Samsung UN55B7100 55" LED HDTV

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Dec 22, 2009 by Mike Chin

Samsung UN55B7100
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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 it.

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 (mostly from the PDF brochure)
Highlight 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 see.
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 Color
Samsung’s 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 time
minimizes blurring of fast motion in high
action programs.
Built-in digital tuner – no external box
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.
[email protected]
- [email protected] - 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 that’s 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 drives.

Wide Color Enhancer Pro: Optimizes a
given color’s hue, resulting in more natural
rendering of colors.
Sounds good.
SRS TruSurround HD™ creates an
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 power
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 capacity.
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.

Samsung UN55B7100 Specifications (mostly from the product web page)
Video 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
Audio Speaker Type: Down Firing
Sound Effect System: SRS TruSurround HD & Dolby Digital
Woofer Yes
Sound Output (RMS) 15 W x 2
Features 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
[email protected]: Yes
InfoLink: No
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
Dimensions 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
Weight Package weight: 35.4 kg
Set weight with stand: 27.4 kg
Set weight without stand: 22.2 kg
Accessories ANT- Cable - No
Power Cable - Yes
Batteries - Yes
Vesa Wall Mount - Option
Ultra Slim Wall Mount - Option
Remote Controller - Model TM970
Instruction Book - Yes
Power 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 kit!)

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