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Samsung LN55C650 120Hz LCD HDTV Review

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Uniformity / Viewing Angles / Power Consumption

Uniformity



Even with the backlight turned up to 12 (which is actually more than I was comfortable using on a regular basis), the LN55C650 showed a uniformity that was simply second to none. The picture above may look like I took a photo of nothingness but the TV really is on as evidenced by the pause symbol in the bottom corner. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better than this.


Viewing Angles


LN55C650-13.jpg
LN55C650-12.jpg

Viewing angles were unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag with the picture becoming progressively more washed out as the viewing position moved past 30 degrees off center. This is perfectly fine if you have a four-place couch directly in front of the TV but if you happen to have a group over to watch the game, some will be treated to a less than optimal viewing experience.


Power Consumption


I had been told time and again that the backlight setting on an LCD TV can have a significant impact on power consumption but what no one was able to tell me was just how much. So, in order to find out, I pulled out my trusty UPM power meter and Tripp Lite 1800W line conditioner. Basically, the line conditioner was plugged into the wall in ensure the input voltage to the TV was regulated at a constant 121V so any fluctuations would not impact the results. The UPM power meter was then plugged into the line conditioner and the TV was finally attached to the meter. In order to keep these results constant, the opening 15 minutes of I Am Legend were played to get a good cross-section of power consumption figures. Only the peak rates were recorded.

In addition, I measured the Standby and Absolute Max power consumption as well. The Standby value you see is a constant reading instead of a Peak as all of the others. On the other hand, the Absolute Max figure you see is the result of a weekend of regular TV and movie watching while the power meter logged the maximum power consumption. It represents the highest peak power consumption this HDTV pulled from the wall with the blacklight set to 10 after about 8 hours of viewing. For all these tests, the Energy Saver was disabled.


LN55C650-35.jpg

Since the LN55C650 offers double the number of backlight levels than its predecessor which gives you excellent control over not only how your TV looks but also how much power consumes. When push comes to shove though, this new HDTV is roughly as efficient as the B-series set we tested some time ago. What gives the C-650 an edge though is its backlight is actually much brighter than that of the B650 at the lower levels.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


In many respects, we always expect the best from Samsung and they usually deliver. The situation with the LN55C650 on the other hand is a bit less cut and dried since it presented us with a number of contrasting points which ran the gamut from outright love to frustration-induced rage. Our review did hit on most of the points but as the old saying goes: you have to see it to believe it.

There is no doubt in my mind that the C650 has the chops to be an absolutely great TV for its intended market. Its contrast and black levels are some of the best seen in a product that costs less than $2500 and impressed me enough to consider this as the new high water mark for CCFL LCDs. Panel uniformity on our review sample was also noteworthy without any perceptible flashlighting or clouding even when the backlight was turned up to the 10-12 mark. Color reproduction and the general depth perception this TV displayed were absolutely astounding in every way as well. So much so there are times when you’ll want to pause the picture just to stare at the wonders the C650 is able to display. It really is that good.

The praise can go on and on but there are some more noteworthy items in Samsung’s toolbelt. Personally, I still love the Touch of Color design even though some competitors have tried to (unsuccessfully) imitate it. One thing that likely won’t be imitated is the shear scope of the LN55C650’s backlight adjustments; twenty levels is virtually unheard of at this price point and really helps set it apart.

Since we don’t yet have the thousands of dollars worth of equipment to scientifically test a given HDTV’s performance, much of the observations in this review are subjective. However when glaring problems rear their ugly heads, one doesn’t need high tech gizmos to realize something isn’t quite right. We encountered situations like this on a number of occasions which mostly revolved around two aspects: image processing and motion performance.

The constant yet random hesitations at 1080P we have come to associate with an overtaxed image processor are simply unacceptable for a TV in any price range let alone one which retails for two grand. These hesitations led to a noticeable skipping of certain frames and can intrusively detract from one’s viewing experience. There is some hope that Samsung may fix this with an upcoming firmware revision but the June 2010 version did nothing to regulate the issue. It wasn’t our sample either since we were able to reproduce the hesitations at local retailers as well.

We understand that judder, ghosting and input lag are three pillars on which LCD HDTVs have been built upon for years. But to see all three still present to varying degrees in what amounts to a seventh generation product is disappointing to say the least. Luckily, each of these can be controlled and virtually eliminated if you are willing to sacrifice loads of image quality but there is no way the choice between fidelity and smooth performance should have to be made in the first place. To make matters even worse, judder and particularly input lag seem to have taken a step or two back from Samsung’s previous generation LN55B650.

The LN55C650 is the first of Samsung’s current generation we have reviewed and it certainly left me with a lasting impression. It is simply one of the best CCFL LCD TVs currently available in the sub-$2500 category from nearly every perspective but the stellar performance was marred with weaknesses in a few key areas. If you are willing to hold out hope that Samsung will find a way to overcome the random image stutter and you don’t have any intention of playing games on it, then the C650 comes highly recommended. Otherwise, you may just want to skip on this set and pray that history doesn’t repeat itself when the D-series is released early next year.


Pros:

- Mind blowing image quality
- Colour hue / saturation nearly spot on
- Near-perfect panel uniformity
- Calibration is very easy
- High level backlight calibration options
- Efficient


Cons:

- Random image stutter when viewing 1080P/I content
- Absolutely horrid amounts of input lag
- Excess blur & judder even with custom AMP settings
- Only passable viewing angles
 
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