Samsung LN55C650 55" LCD HDTV

Audio|Video|Misc
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SETUP

The LN55C650 was connected to several video signal sources, and to the local area network via both hard wire ethernet and the optional wireless USB device provided by Samsung. A list of all associated components used for the review follows:

  • Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray Disc Player (1080p) — via HDMI
  • Shaw Cable HD PVR/ Receiver (1080i) — via component video/audio
  • Home Theater PC (AMD780G chipset, w/ A64x2 4850 CPU -1080p) — via HDMI
  • Seasonic Power Angel AC power meter
  • Home LAN network — via gigabit ethernet cable
  • USB flash drives, cameras, and external USB hard drives with various video, music and photo content

The sparsely furnished viewing room is a modest size, 12' x 10' with a standard 8' ceiling. Viewing distance was 8~9'. There were no hiccups during initial setup, and cable TV viewing proceeded within minutes.

Setting up the TV after the stand installtion was mostly a matter of hooking up all the cables and connections, placing it where you want it, and turning it on. The LN55C650's elegant black finish allows it to fit easily into most decors. Its high reflective glossy finish can be annoying to sit in front of without any image on the screen, but this is not likely to happen often. When the TV is turned on, the vividness of the picture overcomes the reflectivity. In a bright room, especially with lots of daylight, the glossy finish will probably require turning up the backlighting or brightness of the TV. In our moderately lit TV room, this is rarely an issue. In general, the best big screen TV viewing is experienced in room that are not too bright.

An annoying computer-like "broing" chimed loudly upon turn-on or turn-off; this feature was quickly turn off. We don't need yet another machine talking at us; we're not yet in the world of Terminator.


The onscreen menu overlays atop most programming, with logic that's easy for most people to follow. The degree of menu transparency can be adjusted.


A scene from some nature channel.


The markings for these controls on the bottom right corner of the TV bezel were made visible only with a lot of Photoshop work. It might be this visible in a super bright room; far better to use the remote control.


With an internet / NAS connection (wired or wireless), the LN55C650 becomes very web enabled. Umpteen numbers of Samsung TV apps on the Internet screen provide many web services. It stops short of being a PC by not having real browser.

MENUS & CONTROLS

There are controls on the LN55C650, but they are so subtly marked to be virtually invisible. Surprisingly, we found no way to light these controls up. In any case, no one wants to fiddle with TV controls right at the TV; these big screen TVs are too big for that. Everything is done with the remote control.

With the extensive features of this modern TV, it's almost impossible to cover every aspect of the menu system and the way you access them via the remote. More than 70% of the 60 page English language manual covers nothing but menus, and there no point duplicating that here. Our main points regarding the remote control and menu interface:

  • All the main TV functions such as input source switching, picture control, volume and channel selection, etc, are logical and transparent. If you're just watching TV via cable, satellite or antenna and watching video from a Bluray player or some other media device on the network, the control system is nice and simple. Netflix and other web app access is mostly quite straightforward as well.

  • As you drill down into the more detailed menus, both the menu system itself and the way the remote works with these menus become increasingly convoluted. Our assessment is that its is probably typical of most modern TVs. The more esoteric controls are not expected to be used by many people, so they probably get the least amount of beta testing. The very worst experience was encountered at the user name + password screen for Picasa web album account access: The alphanumeric data entry logic switched back and forth from one to another several times in the course of just two input screens. We gave up on this one after a couple of tries. In contrast, trial signup and access to Netflix was effortless.


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