"CNET is off base on performance - this one's a keeper"4.0 starson by mweflen
Pros: -VERY deep black level.
-Very punchy contrast ratio.
-Accurate, tunable color.
-Robust internet features.
-Very low power consumption.
-Innovative power save features.
-Very good TV Guide implementation.
-Excellent OTA tuner.
Cons: -Viewing Angles not as good as plasma, in the middle for LCDs.
-Minor screen uniformity issues (but not on normal programming).
Summary: I will rate this set on a ten point scale in 5 categories.
Black & White = 9
The 52EX700 is capable of displaying a very dark black. Blacks are darker than my previous 2006 model television, and at least as dark as the best LCD sets from last year. Katzmaier has said it's not as dark as some of the current competition. Frankly, I have a hard time seeing how. In daylight or with any room lighting, the black areas of the screen are completely black. In a darkened room, if you're watching a black screen, a tiny bit of light is evident. But who besides a professional TV reviewer sits in a darkened room watching a black screen? To the human eye, on any real program material, the blacks are effectively at zero light output. Any way you slice it, this set was more than bright enough to watch during the day, and it was more than dark enough for the black level not to be an issue at night. The contrast ratio is quite high, and the image has a lot of "pop."
Color = 9
Colors are vibrant but not cartoonish. It was easy to get them dialed in to a pleasing, natural looking palette by changing the "temperature" to its warmest setting. White Balance controls afford more chances to tweak the color.
Processing = 8
Overall, processing was good. I never noticed even one instance of motion blur, whether I was watching sports, drama, or action-packed Blu-Ray movies. There is no video lag, regardless of picture settings, which is very important for video gaming. Detail can be very strong even at lower "Sharpness" settings. This picture is a bit noisier in dark areas than my old SXRD set close up, but this noise is invisible at normal viewing distances. I noticed a few jagged edges in nearly horizontal lines on Blu-Rays (grates and fences can be torture tests for digital televisions). Standard definition performance is not going to win any awards, but it is perfectly acceptable. Just remember, garbage in=garbage out. You can only polish a turd so much, as they say.
Build Quality = 7
The cabinet is understated and stylish, with a thin "metallized" gray strip below a shiny black bezel. The set is impressively thin, but not so thin that jacks are laid out in a less easy-to-access sideways orientation. I wish the input jacks had been closer to the center of the rear, but they are laid out nicely. The included stand swivels, and keeps the television stable. The screen is a matte finish (thank goodness), and does a decent job of attenuating reflections from the room (this really helps during the day, and with floor lamps). The LED edge-lighting does lead to a small bit of "flash light effect" near the edges of the screen, but it is not really noticeable on normal material. The "Achilles Heel" of this set is viewing angle - the image washes out a fair amount more than 45 degrees to either side of center (90 degrees total), and more than 30 degrees vertically (60 degrees total). This is, however, pretty common for LCD sets. It is neither the best or worst in this regard.
Feature Set = 10
Until "Google TV" equipped sets come out next year, the EX700 is tops in terms of internet features. Netflix, Amazon VOD, and Youtube streaming are the stars, and they all work well. When connection speed was good, I could not discern any difference in picture quality between Netflix streamed directly to the EX700 and Netflix on the PS3. Also extremely impressive is the implementation of TV Guide for over-the-air HD signals. The TV downloaded listings based on Zip Code, and only displayed a schedule for channels I had selected as "Shown." The VGA PC input works perfectly, and the image is automatically scaled to fit the screen perfectly, with no overscan or loss of fidelity with text. The only feature that really fails to impress is Picture in Picture, as it is limited to PCs with HDMI inputs, and component input devices (like older DVD players). This renders it effectively useless, since you cannot twin it with broadcast material.
All told, this set rates a 43 on my scale of 50. On CNET's rigorous scale, it's a 4 (excellent). My dad has a Samsung UN55B8000, a very comparable edge-lit LED set, which performs similarly, but offers fewer features. I would rate that set 9/9/8/8/7, for a total of 41. My 50A2000, a rear projection SXRD set, would rate 9/10/9/5/6, for a 39 (the 5 is for its unreliability and the irritation of replacing lamps). The Insignia set I helped my grandmother purchase for her kitchen would rate 7/6/6/8/6 for a 33. So anything over 40 is very likely a solid all-around performer with good features.
Given the CNET review of this set, I was not expecting to like it as much as I did, and I was prepared for some compromises. Well, I guess pleasant surprises come in slim packages. It is above average, pure and simple. This is an uncompromisingly good television with only a few minor flaws, mostly endemic to LCD tvs. Its greatest strengths are its robust online offerings and its extremely punchy contrast ratio.