Samsung UN55B7000 LCD HDTV First Impressions Review
It's hard to draw too many conclusions from our limited hands on at CES, the signs for the UN55B7000 look good.
Display Size & Technology
Built around a 55-inch LCD panel, the UN55B7000 is unusual in that the backlight for the screen comes from LEDs instead of the more widely used CCFL (Cold Compact Florescent Lights). These are white LEDs that are located around the edge of the screen, rather than having an array of LEDs behind the screen like some other manufacturers. While this is presumably simpler (as it requires fewer LEDs), it does mean that this display can't do local dimming, where some of the LEDs can be dimmed if the content on that area of the screen is dark. Other manufacturers are using this on some of their displays, but Samsung is not offering this on any of their announced 2009 models.
Format & Resolution
Like all of the LED models, the UN55B7000 has a full HD panel with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels, so it can display a full 1080p signal without having to scale or reduce the resolution at all. The UN55B7000 can also handle all of the high definition formats, from 1080p down.
Brightness, Blacks & Contrast Ratio
Samsung was somewhat tight-lipped about the technical specifications of the UN55B7000; they declined to reveal any details of the black level, brightness or contrast of the UN55B7000 beyond a few marketing slogans. For instance, they describe the UN55B7000 as having a 'Mega Contrast Ratio', but didn't give any specifics of what that really means. Likewise, they describe them as having deeper blacks than other LCD screens, but didn't give any specifics on this. So, we'll have to wait until closer to the product release date to get the detailed specifications.
Refresh Rate & Motion
The UN55B7000 has Samsung's new Auto Motion Plus processing system, running at 120Hz. The more expensive 8 series doubles this to run at 240Hz, but we haven't tested this yet, so we don't know how much of a difference the faster processing will make. The demos that were running on Samsung's stand at the CES show looked impressive, though; motion was noticeably smoother and more natural looking.
Again, Samsung did not make any numbers available here, but we found that the pre-production unit on the Samsung stand had a good viewing angle; the colors started to get somewhat pale at angles beyond about 60 or 70 degrees off straight on. That's a very acceptable angle, though; most of the TVs that we review start to fall off somewhat sooner. Of course, we will have to wait to get a full production unit in before we can draw any real conclusions, but it certainly looks promising.
We saw good, strong color in the pre-production unit that we looked at on the CES show floor, and Samsung is offering an extended color gamut that they call Wide Color Enhancer Pro. However, most extended color gamuts of this type only work if the source material can be output in the same color gamut, and most devices can't do this. However, if you have a number of other Samsung devices, this might be useful feature to have.
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