The Samsung UNF7100 offers acceptable picture quality but nothing exceptional. Compared to the company's own televisions, such as the much cheaper F5000 it comes off looking second-best, but it slightly outperforms the company's own F6300/F6400 series, although the improvement in itself is not worth the extra money. Compared to other brands' best TVs, the value-to-picture quality proposition of the F7100 seems even more suspect.
Black levels were just OK, and while shadow detail was pretty good overall, some uniformity issues marred darker scenes. Color was generally excellent with only a little warmness to skin tones, and video processing was another strength. Off axis performance was solid, with blacks kept fairly intact without going purple and only an overall muting of colors.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.
|Comparison models (details)|
|55 inch local dimming LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P55ST60||55 inch plasma|
|Samsung UN40F5000||40 inch LCD|
|Samsung UN55F6300||55 inch LCD|
|Samsung UN55F8000||55 inch local dimming LCD|
|55 inch local dimming LCD|
Black level: The F5000 series, with its very good black level performance, is a bit of an anomaly in Samsung's lineup, but from the 6 series on up, there's a noticeable improvement in black levels as you ascend in price. While the F6300/F6400 had just OK blacks, the F7100 looks a little bit better with a little more solidity to images. But the 7 series isn't exactly halfway between the 6 and 8; it's more like a 25 percent improvement on the television below it. No other Samsung LED LCD can compete with the black-enhancing local dimming offered by the F8000 and F9000 series.
On the most testing scene from the very dark "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," you see an army amassing on a hill top. On the F7100 you can barely make out what the TV is trying to show you, compared to the superior low-level performance of the F8000 or Panasonic ST60, which showed the entirety of the scene, including the hilltop and the faces framed with black darkness, and not gray as on the Samsung.
While the black levels weren't very deep on the F7100, its shadow detail was pretty good. Compared to the overly crushed Vizio M-series, for example, you could see more of the valley behind the hill.
Color accuracy: The color performance of the Samsung F7100 kept up well with the competitors in my test room, including heavy hitters like the Panasonic ST60 and Sony W900. It was able to communicate colors with high degree of naturalness and a lack of oversaturation. The only knock was in reds and skin tones, with a slight pinkishness to cheeks. It wasn't unpleasant enough to be a big deal, however, and I noticed the same characteristic in the F6300 as well.
During the the Mother scene from "The Tree of Life", greens looked appropriately verdant. The secondary colors were also close on both the Samsung and the Panasonic ST60, with the cyan of the mother's dress looking almost identical on both TVs.
Video processing: Like most Samsung LED LCDs we've tested, the UNF7100 performed very well here, passing all of our synthetic and real world tests.
In the, it was able to do 1200 lines with all settings on, but there were significant artifacts at the group of lines denoting 600. I tested the television without any motion compensation as the benefits can be difficult to discern with most material. However, if you want the security of knowing you're getting the maximum motion resolution, you can choose to enable the LED Clear Motion toggle under Auto Motion Plus. The other tests were passed without any issues.
In Game mode, the 7100's input lag tipped just over the 40ms threshold from Good into Average with a score of 42.17.
Uniformity: The Creation sequence from The Tree of Life is quite unique as it displays a series of colors over a dark grey background, and if the TV isn't capable of very good blacks or has uniformity issues it shows very clearly. Unfortunately the scene demonstrated that there was a purple blotch in the bottom left-hand corner of our unit. The corners were also subject to "spotlighting" of the backlight with dark material onscreen.
When the 7100 was viewed off-axis colors were muted yet pretty good, and blacks were also reduced, but not "purple" like on the F6300 (likely a function of the latter's worse black levels). Of the three Samsungs I tested, predictably the 8000 had the best color retention and blacks off-axis.
Bright lighting: When viewed in a brightly lit room, the F7100 had a fairly impressive image, with bold colors and decent contrast. The screen coating of the TV very reflective, however, even more than on the F8000. I was able to see way too much of my sun-shy face bouncing back at me.
Sound quality: Despite the presence of the Spotify app and DLNA streaming, I wouldn't use the Samsung 7100 as a music system. Bass response was quite flatulent with Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand," but at least the 7100 covered more of the sound spectrum than the F6300. In the default Movie mode, vocals were distant-sounding, and, though there is a Music mode, it was actually Standard that sounded best, however, the accompanying bass guitar was still distorted.
Movies, though, are what the F7100 is made for. It delivered clearer dialogue and heftier explosions than the Sony W900, for example, with our "Mission: Impossible III" test scene.
3D: I found the performance of the F7100 to be quite acceptable in the third dimension. There was a little cross-talk on the "ghostly hand" from Hugo as we see him reach out across a black background, but it was in line with that exhibited by the excellent F8000. There were also fewer crosstalk issues than on the W900.
|GEEK BOX: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.008||Good|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.21||Good|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||1.300||Good|
|Near-black error (5%)||0.614||Good|
|Dark gray error (20%)||2.024||Good|
|Bright gray error (70%)||1.378||Good|
|Avg. color error||2.226||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i De-interlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||1200||Good|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||340||Poor|
|Input lag (Game mode)||42.17||Average|