Samsung LN46A950: LED-powered LCD delivers deepest blacks

CNET reviews the LED-powered LN46A950 flat-panel LCD.

As anybody who pays attention to the ubiquitous Samsung ads that run in CNET's home theater section can tell you, last year I called the picture quality of the company's LN-T4681F a "breakthrough" for flat-panel LCDs. I didn't resort to such highly descriptive language in my review of its successor, the LN46A950, but that doesn't mean I wasn't impressed. It can produce the deepest shade of black of any flat-panel LCD I've reviewed so far.

The extremely expensive A950 series, which also includes a 55-inch version, earns the right to charge so much because it employs LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to create the light behind the screen, whereas most flat-panel LCDs use florescent lights. The difference is that LEDs can be dimmed or turned off in dark areas of the screen.

Last year I noted that the LED-backlit Samsung, while capable of producing some very deep black levels of its own, suffered from some blooming effects--where especially bright objects on dark backgrounds are surrounded by a dim glow--and worse-than average off-angle performance. So did the company correct these issues in its second generation?

Read the full review of the Samsung LN46A950.

One more note: Longtime readers of my reviews have come to expect them to be accompanied by picture settings that enable viewers to set up their TVs as I did for the review. Unfortunately, a (hopefully temporary) glitch prevents the publication of settings for the LN46A950 I reviewed. So, I'm including my picture settings below instead, and hopefully we'll get that glitch cleared up soon.

Below you'll find the settings we found best for viewing the Samsung LN46A950 in a completely dark room via the HDMI input with a 1080p, film-based source. Your settings may very depending on source, room conditions and personal preference. Check out the Picture settings and calibration FAQ for more information.

--Picture menu
Mode: Movie
Backlight: 10
Contrast: 97
Brightness: 44
Sharpness: 0
Color: 53
Tint: G50/R50

Detailed settings submenu
Black adjust: Off
Dynamic contrast: Off
Gamma: +1
Color space: Auto
Flesh tone: 0
Edge enhancement: Off
xvYCC: Off
LED Motion Plus: On

White balance submenu
R-Offset: 26
G-Offset: 27
B-Offset: 26
R-Gain: 25
G-Gain: 19
B-Gain: 15

Picture options submenu
Color tone: Warm2
Size: Just Scan
Digital NR: Off
DNIe: [grayed out]
HDMI black level: [grayed out]
Film mode: [grayed out]
Blue only mode: Off
Auto motion plus 120Hz: Off
Smart LED: On

--Setup menu
Entertainment: Off
Energy saving: Off

About the author

Section Editor David Katzmaier has reviewed TVs at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

 

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