labeled 3D Sync Out. It was not tested for this review, but if you want to know more, Google 3D DLP and knock yourself out.

The Samsung's remote control is very similar to the remote for the Samsung LN-T5265F reviewed recently. It's comfortable, and the most-important buttons are reasonably large and spaced so that it's easy to hit the right one—in a well-lit room, that is. Only five of its buttons are illuminated (Chapter and Volume up and down, plus the button for the device currently being controlled). And you can't select inputs directly; you call up a list of active inputs and select the one you want.

Operation and Control
The Picture menu offers automatic or preset modes: Dynamic, Standard, and Movie. Movie mode, with some tweaking, produces by far the most natural-looking image in subdued room lighting.

Color Tone is a five-position color temperature adjustment. Two of the choices, Warm1 and Warm2, are available only in Movie mode. Out of the box, Warm2 was the closest to accurate.

The Just Scan aspect ratio minimizes overscan and maximizes resolution, though it's selectable only with component or HDMI sources at either 1080i or 1080p.

The single Digital Noise Reduction control offers five positions including Off and Auto. I rarely used it, but did find it moderately effective when needed.

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd
(858) 942-2200