Samsung HL-S87W review: Samsung HL-S87W

During setup, we reduced the set's contrast control to achieve a relatively tame maximum light output of 40 footlamberts. This reduced the rainbows and eyestrain, as well as improved black levels. We made sure Color Weakness was turned off, since it really made skin tones and other colors look unnatural at any setting. The DNIe control, which introduced edge enhancement and other artifacts, was disabled in Movie mode and can be turned off in any mode. That's a welcome change from last year's Samsung DLPs, which did not allow you to disable DNIe without delving into the service menu.

Our first test involved watching DVD content from our reference Denon DVP-3910 upconverting DVD player set to 1080i output mode. Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith exhibited the Samsung's ability to display a deep black quite well. During Anakin/Darth Vader's healing/construction process, dark areas such as the floor of the lab, the shadowy equipment in the background, and the inside of Vader's mask as it descends to his face appeared deep and inky. Shadows also looked very clean with little video noise, and details in dark areas came across well. Gradations from light to dark, such as the spotlighted smoke surrounding the completed Vader, appeared natural and smooth, with none of the precipitous false contours we've seen on some other displays.

As with all DLPs we've seen, the Samsung introduced the rainbow effect in a few areas. They occurred mainly in places where white and dark content were next to one another. In Senator Palpatine's chamber, for example, the white glow globes produced brief trails of color against the darker ceiling. Of course, many DLP viewers can't see rainbows at all.

We also noticed some geometry problems on our review sample; vertical lines bent noticeably outward toward the bottom of the screen. Such issues can vary from sample to sample and are characteristic of most rear-projection HDTVs. As we expected from a 1080p DLP, uniformity across the screen was very good, with no discoloration in white and gray fields, and pixel fill was excellent, with no gaps visible between pixels at normal seating distances.

Due to the set's red push, we had to reduce the color control to achieve natural skin tones, which also had the effect of making colors appear a bit less vibrant than they should have. Afterward, skin tones looked more accurate; during Padme's labor, for example, her face appeared reddish from the effort of bearing little Luke and Leia but not unnaturally so. Primary color accuracy in the crucial green and red areas was solid prior to calibration.

We appreciated the accurate green when we turned to some World Cup soccer on ESPN HD. The grass looked lush and natural, as opposed to the slightly yellowish look it assumed on the LG 50PC3D and the Samsung HP-S4353 we had on hand to compare. Detail was excellent on 720p sources, although 1080i, as we expected, looked a bit sharper. We also noticed that, annoyingly, 720p was significantly brighter on this set. Because of this difference and to take advantage of the Samsung's high native resolution, we recommend you set all of your high-def sources to 1080-resolution output and avoid feeding the set 720p. Furthermore, the Samsung's component-video inputs evinced a softer-looking picture than HDMI, so if you have the option, we recommend going with HDMI over component video.

Like last year's model, the Samsung HL-S5687W couldn't fully resolve every detail of 1080i or 1080p sources onscreen, according to test patterns from our HDTV signal generator (for 1080i) and the resolution chart on Sony Blu-ray discs (1080i and 1080p). It did de-interlace 1080i sources properly, preserving almost all the detail. We watched XXX on Blu-ray from the Samsung BD-P1000 at 1080p, and the bricks in the Prague town square, the lines in his tattoos, and the struts in the bridge off of which he drives his car, for example, looked well defined and lifelike. Of course, we also tried the player's 1080p setting, and while the Samsung had no trouble handling it, we didn't notice any difference between 1080i and 1080p on this set.

With standard-def sources, the Samsung more than held its own, smoothing out jagged edges and difficult moving lines well, such as the waving American flag from the HQV test disc. The set also did a fine job detecting 2:3 pull-down cadence and engaging film mode quickly to remove artifacts from film-based sources. Note that you'll have to turn film mode on in the menu to engage 2:3 pull-down since its default setting is off. As we mentioned before, the Samsung HL-S5687W's noise reduction cleaned up lower-quality sources quite well with no apparent loss in detail, although we recommend leaving it off with high-quality sources.

Test Result Score
Before color temp (20/80) 6,737/6,793K Good
After color temp 6,469/6,527K Good
Before grayscale variation +/- 249K Good
After grayscale variation +/- 66K Good
Color of red (x/y) 0.639/0.317 Good
Color of green 0.288/0.627 Average
Color of blue 0.150/0.058 Good
Overscan 4.25% Average
Black-level retention All patterns stable Good
2:3 pull-down, 24fps Y Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good