Editors' note (March 4, 2010): The rating on this product has been lowered because of changes in the competitive marketplace, including the release of 2010 models. The review has not otherwise been modified. Click here for more information.
One of our favorite HDTVs of 2008 was the Samsung LN52A650, which has remained in our lab for more than a year as a comparison model representing LCD TVs that use a conventional backlight as opposed to LEDs. Now that 240Hz processing has arrived in force on the LCD landscape, we expect the Samsung LNB750 series to take up that mantle. This set outperforms the company's edge-lit LED-based LCD displays in most areas, including black-level performance and picture uniformity, and produced a better picture than any other LCD we've tested, aside from last year's LED-backlit models that utilize local dimming. It's definitely not perfect, however, and the best plasma displays still equal or surpass this LCD in overall image quality. But for people seeking an LCD and willing to pay a premium for 240Hz and interactive extras, the Samsung LNB750 series should make the short list.
We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 52-inch Samsung LN52B750 ($2899 list), but this review also applies to the 46-inch Samsung LN46B750 ($2399) and the 40-inch Samsung LN40B750 ($1999). All three sizes share identical features and specifications.
[Editors' Note: Some of the Design and Features elements are identical between the Samsung LNB750 series and the UNB7000 series we reviewed earlier, so readers of the earlier review may experience some déjà vu when reading the same sections below.]
The LNB750's coloration will attract less attention than that of most other members of Samsung's Touch of Color oeuvre. The faintest tint of translucent blue appears along the bottom edge of the frame, highlighted by the company's trademark, and happily defeatable, illumination directly below the logo. The rest is glossy black fronted by see-through plastic that extends beyond the edge on all four sides--although if you stare hard enough at the extreme edge of the frame, you might convince yourself it has a touch of blue too. In all we found the look tasteful and appealing, although we still prefer narrow-bezel sets such as the Sony KDL-XBR9 series.
Like Samsung's substantially thinner edge-lit LED-based LCD models, the 3.1-inch-deep LNB750 has a slick stand with a glass base and transparent stalk that gives provides the impression of a floating panel. As always, we appreciate the swivel action.
Samsung used the same menu system as last year, this time with ice-blue borders, and we still think it's one of the best in the business. Big, highly legible text is set against transparent backgrounds that occupy almost the whole screen. Getting around is easy, and there's helpful explanatory text along the bottom to describe the different selections.
The remote control is basically the same as last year's, too, aside from a new protrusion on the rear that keeps the clicker stable on a flat surface, and we're definitely fans--especially since Samsung ditched the rotating scroll wheel. The buttons are big, backlit, and easily differentiated by size and shape, and we liked the dedicated "Tools" key that offers quick access to picture and sound modes, the sleep timer, and the picture-in-picture controls. We didn't like the remote's glossy black finish, though, which picked up more than its share of dulling fingerprints after a few minutes.
The LNB750 series' major step up over the less expensive LNB650 models is the inclusion of a 240Hz refresh rate, which is twice as fast as the 120Hz refresh rate found on many other sets. The main impact of the faster refresh rate is improved motion resolution, although the improvement will be hard to see for most viewers. Samsung's Auto Motion Plus dejudder processing is also on-board, and new for 2009 it includes a nicely implemented custom setting that lets you tweak blur reduction and judder. See Performance for more information.
Samsung has added Yahoo Widgets to its higher-end sets including the LNB750 series. The system gathers internet-powered information nodules, called "snippets," into a bar along the bottom of the screen. The model we reviewed came with widgets for stocks, weather, news and Flickr photos, plus Yahoo video, sports scores, poker, trivia and Twitter--and more are sure to appear in the near future. For more information, check out our full review of Yahoo Widgets. That review was based on our experiences with a Samsung UN46B7000, and our impressions of the system on the LN52B750 are mostly the same, including its sluggish response time.
Other interactive features on this set abound. It can stream videos, photos and music from DLNA-certified devices via the network connection, as well from its USB ports, which can connect to MP3 players, USB thumbdrives and digital cameras (we didn't test this capability). There's also built-in "content," such as recipes, games, workout guides and a slideshow of high-def art and photos with music. We went into depth discussing the underwhelming content features last year, which are similar this time around, so for more details check out the Interactive section of the 2008 Samsung LN46A750 review.
