Of the set's four picture presets, the Movie mode was the most accurate out of the box. In this setting, my sample's grayscale ran a bit red, but a 10-point White Balance calibration tool let me dial it in more closely. In addition, the PN58C7000 has a helpful "Cell Light" slider (similar to a backlight control on an LCD set), which helps you set the overall range of contrast before you fine-tune it with the regular contrast control. A seven- position gamma control provides another option for striking the right balance between deep blacks and detailed shadows.
Selecting the Movie preset disengaged the set's auto contrast and color controls. After experimentation, I left the Color Space setting in Auto mode and the Gamma control in its default setting, and changed the Film Mode from Auto2 to Auto1. The set's Digital and MPEG Noise Reduction settings were set to Low and Auto, respectively, where they cleared up noise without noticeably softening the image.
Starting out my viewing with some high-def broadcasts, I quickly realized that the PN58C7000 was something special. From the get-go, it offered superb contrast and color, along with black levels rivaling the better plasmas I've tested.
In the opening scene of the new NBC series Chase, a Texas cowgirl-turned-U.S. Marshall named Annie Frost (Kelli Giddish) pursues a fugitive through the streets of Fort Worth, Texas. As the criminal shoved his way through a street fair, a parade, a rodeo, and whatever else in shot after shot, I was struck by how the Samsung's strong contrast made objects and faces pop off the screen with a convincing, film-like depth. When the camera next cut to an aerial pan of the Houston skyline at night, the set easily pulled the subtle outline of each skyscraper right out of the night sky.
Colors also reproduced beautifully on the Samsung, and thanks to the smooth, noise-free quality of its video processing, so did fine details in high-def pictures. In a subsequent scene from Chase where Annie finally gets her man, I noticed how his bright red hooded sweatshirt looked just right — vivid but without excessive saturation or noise. And when I next watched an interview with an Army captain serving in Afghanistan on an episode of 60 Minutes, his sunburn easily stood in contrast to the pale skin of the female reporter questioning him.
I expected Blu-ray Discs to deliver a similar knockout experience and wasn't disappointed. I tossed in a copy of The Notebook and watched the nighttime carnival scene where the young Noah and Allie (Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) first meet. The Samsung?s excellent black depth and ability to display shadow detail became evident again as Noah turned toward the Ferris wheel to look up at Allie. The inky background blended perfectly with the black letter- box bar above it in this 2.35:1 aspect ra- tio film, while the fine ripples in the fabric of Noah?s gray shirt were evident in the foreground as he stood in the shadows.
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