Pros + Picture quality is awesome, no buzz
+ No worrying about image retention
+ Smart TV features suite is excellent
Cons - Off-angle viewing is incredibly poor
Summary My last 2 TVs have been plasmas, and while I adored the picture quality and natural, cinematic motion, I grew annoyed with having to obsess over the possibility of burn-in or image retention. I know, I know... today's plasmas are practically worry-free in the area of burn-in. Except that my 2011 Samsung got it from some weather delay announcements during the break-in period (when I wasn't around to monitor). It's still on there to this day, though luckily you have to look pretty hard to notice. Plus there was the infamous "buzz" noise that many plasma owners have had to suffer through, seemingly at random (some people hear it, others don't, it depends on elevation or your viewing angle, etc., etc.). Plus the super glossy screen basically turned into a flashlight during the day, reflecting any and all light sources coming from the window. Due to all of these factors, I jumped onto the LED-LCD bandwagon. I was immediately disappointed.
Now I must admit that I am a mid-range home theater level snob/elitist. Many of you will no doubt be completely satisfied by this TV, particularly if you have never owned a plasma. Those of you who would prefer to continue your life looking through LED-lit glasses might want to stop reading. Here goes...
NEGATIVES: Off-angle viewing is incredibly poor. Even if you are practically dead center, you can still rock back and forth in your seat and see the black bars turn lighter. When I stand up to get a snack or something, I can see the screen get lighter, and anybody who visits and is not sitting directly in front of the TV will have washed-out colors to look forward to. Screen uniformity is okay, but there are bluish blobs on the sides of the screen that are glaringly apparent during dark scenes. No matter what picture settings you tweak, they will always be there. Now it's possible that those are unique to my particular screen, but I doubt it. There is also a bit of "flashlighting" in the corners, though you can only see it during dark scenes.
Motion is just awful compared to Plasma. I have tried every setting. The one that works the best is Custom, Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction to 0 (as suggested by CNET for the previous year's model). Having AutoMotion turned on with anything other than this setting induces the infamous soap opera effect, which apparently many people do not even notice. High def programming looks good with AutoMotion on these custom settings (though there is still occasionally a strange, "simmering" effect on faces and the occasional hitch in wide, panning shots- these problems increase if you turn the AutoMotion setting off completely).
When I switch to DVDs (on the same input, using an Onkyo TX-NR717 receiver), there is so much hitching and frame skipping in the picture that I have to switch AutoMotion from Custom to off. This could be the result of the SD material being upconverted to HD. Also, the PQ looks noticeably worse on standard def programming. The PQ settings that look great for HD suddenly look awful for upconverted DVD. On my plasmas, this was never an issue. But the imperfect motion is the real deal-breaker for me. I find it incredibly distracting. Had I not owned plasmas, I may not have even noticed. Now for my final qualm: the screen still has a pretty fair amount of glare and reflection during the day. Really doesn't seem like much of an improvement over my plasma. Apparently many of the LED-LCD screens are also glossy now in order to achieve deeper blacks.
POSITIVES: In terms of contrast, most HD programming looks almost as good as plasma. It's just too bad that the vibrant colors and fairly deep blacks are overshadowed by the unnatural motion, the poor off-angle viewing, the "flashlighting" in the corners and the bluish blobs I mentioned earlier. There's no buzz and no worrying about image retention or possible burn-in. The smart TV features suite is excellent, especially the inclusion of HBO Go. The remote is interesting, but will take some getting used to for most everyone. These features are the same on the comparable plasma models.
BOTTOM LINE: I'm a huge cinephile. I watch at least four movies a week and I love HD programming. Many of my favorite shows are still only available in SD, however, and those look noticeably worse on LCD compared to plasma. In spite of the plasma flaws I mentioned earlier, the most important aspect in selecting a TV is getting the best picture quality possible, at least as much as a person's budget will allow. I want the colors to be vibrant and the blacks as realistic as possible. I also need realistic, cinematic motion. That's why I'm going back to plasma. I knew it was a risk to switch after four years, but I didn't expect there would be so many compromises. But most people will be fine with this, especially if they've never witnessed the difference. The 60" plasma model is about $500 cheaper, has the same features and better picture quality. Sure, I may have to baby it a little during the "break-in period." But it's totally worth it to have a picture I can marvel at and which will allow me to become totally immersed in the experience again. If you think I'm being an elitist, read 90% of the LED-LCD reviews here on CNET. Many of those have the same complaints I have outlined here.
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Thank for reading.
Summary DON'T BUY SAMSUNG LEDs. I BOUGHT A 60" LED and it just stopped working after 19 months??? I paid almost 2000 dollars to get a TV for 19 months. Stay away from SAMSUNG LEDs , and save your cash.
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