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Dec 22, 2009 by Mike Chin
55" LED HDTV
The recent transformation of the television market has been utterly sweeping.
Large, high resolution, flat panel TVs were once playthings for those who could
gambol in the back of Rolls Royces and jet between mutiple homes in exotic locales.
Less than a decade ago, a salesman at Vancouver's high end AV store, Sound Plus,
quipped about the $17,000 price of a then-incredible to behold wall-mounted
plasma 50" TV that if I had to ask, I couldn't afford it. Today,
it's possible to buy a flat 50" plasma brand-name TV for $749 from a vendor
as proletarian as Costco. No self-respecting home even aspiring to middle class
seems to be without one, and the tube TV has become a relic, the once proud
Trinitron relegated to the basement or kid's rec room if they'll have
In this new era, Samsung has emerged with Apple as one of the darlings in consumer
electronics. For sure, Samsung lacks Apple's marketing panache and chic, but
for sheer product range, good value, and general excellence, the Korean giant
is tough to beat in consumer electronics. Samsung flat panel TVs are visible
everywhere, and according to Digitimes
of Taipei, Samsung sold 400,000 LED TVs globally in the months of April,
May and June of 2009, which amounted to a 90% market share. With its aggressive
marketing, the company predicts it will sell two million LED HDTVs this year,
at least 60% of that high end market. Samsung says their market research shows
20% of Americans are willing to pay more for an LED TV. The other big TV brands
LG, Sony, Sharp and Panasonic are sharing the rest of the market,
having started later or marketed less aggressively, while most lower cost vendors
are not getting into LED TVs until next year.
The LED TV so successfully marketed by Samsung is more precisely described
as an LCD that uses LED backlights rather than the usual fluorescent
bulbs for backlights. In contrast, true LED screen displays use a cluster of
red, green, and blue diodes driven together to form a single full-color pixel.
Two different types of LED backlight LCD TVs are in current use, edge-lit and
local dimming. The latter allows dimming to occur locally, creating specific
areas of darkness on the screen, which show truer blacks and higher dynamic
contrast, but less detail in small bright objects on a dark background. Edge-lit
LED TVs, in comparison, can be made extremely thin; the light is diffused by
a special panel which produces a uniform color range across the screen, but
they tend not to show black as convincingly as the local dimming LED screens.
Still the UN55B7100 is said to have "a 3,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
that displays incredibly deep blacks and pristine whites." As almost anyone
shopping for a flat panel TV learns early on, the depiction of black is one
area where LCDs are still generally not quite as good as plasma panels, so this
is an important consideration.
Samsung offers three lines of LED backlit LCD HDTVs, the 8000, 7000 and 6000
series. The UN55B7100 is the largest of the mid-line, and it uses the edge-lit
LED technology. Never mind its mid-level position; the number of features and
technological wizardry this TV offers is so staggering that a reviewer hardly
knows where to begin!
Minimalist, high-gloss black, ultra-modern is the UN55B7100 style, not
unlike many Samsung LCD monitors. There's no denying its sleek elegance.
A quick run through the feature highlights may help, as might a visit to
Samsung's web page about this product.
| Samsung UN55B7100 Feature Highlights
from the PDF
|| Our comment
| 3,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio
| Sounds amazing.
| Auto Motion Plus 120 Hz technology
Advanced processing that reduces blur and enhances image detail when
viewing fast motion video sequences.
||Sounds too good to be true... blur occurs
not only in the playback but also during the recording of the video. We'll
|HD-Grade pixel resolution: High resolution
pixel density is combined with a built-in image scaler to handle inputs
from a variety of digital and analog audio/video sources.
||Suggests superior video picture quality;
it's presumably what all HDTVs are seeking.
| Ultra Slim (1.2" depth) Touch of
Design: Samsungs unique manufacturing
process accents the surrounding bezel
with a stylish colored tone.
|It does look cool, but the true benefit
is questionable. The stand or wall mount still takes up room, as do the
cables and connectors. Whether it's 1.2" or 3" thick is probably
moot for the average user; the stand will take up a foot.
| Response Time: A fast 4ms response
minimizes blurring of fast motion in high
|Built-in digital tuner no
|Worthwhile if you're one of the few using
an outdoor antenna.
|Green works in any room.
Samsung LED TVs use 40% less power* than conventional LCD TVs and contain
mercury free back lights, and eliminated C02 and VOC emissions in the manufacturing
process of their TV frames by not using spray paint. (*As compared to 2008
Samsung LCD TVs or similar size and class in standard mode.)
|Sounds good... but actual power consumption
(in watts) is not mentioned anywhere. Naturally, we will measure.
|Ultra Clear Panel: Advanced LCD
technology lets you enjoy crisp image details, natural skin tones, excellent
shadow detail, and vibrant colors.
|Refers to the glass itself.
