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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