Samsung UN55B7100 55" LED HDTV
Submitted by Mike Chin on Mon, 2009-12-21 18:34.
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No one buys a big, high-end HDTV to pinch pennies on electricity consumption,
but it's nice to know that the Samsung incorporates pretty good power management,
which should be a consideration of everyone's electronic product buying
decision. The typical measured maximum power consumption of 132W is amazingly
low compared to any standard CFL LCD TVs, and certainly compared to any
plasma screen TV, which are the biggest power guzzlers among flat panel
TVs. There are setting for lowering power consumption even further, mostly,
it appears, by reducing the brightness of the LEDs. This could certainly
affect video performance.
Power measurements shown in the table below were taken at the AC plug with
many different types of source material on the screen. The actual readings
varied somewhat with the mix of dark and light on the screen at any given
time. The brightest sequences caused the great power consumption. When turned
off, the AC power dropped too low for it to register on the meter; kudos
to Samsung for this. Power on standby with no active inputs (or with screen
off on the PC) was a very high 32W; this is mode you want to use only briefly.
Better to turn the TV off altogether when not in use.
Measured Power Consumption
Standby (w/ no active inputs)
Power Save Off
Low Power Save
Med Power Save
High Power Save
Auto Power Save
The reduction in brightness in Low Power Save mode would probably be more
than acceptable for a lot of people; the picture is still very nice. The
power saving here is a pretty consistent 20~40W, depending on the exact
programming, with 30W as a typical average difference. Over the long term,
if you use the TV a lot, this is quite significant. The Med and High settings
are too dim to consider seriously. The Auto mode may be the best compomise
between reduced power and ideal video performance. The brightness is varied
dynamically with intelligence so that when the image calls for full brightness,
it's all there the power meter reads just as high as when the Power
Save mode is off yet with a night or dark interior scene, the LEDs
are deliberately turned down, and the power reading can plummet to ~60W.
The overall power savings is probably a bit less than with the Low setting,
but close, and the drop in image brightness is very difficult to discern,
similar to a well-chosen compression mode for MP3 audio.
Audio:- The quality of the UN55B7100's audio system was surprisingly
pleasant, with good clarity and plenty of gain for the admittedly small
test room. There was no real bass to speak of (not much below 100Hz), but
the illusion of bass was excellent. The standard audio profiles are equalizer
presets which can be improved upon by directly tweaking the 5-band equalizer.
The main speakers fire out the back and rely on reflection off the back
wall, which might be affected by very close mounting to the back wall. This
could be a consideration when using Sasmung's "low profile" wall
hanging mount. More on speakers later.
Background shows TV screen with Internet widgets on the bottom; foreground
shows weather widget open while a movie is being watched.
Internet TV Content Service:- When the TV is connected to a network
with access to the web, the feature can be engaged. It places a number of
widgets across the bottom of the screen for access to yahoo! news, weather,
financial info, flickr, youtube, etc. There are many widgets to choose from,
and many of them can be uploaded and ready to go instantly. It's further
blurring of the line between TV and PC, but these features are not compelling,
especially if you have to pay extra for the USB wireless key. Such information
is already readily available on TV broadcast services, or any web-enabled
PC why clutter your TV viewing with more distractions on the screen?
A library of "Content"
Games and other Content:- The UN55B7100 has enough built in-memory
for a little library of curious content. These include: A gallery of famous
art and nice photos; a cookbook of static images and text; a couple of video
games that only really young children could enjoy; animated stories for
the same audience, voiced by actors who are clearly non-native speakers
of Enligsh; a mini exercise set for Piliates, stretches, etc, consisting
not of full motion video but sequential photos and voice/music track. Not
only are these features weak, engaging any of them increases AC power consumption
to 195~200W. Our assessment: It probably didn't take that much effort, time
or money, but please don't bother next time!
TV Monitor for HTPC:- The failure of the network media file sharing
feature in the TV, and the incomplete support for audio in many mkv files
via USB makes a strong argument for a HTPC to be used with the UN55B7100.
Even a modest, cheap PC is far more flexible in its digital file management
than any TV, and issues such as video or audio codecs are solved easily
with quickly downloaded updates. (a couple of quick examples: The $499
retail Asus EeeBox EB1501 ION Mini-PC or my self-assembled ~$500 DIY
AMD780G-based A64-4850 CPU system with 4gb RAM and 500gb hard drive in Antec
NSK1480 case.) Virtually any movie file could be made playable. The
1080p movies that were played on the Samsung UN55B7100 from the HTPC provided
stunning video and audio indistinguishable from the original Blu-ray disc,
especially when the TV picture setting were slightly tweaked for best results
with the video card output of the PC. The video and audio connection via
HDMI worked perfectly once a HDMI cable was found that worked. As
with almost all high tech consumer electronics/digital cables, getting them
to work is often hit-and-miss, despite "plug-and-play". SPCR has
a collection of about half a dozen different HDMI cables for this reason.
The native video processing in the Samsung TV is clearly superior to that
provided by the ATI-780G video/chipset in the PC, however, particularly
for lower resolution videos that require upsampling for fullscreen viewing
on this big TV. Time and time again, the TV's USB input gave an immediately
acceptable, natural result while the same file via the HTPC would require
some tweaking to get it as good. Digital artifacts with low resolution videos
showed up far more often with the HTPC as well. Still, there's no question
this Samsung is a magnificent HDTV for a HTPC.
Noise:- We couldn't let a review go without some mention of noise,
could we?! There's not much to say. When the speaker is muted, if you stick
your head behind the TV, you'll hear some of the high frequency buzzing
that comes from every TV ever made. But like with most TVs, it's nowhere
loud enough to be audible when anything is actually on and playing, at any
volume, especially not from the seated position.
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