- Internet@TV - Content Service:
Receive content from Yahoo!®, Flickr®,
and more via on-screen TV widgets.
- DLNA®: Sync your connectable home
electronics and display remote
content on your TV.
-Pre-loaded Content Library (Flash)
Enjoy hours of built-in entertainment
features, then personalize it by
adding content thats available online.
- USB 2.0 Movie: Show digital home
movies, photos, PC presentations and
more on your TV, using the remote.
Is it a TV or a computer? The lines are blurring.
A LAN port is provided, but the USB wireless adapter is an extra.
DLNA seems useful, but how could a TV compete against an ordinary computer
for games or cooking recipes?
The USB 2.0 ports are very useful and work also with external USB hard
| Wide Color Enhancer Pro: Optimizes
given colors hue, resulting in more natural
rendering of colors.
| Sounds good.
|SRS TruSurround HD creates
immersive, feature-rich surround sound
experience from two speakers, complete
with rich bass, high frequency detail and
clear dialog using down firing speakers with subwoofer, 15 Watts x 2 audio
| Sound promising.
| Picture-in-Picture (PIP): Enables
convenient, simultaneous viewing of TV
programs and video or PC content sources.
| Stereo broadcast reception: Supports
multichannel sound (MTS) and second audio program (SAP) with 181-channel
| Game Mode enhances dark areas, sharpens
the picture, speeds up the image processing response and enhances the sounds
of your games.
||One of several presets.
|| Screen Size: 55''
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Dynamic Contrast Ratio: 3,000,000:1
Backlight: LED Edge
1080 24p Real Movie: Yes
Picture Engine: 1 tuner PIP
Auto Motion Plus 120/240Hz: 120 Hz
Wide Colour Enhancer: Wide Color Enhancer Pro
|| Speaker Type: Down Firing
Sound Effect System: SRS TruSurround HD & Dolby Digital
Sound Output (RMS) 15 W x 2
|| Sleep timer: Yes
Still Picture: No
Auto Channel Search: Yes
Auto Power Off: Yes
Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC): Yes
Game mode: Yes
Picture-in-Picture: 1 tuner PIP
Clock & on/off timer: Yes
OSD language: English / French / Spanish
DLNA Wireless: Yes
Content Library (Flash): Yes
USB2.0: USB 2.0 Movie
BD Wise: Yes
Wireless LAN Adaptor Support: Yes
User Interface: single
Auto Volume Leveler: Yes
|| Set Size (WxDxH) with Stand: 1321 x 877
x 305 mm
Set Size (WxHxD) without Stand: 1321 x 815 x 29.9 mm
Package Size (WxHxD): 1446 x 996 x 399 mm
||Package weight: 35.4 kg
Set weight with stand: 27.4 kg
Set weight without stand: 22.2 kg
|| ANT- Cable - No
Power Cable - Yes
Batteries - Yes
Vesa Wall Mount - Option
Ultra Slim Wall Mount - Option
Remote Controller - Model TM970
Instruction Book - Yes
||Stand-by Power Consumption: < 0.2 W
Eco Mark: Yes
|Input & Output
|| HDMI: 4 (side)
Digital Audio (Optical): 1 (side)
PC input (D-sub): 1 (bottom)
Component (Y/Pb/Pr): 1 (bottom)
Composite (AV): 1 (bottom - component slot)
Ethernet (LAN): 1 (bottom)
USB 2.0: 2 (side)
Some notes about the specs:
- Only one component input seems minimal for a high end TV.
- The 0.2W given for standby power is impressive.
- The weight is not really that high for such a big screen TV; remember
what a 27" CRT was like to heft around? The size is awkward, though.
Thin is in but...
The UN55B7100 is undoubtedly slim, sleek and svelte. The thin profile
is often promoted in Samsung advertising. But as mentioned earlier, the
benefit is almost entirely visual.
The promotional photo on the left is slightly misleading because a bit
of the back half of the stand has been lopped off. On our sample, the
stand extends about an inch farther out the back than the front. It dictates
how much front-to-back space the TV will occupy.
A more tangible benefit is obtained when Samsung's WMN1000B
Ultra Slim Wall Mount is used. This mount more or less hangs the TV
much like a framed painting, and adds only a little over an inch to the
overall thickness, which means the UN55B7100 would probably protrude less
than 3" from the wall. (But US$250 MSP is exorbitant for this mounting
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