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Samsung LE40F71BX Review

by Colin Tang
21 February 2007

Samsung LE40F71BX Review

Samsung has joined the 1080p revolution with the top of the range F71 series, promising to deliver the latest LCD technology at an affordable price. With the widely advertised Digital Natural Image Engine, wide viewing angles and XWCG – CCFL color enhancing backlights, the Korean electronic giant hopes to make it’s mark in an increasingly competitive LCD market. Samsung seems to have taken sides in the HD DVD vs Blu Ray contest when they announced that the Blu Ray player was the perfect complement to their TV. As we shall see later, they also have something more in common.

We are going to take a look at the smaller 40 inch LE40F71BX model and see if this LCD HDTV can survive our grueling tests.

Update: Contacted Samsung's tech department and was informed that it is has eXtended Wide Colour Gamut. The review has been revised with the new information, including a new technology description of DNIe.


 


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Questions/Comments

vitali says: 02/22/2007 - 09:03

you mentioned about making changes in the service menu, how do i get into that?
Colin Tang says: 02/22/2007 - 15:06

I am sorry that we are unable to give out any service menu codes at the moment. There are a few horror stories about customers messing up the service menu and I'm afraid some of it are true.

Please note that you will probably void your warranty if you access the menu yourself and will not be covered for any damages. Please get a qualified professional to do this if you want this done properly.
Sonicboy says: 02/22/2007 - 16:09

Hi,

I am looking for an LCD for PC and Xbox gaming. You didn't talk about the game mode function for this tv. Is it any good?
Colin Tang says: 02/23/2007 - 06:03

The game mode has certain enhancements according to Samsung, such as sharpening and motion improvement.

We couldn't test it as we were waiting for our new PS3!!!
Thanks for your suggestion; we will add a gaming section for future models.
Jurgen says: 02/24/2007 - 02:52

I like it that you started give details on overscan in this review. Please give this data also for future review as it is important for HTPC connection.
Colin Tang says: 02/24/2007 - 07:10

Thank you, Jurgen.

As you probably observed, the overscanning in HTPC is not merely a picture cropping problem. We didn't mention this but we were getting images comparable to a 1024x768 Plasma, which exhibited a softening effect.
Mambo says: 02/24/2007 - 07:44

I thought this Samsung has XWCG, not a WCG colour gamut...?
Colin Tang says: 02/24/2007 - 08:17

Yes you are right. On their website, xWCG is listed as the feature, but on their specification page, it is WCG.

I am compiling a list of questions for Samsung, especially on their DNIe technology and will certainly include the question. The thing to remember is that as long as the encoding of source remains standard HD 709 colourspace, you will not be able to benefit from the increased colour gamut or range. (any additional colour interpolated to scene is NOT director intended)

The best case scenario is that you have a wide colour gamut and the digital processing allows you to adjust the gamut to git current and future standards. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any breakthroughs on that front for digital displays.
Neil says: 02/25/2007 - 13:36

Do you have any comment as to which picture settings to use to get closest to the D65 standard with this TV?
Jonathan Heron says: 02/25/2007 - 15:06

Hi,
thanks for the detailed review. I'm planning on buying one of these TVs this week and I have two questions I'm hoping you might answer:

1) You note that scaling is of below average quality - does this have a serious impact on 720p signals, or are SD signals the real concern? For example, will my XBOX 360's 720p game output (or the output from the forthcoming AppleTV) look barely better than a standard-definition TV?

2) With regards to the poor deinterlacing, does this mean that 1080i sources should be avoided? I'll have an upscaling DVD player (Sony DVP-NS76H) and, in the near future, an AppleTV connected - both of which offer 1080i or 720p output over HDMI. Assuming I have the latest firmware, which output resolution do you think I should be using?

regards,
Jonathan
Colin Tang says: 02/25/2007 - 19:49

Neil...

The movie mode comes closest to the D65 setting, but it does not track it properly thoughout the whole intensity range.

To do that, you need to access service menu and disable the gamma AMLCD function and calibrate your greyscale with a colorimeter.

Two things, the movie mode has a yellowish tint that is typical for D65. Give is some time and your eyes will adjust to it.

It is difficult to watch football or use the TV as a PC monitor at that color temperature. (its not something everyone is used to). You should use whatever color temperature you're comfortable with. I am not sure that keeping to D65 while the color decoding is inaccurate is necessarily a good thing.

Let me know if you have further questions.
Colin Tang says: 02/25/2007 - 20:13

Jonathan...

