Thursday, January 19, 2006

Samsung LN-R409D (40" LCD HDTV)


Project Gotham Racing 3 (XBOX 360) over VGA at 1360X768

(note: some pictures show a rainbow mosaic pattern. This only shows up in the camera when I take a shot at a certain distances. I'm not sure why but you absolutely can't see it on the TV itself)

OneCall $2600 shipped (it was on sale). Plus, I get a free dvd recorder. OneCall is great. They are an authorized dealer (valid warranty), shipped fast, package arrived in very good condition, both shock sensors were clear.
Onecall

- Primary use is for video games (legacy systems and XBOX 360). Everything else is secondary.
- Considered Sony XBR LCD'S (too pricey), Panasonic Plasma (@ 42" max resolution only 1024X768), DLP (bad view angles, not near as bright as direct view tech, potential lag in games).

stats:
Samsung
Native resolution: 1366 X768
power used: 285w
weight: 60 lbs
response time: 8ms.
view distance: 9ft.

3 days of non-stop testing

Over the Air Broadcast TV:
- We live pretty far out of the city so analog stations are almost complete static out here:

- Here is the exact same channel in HDTV over the air ATSC tuner for FREE:


using a crap antenna:

I can receive all channels in HDTV/DTV (nbc,cbs,abc,fox,upn,wb) except for pbs (I can pick it up if I hold the antenna outside the room). Digital cable doesn't even have upn or wb in HD so there are some advantages to atsc hdtv.
- Notice digital stations are in between regular stations. So ch 11 is analog, 11-1 (11.1) is digital, 11-2 is a satellite weather map.
- you also get guide data over ATSC which you do NOT get from digital cable (cablecard):

- ATSC is FREE, great quality, guide data, and most stations are sending out a VERY strong signal, and you don't need an expensive antenna. Any cheap rabbit ears will do.

Digital Cable QAM Tuner:
- cable card only $1.75/month from time warner
- Didn't get crap without the cable card inserted. Once I inserted the card I got every digital channel I subscribe too (and then some).
- Has all local stations in HD except for upn and wb. You get additional HD channels like tnt, discovery, hdnet, inhd, and espn.
- no guide data

General Broadcast quality:
- overall SD analog channels look worse than a CRT IMO. The LCD is just so sharp it really shows all the grain in an analog signal while an SD CRT will blur most of that out.
- digital SD looks pretty good and most HD content looks great. Digital cable and ATSC are equal in this respect. Many HD channels often broadcast HD resolutions but use poor source material. Example: tnt broadcasts some old movie from a grainy source. There's not much you can do about it. But take a look at HDNET, any sports, pbs, or discovery, and you will see amazing detail. Also, I watched some prime time local station programs like CSI and the office. They both were full 16:9 HD and looked fantastic. It seems most of the prime time shows are in full HD. The difference in quality really is night and day. Once you go HD it's hard to go back.
- I also tested a HD set top box (Motorola 6200) hooked up using a DVI to HDMI cable. It worked fine and looked good.
- Kind of cool getting dolby digital 5.1 (depending on source material) from broadcast. I like how all audio that goes into the tv is sent out the optical output.

DVD Movies:
- I played them on the xbox 360 (progressive output). I checked out Batman Begins and it looked pretty good. Again, this TV does point out all the imperfections in the source material. I can now see the need for HD DVD or Blu Ray.

Computer:
- I used my laptop and hooked it up through vga and set resolution to 1360X768. It looked very good on the TV with nice sharp text:

- I tried a few games (guild wars, counter-strike) and both supported the native 1360X768 resolutions:


- I've read that the HDMI port isn't designed for pc (only works in a few resolutions, overscan issues). I did not get to try this since my laptop doesn't have DVI, and I don't feel like dragging a desktop over.
- Playing a mpeg2 (captured from analog source) it seemed like I ran into some interlacing issues during fast action while playing with media player. I'll have to look into it more. Not sure if the issue would exist if I used TV Out instead of VGA. I know powerdvd does deinterlacing (hmmm I guess I should have tested with that).

- I played the same material over the Media MVP on composite and it looked pretty good. No interlace issues.

