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Samsung UN55D7000 55″ LED 3D HDTV Review


Gaming Impressions

Many of today’s most popular HDTVs can’t be deemed fit for gaming on due to their massive amounts of input lag. Basically, input lag means there is a discernable pause between a controller input and that same action showing up on the screen Most of the time this is caused by excess background post processing or the signal passing through a long list of filters and noise reduction processes before it can be viewed on the screen. During regular TV or movie watching, this process is all but invisible to end users but when direct input is required, things quickly go downhill.

LCD and LED-based sets are more often than not particularly bad in this respect since their light engine has to process the signal prior to display in order to clean up the image. Samsung has found a way around this through their Game Mode.

Game mode essentially shuts off the TV’s post processing algorithm which increases response times, tightens up input commands and renders the TV / controller handoff all but invisible. Unfortunately, there is one major downfall to using game mode: a significant reduction in image quality.

The difference between disabling and enabling Game Mode is like night and day. Not only does this setting shut off image processing but it also severely limits the image quality and color settings you have access to. The result is a picture that is overly saturated, lacks contrast, exhibits excess bloom, has poor black level performance and just looks like crap. Nonetheless, input lag is essentially eliminated and response times become razor sharp. It really goes to show just how much effort the UN55D7000 is putting into cleaning up the image.

For most competitive gamers, this tradeoff will be more than acceptable since the improvement in reaction times is noticeable. On the other hand, anyone with a large format HDTV won’t want their newest PS3 or Xbox 360 game looking like a previous generation title.

Without Game Mode enabled, the UN55D7000 performs reasonably well with about 110ms of lag. Due to the high speed of most games the picture quality issues we mentioned in previous sections weren’t really noticable but we did have to increase Gamma and Brightness for nearly ever title due to severe black crush in darker scenes. Otherwise, colors were mostly spot on and ghosting was minimal due to the D7000’s excellent Auto Motion Plus settings.

3D Performance

This is a tough section for us since we feel stereoscopic content is (hopefully) nothing more than a fad which is being shoved down our throats by overeager Hollywood studios that need to justify their existence in a digital world. Nonetheless, viewing 3D movies at home does have a certain amount of allure provided your TV properly supports this emerging format.

We’ve gone through three successive generations of 3D HDTVs without finding a single one that supports stereoscopic content to our liking. The UN55D7000 doesn’t vastly improve our opinion of 3D on “small” screens but it does succeed in some key areas where its predecessors have failed in spectacular fashion. The 2D to 3D conversion mode is very, very good and does an outstanding job of displaying run of the mill TV shows in three dimensions. Samsung has also decreased the amount of crosstalk when compared to their C-series and higher end B-series products.

Unfortunately, making an encore presentation here is the usual severe ghosting during high speed sporting events (hockey games are borderline offensive to watch in 3D) while the glasses are anything but comfortable. There is also a noticeable reduction in screen brightness and color depth when wearing the shutter glasses due to their polarized lenses. In addition, without proper separation options stereo 3D on the D7000 still causes eyestrain and pounding headaches after less than an hour of viewing.

All in all the D7000 takes several steps in the right direction and almost makes stereoscopic viewing palatable but Samsung still has a long way to go before we can see using their 3D feature on a daily basis.

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