The Apple TV is certainly something we should look into in the near future. Thx for reminding me.

At this price point, I did not expect the Samsung to have superior scaling or deinterlacing processing. As a general rule, I try to `bundle' this out to external devices.

1) I cannot verify this of course but I think you will find the 720p signal will be better than the SDTV even with the same scaling. We didn't care for the analogue receiver on the Samsung, but if you have an external upscaling digital Freeview box, no problems there.

2) Most people can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 material. I would probably try 1080i thru HDMI first and enable justscan (if this allowed). This should give more detail than a 720p picture, which will be upscaled and softened. You may not be bothered by deinterlacing artifacts. In the end, connect both up and choose the better picture.

Glad to help.

Jonathan Heron says: 02/26/2007 - 10:00

Hi Colin,
many thanks for your reply.

regards,
Jonathan
Ed says: 03/05/2007 - 10:31

Hi Colin,

Fantastic review with lots of detail! I notice that this review doesn't really compare this TV to others within its price range. I can get this TV brandnew for 1200 at this price point would you reckon its the best value for money or would you recommend looking at other tv's?

I'm planning on using it mainly for xbox 360 gaming and upscaled DVD playback (using a separate DVD upscaler) and eventually HD-DVD or Blueray (when prices come down!). Sound isn't an issue for me either.

Thanks,

Ed
Colin Tang says: 03/05/2007 - 12:11

@ Ed.Thx.

The Samsung was a bit tricky to calibrate. Now looking back, we sacrificed too much contrast ratio for an accurate grayscale. This inevitably had an impact on final picture performance.

We are coming up with a shootout between Sharp, Sony and Samsung's 1080p models so stay tuned.

Value is actually very difficult to quantify as it is a subjective matter. Just understand that in general you have to pay for picture quality...i know its stating the obvious :). Also, picture performance has many different aspects that are important to different people. We are hoping that our reviews will help readers prioritise these aspects and see which one you can live without at a certain price.

We did not test the xbox 360 gaming, although i know it's very popular with our readers. The problem is that most games are created in a computing environment with 9300K colour temperature. This is different from the 6500K standard used in video. Having said that, I don't think you would find it objectionable if you used a cooler temperature on the Samsung. I would use the Xbox to upscale any material of course.

With DVDs, I think you would do better with an upscaling player. There are of course other picture quality issues to consider. My feeling is that you will still enjoy the Samsung in isolation, if you used a cooler temperature. But if you are hoping for perfection, you won't find it in Samsung or any model at this price.

I think there are two picture standards out there in the market right now.

1) Cooler temperature with high dynamic contrast ratio and slightly saturated colours. This naturally appeals to our visual instinct and is probably what most people think of as good picture quality.

2) Warm (yellow) temperature with lower dynamic contrast ratio and accurate colours. This is the videophile standard but is very difficult to achieve.

Both camps are not wrong. The pictures appeal to different aspects of your perception - accuracy vs instinct. In the end you decide which you'd prefer. (of course our reviews are biased towards the videophile :)>
Darren Haywood says: 03/06/2007 - 18:32

Great review, but i have one question,if you had to personally choose between the following which would it be?

1)SONY KDL40W2000 or Samsung LE40F71BX?

Which would you say has less problems and better picture quality? and is best value for money?
Bjorn von Haartman says: 03/07/2007 - 07:07

In my not so humble opinion DNIe completely fails on rapid movement even with HD content. These observations are based on 2 hrs+ viewing of Canal Digital DVB-S trailers from their Canal+ HD movie channel distributed via HDMI over 12 TV sets via a HDMI distributor in a shop environment with "normal" shop settings (i.e. most things cranked to the max). Cartoons are OK (Shrek2) but on e.g. LoTR RotK I have seen the following scenes: Aragorn with the King of the Dead - in closeups with wind in his hair I see a distinct halo effect around Aragorn's head as what I assume is DNIe trying to motion compensate. As the riders of Rohan are lining up for the assault everything is fine as they slowly trot into battle lines but as Eowyn kicks his steed into gallop to hit his sword against the spears the same halo effect comes into play. In some of the busier battle scenes there are also strange artifacts and the picture loses focus as well as pixellates. This was observed on both the LE40F71 as well as F91. TV's that did not exhibit these artifacts under the same conditions were a Sony 40V2500, a 40S2030, a Pioneer PDP427XD and a PDP 507XD, nor where they possible to observe on several smaller sets (including some Samsung models) in the 26-32" range.
I would personally not purchase a Samsung set without the possiblity of turning DNIe and Dynamic Contrast off. Here in Sweden at least you void the warranty if you have entered the service menu regardless of what actually lead to the demise of the TV.
Colin Tang says: 03/07/2007 - 12:37

@ Darren...I hope you don't get this the wrong way, but we can't give out any personal recommendations for now. We are doing a shootout on these models later so I hope you can learn more from there.

