Unlike most other LED-lit LCDs, the 55EH6000 has both decent dark-screen and white-screen brightness uniformity. In this respect, Samsung’s direct-lit LED backlight puts its edge-lit cousins to shame. Looking at a full white test pattern, I saw some slight shadows visible just inside the edges of the screen. With a black pattern, some mild lighter spots could be seen. With regular video, I didn’t notice any of the uniformity issues that test patterns revealed.
I’m a big fan of accurate color, and the Samsung’s color accuracy is generally very good. I found blue to be a little off (see Test Bench), but this wasn’t really noticeable with actual video.
Contrast ratio is pretty good for an LCD, though black level is somewhat high when the TV’s backlight is set for a reasonable light output. For example, with the backlight set at 10, I measured 35.82 footlamberts with a full white and 0.0085 ftL with a full-field black, for a contrast ratio of around 4,200:1. Not bad, but still well below that of other TVs I’ve tested recently, most of which were plasma models. With regular video, the image looked a little punchier than these numbers suggest.
Samsung’s LED Motion Plus feature is an interesting proposition. I found that it did decrease motion blur slightly, but you lose nearly half of your light output when it’s enabled. I was fine with this tradeoff, though I also watch TV and movies in a dark room. The maximum brightness that I measured on the 55EH6000 was 62 ftL (33 ftL with LED Motion Plus active). This is bright, but not nearly as bright as most other LED LCDs.
As I mentioned above, off-axis performance, never an LCD strong suit, wasn’t bad. Black level does go up slightly if you move off from the screen’s center, but compared with other LCDs I’ve reviewed recently, the 55EH6000’s performance here was way better.
With a bit of free time this month, I had finally gotten some important things done, like catching up on my gaming. Battlefield 3 looked detailed and sufficiently punchy on the Samsung. I was rusty and died a lot. I moved on to the far more enjoyable, though arguably no less frenetic, Team Fortress 2: Mann vs Machine mode (read my review here [http://bit.ly/ tech2blog]). The stylized and colorful graphics looked really good on the 55EH6000. Switching to the PS3, I dove into Darksiders II (which I’ll be reviewing next month). This dark and moody game didn’t fare quite as well on the 55EH6000, with the blacks looking dark gray instead, and the overall image lacking the depth that’s possible with higher-contrast displays.
The 55EH6000 features a Game Mode, ostensibly to minimize the lag between your button push and the resulting action that happens on screen. I had assumed my pitiful performance with the online games was from my waning skills, but I’m all for blaming it on a TV. I tested this with the A/V Sync pattern from the Disney: World of Wonder Blu-ray. Normally, the 55EH6000 had a lag of about 125 milliseconds. So my meager performance wasn’t entirely my fault. That’s nearly a full video frame of lag, and it was on top of whatever lag I was getting to and from the game servers. With regular video, this was noticeable as a slight lip-sync error. Game Mode shrunk the lag to 41.6 ms — obviously much better — though there was a slight picture-quality penalty. (You lose the ability to enable effects like Auto Motion Plus, or even select a more accurate picture mode. Color temperature in Game mode also requires a separate calibration, though the mode’s out-of-box color rendition is fairly accurate.) However, even at 41.6 ms I could still see some lip-sync issues, so I wouldn’t recommend this TV for twitch-based gaming, or if you don’t own an A/V receiver or processor with a lip-sync offset adjustment.
Switching over to movies (and out of Game Mode), I watched the Blu-ray of The Hunger Games. On closeups, when the characters weren’t moving much, I saw a lot of detail. But as soon as their heads moved, there was still a slight blurring, even with LED Motion Plus active. Skin tones looked accurate, and Katniss’s dress of fire looked sufficiently scorching. In a scene with her and Peeta in a cave, however, black backgrounds looked dark gray instead of black, and the black bars didn’t disappear into my dark room as well as they do with some other TVs.
Overall, the 55EH6000’s picture looked decent; it was just not as good as what I’ve seen from other TVs at the same price. Given that price, the 55EH6000 feels lacking. I’d be totally fine if this was a Caterham 7 or Lotus Elise, a stripped-down beast made for nothing but performance. Instead, it’s a four-cylinder Cadillac, sold for the name recognition and little else. “Look! I bought an ‘LED’ TV!” Consider that the S+V Certified & Recommended Panasonic TC-P55ST50 has a nearly identical street price, but is a 3D TV with Internet streaming/Smart features and a much better contrast ratio. I know that there are people who for some reason won’t cross-shop plasma and LCD, but I just wanted to point out that the 55EH6000 is an expensive TV for what you get — basically, an LED backlight.
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