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..
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.