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1080p LCD TV Shootout
Let's cut to the chase... this is by far most popular question our readers have submitted to us since our inception: which is the best LCD TV among Samsung LE40F71BX, Sharp LC42XD1E and Sony KDL40W2000?
There are several very good reasons why these three models invariably make their way onto the shortlist of today's consumers shopping for an LCD TV. All three boast the full HD native resolution of 1920 x 1080, can accept 1080p video signals, and – with price tags ranging from £1100 to £1400 – are well within the reach of the masses.
Because Colin and I are in the fortunate position of having seen and tested all three 1080p LCD TVs in their full calibrated glory, we decided to carry out a shootout to answer the above question once and for all.
The 1080p LCD TVs involved in this shootout were the Samsung LE40F71BX, the Sharp LC42XD1E and the Sony KDL40W2000. All 3 were purchased from online retailers rather than sourced directly from manufacturers to prevent unfair optimisation for a favourable review.
When conducting this comparative analysis, the last thing we wanted to do was to "use the default settings" (unless the title at stake is 'highest colour temperature' or 'most prominent red push') or "set brightness and contrast as equally as possible" (each display device has a different black/white ceiling and gamma profile so black crush and white clipping almost always occur if adjusted this way).
Instead, we calibrated each 1080p LCD TV on its own according to the standards set by ISF until we were satisfied that it was performing at its fullest potential. We then compared the calibrated LCD TVs and ranked them across 16 different subcategories that we thought would affect your daily enjoyment of the TV.
Not content with the subjective evaluation method (a gushing review followed by 5-star award anyone?) so prevalent in today's AV magazines, we devised a scoring system that is highly objective, specific (i.e. the result doesn't apply to other HDTVs not tested in this shootout), but most importantly, empowers you with the possibility of influencing the final outcome.
There were 6 points up for grabs in each subcategory. The best-performing LCD TV within each subcategory would be awarded 3 points (maximum); the runner-up 2 points; and the last, 1 point (minimum). Whenever there was a draw, the points would be shared equally between the tied LCD TVs until all 6 points were assigned.
Here's the beautiful part: because the points were awarded in a linear fashion based on subcategory ranking, you could apply your own weighting depending on your individual taste to arrive at your own category/final score. For example, if the ability to accept 1080p over VGA, HDMI and component is important to you, simply double the existing scores across the "Connectivity" subcategory – the winner will end up with 6 points, the runner-up 4 points and the loser 2 points. The final score will reveal the LCD TV most appropriate for you.
Without further ado, let's kick off with – what else? – picture quality...
|Bryan says:||03/08/2007 - 09:25|
|winnie says:||03/08/2007 - 11:47|
|Taomyn says:||03/09/2007 - 00:42|
For a real life example of how good this LCD is take a look at this rather massive thread on AV forums (http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=403913) - there's a nice long line of people showing how dissatisfied they are with Sony and more so the Sharp and how pleased some were when they switched to the Samsung.
|Dale says:||03/09/2007 - 02:44|
As you have calibrated each TV to close to the D65 standards is there any possibility of posting these settings (colour, temperature, rgb levels etc) for the Sony, Samsung and Sharp TV so fellow readers of this website can get the most out of their TV's?
Once again a very good review.
|Shinken says:||03/09/2007 - 03:53|
Many of us know how to & have accessed our Samsung service menu but do not have access to a colorimeter to configure greyscale. We would really appreciate the settings you got after calibrating the greyscale.
Also what TVs are you planning to test next?
|LJR says:||03/09/2007 - 04:43|
Anyway, excellent, objective, reviews here. Kudos!
|Adrian Cope says:||03/09/2007 - 05:45|
|Alistair says:||03/09/2007 - 13:23|
|Vincent Teoh says:||03/09/2007 - 14:13|
@winnie: Yes we plan to compare the Sony KDL-40W2000 head-to-head to the Pioneer PDP427XD in the near future.
@Taomyn: Trust me – we spent days testing the individual "tweaks" in the service menu... even with "Gamma", "Dynamic Dimming" and "Dynamic CE" all turned off, some DNIe processing was still being applied therefore spoiling the picture. In any case, the fact that you have to venture into the service menu to disable these settings thereby theoretically voiding your warranty must surely count against this set.
For the record, after disabling all the post-processing we could find in the service menu, we went back into the user menu to calibrate greyscale using the "Colour Manager". Unfortunately the individual RGB cuts/gains range was limited (for example, there was still too much blue measured using our instruments even after we dialed "B Contrast" & "B Brightness" down to 0), so we had to access the service menu – again – for greater control.
That in itself presented another problem: the service menu was mapped to the "Dynamic" mode with "Cool1" colour temp selected and "Energy Saving" turned off (read: highest backlight) by default. This severely restricted the dynamic image range we could achieve, which – along with the inaccurate colour gamut – resulted in unsatisfactory picture quality for movies especially when compared to the Sharp and Sony.
If you can fully describe all the "tweaks" you did in the service menu that allowed you to achieve D65 with a smooth gamma curve around 2.2 to 2.8 and contrast ratio above 600:1, we're more than happy to be proven wrong.
As for the forum thread you mentioned, I'm sure there are many satisfied Samsung LE40F71BX owners out there... after all, it's perfect for HTPC and game console use. We are merely presenting our views as impartial, independent testers who have calibrated and seen all three 1080p LCD TVs, rather than biased owners wishing to justify their own expensive purchase, to whom "side-by-side comparison" means looking at the panels in Currys showroom in their uncalibrated form.
