We began our evaluation process by adjusting the set to achieve peak performance with our reference source, a Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player running 1080i via HDMI. As usual, we adjusted the set for a darkened room, limiting peak light output to 40 FTl (footlamberts). (Speaking of light output, we were curious whether LEDs could compete against bulbs on that front. While the HL-S5679W's peak brightness of 101 FTl isn't quite up to the blinding 150-plus peaks we've seen on some DLPs, it's still plenty--even for brightly lit environments). You can check out our full user-menu settings by clicking Tips & Tricks above. We also subjected the HL-S5679W to a full calibration for grayscale and tweaked its primary colors slightly, which resulted in an improved picture (see the Geek box, below).
After setup, we watched a bit of the HD-DVD of Happy Gilmore and generally liked what we saw. Colors looked great, from the deep green of the putting green in shadows to the more yellowish green of the rough in the "golden hour," as Happy drives into the club. Skin tones looked natural and highly differentiated, from Happy's Hollywood tan to his grandmother's ultrapale, nursing-home complexion. Color decoding was a bit off, so we had to back the color control down slightly, but afterward, saturation was still excellent, thanks to the accurate primary colors and grayscale.
Details also looked great on this disc. For example, when Shooter McGavin had one of his later tantrums and went after a beach ball with his putter, we could see the tiny tufts of grass on the manicured green, as well as the faces of the spectators in the background as they laugh at his hapless antics. The leaves of the trees around the course stood out in great detail, and in one shot, we could read the numbers of the leaderboard despite it being in the distant background. According to test patterns, the HL-S5679W was incapable of resolving every line of a 1080i source, but it did come close, and we didn't miss the few lost lines in program material. We also connected our sole current 1080p source, the company's Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player, and the TV handled it fine. For what it's worth (not much), the HL-S5679W was the only TV in our lab that handled a 1080p/60 source, the Helios HVD2085, via component-video.
One aspect of picture quality that was missing, however, was the deep, inky blacks that we've come to expect from high-end DLP and LCoS sets of late. Black levels were a good deal lighter then we expected, measuring around the same level as the Panasonic PT-61DLX76, for example, as opposed to models such as the aforementioned HL-S5687W, Sony's KDS-60A2000 that we tested earlier, or the JVC HD-56FN97 we had on hand for comparison. As a result, some dark scenes lacked punch and appeared somewhat more washed out than they should have. When Happy takes Virginia (Julie Bowen) to the rink and the lights go down, the dark area behind the two looked a bit too bright and even had a very faint lighter spot in the middle. This "hot spot" moved when we changes seating positions and was much more noticeable than similar aberrations we've seen on some other rear-projection sets.
We also checked out a darker film for good measure, Goodfellas on HD-DVD, and the HL-S5679W displayed similar characteristics. During the walkthrough at the Bamboo Lounge, for example, the shadows and the gangsters' dark suits appeared a tad too light, and when Henry (Ray Liotta) takes Karen (Lorraine Bracco) in through the back door, we again saw the faint hot spot appear on his dark suit jacket.
We chalk up the lighter black levels to the HL-S5679W's hot spot; indeed, the corners and edges of the picture got progressively darker. Unfortunately, they also got bluer. When displaying a white field, such as you'd see during a hockey match, the edges of the screen became significantly bluer than the middle, although on darker fields the discoloration was less noticeable. Still, this issue was visible in many scenes once we noticed it, such as shots of sky or flat walls. The only area of the screen that wasn't discolored was the hot spot in the middle. That spot had a tendency to follow us if we moved off-axis, so viewers to the sides will experience the less-uniform picture differently. We can only guess that these issues are a result of the LED light engine, and hopefully Samsung can fix them in upcoming models. (We mentioned our observations to Samsung, and their spokesmen declined to comment on the color uniformity issue but did mention that the brightness difference of the hotspot was similar to the difference they measured on a 2005 standard Samsung DLP. We'll update this review if we get any new information.)
In its favor, the HL-S5679W did produce a clean, smooth image; during Goodfellas, for example, we saw far less noise and moving motes than we did on the JVC. We also appreciated the relative lack of stationary screen grain, an issue we've seen on many other rear-projection sets that wasn't nearly as noticeable on the HL-S5679W. That grain is the result of using screens that amplify brightness too much and is often visible as tiny stationary dots in bright areas. With the Samsung, there was virtually no screen-induced grain at all. As with most other rear-projection sets, the Samsung's geometry wasn't perfect; we noticed a bit of bowing outward along the top and bottom (a.k.a. pin-cushion) when we put up a 4:3 image. From a seating distance of eight feet, we could discern slight fringes of green and red along white lines, especially toward the corners.
The Samsung HL-S5687W turned in a decent performance from its standard-def inputs--component 480i, S-Video, and composite--but it wasn't spectacular. In particular, the image tended to look a bit softer than we expected. In its favor, the set did a good job smoothing out jagged edges from diagonal lines, and its noise-reduction feature cleaned up some of the snowy video noise from lower-quality sources. With Film mode engaged, the HL-S5679W detected 2:3 pull-down cadence quickly. We left DNIe off in all circumstances because it did introduce edge enhancement.
First we checked to confirm that the Samsung HL-S5679W could indeed accept a 1,920x1,200 signal, the highest resolution mentioned in the manual, via its VGA PC input; it could. It also had no trouble handling a 1,920x1,080 signal, but unfortunately could not resolve every line of the latter, according to DisplayMate. The image was also underscanned somewhat and didn't fill the screen, wasting about 1.5 inches on the left side and 0.75 to 0.5 inch on the other sides. All of that said, the Samsung still delivered a fine PC picture for a rear-projection set. We were able to read 12-point Ariel text from our nominal eight-foot seating distance without a problem, and the TV displayed a digital photo slide show with plenty of detail.
Samsung DLP TVs from previous years have had reports of lag between the controller and the onscreen action, so we tested the HL-S5679W accordingly. We played a few rounds of Kameo, Need for Speed, and Prey via the Xbox 360's component-video output at 1080i and didn't notice any delay between the controller and the screen, whether or not Game mode was engaged. Game mode did negatively impact the picture quality as mentioned above, however, so we preferred to leave it off during gaming.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6,723/6,697K||Good|
|After color temp||6,540/6,446K||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 205K||Good|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 32K||Good|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.633/0.333||Good|
|Color of green||0.305/0.602||Good|
|Color of blue||0.150/0.052||Good|
|Black-level retention||All patterns stable||Good|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Yes||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|