Aside from the adjustable dejudder mentioned above, we also liked the myriad conventional picture tweaks, starting with four adjustable picture modes that are all independent per input. There are five color temperature presets augmented by the ability to adjust each via a custom white balance menu; three levels of noise reduction, including an automatic setting; a film mode to engage 2:3 pull-down (it also works with 1080i sources); a seven-position gamma control that affects the TV's progression from dark to light; a dynamic contrast control that adjusts the picture on the fly; a "black tone" control that affects shadow detail; and a color space control that lets you tweak the Samsung's color gamut.
You can choose from four aspect ratio modes for HD sources, two of which let you move the whole image across the screen horizontally and vertically. As we'd expect from a 1080p TV, one of those modes, called Screen Fit, lets the LNB750 scale 1080i and 1080p sources directly to the panel's pixels with no overscan--the best option unless you see interference along the edge of the screen, as can be the case with some channels or programs.
We appreciated the three power-saver modes, which further reduce energy use. Samsung also throws in picture-in-picture, an "E-manual" on a USB stick and even a customer care screen that includes the firmware version for when you need to call the company. We're also big fans of the new-for-2009 capability, unique among HDTVs, to get firmware updates via an online download, rather than making you go to the Web site, as was the case before.
The LNB750 series offers very good connectivity, although it does follow the recent trend of spurning S-video inputs--not one is to be found on this TV. The back panel sprouts three HDMI ports, two component video inputs (one of which can be sacrificed for composite video, if you need it), one VGA-style PC input, one RF input for cable and satellite, the Ethernet port, and one stereo analog and one optical digital audio output. The TV's side panel offers a fourth HDMI, two USB, and one AV input with composite video.
The Samsung LNB750 series is the best-performing LCD we've tested aside from the LED-backlit Samsung A950 and Sony XBR8 models. It delivers the staples--deep black levels and accurate color--and adds solid uniformity and a nicely customizable dejudder mode. The reflective screen is still an issue, but otherwise this set gets most everything right.
For our image quality tests we lined up a comparison involving six other models. LCD sets included the edge-lit LED-powered Samsung UN46B7000 and the 2008 Samsung LN52A650, along with the Sony KDL-52XBR9 and the Toshiba 47ZV650U--the latter two also 240Hz models. We also included two plasmas, the Panasonic TC-P46G10 and our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD. This time we checked out the stunning "Across the Universe" on Blu-ray.
Black level: The overall depth of black achieved by the Samsung LNB750 surpassed that of the other LCDs, including the company's own edge-lit model in all but the darkest scenes, although it wasn't as dark as that of the plasmas. The closest competitor was the Sony XBR9, but in very dark areas--like the building in the foreground, the letterbox bars and Jude's black leather jacket during the alleyway goodbye tryst in Chapter 3--the B750 got just a bit darker. Its black levels were significantly deeper than either the A650 or the Toshiba, and closer overall to the other sets.
Details in shadows looked a bit more-obscured than we saw on the plasmas. From the same scene, for example, Jude's hair, the folds on his jacket and the reluctant face of his Liverpool girlfriend seemed a bit less natural in their progression from shadow to light. Compared to the other LCD displays in our lineup, however, the B750 fared better, coming closer to the reference display than any of them. The difference was subtle between the XBR9 and the B750, however.
Color accuracy: As we've come to expect from higher-end Samsung TVs, the B750 performed very well in this area. Like the Sony, its primary and secondary colors were nearly perfect, as evinced by the lush yet-not-neon trees and grass of the campus in Chapter 4, or the appropriately garish reds and blues of the costumes during the Mr. Kite number. That scene also showed off the B750's solid color saturation. The image didn't have quite the same level of "pop" as the plasmas, but it looked better than either the A650 or the Toshiba and similar in saturation to the 7000 and the XBR9.
Skin tones looked mostly good, although we did see a very slight bluish cast in midtones. The close-up face of Sadie as she faced her mother after the bad tidings in Chapter 8, for example, seemed just a bit too pale compared to our reference plasma, although still better than the greenish cast we saw on the G10 and, to a lesser extent, the XBR9. We noticed similar differences in the Chapter 16 scene with the human flower, which provided a nice skin tone cornucopia. We also appreciated that the dark areas on the B750 looked closer to true black than on the bluish 7000 or the greenish A650, although they were still pretty blue--more so than the XBR9.
