More and more we are astounded by just how large televisions can get. With the recent announcement at CES2006 of a 100 inch LCD television by LG-Philips, the mind becomes awash in amazement at how far people will go to get the biggest, the best and the most outrageous televisions that the imagination can conjure.
- Ridiculously big screen, Good colour reproduction, Excellent speakers, Wide range of inputs, 6 segment colour wheel, Excellent design
- Noise in blacks, slight noise in grey, Mediocre PC performance.
The Samsung SP67L6HX has very few peers that can match its quality and performance at this price point.
Price$ 5,499.00 (AUD)
In that vein and in our own attempt to understand the bandwagon, we have been reviewing every massive screen TV we could get our hands on. The latest is the biggest we have reviewed yet. At 67 inches, the Samsung SP67L6HX towers over our viewing environment and makes us question the validity of something so huge. However, there is something so very alluring about it and watching movies on a screen of this size is sublime.
In many of our DLP television reviews we have been known to mention a unit that we saw at the 2005 Home Entertainment Expo. That unit was the SP67L6HX. It is the DLP unit by which we tend to compare all others. It is that good. However, a visual assessment at an Expo and formal testing are two different things and while the unit holds up well, it is far from perfect and suffers in a few areas that slightly taint it from achieving perfection.
Samsung tend to have one aesthetic which they apply to most of their televisions. Thankfully, it is a rather attractive one with smooth curves introducing the matte black bezel to the top of the unit. The speakers are placed neatly above the stand, running along the bottom of the unit with a slight gap between the speaker and the screen. This design screams sophistication and quality, two elements only equaled by the performance of the unit.
The right side of the system sports the primary operation buttons which are all clearly marked and hidden from a front side view of the unit. The right side also houses a single composite/S-Video connection as well. The rear is a sea of input connections with two component inputs, two composite/s-video inputs, a 15 pin D-Sub connector with an accompanying audio-in jack, a HDMI port with RCA audio for use with DVI signals and the TV tuner. The rear panel also has a video out connector as well but this is only limited to composite video.
Interface and Customisation
We looked at the television's feature set and the corresponding menu navigation and felt that the options and calibrations were quite simple to use, if not a little limited. While playing back a DVD there were only three aspect ratio options to choose from and, while 16:9 seemed like the right option to choose, movies in 1.85:1 appeared with black bars more akin to 2.35:1 films. The 16:9 mode constricted the image, making it a higher aspect ratio than it was meant to be. Switching to "Zoom" mode corrected this, but this workaround still looked a little off. The other mode to choose from was 4:3, but seriously, who watches that anymore?
Within the image sphere the calibration options were very basic with contrast, brightness and sharpness together with the usual tint options. We would have liked to see further customisations to this including individual calibrations of the colour elements. However, since most people would only use the basic options anyway, this isn't a huge problem.
When calibrating audio, the SP67L6HX has quite a few options. Sound can be manipulated via a number of pre-set modes that automatically equalise depending on the visuals you are viewing. There is also a graphic equaliser and a few virtual surround options that can enhance the audio dramatically, should you require it.
The speakers of the SP67L6HX are exceptional with good range and high performance in both the mid-tone and high treble ranges. They are slightly lacking in bass but not too much and since they hold together very well at high volumes, these bass issues are more than reasonable. Most people who intend to buy a 67 inch television would probably already own a home theatre system, so the speakers aren't a selling point but they are definitely worth noting since they are another element of this unit that we found surprisingly well implemented.
Standard Definition Testing
We tested the DVD playback on the Samsung and were fairly satisfied by the results. DVDs looked reasonably good on this unit although they did tend to lack a certain level of definition due to the scaling in combination with the limitations of DLP technology.
We performed our informal tests by running the lobby scene from The Matrix and the T-Rex attack from Jurassic Park. These tests are excellent for detecting visual aberrations in any television unit due to the difficulties presented in properly displaying their unique visuals. The Matrix is awash in green and for many televisions this becomes a problem. The Samsung had a slight discolouration problem when trying to display the finer smoke particles in the scene but from a comfortable viewing distance this didn't present a serious detriment. However, there was a particularly disheartening level of noise as a result of the scaling but it wasn't as bad as many other DLP televisions we have reviewed.
In our Jurassic Park test the SP67L6HX walked away unscathed. The night scene, harsh on many televisions, was displayed beautifully. In this scene, many televisions tend to show stepping on skin tones but the Samsung showed no such problem. The definition in fine details, such as the pebbled skin of the T-Rex, was also rather good.
Unfortunately, our formal tests with Digital Video Essentials showed a few problems with this television. There was a slight amount of noise in the lower grey registers but these were negligible. The colour block tests and SMPTE pattern tests were both displayed well, with no inaccuracies. Curiously, there was severe noise in blacks which weren't apparent in our other DVD tests. The value of still pattern tests is that fundamental elements used to create an image can be tested independent of any movement. In a film like BladeRunner, where dark and near-black scenes are common, a problem like this will become annoying quickly. However, it appears as though the noise problem doesn't become as prevalent in motion as it is in still images. We tested a handful of other films and found that they looked about as good as you would expect for 576i images on a natively 720p television.
High Definition Testing
We connected the unit to an Xbox 360 and ran FarCry Instincts: Predator. We use the Xbox 360 because it outputs in High Definition and as such is an accurate assessment as to the HD capabilities of a television. We are happy to report that the SP67L6HX displayed images at 720p and 1080i at a high level of clarity with bright accurate colours.
Connecting to a PC
Connected to a PC, the Samsung performed at an acceptable but far from impressive level. It lacked the clarity of an LCD TV under the same conditions and text tended to have a somewhat low level of definition. While text could still be read, we wouldn't recommend replacing your monitor with this 67 inch television. The primary use for connecting a television of this size to a PC would obviously be to watch video content with a simple desktop drag. To this end, the Samsung works quite well.
We tested the PC connection with DisplayMate Video Edition and were not surprised. There was a lack of definition in many edges, particularly around fine details. However, colour block tests showed no serious colour reproduction issues and the greyscale tests revealed only a minor amount of noise in mid to low level greys.
Unfortunately, while the dual tuners work reasonably well, they are only analog and as such can't produce a very good picture. In order to get a reasonable looking image from them you need to have a near-perfect signal or the free-to-air television will look mediocre. However, since the unit has a dual tuner, it has a Picture in Picture feature which works very well. While watching one channel you can watch another in a box on the corner of the screen. While this is not a new feature and many televisions have implemented it before, Samsung should be commended for including it nonetheless as it adds value to an already good unit.
A final issue to discuss is the degree to which this unit suffers from Rainbow Effect. Rainbow is a side effect of DLP technology that can cause rainbow flashes of colour across the screen for some viewers. We were worried that it would be a downfall for the SP67L6HX but it was fairly minimal. For someone that is susceptible to it, there is a little of the effect but since the Samsung has a 7 segment colour wheel, they seemed to keep it down to a minimum.
At the end of the testing process, the Samsung SP67L6HX faired rather well. We already held the unit in high regard after seeing it at the 2005 Home Entertainment Expo and while it isn't quite as good as our first assessment, it is still one of the best DLP units on the market. The Toshiba 62CM9UA is slightly better than this unit with better image quality and excellent performance under PC connection. However, it costs $1000 more - so when deciding which unit to get, the size of your wallet should be your only consideration.
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