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Samsung UN46B7100 LED LCD HDTV Review

46 in.

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Blacks & Whites

Blacks & Whites Summary
Editorial Note: This is a review of the Samsung UN46B7100. Test results are for this model, but should indicate the general performance of other sizes in the Samsung 7 series. The Samsung 7 series also includes the UN40B7000 and the UN55B7000.  Read here for more details on series differences.
{{article.attachments['Samsung-UN46B7100-vanity.jpg']}} • Deep black, high peak brightness, good overall contrast. • Dynamic backlight can't be turned off. • Some minor uniformity issues. • Good greyscale gamma curve. • Testing done using DisplayMate Software
{{article.attachments['tvi-prev.jpg']}} Tour & Design Page 3 of 18 Color Accuracy {{article.attachments['tvi-next.jpg']}}

Black Level*(7.43)*


Black level is a measurement of how much light the TV outputs on an all black screen. The lower the light output, the darker the black will appear. A deep black is important, because it allows the TV a wider range for differentiation between dark colors, and allows the TV to have a higher overall contrast ratio.

When we first measured the Samsung UN46B7100's black level we got a reading of 0.13 candelas per meter squared (cd/m2), which is pretty good. Typically anything below 0.15 is good, with anything below 0.10 cd/m2 qualifying as really good.

We should note that the UN46B7100 has a dynamic backlight that can't be turned off. This means, once the TV is convinced it's showing a dark scene, the backlight will drop down, enabling the set to produce darker colors with greater ease. This feature would be fine if it were option, but as it is, it basically limits the amount of bright detail you can achieve in dark scenes. 

Black Level
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Compare the Samsung UN46B7100 to other HDTVs
{{article.attachments['Samsung-UN46B6000-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Vizio-SV470XVT-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic-TC-P42S1-vanity.jpg']}}
Samsung UN46B6000 46 inches Vizio SV470XVT 47 inches Panasonic TC-P42S1 42 inches

 

Peak Brightness*(8.92)*


In this test we measure how bright the Samsung UN46B7100 is able to get when displaying a pure white screen. A high peak brightness is important, both because it results in a higher contrast ratio and because it can help prevent external light sources from washing out the image on screen.

We measured the UN46B7100 at 356.53 cd/m2, which is a very high peak brightness. You shouldn't run into any issues arising because the UN46B7100 is too dim.

Peak Brightness
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Contrast*(7.83)*


Human eyes are very sensitive to contrast, which is the difference between the brightest white and darkest black the TV is capable of. The Samsung UN46B7100's contrast ratio works out to 2742:1, which is a solid contrast ratio. Most LCDs have issues with contrast ratio, because they aren't capable of getting a deep black. The UN46B7100 shows it's no slouch in this regard.

Contrast
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Tunnel Contrast*(9.79)*


Ideally, black level shouldn't change when the image on screen changes. On some TVs, however, the black level will rise when most of the screen is bright. On this test, we check how the black level changes as the dark area shrinks. As you probably guessed from the score, the UN46B7100's black level remained more or lest constant throughout our test. It won't matter if the screen is 90% black or 5%: you'll get roughly equivalent black levels for each.

Tunnel Contrast
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White Falloff*(6.80)*


This test is the opposite of the one above. Instead of checking for fluctuations in black level, we're examining brightness. Plasmas have some severe issues with this test, because it requires too much power to produce a full-screen white.

White Falloff
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You can see that the brightness stays relatively stable throughout until the block of white was just 5% of the screen. At this point, the dynamic backlight kicked in, resulting in a 30% drop in brightness. While we understand the appeal of a dynamic backlight, we don't understand why the feature can't be turned off. Although it does allow for deeper blacks, it also results in a loss of clarity in all the non-dark parts, as illustrated by this test.

 

Uniformity*(7.25)*


The uniformity of the Samsung UN46B7100's display varied sharply between an all-white screen and an all-black screen. With the white screen we saw a small amount of darkening at the corners, but no problems in the center of the display and an overall smooth appearance. With the all-black screen, however, we saw significant brightening at the corners, that extended well into the main display. We also saw blotches of light in the center of the display and along the edges. Edge lit displays like the UN46B7100 actually have their backlights lined along the edge of the display and then bounce them off materials behind the display to try and even things out. It looks like Samsung still needs to do some work in this area.

 

Greyscale Gamma*(8.65)*


The Gamma curve is the curve along which a television makes the transition in the greyscale from dark to light. When we first measured the Samsung UN46B7100's gamma curve it came out close to 3.0, which is significantly higher than our ideal of 2.1 to 2.2. Thankfully the UN46B7100 offers a gamma controls that runs from +/- 3. Adjusting this control up to +3 and running our test again we measured the UN46B7100's gamma at a much better 2.47. This is still a little bit higher than we'd like, but is close enough that it shouldn't be a problem.

This is good because a gamma that's too aggressive can reduce the perceived contrast on the display, and as we mentioned in our contrast section above the human eye is very sensitive to this.

Greyscale Gamma
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Resolution Scaling*(8.48)*


The Samsung UN46B7100 has a resolution of 1920 x 1080, and supports full 1080p content. The 'p' stands for progressive, which means all 1080 lines of content from top to bottom are displayed at once. This is the highest quality of HD content available, although it's generally only available from Blu-ray discs. Most of the content you'll see on your HDTV will come in a different format, and in this section we look at how well the UN46B7100 handled that content.

480p*(8.75)*

This is standard definition content, which comes in two flavors. In both cases you get 480 lines of resolution from top to bottom. This is the standard definition content you get from broadcast television or from DVDs. The Samsung UN46B7100 had some problems with overscan, meaning it cut off parts of the display. In this case it cut off 3% of the content on all sides. Thankfully that was the only major problem we detected, there were no problems with with moire patterns, which can appear in complex patterns, legibility or resolution.

720p*(7.95)*

This is the lowest resolution of content that quaifies as HD, with 720 lines of content from top to bottom. 720p is used on the internet and sometimes by sports broadcasts. The Samsung UN46B7100 had the most problem with 720p content. There were no oversan issues, but we did notice some cross-hatch patterns that appeared when the HDTV was displaying complex patterns. We also noticed problems with displaying high resolution patterns. The problems weren't so bad that the television was unwatchable, but they were there.

1080i*(8.75)*

This level of HD content has the same resolution as 1080p, but the 1080 lines of resolution are alternated between two sets of 540 lines and interlaced together, which is what the 'i' stands for. Broadcast HD is 1080i because it cuts the signal that has to be sent in half. The Samsung UN46B7100 had no problems displaying 1080i content.

Other Models in the Samsung 7 Series
This is a review of the Samsung UN46B7100. The other sizes of HDTVs in this series should be similar in terms of performance and usability. For details about any differences, click on the image to jump to the Series Comparison page.
{{article.attachments['Samsung-UN40B7000-120.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Samsung-UN55B7000-120.jpg']}}
UN40B7000 40 inches UN55B7000 55 inches
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Tour & Design
  3. Blacks & Whites
  4. Color Accuracy
  5. Motion
  6. Viewing Effects
  7. Calibration
  8. Remote Control
  9. Connectivity
  10. Audio & Menus
  11. Formats & Media
  12. Power Consumption
  13. Vs Samsung UN46B6000
  14. Vs Vizio SV470XVT
  15. Vs Panasonic TC-P42S1
  16. Conclusion
  17. Series Comparison
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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