You can choose from four aspect ratio modes for HD sources, two of which let you move the whole image across the screen horizontally and vertically. As we'd expect from a 1080p TV, one of those modes, called Just Scan, lets the LN46A750 scale 1080i and 1080p sources directly to the panel's pixels with no overscan--the best option unless you see interference along the edge of the screen, as can be the case with some channels or programs. There are also four modes available with standard-definition sources.
Other features: We appreciated the three power-saver modes and the singular fact that, much like Panasonic's plasmas, this year Samsung did not use the brightest picture mode as its default. Instead, the default picture mode for Home use is Standard, which saves a lot of energy compared with the much brighter Dynamic. Check out the Juice Box below for details on the set's energy use. As far as other conveniences, Samsung throws in picture-in-picture and compatibility with the company's forthcoming digital media adapter.
The connectivity of the LN46A750 is excellent. There are three HDMI inputs available around back, while a fourth can be found in a recessed bay along the panel's left side. There's also a pair of component-video inputs; a single RF input for cable and antenna (the '07 models had two); and a VGA-style RGB input for computers (1,920x1,080 maximum resolution). That recessed bay offers an additional AV input with S-Video and composite video, a headphone jack, and the USB port.
All told, the LN46A750 delivered basically the same picture quality, give or take a couple of dejudder differences, as the superb LN52A650. We loved its deep black levels and accurate color, and while we could complain all day about the shiny screen in a bright room--and the shiny accents around the edges in a dark room; see Design--it's still one of the best-performing LCDs out there.
As we've come to expect from Samsung, the initial Movie mode was quite accurate for home theater viewing, but the LN46A750 still benefitted from a little tweaking. A standard calibration improved the color temperature somewhat over the Warm2 setting, although the tendency of the grayscale to get blue-green in very dark areas was something we couldn't fix. Primary and secondary colors measured very well on the LN42A750, to the point where we didn't bother to adjust the color points. Check out our full dark room picture settings and the Geek Box below for more gory details.
Our comparison this time around involved a few competing higher-end 120Hz LCDs, including Samsung's own LN52A650, Sony's KDL-46W4100 and Mitsubishi's LT-46148, along with our reference Panasonic TH-50PZ800U plasma. We checked out the Blu-ray of 10,000 B.C. on our PlayStation 3 for the bulk of our image quality tests.
Black level: Since the LN52A650 delivered some of the deepest blacks we've seen on any LCD, we weren't surprised when the 750 followed suit. It displayed dark areas, like the letterbox bars, the shadows of the warriors and the black hair of the primitive tribesmen gathered inside the meeting yurt, realistically and with plenty of depth, albeit just a touch lighter than the Sony LCD and the plasma. On all of the displays aside from the Mitsubishi, we doubt we'd be able to perceive any black-level a difference if we weren't comparing them side-by-side. Details in shadows, such as the hair and costumes of the tribesmen gathered around the shaman, looked distinct and well-defined, although the plasma appeared a bit more realistic in these areas.
Color accuracy: We had no major complaints on the color front. Skin tones looked quite natural, while colorful shots such as the grassy plains and the tribe's leather outfits had a depth and richness of saturation that's the result of fine color decoding and deep blacks. Despite the uneven grayscale, dark areas didn't get too inaccurate as to become distracting, and black itself didn't have the bluish tinge we've seen on so many LCD displays. Primary colors also lived up to their accurate measurements, from the ubiquitous blue of the ice and sky to the lush green of the jungle.
Video processing: Samsung's Auto Motion Plus processing is designed to smooth out motion--specifically the judder or faint stuttering inherent in 24-frame material such as most films. Judder can be perceived most easily in pans and camera movement, but once you notice it, it seems to pop up everywhere there's any movement onscreen. Some viewers find the smoothing effect desirable, while some think it looks too video-like and even cartoonish in some instances, particularly Hollywood films. We're of the latter camp, but we feel dejudder processing can be effective in some scenes.
