Last Updated: November 2, 2013
2010 Samsung LED HDTV Sets - Key Features
Product Evaluation - Part 1
A lineup characterized by numerous innovative features but...
The new Samsung LED TV lineup for 2010 is characterized by numerous innovative features – from Samsung’s precision dimming LED backlight and 3D technology, to the most advanced features of the Samsung C9000 HDTVs - with it's ultra slim design and a TV remote control that can also function as a mini-TV to take your entertainment with you wherever you go in the house.
Definitely interesting but... To what extent these features contribute to an improved picture and a more enjoyable viewing experience?
We evaluate each of the key features on offer to help you better determine which of the new Samsung LED HDTVs best fit your needs.
Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV
This high-end feature rich LED HDTV comes with Samsung's Micro dimming Ultimate LED backlight technology - among the best in its class for black level performance. It is also the TV with the best feature set.
Samsung new LED TV lineup...
More than just thin profile
Samsung HDTVs have always been characterized by numerous features - from an extended list of picture settings that often surpass that on the competition, to numerous technologically advanced and often innovative features, one may ever find on any TV.
In this respect, this year lineup of Samsung LED HDTVs is no exception. It is no surprise therefore that Samsung's flagship series has won the 2010 CES Best of Innovations award. In reality, the 2010 Samsung LED HDTV line is all set to change the LED HDTV market. And this is not just a matter of innovative features, but also of a different marketing philosophy that would surely help Samsung capture more of the HDTV market.
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The New Samsung LED HDTVs: Key Features for the 2010 Lineup
Budget-class LED TVs: A new marketing philosophy
Samsung's Precision Dimming: The latest form of LED backlighting, but is it better?
3D Support: Possibly this is the most-touted feature, but is this new advancement ready to deliver the home entertainment many are looking for?
Ultra slim Design: Definitely, being exceptionally thin is Samsung flagship main characteristic.
New Smart Remote Control: Samsung's new remote is not just smart, it can even serve as a mini-TV you can take with you around the house!
AllShare and Media Play: An improved DLNA-compliant network connectivity to share and enjoy all your digital content on your TV.
Samsung Apps: Samsung's new web connected application is a definite and most positive improvement over previous versions.
We discuss each of these key features in substantial detail below.
It may be a surprise to many but one of the innovations that come with this year lineup of Samsung LED HDTVs is a complete line of budget-class LED TVs.
This represents a totally new shift in the targeted market. While up to 2009, all major brands - including Samsung, reserved the LED TV option for the upper luxury market, Samsung is now pushing the LED TV to all those areas which traditionally were exclusively served by inexpensive CCFL-based LCD TVs.
This is what Samsung is doing with its entry-level C4000 and C5000 series LED HDTVs.
Samsung 40-inch UN40C5000 LED TV
OK, edge-lit LED TVs are still more expensive than their CCFL counterparts, but the price difference online is no longer what it used to be in the past. In the case of Series C4000 and C5000 Samsung LED HDTVs, this can be anything between $100 and $350 - depending mainly on the screen size.
Samsung's Precision Dimming: A new form of LED backlight technology
This year, Samsung is also touting about a new form of LED backlight apart from the standard edge-lit LED backlight we saw for the first time during 2009, and full-array local dimming LED backlight technology we first saw in 2008. It is called 'precision dimming.' It is a hybrid between the less expensive edge-lit backlight and the superior full-LED array with local dimming technology.
As things stand today, we will not see full-array local dimming on 2010 Samsung LED HDTVs. This is definitely a disappointment for the many videophiles looking for the best picture after the success of the excellent 2009 Samsung UNB8500 series; the UNB8500 series is still considered by experts as the king of LCD TV picture quality even in the face of the latest 2010 HDTVs. But if you want a 2010 LED TV with local dimming, you have to look elsewhere; one such interesting option is the LG 55LE8500 LED TV.
The new LED precision dimming technology is being use by Samsung on two of its 2010 high-end series, the C6800 and C8000 Samsung LED HDTVs. It uses the same edge LED lighting as found on the rest of the lineup but with the ability to dim selected areas on the screen for improved black level performance. This is possible thanks to:
 An LED edge lighting that is divided into different segments which can be dimmed independent of each other and in line with the brightness level of the picture content within the respective screen segments they control, and
 The use of a special diffusion layer behind the LCD panel that directs light from the respective edge LED sections to selected segments on the screen surface.
Samsung does not divulge how many unique screen segments the new technology can address but there is no doubt the new Samsung edge-lit LED backlight with precision dimming technology results in improved picture performance over standard edge-LED lighting.
