18 May, 2009

Samsung puts its money on LED

REVIEW SAMSUNG B7000 Full-HD LED TV

090515-SamsungB7000 Enjoy higher contrast and enhanced efficiency on this media-friendly television set

Hedirman Supian, hedirman@mediacorp.com.sg

FLAT-PANEL television sets are becoming a commodity, no thanks to sliding prices. But how can manufacturers differentiate their products to lure the picky consumer? Well, electronics giant Samsung has gone the extra mile this time with its new series of LED-based full high-definition television sets.

Divided into three lines (the 8000, 7000 and 6000), the series employs light-emitting diodes (LEDs), instead of conventional cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), for backlighting. LED technology makes the sets slimmer, increases the screen contrast and enhances energy efficiency.

The 40-inch model from the B7000 series appears amazingly svelte, looking thinner than the 3cm it actually measures at its thickest point. The only drawback was that it took quite a shove for some of the thicker cables to be plugged in, as the ports are positioned in such a manner that they are almost flush with the back surface.

Samsung has categorised the product’s interactive and content features under what it calls Medi@2.0, which includes Internet@TV, Content Library, USB 2.0 Movie and DLNA Wireless. Like its recent predecessor, the B7000 incorporates a range of pre-loaded content dubbed the Content Library. It includes a picture gallery, games, as well as cooking and fitness programmes.

You can download new content online and delete content you no longer need. USB 2.0 lets you hook up USB-based storage to view JPEG images, listen to MP3s, or watch movies. Its DNLA Wireless feature lets you access media on other DNLA-compatible devices, like the Sony PlayStation 3, mobile phones and computers. We loved the built-in YouTube feature because it provided a wealth of easily-accessible content. The movies on the online video-sharing site loaded fast and looked great even on the 40-inch TV.

With the TV being so reliant on networking and Internet connectivity for so many of its interactive features and content, we like the fact that Samsung is bundling a free wireless USB dongle with each set.

In terms of performance, the TV offered a marked difference in contrast, allowing you to see textures and details in dark scenes. While the display brightness was way above average, we noticed some over exposure in brightly-lit conditions and had to tone down the settings. Fast-moving action scenes weren’t as smooth as expected when it came to movies at 1080p resolution. There was slight fuzziness, but it was a non-issue over time when we started playing action games at 1080p using a PlayStation 3. The TV also ran much cooler than other sets we’ve reviewed before.

Apart from the long remote that allows for total control of the B7000, you get a mini-remote that lets you adjust the volume and switch channels. This was a nice touch, but with the plethora of cable boxes and other home theatre equipment hooked up to the TV, you’ll be better off with the full-featured remote, which also has a nifty backlight that allows you to use it in the dark.

The Samsung B7000 series ($5,399) shows that there’s still much room for improvement for TVs when it comes to bundling it with content and Internet connectivity. The added YouTube feature is a first for a TV and the device’s media-friendly features certainly make it easy for you to access content without the hassle of hooking it up to a computer or media centre.

From TODAY, Tech; Friday, 15-May-2009


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