April 14, 2009 Late last month Samsung announced the launch of a new LED TV category of flat-panel TVs that the company says marks a "transformative" moment in the TV industry, promising to revolutionize the way we watch TV. No, that doesn’t mean we’ll be standing on our heads or hanging from the rafters to get our TV fix. What has Samsung excited is the inclusion of a number of networking features that are designed to allow easy access to information and content either on the internet or stored on a PC.
While Samsung calls the new models LED TVs, they are really just LCD TVs but backlit with LEDs rather than the traditional Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL). Curiously Samsung has chosen to go with white LED edge-lighting instead of the placement of LEDs behind the LCD panel, which would allow local dimming or turning off of individual groups of LEDs to produce deeper blacks like the company has on some previous LED models. Samsung is also claiming an impressive 3,000,000:1 contrast ratio on the units, but some reviewers have pointed out that the edge-lighting system employed in the new models results in some uniformity issues, even though overall the picture was generally impressive with relatively deep blacks and good color reproduction.
LCD TVs have always suffered in comparison to plasmas when it comes to displaying fast-moving action sequences, most evident when watching sport and movies or playing video games. The new models incorporate a number of features to reduce motion blur and image judder. All three series include Samsung’s Motion Plus frame interpolation technology, while the 7000 and 6000 series employ a refresh rate of 100Hz, with the 8000 series upping that to 200Hz.
The Internet interface found on the 7000 and 8000 models with a wired or wireless Ethernet connection, dubbed Internet@TV – Content Service, was developed with Yahoo! and lets users access online information, in the form of "snippets", with the push of a button from sites such as Yahoo!, Flickr and YouTube. The Yahoo widget-based interface runs along the bottom of the screen and since Yahoo widgets will also be available on TVs from Sony, LG and Vizio later in the year and the widget development kit will be open to content providers, the library of available widgets should continue to grow.
Samsung has also included DLNA networking capabilities for the streaming of videos, photos and music from DLNA certified devices, while the inclusion of two USB ports allows the direct connection of portable hard drives, digital cameras, MP3 players and USB thumbdrives to access stored content. Samsung has also included built-in content such as recipes, games, workout guides, and a slideshow of high-definition art and photos with music.
TVs have come a long way since the days of the bulky box in the corner, evolving almost to works of art in appearance. The new range from Samsung is no exception. The ultra-thin units measure just over an inch thick, employing the latest iteration Samsung’s Crystal TV process. This uses dual-injection molding to coat a translucent, colored surface over the bezel. The result is a piano black bezel that fades into chrome and finishes as a clear prism along the outer edges for the 8000 series, or as light rose black highlights on the 7000 and 6000 series. To complement the slim design, Samsung has created an ultra-slim wall-mount that reduces the gap between the TV and the wall to about 0.6 inches, to give that hanging picture look.
The new units also feature a green tinge with the use of LEDs, which are mercury free, resulting in lower power consumption compared to CCFL. They also include an energy-saving mode that adjusts the backlight and picture to cut power usage. Samsung claims the new sets offer energy savings of more than 40 percent compared to traditional LCD TVs of similar size.
Samsung’s new 6000, 7000 and 8000 series LED TVs are Full HD and range in size from 32 inch to 55 inch. They boast VGA, D-Sub, component, three RCA and four HDMI inputs, as well as an optical digital audio output. For an indication of pricing the 46-inch 7000 series is priced at USD$2,999, while the 40-inch 6000 Series is available for USD$2,299. Start hoarding those pennies.