Gaming:
- First the issue about lag. These new digital sets do some image processing before the image actually gets displayed. This can introduce lag between the time you do something on the controller and when you see it on the screen. Samsung DLP's are known to have this issue. Here are the following tests I've conducted on the issue of lag:
- street fighter II anniversary collection: played just fine, I can pull off fireballs as usual, movement felt fine.
- pgr3, pdz, call of duty, king kong, NFS most wanted, kameo, condemned all played great with no perceptible lag.
- Hot shots golf fore on ps2. Two stage timing meter for strokes. It felt fine.
- dance dance revolution on ps2 felt fine. The timing for getting a "perfect" felt just right.
- Geometry wars, gauntlet, smash TV, robotron: I thought I might have felt what might be a tiny tiny bit of lag (almost a slight sluggishness to the controls). In the end if there is some it's almost imperceptible. I was still able to score over 400K in geowars.
- I fired up doom3 and counter strike on the laptop hooked up to the tv through vga. I sat there and held the laptop up to the TV so I could have both screens in my field of view (for the most part). I got up to less than 12 inches from the screens. I could not see any lag while shooting or during the gun reload anamations. I would turn left or right and then scrutinize to see if one screen started moving before the other. At one point I thought there was a tiny bit of lag, but then other times I couldn't pick it out. As a control I also tested against a 17" LCD monitor.
- Tip: Go into the menu|input|edit name and pick GAME. This is suppose to flag it as a gaming input and the TV is suppose to bypass somethings to reduce lag. I've heard this helps on DLP's but I'm not sure if it does anything on this LCD. It doesn't hurt.
- Another theory is disabling DNIe helps except you can't actually do that. You can enter the service menu and there is a DNIe lite menu but I have no idea what all the options mean so I didn't mess with it.
- I've also read that VGA bypasses DNIe. I know you can't enable the DNIe demo.
- In conclusion, I'm neurotic. My results are pretty inconclusive. If there is any lag at all it is so small it shouldn't affect any gameplay.

- view angle is great vertical and horizontal.
- 8ms response rate is great. There is very very little motion blur (loss of focus) during fast movement. I think it looks better than my dell 2001fp monitor and I'm very sensitive to motion blur/ghosting.
- I ran PixPerAn (Pixel Performance Analyzer) Chase test which I get around 11ms and worst case no more than 15ms at all color combinations (this test is a bit subjective so I errored on the conservative side).

- I ran a few dead/stuck pixel tests. I couldn't find any. Backlight was pretty even.
- PQ is great for the most part. I like DNIe. For gaming I have Digital NR on, dynamic contrast off, contrast 85, brightness 50, sharpness 50, color 55, color tone normal.
- Looks great when there is a lot of ambient light. I have 4 lights in the ceiling fan and a big window in the room. With the old CRT the glare would drive me nuts. I hear plasma has a lot of glare issues too. With LCD NO GLARE and the picture is nice and bright.
- all the 360 games are just incredible in HD. I didn't realize how much I was missing playing on SD. It really does make a HUGE difference.
- BackCompat games like halo 2 that play in 720p widescreen look pretty good on the 360 except I think the aspect still looks a bit off. The picture still looks a bit stretched. In fact I see this problem with some ps2 and xbox games (and yes I set up everything up properly at the os level). It really depends on the game if it supports widescreen properly.
- Xbox on composite looks pretty bad. Then I switched to component (first party cables only) and it looked quite a bit better. PS2 component still doesn't look that great. God of war had jaggies all over the place and textures looked pretty low rez.
- HDTVArcade
Nice little site that tells you which games support which resolutions, aspect, and surround sound.

Conclusion:
Overall I'm pretty happy with this TV. I don't think a perfect HDTV exists yet but overall I'm quite impressed with this set. It has every feature/connection I could want. It has a great built in atsc/qam tuner. The picture quality is very good. SD content is acceptable but not great (as expected). It's pretty awesome for gaming (which is the main reason why I bought it). I think LCD prices will come down a lot this year as even more plants are brought online.

some more pics:




UPDATE:9/9/08
For a more detailed test on Input Lag visit here:
http://blog.arogan.com/2008/09/lcd-hdtv-input-lag-tests.html

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