@ Thank you Bjorn. I am sure the processing required at those viewing levels must have been high, causing various artifacts especially at motion intensive scenes. Ultimately, I have always felt that the Samsung to be a PC companion rather than a videophile staple. I hope they take apart the DNIe in the next model and offer the users real flexibility in apply the processing.

Update: I found some basic technical specifications on the DNIe processing. Your'e right about the haloes. There is a detail enhancement to all pictures when the engine is on.
CWV says: 03/08/2007 - 08:13

you mention that accessing the service menu is the best option to turn off various items....and ultimately a better picture etc.

I know how to access this menu, but will it automatically void your warranty?

If so I guess I can discount this TV.

Cheers
Lloyd R says: 03/08/2007 - 10:35

Does anyone know what the max supported resolution through the component interface is? I am interested in knowing if it's 1080p. Also anyone know if 1080p @ 60 fps is possible over component (I know 30 fps is)?
Colin Tang says: 03/09/2007 - 11:55

@ CWV...Voiding your warranty is implicit I think, please read the warranty carefully to confirm this.
Picture quality is subjective so what I really meant is that to get a more accurate picture, some settings could be turned off. It DOES NOT mean that your current picture is poor. It may still be good to you and in the end, that's what matters.

@ Lloyd R...The manual says that it supports 50 and 60hz 1080p resolution.

Thanks.
GP says: 03/15/2007 - 08:18

Hi, you mentioned the overscan on both HDMI ports after just purchasing this set and having both HD-E1 and PS3 what should i be looking for regards overscan.
Colin Tang says: 03/16/2007 - 08:42

@GP It is difficult to check for overscanning if you don't know what the original image border is. That is why we chose the Windows screen, and as you can see on HDMI 1080 input, the borders have been cropped. (it is actually upscaled first then cropped, causing very slight detail loss and softening)

To be honest, for movie watching, this is not going to be a huge problem. But if you are a HTPC user, and are obsessed about cropped images and not getting all the detail, then pls update your firmware by calling Samsung.
Mike Greenow says: 03/16/2007 - 11:58

Congrats on a fantatastic web site!

I purchased the LE46F71BX back in November and I was experiencing a number of the problems that you highlighted with the 40" model, and your article helped me get the problems sorted with Samsung. I have got a Samsung Engineer coming out to disable the Dynamic Dimming and to perform the 1:1 Pixel Mapping Firmware upgrade.

I was wondering what you would recommend as the best Contrast / Brightnes / Sharpness / Colour settings for the "Movie" mode? I am still constantly adjusting the settings to try and get the best HDMI picture quality for my DVD Player.
Tony Koorlander says: 03/18/2007 - 03:29

Just unpacked my LE40F71BX .. works first time ..great..although the PAIN is that it is overscanning on component input. Compared to the same signal going into my 2405FPW Dell monitor..I'm losing about 5% around the edges.. which means that the panel is not being driven on a pixel accurate basis, but is being resolution converted / scaled. This is BAD!
Anybody know how to resolve this issue, as I'm using it for HD monitorig off my HD Video edit suite. I NEED pixel per pixel mapping of HD video being fed to the screen.. does the hdmi input offer anything different?
Colin Tang says: 03/19/2007 - 08:12

@Mike Greenow

We calibrated the Samsung LE40F71BX in the service menu and so the settings in the user menu will not work for you. We didn't have time to look into `pure' user menu settings which I admit, would have been useful to our readers. We will do this for future models.

You cannot confidently set black level without a calibration disc. Contrast control can be adjusted according to what you see in a `bright afternoon' scene. Try to avoid loss of detail in bright areas and uncomfortable bright highlights.

Put sharpness to 0 first and then work your way up if necessary. I think we left colour level at about 50-60. Do not oversaturate the colour in your images. I hope this helps.

