Available for less than $650, the 26-inch Samsung TNX2670WHF is one of the least-expensive wide-screen HDTVs on the market. A step down in size from the 30-inch , this little guy would fit nicely into an apartment, a large bedroom, or a smaller living room. It employs a standard picture tube (CRT) instead of fancy LCD or plasma technology, but it can still handle progressive-scan DVD and HDTV. Sure, the high-def image won't be as detailed as you'll see on LCDs of the same size or on larger tubes, but in other performance aspects, this little Samsung does surprisingly well. If you don't have the cash to go flat or the space for something bigger, the TNX2670WHF is a good budget alternative.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.Despite its small screen size, the Samsung TNX2670WHF is still as deep as many other direct-view CRT TVs, measuring 21 inches from back to front, 20 inches tall, and 32 inches wide. Its 16:9 screen is surrounded by a thick bezel of silver on all sides, with a discreet row of buttons along the lower edge and speakers to the right and left. The overall look bespeaks classy, understated minimalism, a refreshing design break compared to other ultra-modern-looking HDTVs.
We were less impressed by the remote. The fat charcoal control does boast a centrally located cursor/volume/channel section with big buttons, but it goes downhill from there. The menu and Enter keys are the same, and the rest of the buttons are crowded, out of reach even for those with large hands, at the top of the remote. Switching inputs is an annoying process of cycling through them one by one, and there are two separate keys that access different inputs.
Note that the 26-inch diagonal measurement applies to only wide-screen material, not the standard 4:3 TV programming that still dominates the airwaves. If you don't stretch the picture (making people look short and fat), the TXN2670WHF's 4:3 image measures only 21 inches diagonally. The chief perk of the Samsung TXN2670WHF is its ability to display 1080i HDTV and DVD in their original wide-screen formats. The TV can also handle progressive-scan DVD and standard TV but not 720p, which must be converted beforehand by an external cable, satellite, or over-the-air HDTV tuner. Naturally, you'll need such a tuner to watch high-definition TV at all.
The overall list of features is rather short. Unlike many competing sets, the TXN2670WHF lacks individual input memories, so you can't program each input with separate numbers for contrast, brightness, and so on. When watching HDTV or progressive-scan DVD, you can't change the aspect ratio, which leads to real problems when watching nonanamorphic DVDs.
In the plus column, we like that when you select the Normal aspect ratio option, gray bars appear on either side of the image. Also, you get two Zoom modes in addition to the standard choices. To tweak the picture to your liking, there are three picture presets to choose from along with five color temperature presets and a tilt function that rotates the image in case shipping or magnetic fields have disturbed the geometry. A PIP/POP function is on tap, but it won't work with the component-video inputs.
A 30-watt amplifier powers the pair of internal speakers. You also get simulated surround sound, a couple of audio presets, a graphic equalizer, and a wacky Turbo Sound function.
Around back, we counted a pair of wideband component-video inputs, two composite inputs, and an RF input, along with a composite monitor output. Strangely, you can't use the second composite input and the second component input simultaneously because they have a jack in common. Even stranger, the sole S-Video input is located on the front side panel. The set lacks a DVI input, so it can't digitally connect with newer DVD players and HDTV receivers. For such a small, relatively inexpensive HDTV, the TXN2670WHF acquitted itself well in our tests. Its primary strength compared to LCD TVs of similar screen size, such as the much more expensive , is the ability to render a deep color of black. We checked out The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and in one example, where the Orc complains about maggoty bread, the shadows under his face and in his hair were inky, while the grades of shadow across his face varied realistically.
The flipside of the Samsung TXN2670WHF's performance coin is color accuracy, specifically its tendency to exaggerate the red parts of an image. When Eowyn fusses over Theoden as the old king sits listlessly on his throne, I caught tinges of too much pink in her face and even in his--when both should look pale. We ended up having to take color down a few notches to remove the red, but then the green of Rohan's grass lost some of its luster.
We also noticed that quick transitions from light to dark scenes actually caused the whole image to change in size. For example, in the opening scene where Gandalf strikes his staff down and summons a flash of light, we saw the edges of the screen expand slightly. This effect, common to inexpensive tube TVs, is indicative of a weak power supply. We also saw the same types of slightly bent lines, especially toward the corners, that we've noticed on other tubes. Whether you'll see these types of flaws will depend on how well your TV handled being transported, since shipping affects tube picture geometry.
We then switched gears and did an A/B comparison between a high-def and a DVD source. On a CRT of this size, we expected DVD to look nearly as good as HDTV, and we were right. The Ice Age DVD looked every bit as detailed, down to the hairs on the mammoth's coat, as its 1080i HDTV counterpart did on D-VHS. Our measurements using Digital Video Essentials on D-VHS bore this out. The bottom line is that high-def on this small set looks softer than on larger tubes and only about as sharp as DVD. That said, our high-def viewings of HDNet on DirecTV still looked great.
Samsung also offers the TXN2668WHF, which costs a bit less but lacks the important 2:3 pull-down function. It has a screen with coarser dot-pitch, so it will have a softer HDTV picture.
|Before color temp (20/100)||6050/6408K||Good|
|After color temp (20/100)||6526/6534K||Good|
|Grayscale variation 20 to 100 IRE||+/- 56 degrees K||Good|
|Color decoder error: red||+20%||Poor|
|Color decoder error: green||-5%||Average|
|2:3 pull-down, 24fps||Y||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||S||Average|