However, a recent review appearing on Cnet for the 55-inch UN55C8000 Samsung LED HDTV confirms that precision dimming still do not provide a match to the superior full-array LED local dimming technology. Some unconfirmed sources indicate that Full-array local dimming can address at least ten times more uniquely selected screen segments than the new edge-lit LED precision dimming technology can ever address. Full-array local dimming uses individual groups of LEDs directly behind the display panel that can be dimmed or even turned off - depending on the brightness of the content at the respective screen area - to achieve finer localized brightness control. This leads to an exceptional black level performance no conventional LCD or edge-lit LED TV - with or without the latest Samsung precision dimming technology - can attain. This explains the superb black levels on both the Samsung UNB8500 and the LG 55LE8500 referred to above.
But even the superior local dimming technology is not perfect. Full-array local dimming LED TVs tend to produce a sort of a subtle halo effect instead of pure blackness in dark areas adjacent to bright parts of an image; this is due to light spilling over from the adjacent brighter areas. This effect is also referred to as blooming. Mind you, blooming on the latest LED TVs with local dimming - and including the 2009 UNB8500 Samsung LED HDTV series - is well controlled and hardly noticeable - definitely not an issue of concern.
Referring to LED backlights, despite the general notion among consumers that LED TVs are always better than CCFL LCD TVs, this all depends on the backlight technology in use. Simplistically speaking, standard edge-lit LED TVs are nothing more than conventional LCD TVs with LEDs (light-emitting diodes) as their light source instead of CCFL tubes. In other words, while edge-lit LED TVs are definitely capable of an excellent picture and can with certain picture content attain deeper blacks than conventional LCDs, they cannot produce the same deep backs as LED TVs using local dimming technology. Nor does an edge-lit LED backlight add anything to the picture quality with respect to CCFL LCD TVs. Some might argue that LED TVs come with dynamic mega contrast ratings. But as we further explain in our article 'The Contrast Ratio - Playing with numbers!', a picture is not made of contrast alone.
What a standard edge LED backlight really gives you is a slimmer TV that is more eco-friendly than a standard LCD TV.
Well, 3D TV is the name of the game - at least this is what TV makers have been trying to make us believe since CES 2010. 3D TV in the home has definitely become a reality...
Samsung is presenting seven different models with 3D support spread over three series. These are the more affordable C7000 edge-lit Samsung LED HDTV series, the C8000 with precision dimming - the series that aims to deliver the best picture, and the C9000 - Samsung's ultra-expensive flagship series and the one with the most technologically advanced features.
All of these Samsung LED HDTV series come with various 3D settings to help the user get the best 3D experience. They also come with a 2D-to-3D converter which can convert 2D content on-the-fly for a more 'pleasing' 3D effect. This partly resolves the issue of lack of 3D content but the resultant 3D experience does not compare with what you get from content shoot for 3D viewing in the first place. It is still a pleasant expansive 3D effect but one that lacks detail similar to the mild surround sound you get when running a stereo recording over a Dolby Pro Logic decoder.
Unfortunately for many, 3D in the home is still too expensive to attain. The main problem here is that there is more to 3D in the home than just a relatively expensive 3D-enabled TV that is at least $250 more than a 2D equivalent. You also need a compatible Blu ray player or Home Theater System with a compatible built-in player, a 3D content source, and yes... those annoying 3D glasses. And these do not come cheap either!
Expect to spend over $150 per pair of battery operated 3D glasses though it is possible to get two pairs at close to $250 if you buy the Samsung SSG-P2100T 3D started kit.
And as further explained under our 3D TV section, your children will not be able to use the same 3D TV shutter glasses you use; you will need to buy the Samsung SSG-2200KR rechargeable Child 3D Glasses for your children. And these are equally expensive.
In any case, when it comes to 3D TV, Samsung is one of the most active TV makers - even though it is not the one with the largest number of 3D TV enabled sets for 2010. Samsung was the TV maker to release the first 3D TV for 2010 - the UN55C7000 55" 240Hz 3D Samsung LED HDTV. Samsung is also the one that got the first 3D TV reviewed by Cnet; this was the 55-inch UN55C8000 3D Samsung LED HDTV with precision dimming.
And you know what the Cnet verdict was... 3D is definitely pleasing, but it is not for videophiles.
For me, the Cnet verdict was very much expected. You see, the issue here is not that 3D performance on Samsung LED HDTVs is worst or better than others; I think it is still too early to decide. Rather, the reality is that 3D TV - though pleasant - is still in the making and a far cry from the immersive 3D experience one enjoys at the movie theater. Partly, the reason is the smaller TV screen, the reduced viewing distance, and the reduced 3D parallax necessary to support a comfortable viewing experience within the limitations in the home.
But as further expressed in our article on the Challenges of 3D TV, there are still a few major issues which need to be resolved by the industry before 3D will make it 'en mass' to the home.
In other words, do not buy a 3D-enable HDTV for its 3D capability but rather for its 2D image quality and the rest of the supported features.