Video processing: The effects of the 240Hz refresh rate on the LNB750 were similar to what we saw on the Sony models--in other words, difficult to discern (at best) when watching regular program material, but providing a noticeable reduction in blurring during test patterns. The main difference between the two, and what makes the Samsung better than the Sony, is the former brand's ability to remove dejudder processing while keeping blur reduction.
With the Sony and most other dejudder-equipped 120Hz and 240Hz displays we've tested, you must engage the smoothing effect of dejudder if you want to minimize blur. With 2009 Samsungs, you can separate the two using the Custom setting. In fact, we got the best results by choosing Custom and setting blur reduction at 10 and judder reduction at zero. The Custom mode worked as we expected; as we decreased the blur reduction slider, the display delivered fewer lines of motion resolution. As we increased judder reduction the image took on more smoothness and also more artifacts. Compared to the 240Hz Sony the Samsung appeared just the tiniest bit sharper--although both resolved between 900 and 1,000 lines, the Samsung showed fewer artifacts on our test pattern. The LNB750 also outperformed the Toshiba on this test, although it looked less pristine than the Panasonic plasma.
As usual, engaging dejudder when watching the film made motion appear more videolike to our eyes, and we preferred to leave it off. Comparing between the Sony and the Samsung's dejudder modes, Standard on both seemed to preserve some of the judder of film without too much overt smoothness or artifacts, although the Samsung's Standard showed slightly more obvious artifacts, such as the halo that appeared around Sadie as she skipped through the forest in Chapter 15, or the slight breakup in the picket fence as the soldiers leave her mom's house in Chapter 8. We still prefer the look of Standard if you must engage dejudder. Choosing High on the Sony and Smooth on the Samsung increased the size of the halos and the incidence of other breakup, as usual.
In our still resolution tests the Samsung performed as expected, delivering every line of 1080i and 1080p sources and deinterlacing film- and video-based sources properly. The TV must be set to the Screen Fit aspect ratio and Auto 1 Film mode, respectively, to pass these tests.
Uniformity: The screen of the LNB750 is more uniform across its surface than many LCDs we've tested, including the Samsung 7000, the Toshiba, and the Sony XBR9. It didn't suffer from overtly brighter corners as the 7000 and the XBR9 did, although in flat field test patterns we did notice the edges of the LNB750's screen appeared slightly brighter than the middle.
The LNB750 did seem to wash out and lose black-level depth a bit faster than the XBR9 when seen from off-angle, however, although it didn't become too discolored nor wash out as quickly as did the 7000.
Bright lighting: Samsung used the same sort of glossy screen as last year, and we're not its biggest fans. In bright lighting, with windows facing the screen and overhead lights turned on, the screen does a very good job of preserving black levels in dark areas. However, the trade-off is overly bright reflections from those light sources and from other bright objects in the room, such as this reviewer's shirt. These reflections were much less bothersome during bright scenes, of course, but in darker scenes they proved distracting.
Standard definition: The LNB750 evinced generally solid standard-def picture quality. According to our tests the display handled every line of a DVD source and the shots of grass and steps from the detail test looked good. The set eliminated jaggies from video-based sources well, and its noise reduction cleaned up the lowest-quality shots of skies and sunset with aplomb. Finally the LNB750 passed 2:3 pull-down test by eliminating moire from the stands behind the racecar.
PC: Samsung's LNB750 series delivered excellent performance with HDMI sources from computers, resolving every line of a 1,920x1,080 image with no overscan or edge enhancement. The image did appear softer via VGA, and resolution wasn't quite full, but it was still very good.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6624/6822||Good|
|After color temp||6507/6525||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||441||Average|
|After grayscale variation||238||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.636/0.327||Good|
|Color of green||0.298/0.589||Good|
|Color of blue||0.149/0.059||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: The Samsung LN52B750 is among the more-efficient non-LED-based LCDs we've tested, drawing about 129 watts after calibration to equalize light output. That number surpasses the Sony KDL-52XBR9 (160 watts) and Samsung's own LN52A650 (140 watts), as well as the Sony KDL-52XBR6 (134 watts) and KDL-52XBR7 (161), but can't beat the 52-inch champ, Sharp's LC-52D64U (122).
|Samsung LN52B750||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||191.15||128.86||102.6|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.17||0.11||0.09|
|Cost per year||$41.18||$27.76||$21.99|
|Score (considering size)||Good|