@ Tony
You must enable the Justscan feature (1:1 mapping) on HDMI using the latest firmware. You need to contact your Samsung customer service either to get the firmware update cable and CD sent to you or get a service technician to sort it out. I think the Justscan does not work with component inputs. Good luck.
Martin says: 03/19/2007 - 18:16

Hi

This is more of a statement for other Xbox 360 users. The newer updates now allow support for 1080p over component and VGA, therefore this panel will support the maximum allowed resolution. I would advise NOT to use the Xbox's DVD player as upscaling isn't all that good unless you're using the VGA connection. I would like to see how the HD-DVD addon performs though!

My question is this - were you able to test broadcast HD on the TV i.e Sky HD via HDMI and was there any noticeable overscan in the process?

Regards

Martin
Colin Tang says: 03/22/2007 - 17:38

@ Martin

Yes there was some overscan on BBC HD, but you are unlikely to be bothered by it too much. It is in the PC world that overscanning becomes a real issue.
LC says: 03/28/2007 - 07:40

Please do add a 'gaming' section for our reading pleasure on future reviews (as you state above). That would be most helpful and very much appreciated.
Colin Tang says: 03/30/2007 - 06:44

@ LC
Although we'd love to do a proper gaming section, time and resources prevent thorough testing of this since this is a fast moving arena. We'll keep this in mind.
E. A, says: 04/02/2007 - 04:34

I have done some research and this seems to be the ONLY TV that can accept (and display) full 1080p from VGA (I have an xbox). Could you please confirm this is correct?

I've heard the new samsung M86/M87 updates are due to come out in the next few days. Do you advise to hold off from purchasing this TV for now? Do you have any info on these new TVs?
rui nunes says: 04/02/2007 - 05:42

I like this tv.
Have you already seen the new samsung LE37M86 and LE40M86?? Whats your opinion.

Rui from portugal
Colin Tang says: 04/04/2007 - 05:37

@ EA

Yes it is the only TV able to accept 1080p hassle free. Sony can do it as well but require Powerstrip tweaking. Technically, all VGA can do 1080p; it's up to the manufacturer's for implementation.

All you guys out there thinking of LE40F71BX...please wait for our M86/M87 review. We need to see that it sorted out its DNIe and justscan (1:1 pixel mapping feature).

Chow.
Peter Dens says: 04/06/2007 - 04:03

Colin,

any idea when that M86 review will be up?
Do you know if DNLE can be switched off on the new models?


thanks

Peter
Aueua says: 04/08/2007 - 07:29

Colin,

do you know which version of HDMI does the LE40F71BX sport?

I know that for example the PS3 uses version 1.3 of HDMI which has a 10.2 Gbps (340 MHz) bandwidth, a big improvement over the 4.9 Gbps limit on previous versions.

I have an Apple MacBook Pro and when I connect it to the Samsung TV thru a Dual Link DVI to HDMI cable, the maximum resolution I can get is 1080i (1920 x 1080 interlaced, 60 Hz).

After reading your *great* review, I will contact Samsung to get the new firmware and hopefully this will be fixed, but, what about compatibility with HDMI 1.3 compliant devices?

Thanks a lot and Happy Eastern to everyone!
Aueua
Colin Tang says: 04/09/2007 - 06:52

Yes Happy Easter everyone.

The M86 is still under review but I'll leave it to Vincent to break the news.

HDMI 1.3 is backward compliant and *should* work fine. I don't know the exact version of HDMI on the F71 but it aint 1.3 that's for sure. I wouldn't worry too much about the bandwidth on older HDMI versions, at least until they announce 10-12 bit titles with enhanced colourspace.

Connecting PCs have been a mixed experience with us. Usually the graphics card is at fault but there are just too many hardware variations to account for.
Yanto says: 04/09/2007 - 08:18

HDMI is version 1.2
Wes Boyd says: 04/12/2007 - 04:07

Hi just bought a LE40F71BX and Samsungs HT-xq100r and linked them via the supplied HDMI cable. Im going to contact Samsung for the firmware upgrade. Is there anything else you would recommend (that wont invalidate my warrenty) to get the best performance?

I get a crackly sound when i turn up the sound on some SKY channels? Is this due to the poor audio. When SKY HD arrives i plan to put all sound through the Home cinema system.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Regards
Wes

P.S I knew a Colin Tang once in N.Ireland!
Colin Tang says: 04/13/2007 - 18:15

You can ask the service technician to switch Gamma from AMLCD to OFF and disable dynamic dimming. (which I think is off in Movie mode).

You can get some crackly sound if the volume is up to high. Thank God youre getting a new Home Cinema system :)