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Samsung LE40F71BX Review

by Colin Tang
21 February 2007

SUMMARY
The Samsung F71 series gives excellent value for money, particularly if you intend to connect it to a PC. However, you have to jump through some hoops to get the most of this HDTV.

PROS
> Good value
> Strong connectivity with 1080p inputs on HDMI, component, VGA
> With 1:1 mapping enabled, you get crisp detail and sharp picures

CONS
> Average black level with red tint
> Internal processing causes inaccurate pictures
> 1:1 mapping on HDMI need latest LE40F71BX firmware upgrade

Pros

  • Good value
  • 1080p capable display
  • 1080p input via HDMI, Component, VGA
  • 9-in-2 multi-memory card slot / USB / PictBridge
  • Viewing angles
  • Low digital noise on image
  • Sharp images with 1:1 pixel mapping (tested on VGA)
  • 10 bit processing
  • Minimalist glossy black design
  • LCD Backlighting controls – can improve black level
  • Connections very accessible, compact
  • Quiet operation (at last!!!)
  • Picture-in-picture
  • Fast setup
  • Lightweight
  • Swivel stand
  • Master control programmable codes in manual
  • Effective remote control

Cons

  • Average black level with red tint
  • Black level fluctuation due to dynamic dimming (can be turned off from service menu)
  • Gamma curve is distorted by processing (can be turned off from service menu)
  • Poor audio
  • Inaccurate color decoding
  • PC DVI/HDMI does not support 1:1 mapping
  • Needs firmware upgrade to fix 1:1 (Dot-by-Dot) pixel mapping issue (highly recommended)
  • Lack of user friendly firmware update capability
  • Overscanning 2-3 percent (not correctable)
  • No option to switch off DNIe processing
  • No digital freeview tuner
  • Menu response slow
  • 40 inch size

Conclusion

The Samsung F71 series gives excellent value for money despite some limitations. For example, you can get a better picture if you have access to the service menu and turn off some of its processing. However, we strongly discourage this if you even have to ask what a service menu is. Getting to this service menu automatically voids your warranty and if you press the wrong buttons, the TV may be irrevocably damaged. Another limitation of this display is the apparent inability to use 1:1 pixel mapping on HDMI. This is easily fixed by using the latest firmware but you need to get a special cable and CD from Samsung's customer care. It can get a bit technical for beginners but if you are willing to explore this, you will be rewarded with the sharpest images with any source on HDMI. I strongly recommend this.

Most modern digital displays use non-standard picture processing so it wasn't surprising that the Samsung had similar issues in the same department. We found that the black level was only average when compared to the Sharp XD1E and it had a red tint to it as well. The colour coordinates on the CIE chart were significantly off from the standard, especially near the green hues. This was not correctable in the user menu as only colour saturation control was provided. Future developments in digital colour processing may one day allow us to overcome this problem, for the moment, you have to be content with coming second.

Despite its shortcomings, the 1080p Samsung F71 series is capable of accepting 1080p output in all its major connections. This is a highly popular feature with consumers nowadays looking to futureproof their TVs for at least a few years. Taken together with all its other benefits, it is not difiicult to see why this panel will give any competitor a run for their money.


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