Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great 3D LCD TV, hugely adjustable but time-consuming to adjust, December 18, 2011
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This review is from: Samsung UN46D8000 46-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D LED HDTV (Silver) (2011 Model) (Electronics)
There's a lot to say about this TV, and I'm going to say it all. Short version: great 3D LCD TV, among the best on the market, if you're willing to deal with the hassles of adjusting it; and those hassles are somewhere between minor and major. Now, either skip the rest of this review, or read on!

The model number, UN46D8000, is broken down this way: UN means an LED backlit TV; 46 is diagonal screen size in inches; D is the 2011 model year; and 8000 is the model number, in this case Samsung's top of the line. My D8000 purchased at Amazon came with two of the SSG-3500CR 3D active-shutter glasses in the box; the D8000 also varies from the rest of the lineup by introducing Auto Motion Plus, a set of technologies to ensure uniformity of display even when showing fast-motion scenes.

The D8000 has a host of technologies, in fact, to deal with the reality of 3D HDTV. And they matter, because their presence affects 2D viewing as well. Standard HDTV displays at 24 frames per second. But the D8000 can show 240 frames per second, which means that it can show 120 frames per second to each one of your two eyes when displaying 3D. This all but eliminates migraine-inducing flicker from 3D display. But it means that for every 24Hz frame it gets from your image source, it has to gin up 9 frames out of whole cloth. What should those frames look like? How will they smooth the transition from one frame to another - in brightness, in edge motion, in blur? The Samsung's technologies are actually pretty good at answering these questions, but they can be overpowering. Luckily a lot of variability is built in if you are willing to explore onscreen menus.

With the set off, the screen is gorgeous. Most of it is high-specularity Gorilla Glass; the ultrathin chrome bezel is my favorite feature of the set, hands down. Shut off the Samsung logo backlight and hang the inch-thick, 45 lb set on your wall; it looks like a beautifully framed work of modern art. Now, turn on the display; unlike other TVs, that look like a moving picture embedded in a hunk of grey or black plastic, the D8000 looks like a seamless window into another reality. Commander Adama in the 1978 Battlestar Galactica had a similar device on his dining room wall. It looks, to me, like the future. It makes me excited to turn it on and watch it.

The D8000's screen is the highest contrast display I've ever seen. At full backlight, whites emit an unearthly bluish-purple glow, searing the retina; blacks are slightly crushed but darker appearing than anything else in the room, except maybe the piano-black surface gloss on my Infinity subwoofer. This is awesome when viewing 3D because the display is still sunlight-bright even with the dimming effect of the 3D glasses (remember that the active shutter blocks about 50% of the light while it's closed, and is not fully transparent even when the shutter is open.) But when viewing 2D, the contrast has to be turned way down! Otherwise, you'll feel like you're looking through a window into a science-fiction world where objects glow of their own accord.

That said, once adjusted, picture quality is the best I've ever seen, to my eye. It's unreal how good it is. It will spoil your eye for anything less. Uneven brightness? Some say so. This feature of the TV improves after a few weeks out of the box - not just getting the settings right; some physical property of the TV is changing as it is used - and, apart CGI images that include a lot of darkness, or letterbox bars, I find uneven brightness not really noticeable. (The Cinema Black setting, quite welcome, fixes the letterbox problem.) Watched Pirates 4, a movie with a huge dynamic range in terms of screen brightness and darkness, and never once noted any annoying variability in brightness.

On the other hand, any computer game will show you annoying edgelight bleed. Individual viewers vary hugely on how they feel about this; I think; from poking around the web, I get the feeling that different sets vary as well. What I see on my set doesn't bug me. The segmental dimming of the backlight can be shut off if you really want to, but I found that leaving it on looked better; I ended up turning Auto Motion Plus to "Clear," a step less than Standard; and turning off the digital noise filter. MPEG noise reduction I left set at Low. With this combo, you can see every blade of grass stuck to a receiver's helmet - can see individual sparkles in the metallic helmets of Navy, Notre Dame or Detroit - but are not bothered by jaggies or edge effects. However, you can turn the noise reduction all the way up, and crank up the Auto Motion Plus too. When you overdo it on those settings, you'll get the dreaded "soap opera effect" - looks like someone shot your movie on a cheap HandiCam. Colors are spectacular - great golden yellows, vivid greens, bright reds and blues - and can be tweaked; I found setting Color Tone to Warm1, turning down the saturation a bit, and tweaking the Flesh Tone and R/G tint setting was good enough for my eye.

Sports look good - I'm an NFL fan - and 3D college games look awesome, really put you right in the action. They take a little bit of tweaking and an acknowledgement that in winter, real turf is not green, rather a depressing greyish brown. SDTV varies from OK to downright unwatchable; if you are a fan of SD infomercials or non-HD-remastered shows from the 60s and 70s, you might want to keep your old set.

So: adjustments. You will need to adjust the standard controls extensively, and probably the medium-deep menu if you just want it to look good. If you are an AV geek you are going to need to get into the deep menus and you are going to be frustrated and annoyed. Things that should be one click, like Game Mode on and off (accessed at the beginning and end of each gaming session), or 3D optimization (needed on every play of a 3D movie) are buried 10 clicks deep. The included QWERTY-chiclet remote is not terrible but no universal remote will ever take over its necessary functions, so you're stuck with it - and you'll need to get to know it.