The advent of edge-lit LED backlights has brought about one-inch thin HDTVs. We first saw these slim TVs in 2009. It was a time when many thought that it would be hard to get slimmer, in particular because of the depth required for the connectivity bay on the TV.
But it seems that 1-inch overall depth was not slim enough for Samsung. For 2010, Samsung has come up with a first ever in HDTV - the world's slimmest TV that is just 0.3-inch thin - even thinner than a standard picture frame! Imagine a 55-inch TV that is just one third of an inch thin. This is the C9000 Samsung LED HDTV flagship series.
Samsung managed to achieve this exceptionally slim design by using the base of the TV stand as the TV media box with all the connections, associated electronics, tuner, and the speakers. What is even more unique however is that the whole design still allows the TV to be wall mounted using a unique cord-and-disc system that preserves the slimness of these Samsung LED HDTVs.
As expected, these ultra-thin Samsung LED HDTVs are among the most expensive you can buy, with a price tag that ranges from $6000 for the 46-inch UN46C9000 and $7,000 for the 55-inch UN55C9000.
Another new feature with the 2010 Samsung LED HDTV line is Samsung's touch screen remote control. This is the primary remote control for the flagship Samsung LED TV series.
Samsung says that a derivative version of it is also sold separately for the other Samsung LED HDTVs - including the C7000 and C8000.
But Samsung’s HDTV Touch Screen Remote Control is not just a remote. It uses a 3-inch color, touch-sensitive screen which can also function as a mini-TV.
And there is a lot more! You can have the TV remote control screen show different content from what is being shown on the screen, like watching live broadcast content on the remote control display while watching a Blu-ray movie on the TV big screen at the same time.
The new Samsung remote also interacts like a Smartphone, letting you find your favorite programs and content quickly and easily. Sync up your entire household with AllShare™ to your HDTV. When you want to control Samsung Apps on the TV, the remote’s screen changes to a full QWERTY keyboard, making navigation easy.
And it is smart! It will learn your preferences, so you have to input certain information just once.
Finally, this remote comes with built-in rechargeable batteries which can be recharged via the included power cable.
Samsung's AllShare is an updated Wiselink feature found on previous Samsung models - with improved functionality that supports most file formats and with better navigation. It provides a DLNA-compliant wired or wireless connectivity to share all your digital content - music, movies, and photos from your PC, compatible cameras, and other networked devices - on your TV by controlling them via the network thanks to Samsung's MediaPlay mode.
But as with Samsung's Wiselink, using AllShare requires the user to first install Samsung's DLNA application 'PC Share Manager' on your PC. Despite being labeled as Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) -compliant, these Samsung LED HDTV sets do not support third-party DLNA server software. Unfortunately, Samsung's PC Share Manager is not among the coolest things and do lack some of the basic functionality like auto-updating of the library found on other DLNA servers.
However, what is really interesting about the new AllShare feature is its ability to connect your Samsung HDTV with compatible Samsung mobile phones with the AllShare feature to share multimedia content stored on your mobile. In addition, you can view call arrivals, SMS messages and schedules set on your mobile phones right on your TV screen.
The AllShare feature is found on all 2010 Samsung LED HDTV series from Series 5000 and above.
Samsung AllShare may be pretty cool but it is not among the best implement features because of the Samsung PC Share Manager. Instead, Samsung Apps is definitely Samsung's major winning application on its 2010 LED TVs.
This represents Samsung's upgraded Internet TV driven application and provides users with an ever expanding array of content.
Services includes Blockbuster, Netflix, Vudu, and YouTube for video content, access to photos on Picasa, and Flickr, updates on Twitter (unfortunately, access to the popular Facebook site is missing), eBay, and Pandora free Internet radio service. If you purchase the Freetalk TV Camera ($149), you will also get access to the popular Skype Internet phone service.
Accent is mainly on games and information services like AP News, AccuWeather, USA Today and Rovi. All these services come as pre-installed. And more is to come through a number of updates.
Samsung Apps definitely represents a major and we add successful step towards integrating all these Internet streaming services under one platform. You get most of the Yahoo widgets that were available on previous models, most accessible directly from the main Apps menu.
This is an area where in the past, Samsung did lack behind other major brands like LG and Sony - with content that was too slow to load - rendering some of the applications on Samsung HDTVs pretty useless.
Instead, the new Samsung Apps represents a significant improvement over previous implementations - with applications that load much faster than in the past - almost instantly. Equally important, the new Samsung Apps come with an equally much faster navigation both between different widgets and within a widget. The result is a much better widget experience - one that is not only functional, but definitely enjoyable in use.
Samsung's Apps feature is available on all high-end Samsung LED HDTVs and the flagship series, namely C6500, C6800, C7000, C8000, and the C9000 Series.