Surprisingly, we noticed differences in AMP between the 650 and the 750, which we attribute to different software; our 650's software is actually a month newer (dated April, 2008) than our 750's software (March, 2008). In the Low and Medium AMP modes, the 750 actually introduced more smoothing than the 650; the latter seemed to preserve more of the inherent judder in the film-based test material we used initially. However, when we switched back to B.C., a pan over the snowy mountains seemed a bit choppier on the 750, a testament to the variability of dejudder with different sources. Both displays introduced the same minor amount "triple puck effect," an artifact that looks like elongation and blurring in a quick moving object, such as a hockey puck or football in mid-air, in High and Medium modes. Both of these modes also introduced more-prominent halos around fast-moving objects, such as when the tribesmen get chased through the jungle. We still preferred the Sony's antijudder processing compared to that of the Samsungs, but as with the 650, the 750 is much better than last year's LN-T4671F at squelching artifacts introduced by the anti-judder processing.
Other aspects of 120Hz performed as advertised. We preferred the juddery (film-like) look of feeding this and the other 120Hz sets 24-frame material--setting our PS3 to 1080p/24 mode with film-based Blu-ray Discs -- and deactivating the dejudder modes, which eliminates the hitching motion of 2:3 pull-down but doesn't smooth overmuch. Compared with the Panasonic plasma, which was set to 60Hz mode, a pan over a snowdrift looked a good deal less choppy, yet lacked that artificial-seeming smoothness introduced by the dejudder modes. With this setup, it was difficult to discern a video processing difference between any of the 120Hz displays. As usual, when we watched specialized test footage we could discern blurring in fast motion when we deactivated dejudder processing, and when we turned it back on the blurring cleaned up noticeably, although those moving objects still didn't look as sharp as on the plasma.
We were surprised when we ran the film resolution loss test, which measures a display's capability to deinterlace 1080i film-based sources properly, because the LN46A750 failed the test, while the LN52A650 right next to it passed. We noticed a bit more artifacts in the pan around Raymond James Stadium and the grille of the RV from Ghost Rider, but the difference wasn't a deal-breaker and, as usual, we didn't see it in B.C. (Update July 18, 2008: Samsung has released a firmware update for the LN46A750, and after we installed it the TV passed this test. Since the majority of shipping units don't have the updated firmware, however, we are not changing the corresponding Geek Box rating.) Of course the 750 displayed every detail of 1080 resolution sources and handled deinterlacing of video-based 1080i sources well.
Uniformity: Our LN46A750 test sample appeared a bit less uniform across the screen than the 650. We noticed a slightly brighter area in the upper-left corner that was most-visible in dark scenes, but still perceptible in the letterbox bars regardless of scene brightness. We also noticed the same tendency for the sides to appear brighter than the middle of the screen. Viewing from off-angle was good for an LCD; the black-level drop-off wasn't as severe as the Sony or the Mitsubishi, and we didn't see significant discoloration.
Bright lighting: Samsung tells us that the LN46A750 has a better "antireflective," glossy screen than the one on the 650, but in person, to our eye, they looked just about identical. Neither did a good job of attenuating bright in-room light sources--their mirrorlike finishes seemed to reflect the windows, in-room objects, and even ourselves framed in the screen equally egregiously. In short, we feel these shiny-screen LCDs are surpassed by most other displays, including glass-screened plasmas with antireflective screens, in their capability do deal with ambient light.
Standard-definition: The LN46A750 performed quite well with standard-definition. It resolved every line of the DVD format, and program material appeared relatively sharp. The Samsung did a superior job of removing jaggies from diagonal edges, its noise reduction was very effective in the low-quality shots of sky and sunsets and it engaged 2:3 pull-down quickly.
PC: Via both VGA and HDMI, the Samsung LN46A750 made a superb computer monitor. Via HDMI resolved every detail of 1,920x1,080 sources according to DisplayMate, and text looked crisp and well defined. It couldn't quite hit every line of horizontal resolution via VGA, but the difference was impossible for us to detect in text and other onscreen objects.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6867/7087||Good|
|After color temp||6861/6561||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 421||Average|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 181||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.64/0.332||Good|
|Color of green||0.277/0.602||Good|
|Color of blue||0.146/0.05||Average|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Y||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Fail||Poor|
|Samsung LN46A750||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||184.62||119.31||98.41|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.2||0.13||0.11|
|Cost per year||$57.64||$37.42||$30.96|
|Score (considering size)||Good|
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