Samsung LN-T5265F: An HD Detail Destroyer

Here’s a set that proves that 1080p resolution doesn’t always guarantee a great picture. Though on paper this colorful and high-contrast 52-inch LCD HDTV has everything needed to produce a stunningly sharp picture, out of the box its high-def imagery was fuzzy, and efforts to solve the problem through a software upgrade further complicated the situation.

Removing the LN-T5265F from its factory-sealed cardboard box revealed a fully assembled HDTV complete with a rectangular-shaped swivel stand. The LCD’s glossy black bezel sports an unobtrusive Samsung logo and soft blue light centered along the lower edge. But when checking the viewing ingle, I saw noticeable loss of color saturation at 15 degrees off-axis that became worse at 20 degrees.

Samsung’s new T-series LCD now contains some menu options that were long overdue. At the top of the list of new items is a Just Scan picture size mode that attempts to display every pixel of an HD video signal. I say “attempts,” because initially I found that 720p, 1080i, and 1080p60 HD video delivered via HDMI was cropped by two or three pixels around the TV’s perimeter. Also, the HD component video input displayed an unacceptable 7 percent over scan of the screen. Only VGA input at 1080p60 and HDMI input at 1080p24 produced an image that exhibited no signs of this picture- softening over scan.

Although the LN-T5265F proved itself capable of delivering good color and contrast post-calibration, during my first round of tests its video processing unacceptably degraded the quality of HD video. My HD HQV Benchmark test results revealed that the I.N-T5265F's HDMI input was sacrificing up to half of the visual information contained within the signal of video and film-sourced content. Testing with a selection of HD DVD and Blu-ray movies confirmed that the LN-T5265F’s missing picture detail softened the image to the point of being blurry. To address this, Samsung provided me with a firmware upgrade. This update corrected the LN-T5265F’s most severe video-processing errors with 1080i HDMI input and also enabled underscan for HD component video. But folks, don’t get too excited. Unfortunately, the new firmware shifted the LN-T5265F’s 1080i HDMI problems to the TV’s component video inputs.

In Samsung’s defense, the company stated that models shipped after mid to late July 2007 should feature the updated firmware; affected owners can also call the Samsung service center and request the latest firmware available. Still, there’s no way I can recommend a $4,000 HDTV that delivers a blurry, practically half- resolution picture either over HDMI or component video connections.

Samsung LN-T5265F: $3.999.99

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