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Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 07/28/09 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook
Samsung B650 series 40" 1080p 120hz LCD TV

By Robert Jensen

Digital television is finally here for all of us in the US. From what I've gathered reading the news the transition was a fairly painless one for most of you. I figured now that the waters had calmed it was a good time to upgrade my own modest home theater.  I did my homework and spent some time looking at sets at the store before deciding to purchase the Samsung LN40B650. The B650 series is available in 32, 37, 40, 46, 55 inch screen sizes.

Nice looks. . .
The glossy black frame with its clear edge with red highlight is very nice looking, especially when lights hit it from behind. Its very subtle in case you're worried the red might stand out a bit too much. I was a bit put off at first by the set's bottom edge 'V' shape but I don't notice it now.

There are pros and cons to this Samsung's glossy black screen. On the one hand you gain some of the deepest blacks ever seen on an LCD TV as well as better contrast and richer color. The drawback of that glossy screen comes if you plan on using this in a brightly lit room. If you do you're probably going to pick up distracting reflections.

To put this into a bit more perspective you also had this same problem with the glass tubes on the old CRT TV sets. In fact because of the curved front surface of most picture tubes you picked up more reflections than you will with this flat surfaced Samsung LCD. If you you think you'll have problems with the B650 series glossy screen and don't mind the loss of contrast then just step down to the next model, the B630. (You'll lose some features though.)

Samsung's Touch of Color adds a bit of red highlight to the frame. Its not overpowering and I've grown to like it.

. . . but how's the picture quality?
In simple words, the picture quality is outstanding, up there among the supreme echelon of LCD displays using fluorescent back-lighting and even approaching that of much more expensive LED back-light displays or plasma sets.

The LN40B650 can display content up to 1080p @30 frames per second (FPS), now those are great specs but there's not a heck of a lot of content being broadcast out there that's up to that high level. Broadcast aside there are a lot of consumer video cameras now on the market that can record in 1080p/30pfs, which means the Samsung B650 series will show your home movies at their very best right now, also show off your new Blu-ray disc collection - and be ready for broadcast TV improvements in the future.

The Tech

Auto Motion Plus 120Hz technology doubles the 60Hz refresh rate of a standard broadcast thereby doubling the information the eye perceives on the screen. When you first experience this it might be a bit odd looking, like watching live video. Depending on the content you're viewing the effect is sometimes subtle and sometimes a bit over powering. For example, with hand-held video, it can give you a bit of motion sickness. Those are the times I switch off the feature. When watching some Blu-ray movies, like Iron Man, it turns the picture into an almost real life experience as if the screen were a window into another room. This is especially true with Iron Man's menu page where the suit of armor is very lifelike with Auto Motion Plus. There's a menu setting where you can choose among several presets or adjust both Judder and Smoothness to your tastes. I've mostly left it set at Smooth or Standard, or turned it off completely.  I have noticed that for broadcast TV (SD or HD) that I can leave the 120Hz feature left on and it gives a small enhancement to the image. If you watch action sports of any kind you'll want to turn this feature on.

Picture-in-Picture I use my Cable Box but you should be able to use the tuner from your VCR as well for the inset picture.

178 degree viewing angle - Even when viewing from well off to the side the picture stays watchable, not so with a lot of LCD TV's.

100,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio - Unless you're comparing models from the same manufacturer you can ignore contrast ratio specifications between brands. There is no standardized test for contrast being used by any of the companies.

  • Fast 4ms response time - very fast response time means less blur between frames
  • 10 bit processing - more colors, less banding when hit with subtle gradients, like the sky.
  • CCFL-Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp: Provides a wider range of colors than a lot of other TV's.
  • NTSC analog and ATSC with QAM digital TV tuners built-in - Hook it up to your cable provider, or HD capable antenna and tune into those awesome picture quality HD channels.
  • Four HDMI  connections - the more the merrier, nothing worse then going to hook up something to your TV only to find you've run out of HDMI connections. If you do then you can pick up a HDMI switching box.
  • Two component and one composite inputs - Stick with HDMI connections when you can, if you can't then the two sets of component inputs are good to have.  The composite input is used with older hardware like video cameras and VHS players.


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