@Dale: I'm sorry that we're unable to give out service menu settings especially when it comes to cuts & gains – these are so powerful (and hazardous) that a measuring instrument is necessary to make any adjustments.
@Shinken: At the moment Colin's gearing himself up to review the Pioneer PDP427XD plasma. After that we will have used up all our funds (we buy the HDTVs ourselves) for this project, and will have to see if we can generate some revenue to continue.
@LJR: Thanks. Good luck with your buy.
@Adrian: The Samsung LE40F71B that we tested had a manufacturing date of January 2007 but did not do 1:1 over HDMI out-of-box. If anyone can confirm what Samsung told you that's extremely good news of course.
@Alistair: Once you hook up a 1080i or 1080p source via HDMI, flip open the bottom of your remote, press the "Wide Mode" button (3rd from the left), then select "Underscan" to enable 1:1 mapping.
|Shaun Hollingworth says:||03/10/2007 - 07:09|
What digital noise ?
I just got a Sharp LC46XD1E and looking at the Sky EPG FED DOWN THE UHF AERIAL from another room, but there IS NO DIGITIAL noise..... I have never seen a UHF picture so completely and utterly clean... Plain areas of highly saturated colour look almost like the set is being fed via RGB instead of UHF.
The sharp is great. Unlike the Toshiba 47WLT66 I tried which went straight back after one day.
The Sharp set has serial number 701 and I can find little to fault it at the price I paid... Unlike the overpriced year old 32 inch Sony Bravia we have in our bedroom...
|Vincent Teoh says:||03/11/2007 - 10:11|
|Shaun Hollingworth says:||03/11/2007 - 14:06|
There shouldn't be any differences electronics wise should there ? Only the screen and the backlight are different.
The rest of the circutry is the same..
So I think my comments should apply to the 42 incher as well. In any case, I looked very closely at one of these too, for some considerable time, in the dealer's demonstration room, with various signal sources, and did not find any noise on that either. It was the cleanest sets picture wise, I've seen in a very long time, so I still don't understand your comments. Perhaps you got a bad one ? Even my old 36" CRT based Toshiba 36ZP18 (now in use in our teenager's sitting room) is noisier and grainier...
|WMurphy says:||03/11/2007 - 22:28|
My question is I know these sets are designed for HD content but as you know the majority of viewing is on bbc itv c4 etc etc be it freeview or analog.
What do they perform like on standard def broadcasts? I have heard plasma/lcd Tv's with lower pixel counts work better with standard def ,is this true?
|Roger says:||03/12/2007 - 07:18|
Thanks in advance.
|shaun hollingworth says:||03/12/2007 - 11:59|
I'd like to hear opinions about SD display capabilities as well.
I can say the upscaling on the Sharp 46 inch I own (same electronics as the 42 inch) seems to be excellent.. Unlike some other LCDs I have seen, own, and tried out..
Of course the source material has to be reasonable, and that isn't always the case.
|Scott Duncan says:||03/12/2007 - 14:33|
|Petter says:||03/12/2007 - 17:58|
(without all the other variations in mind, e.g,source variatons,room lighting variatons).
|Vincent Teoh says:||03/12/2007 - 22:39|
@WMurphy: In our experience, HDTVs with lower pixel count handle SD better because less scaling is required to fit the original source onto the panel. For example, the best SD performer we've tested so far is the Panasonic TH42PH9 plasma with a native resolution of 1024 x 768, closely followed by Philips 42PF9831D (1366 x 768).
@Roger: Yes, I mulled over whether to include a section on SD & HD handling but thought that it would just be a reiteration of the "Video Processing" section (scaling, deinterlacing, MPEG noise reduction, etc).
In our test, the Sony KDL-40W2000 handled SD content best due to its superior video processing; its internal digital tuner was slightly softer compared to an external decoder but this could be corrected with sensible edge sharpening. As for the Sharp & Samsung, it's best to outsource the scaling and deinterlacing to external devices... a HTPC mapped 1:1 worked best for us.
In other words, if you're intent on using SCART connection then based on our test the Sony will provide the best picture because it scales and deinterlaces better than both the Sharp and Samsung.
@Scott: The settings are posted over at the Sharp LC-42XD1E review comments.
@Petter: The result is of course not guaranteed, but there's no harm in trying.
|David says:||03/13/2007 - 07:00|
|Martin says:||03/16/2007 - 07:19|
|Phil George says:||03/18/2007 - 07:20|
As I have been saving for some time now, I have a budget at a stretch of £2500, and I’m really getting itchy feet. Should I bite the bullet and buy the best LCD I can buy, or should I wait a little longer for this new technology.
|Jani says:||03/21/2007 - 07:57|
Is it possible to publish the results of your calibration? I mean what were your settings for Sony on the test?
|Colin Tang says:||03/24/2007 - 08:31|
The calibration is over at the picture quality page.
|Jani says:||03/27/2007 - 01:45|
I actually though about the precise picture settings for Sony. So that I can try the same settings at home also (e.g. brightness, contrast, gamma, sharpness, ...) or at store when comparing Sony to other screens.
|James says:||04/02/2007 - 10:54|
|Ryan Barrett says:||04/07/2007 - 10:53|
So maybe the electronics are different?
|António Oliveira says:||04/12/2007 - 10:48|
and beetwen this two SONY and the SAMSUNG LE40M87BD, who is the best??
|Ozyaman C says:||04/12/2007 - 13:20|
But as I mean 46"(Sharp's own panel)!
42" panel thru CMO's!
Sharp supply more series/models to the market as well as
Yeah Sharp goes on first degree+
Sony runner-up!sory for F-Samsung!