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Samsunug UNF5000 series review:

A good picture with minimal smarts, inputs

Picture quality
I was surprised to discover the F5000 actually delivers substantially deeper black levels than the more expensive UNF6300 series. On the other hand its video processing is pretty disappointing. I certainly consider deep blacks more important than flawless cadence or motion resolution, however, so the F5000 delivers a better picture overall. It's still not quite at the level of the Panasonic E60 or the Vizio E series, but still good enough to earn a 7 in this category.

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)
Samsung UN55F6300 55-inch LED LCD
Samsung UN46EH6000 46-inch LED LCD
Panasonic TC-LE60 55-inch LED LCD
Vizio E500i-A1 50-inch LED LCD
LG 47LA6200 47-inch LED LCD
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma

Black level: The Samsung F5000 performed well in this category, albeit not quite as well as the Vizio or either of the Panasonics. When I watched some of the darker scenes from "Drive," such as the apartment walk-through at 11:52 and the cityscape soon after, the F5000's shadows, letterbox bars, and other black and near-black scenes looked inkier and more realistic than on the Samsungs and especially the LG.

Details in the shadows were good but not great; most of the sets, including the Vizio and Panasonics, rendered the shade-shrouded furniture in the apartment and the deeply darkened buildings in the overhead with superior visibility. The difference wasn't tremendously large, however, and I don't know if I'd miss those details if the F5000 weren't side by side with the others.

Color accuracy: I have few complaints here, and in person the F5000's colors backed up its superb measurement results. The skin tones of Driver and Irene were accurate and correct-looking, yet well-saturated, especially compared with the LG and, to a lesser extent, the E60 and the EH6000. Yes, there was a slight tinge of ruddiness there, so I'd give the edge to the F6300 or the Vizio in this department, but the F5000 more than held its own. Colorful objects like trees and the jars of food in a grocery store looked vibrant and realistic too. I also appreciated that it didn't show the bluish tint seen in black areas on a lot of other sets.

Video processing: In case you were wondering whether the 120 CMR improves motion resolution to the level of a true 120Hz TV, it doesn't. In our tests the TV could only achieve the 300-odd lines that most 60Hz TVs measure, as opposed to the 600 lines of a typical 120Hz TV like the Panasonic E60.

Engaging the LED Clear Motion setting cut light output by roughly half (typical of backlight scanning in general) but didn't improve that measurement. The test pattern images did look slightly cleaner with that setting engaged, but it wasn't worth the tradeoffs so we left it turned off (see the calibration notes above for more).

Unlike true 120Hz TVs the F5000 was also unable to correctly convey the cadence of film-based 1080p/24 sources. Instead, it introduced the slightly halting stutter of 2:3 pull-down -- a subtle distinction to most viewers, but film buffs will notice.

In addition to my standard test, which revealed the incorrect cadence in the helicopter flyover from "I Am Legend," it also became obvious in the supermarket during "Drive" (15:23) where the camera follows Driver through the aisles. As he rounded the corner, the moving background of filled shelves and freezers took on that stutter perceptibly.

As usual with Samsung, you'll need to select the Auto1 setting under Film Mode if you want correct 1080i deinterlacing of film-based sources; the default Auto 2 failed our test.

In Game mode the Samsung showed a completely respectable input lag measurement of 38.3ms. I tried the trick of renaming the input "PC" but it didn't improve that result.

Uniformity: The F5000 review sample I reviewed had solid dark-field uniformity across the screen, outdoing the LG and the EH6000, but not quite matching the others. Faint brighter clouds were visible on the right-hand side in dark areas. They were subtle enough that they weren't distracting even in very dark scenes, however, so I don't consider them a big deal. The top and bottom edges showed some extra brightness as well, in both bright and dark areas, but again it was quite subtle.

From off-angle the F5000 was nearly identical to the other Samsungs, and about average among its LCD peers, washing out dark areas worse than the Vizio and about as much as the Panasonic, but outdoing the LG. In brighter scenes the LG maintained color fidelity better, however; the Samsung tended to more quickly become bluish/reddish from off-angle.

Bright lighting: Equipped with the same semimatte screen we liked on the F6300, the F5000 has the same excellent bright-room picture. While it didn't deaden reflections quite as well as the Panasonic E60 and Vizio, it handled them better than the LG and especially the Panasonic S60. On the other hand the screen managed to retain its black levels relatively well in a lit room -- if not quite as well as the E60, better than the LG and the even more washed-out-looking Panasonic S60.

Sound quality: The F5000 sounded OK, sans the massive flaws I heard from many of the others, but certainly as good as the F6300. Comparing the two with music, the F5000's bass, timpani, and vocals from Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" sounded boomier and muddier, with more clarity from the other Samsung. The F5000 outperformed the thin, reedy LG and the rattling bass of the Vizio. The S60 wasn't much better, but did have a thinner albeit more accurate sound. As usual the E60 sounded worst of all. That boominess wasn't an issue during the explosions from the bridge scene in "Mission: Impossible 3," however, and overall the F5000 sounded better than most of the others (aside from the 6300) at conveying the impact with decent punch and clarity. Dialogue from the film also sounded relatively clear.

Geek box: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.009 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.26 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 0.913 Good
Dark gray error (20%) 0.3 Good
Bright gray error (70%) 0.324 Good
Avg. color error 1.363 Good
Red error 0.966 Good
Green error 0.736 Good
Blue error 3.284 Average
Cyan error 1.136 Good
Magenta error 0.612 Good
Yellow error 1.443 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Fail Poor
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 300 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300 Poor
Input lag (Game mode) 38.3 Good

Samsung UN40F5000 CNET review calibration results

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