Samsung HLP-85W review: Samsung HLP-85W

The connectivity suite on the rear panel (there are no front- or side-panel A/V inputs) is relatively comprehensive, highlighted by a pair of digital inputs, one HDMI and one DVI, as well as two broadband component-video inputs. Also onboard is one VGA-style RGB input; unlike many other microdisplay sets, Samsung's DLPs are designed to work easily as computer displays too. The HL-P5085W can handle up to 1,024x768 computer resolution signals at 60Hz via either VGA or DVI inputs. The rest of the jack pack includes two A/V inputs with both composite and S-Video inputs, one A/V output with composite video only, and two RF inputs and one RF output. This is more than enough connectivity for most sophisticated home-theater rigs.

Samsung also offers the pedestal in a 56-inch screen size, model HL-P5685W.

Like a lot of other TVs, the overall performance of the Samsung HL-P5085W isn't spectacular out of the box. However, if you have it professionally calibrated by someone who knows the set's idiosyncrasies, it can be made to perform extremely well.

Color decoding out of the box leaves a lot to be desired, it accentuates green tones and underaccentuates red, but again can be fixed by a qualified professional. Once calibrated, the grayscale tracking, or variation, is also excellent, resulting in a consistent color of gray from darkest to lightest colors (see the geek box below). The Warm 2 color temperature preset came the closest to the NTSC standard of 6,500K. Black-level performance was also quite good, better than that on Sony's KDF-50WE655 , meaning the set can achieve relatively dark blacks. There was some visible low-level noise just above black, a problem we see with just about all DLP sets.

We also tested a couple of the HL-P5085W's proprietary picture modes. The DNIe circuit introduces some edge enhancement and also affects contrast and color saturation. For optimum picture quality, we recommend you turn it off. The MCC (My Color Control) is another gimmicky feature that gives you color choices based on a animated, picture generated from the set. Again, leave it off for the best results.

After doing a thorough calibration of the HL-P5085W, we sat back and watched some scenes from our favorite reference DVDs. Chapter 12 of the Seabiscuit DVD looked awesome, with superb color saturation and natural-looking skin tones. Dark scenes at the beginning of the Alien: Director's Cut DVD were rendered extremely well with relatively deep blacks and only minor visible low-level noise.

As did all 1-chip DLPs we've seen, the Samsung exhibited the rainbow effect. We witnessed brief trails of color in high-contrast areas, such as the white-on-black letters from the intro of the Alien DVD. These effects will be invisible to some people and a bother to others. We also noticed some slight bending of horizontal lines, known as a pincushion effect; we'd normally expect near-perfect geometry on a DLP set.

HDTV material looked great. The combination of an extremely accurate grayscale and good color decoding after calibration yielded realistic yet deeply saturated color. The image also appeared quite sharp, although technically it wasn't capable of reproducing every line from a 720p test pattern on our Accupel signal generator.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 7,350/7,575K Average
After color temp (20/80) 6,700/6,550K Good
Before grayscale variation ± 922K Average
After grayscale variation ± 86K Good
Overscan 3% Average
Color decoder error: red -15% (0%) Poor
Color decoder error: green +10% (+5 %) Average
DC restoration Gray patterns stable Average
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement N Poor

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    Quick Specifications See All

    • Release date Oct. 15, 2004
    • Display Format 720p
    • Diagonal Size 50 in
    • Type rear projection TV
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