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Samsung LE40F86BD Picture Quality

by Vincent Teoh
10 September 2007

High Definition


Brokeback Mountain

There isn't much about Ang Lee's controversial Brokeback Mountain that hasn't been said, but as I lined up some scenes in the Blu-ray version for photoshots on the LE40F86BD, I couldn't help but marvel at the stunning cinematography oozing throughout this film. Every screen pause would inevitably serve up a perfectly composed image in terms of perspective, focus, lighting and object placement. Lace these images expertly together, and you get a poignant masterpiece depicting the forbidden love between two cowboys whose lives were tormented and ultimately shattered by the prevailing prejudices in their society.

Jack Twist

The excellent blacks and high contrast ratio on the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
gave the film a very satisfying three-dimensional look, especially in scenes capturing the protagonists against a backdrop of mountainous landscape and lush sceneries. Thanks to [Just Scan], detail and texture were present in spades. And the largely uncorrupted colour gamut and near-D65 greyscale achieved post-calibration meant that skin tones and green foliage were rendered in a believable fashion without looking overly digital.

Lureen Newsome

If I had one minor complaint about the picture quality on Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
, it would be in the (predictable) area of shadow detail. As the visceral event unfolded in the tent on one fateful night on Brokeback Mountain that would transform the lives of the 2 cowboys forever, I could make out slightly more detail on my reference Pioneer PDP508XD. Mind you, I don't think this constitutes a fatal flaw on the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
: it was still portraying all the nuances in the darker areas, but due to skewed low-end gamma tracking our eyes simply have to strain more to pick them up.

Ennis Del Mar

Seeing that [100Hz Motion Plus] is a key selling point on the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
, I experimented with it fleetingly while watching Brokeback Mountain BD. Although detail and resolution in motion were noticeably less blurry (e.g. when the camera followed Ennis' view in a slow pan as he surveyed the room of the deceased Jack Twist), I felt that even in the "Low" setting [100Hz Motion Plus] was eroding the cinematic quality (frame interpolation invariably makes 24p films look like amateur videos) and lessening the emotional impact. It's a matter of personal taste, but I left this off for film material as I cherish the 24p "dream- like" atmosphere that I've come to associate with high-quality movies over the years.

HD Satellite Broadcast

Keen to test out [100Hz Motion Plus] on sports material, I caught the first of England's two crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against an unexpectedly inept Israel on BBC HD. Unfortunately Samsung's motion compensation frame interpolation (MCFI) technology threw up some disturbing artifacts, as the following video (taken with [100Hz Motion Plus] set to "Low") amply demonstrates (the flicker in the video is not perceptible by eye in real life):

I hope the H.264 codec I used to compress this video doesn't prevent you from noticing the intermittent colour sparkles near the edges of Shaun Wright-Phillips' white shirt (which can be easily mistaken for mosquito noise but they are not – these sparkles disappear instantly upon disengaging [100Hz Motion Plus]) in the first cut. Also, pay attention to how the BBC HD logo at the top right corner of the screen splits up from time to time depending on the background.

The second cut shows how the football tears up when it goes past a player's body, creating the impression of a brief judder. Cranking up [100Hz Motion Plus] to "Medium" or "High" only served to amplify the problem. It seems that Samsung's motion estimation algorithm – like all the renditions from Sony, Sharp, Toshiba and Panasonic thus far – still has difficulty determining what should be processed (the ball) and what shouldn't (the body) when both are present within the same field.

To be honest I have seen this very same artifact on Samsung Q97, but whereas there was no way to eradicate the problem on the plasma, all you need to do on the LE40F86BD LCD is to turn off [100Hz Motion Plus]. Even without the help of MCFI, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
coped with fast-action sports considering that a top tier plasma (Pioneer PDP508XD) was sitting beside it to give me a frame of reference... the days of a smudgy mess on LCD TVs are truly long gone.

Standard Definition

Freeview Digital TV

From a viewing distance of 8 feet away, Freeview digital TV quality was acceptable though it was nothing to shout about. Some channels/ programmes which are transmitted with lower bit-rate and heavier compression would suffer from more pixelation, jaggies and mosquito noise... again these were no worse than other top-rung 1080p LCD TVs.

Ever since I first laid eyes on the brilliance of high-definition Rec. 709 colours, the subdued PAL/ 601 saturation on standard-definition content has always left me underwhelmed (this statement applies to all televisions; not specific to Samsung). To its credit, the LE40F86BD at least managed to salvage the picture with its deep blacks and Super Clear Panel which gives the illusion of higher perceived contrast whenever there's some light (that's not shining directly onto the reflective screen) in the room. The depth and dimensionality afforded by the LE40F86BD was what helped me enjoy a screening of Edward Scissorhands on Channel 5:

Edward Scissorhands

Sitting through over 100 minutes of the movie, together with analysing the scrolling ticker on Sky Sports News, revealed no frame drop/ stuttering which has been reported on the M86/ 87 series... hopefully this bug is a thing of the past.

PS3 Console Gaming

Imaging rules are probably not as important in the territory of console gaming... I doubt game developers are adhering to D65 (or any other imaging standard) anyway. So while I stayed in the [Movie] mode preset, I found myself increasing [Backlight] a few notches to generate a bright and vivid picture which made for a thoroughly enjoyable and fearless (no image retention or screenburn!!) gaming experience on the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount

Motion handling was perfectly adequate for my needs. Whenever I engaged [100Hz Motion Plus], I would be more annoyed by the tearing/ juddering artifacts than be pleased by the mild improvement in motion resolution. For example, in Gran Turismo HD Concept I would notice the 10 flags (that will fill up and count towards your drift score) tearing up when they hovered over the mountains rather than appreciate the increased clarity of spectators and objects whizzing by:

[100Hz Motion Plus] is a matter of preference: use it if you wish to maintain motion detail, and are prepared to accept some interpolation artifacts in the process. The good news is that at the very least the Samsung LE40F86BDBuy this for £949.98 at Dixons
Use code '5TV' for £50.00 discount
offers you the choice of either enabling or disabling it, unlike the Panasonic LCDs which forces Motion Picture Pro (their version of 100Hz MCFI) upon users across all material.

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