In addition to this, the menu controls are organized haphazardly and have hidden "features" - for instance, enabling Game Mode under System under General disables most of the Picture Options under Picture. When you try to then edit one of the disabled options, are you given the choice of disabling Game Mode? No, you're told to go do it yourself. There are dozens of things like this; I've been fooling with it for the last few hours and have no idea what I've done to grey out the Picture Options -> Advanced Settings sub sub menu. Nor will I ever know; I've given up. I am dismayed about the amount of time I have to spend in these menus; and by the fact that a set of settings, once adjusted, cannot be saved; enough so that I docked the D8000 a star in my star ratings. Samsung, are you listening?

Smart TV is a mixed bag. After playing with it for a few minutes you'll realize that you're in the middle of a war for control of your eye time, and Samsung clearly means to be a big player, even if that means screwing its customers over in the short run. Samsung will not play with any MacOS or iOS device, and unlike the 2009 and 2010 models, it doesn't do Amazon Prime Streaming either, adding to my large collection of internet-capable AV devices which ought to receive Amazon Prime Streaming, but don't. Built-in Netflix cannot take advantage of the QWERTY keyboard - you have to use arrow keys to find letters off an onscreen menu - and at first glance it seems that you can't get any access to the video adjustments while watching Netflix. (Not true; the Menu button is indeed disabled, but you can back into a limited version of the onscreen menu by hitting Tools instead. Obvious, right? Not.) I liked Samsung's ever-rotating array of 3D content. I disliked the fact that in order to play something through Smart TV, I had to run a separate SPDIF audio cable back to my receiver; the TV won't, as far as I can tell, run Audio Return back through HDMI while you're watching something on it. Samsung clearly intends that this TV be able to replace your receiver - except for the part where it doesn't power your external speakers - but I wish they sold it in a model that had all the Smart TV and extraneous input ports eliminated, because I'd like to be able to get into a display of this quality for $800.

Buy the set from Amazon and take advantage of their price match - check back in 14 days and if the price has dropped, Amazon will refund the difference. I bought a Black Friday set but was able to score the mid-December price, a discount of about 15%.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 18, 2011 2:22:29 PM PST
Khouper says:
What a beautiful review. Thanks for the time you put into it.

Posted on Dec 18, 2011 2:22:40 PM PST
Khouper says:
What a beautiful review. Thanks for the time you put into it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2011 4:26:20 PM PST
neurotome says:
You're welcome, and thank you for the compliment!

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 12:13:30 AM PST
"Buy the set from Amazon and take advantage of their price match - check back in 14 days and if the price has dropped, Amazon will refund the difference. I bought a Black Friday set but was able to score the mid-December price, a discount of about 15%. "

How would you be able to do that?

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 2:22:36 PM PST
Yelena Kagan says:
Would you be willing to share your settings? I have calibrated some, but don't think I have achieved best possible picture.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2011 5:44:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 19, 2011 6:36:38 PM PST
neurotome says:
John:

At such a time as you see that the price has dropped on a TV you bought in the last 14 days, you need to go into the "Help" area of Amazon's website and find the "Returns and Refunds" area. You'll need your order number, found in the "Your Account -> Your Orders" area of the website.

At the moment, Returns and Refunds can be accessed by the below link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=hp_901888_ref_pric?nodeId=468502

but of course Amazon can change their website at any time.

I actually paid $12 more than the cheapest price available, so that Amazon.com would fulfil my order instead of a third party seller. 12 days later, the price had dropped $201, and I was able to have Amazon refund the difference directly to my credit card.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2011 5:49:45 PM PST
neurotome says:
Yelena, I am still working on my settings, and I think my set itself is still changing, but here's what I got for watching NFL football. My goals were to optimize clarity, detail and fast motion; have color and contrast levels that are window-realistic and easy on the eyes; and match the white level to whites seen in my viewing room, so obviously some of these settings won't likely work for you.

Backlight 16
Contrast 60
Brightness 70
Sharpness 49
Color 45
Tint: G 52 R 48

Then, under Picture Options:
Color Tone Warm1
Digital Noise Filter Off
Mpeg Noise Filter Low
HDMI and Film Mode are greyed out, showing "normal" and "off" respectively
Auto Motion Plus: Clear (this is critical; I *hate* the other settings for AMP)
Smart Led: Standard
Cinema Black: Still experimenting with On and Off; I think On is better especially if you are watching 4:3 or letterbox.

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 6:43:19 PM PST
neurotome says:
I should warn you that my preferred settings are rough on what I think of as "Movie Magic." Penelope Cruz in Pirates 4 didn't look like the magical beauty I've always thought of her as; she looked like a middle-aged Spanish lady wearing way too much pancake makeup (I could see the edges of the makeup between her cheekbones and ears); and doing actress tricks to make her face more appealing. Sort of unsettling.

On the other hand, just now I was reading the fine print on a warning label near the chinstrap of an NFL player's helmet, and counting the places where the helmet was all scratched up. I think that's kind of neat.

Apropós of nothing, I want to mention that I don't use the special "eco" power saving settings of this set at all. Basically this is what it is: Energy Star set up a hurdle; Samsung put a menu option in that hurdles it. The $15/year power estimate is probably right - if you turn the backlight all the way down, like the Eco Mode does. If you actually want your TV to look good while you are watching it, shut Eco Mode off and forget about it.

Posted on Dec 19, 2011 9:31:50 PM PST
John Alvino says:
Neurotome, Thanks so much for this excellent, detailed review. It's unselfish, helpful people such as yourself that takes the time to review a product so that others, like myself, can eventually make a much more informed decision when we purchase a high-ticket item such as this.

Posted on Dec 30, 2011 2:18:25 PM PST
L. Wall says:
Regarding your comment that "Samsung will not play with any MacOS or iOS device", does that mean that the Apple TV will not work with this TV?

Thanks for your fine review.
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