So we did the next best thing. We got access to an LG Scarlet LCD TV via a retailer who has had them on their show floor for two weeks. We have also taken into account what our print licensing partner Home Cinema Choice had to say about the Samsung model as well the comments of magazines like What Hi Fi Sound and Vision. |
So who has the best new Scarlet LCD TV LG or Samsung? This is akin to asking whether a Holden Statesman is in the same league as a BMW 5 series. In the minds of the owners who have purchased these different luxury models they are both equal to each other.
An initial inspection of both new LCD TV models shows that the Samsung series 6 offering is a lot more sophisticated than the offering from LG.
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LG have simply painted the back of a TV red while also extending the bottom of the screen to include new speakers and a new finger control system. Call me odd but the rear of a TV is not what I normally look at when making a purchase decision.
Samsung on the other hand according to Home Cinema Choice have utilised dual injection technology similar to that adopted by the German car industry, the screen's bezel is created by combining clear and red plastics, and overlaying the result on a black surround.
It's not a simple technique to master and, at present, there's only one machine capable of manufacturing such fascias on a large scale, but the end result is worth the extra effort.
While the overall effect is not exactly a massive evolutionary leap from a glossy black bezel, the added hint of red (or 'rose black') exudes class, while, most importantly, remaining unobtrusive to the viewing experience. In short, the brand has once again set the aesthetic standard for its rivals to follow.
In the case of the LG offering consumers are going to have to make a very conscientious decision. Do they want a bright red back on their big new TV?
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From the front the LG TV is very stylish even with a big ring in the middle which is designed to let one automatically turn the TV on or off. It also glows scarlet when in standby mode. The front of the TV is gloss black and the frame extends below the actual screen to hide speakers tuned by hi-fi specialist Mr. Mark Levinson.
Samsung Series 6
Piano black is soooo yesterday. Piano black TVs, piano black DVD players, and piano black pianos - nothing has escaped the rise of the ebony sheen.
Thus, with this 46-inch entrant, Samsung's Series 6 range of LCDs is born. And, thanks to the company's proprietary Crystal Design concept (ironically named 'Touch of Color' in the US), it really stands out amongst its shiny sable peers.
The outward appearance isn't the only feature to be upgraded from the company's previous models. This 46-inch TV has more bells and whistles than a football referee's wedding. It's Full HD (although, to be honest, that's a no-brainer for screens over 32-inch nowadays), with 1080p24 compatibility, and comes with 100Hz Motion Plus - the company's frame-doubling technology to eliminate LCD blur and judder. The screen is one of the first to use Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel (a step-up from the Super Clear Panel found in older models). And the DNIe picture processing engine has morphed to DNIe Pro. Add Wide Color Enhancer 2 and you've a very impressive feature list.
Similarly, the connectivity audit yields numerous options including four HDMI 1.3 sockets which adorn the set, with three on the rear and one on the side. But the most interesting side-mounted addition is an USB port for what Samsung calls WISELINKâ€¦
Using an USB memory stick, or an MP3 player that supports drag-and-drop hard drive management (such as, er, Samsung's), the Series 6 screen can display pictures and even play music via an intuitive graphical user-interface. It's a gimmick really - few would buy a TV to listen to music while scrolling through a slideshow of snaps from Magaluf - but it's a nice addition and a nod to further 'convergence' opportunities for models in the future (such as DivX playback without a dedicated deck, perhaps? WISELINK Pro? Watch this space).
Unfortunately, one feature which made it to the US Series TVs that hasn't made it here is RSS-feed compatibility and Ethernet connectivity, which wowed everyone at this year's CES.
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You probably won't care anyway, when you see the HD (and, equally, SD) performance of this bad boy. Thanks to a combination of the aforementioned Ultra Clear Panel, DNIe Pro picture processing and Wide Color Enhancer 2, the picture results are nothing short of staggering. After a thorough bout of calibration, that isâ€¦
Out-of-the-box there are three picture and sound presets, under a general 'Entertainment' umbrella; Sports, Cinema and Game, each with their own unique properties. For example, the Game mode, which we tested with the excellent Xbox 360 game, Lost Odyssey, increases the panel's response time, lightens the contrast in dark areas so you can see more fine detail and increases the bass response. The Sports mode optimises the colourfield (specifically greens and blues) while treating audio to retain clarity in commentary.
You'll definitely want to setup your own Cinema mode, though; the supplied one is too vivid. It makes Blu-ray content scream itself hoarse with radiant and intense hues, but the effect is so over-the-top that it's similar to being punched in the face by a clown.
Toning things down is advisable and, thankfully, there is an exhaustive set of advanced options for fine-tuning. Adjusting the colour temperature to closer to 65K is little hassle.
One thing you'll probably not want to fiddle about with, though, is the Dynamic Contrast Ratio; it works a treat. Whenever we've encountered the system in the past, the method of increasing and decreasing brightness and contrast depending on the black content of the image has been a bit flaky. We've seen many screens that exhibit visible contrast 'waving' where the screen continually dulls and brightens too radically. Here it is seamless, and the black level response benefits greatly.
Indeed, the contrast level is excellent all-round. Although Samsung's LED backlight technology is absent in this instance, its inclusion would simply have been the icing on the cake. But the Ultra Clear Panel, by decreasing light reflection even more dramatically than ever before, displays deep blacks that should suit even the most discerning of image aficionados. It's no Kuro, but for an LCD TV, wow!
Audio performance doesn't quite match, it's a stereo TV with two 10W speakers after all.
The end bit
This is great LCD TV says Home Cinema Choice; one that will impress almost as much when switched off as on. It matches the care and attention in design with a deft picture performance, and, until the brand unveils Series 7 or 8, this 46-inch beauty is as good as it gets.
LG Scarlet LG60
It's a Full HD, 1080/24fps TV that comes with some serious array of inputs that include a four HDMI inputs, a set of component video inputs, VGA, and USB.
It also includes LG's Intelligent Eye system that adjusts the backlight to suit the light levels in your room. LG claims this can reduce energy consumption by up to 60 per cent however I am not certain as to how they reached this conclusion.
The set generates an impressive depth of field, especially during the wider, landscape shots. What Hi Fi Sound and Vision claim that despite being a 100Hz design, the set also struggles to handle rapid movement? Off-air performance through the digital tuner is passable, but images do err on the soft side.
We have to agree with this. However the sound quality is good that is if you want to listen to sound direct from a TV instead of hooking up a smart 5.1 or 7.1 home theatre kit.
The sound quality of the specially tuned speakers is well above average. They emit a clear, dynamic sound.
So at the end of the day who has the best new LCD TV offering between the Samsung Series 6 and the LG Scarlet LG60?
The answer is simple Samsung. The look and feel of their Series 6 TV oozes sophistication and the colour and design is not brutally intrusive like the LG Scarlet offering.
While the LG model has great sound and good front end looks over time I believe consumers will get fed up of the bright red back which is going to stand out in any home for a very long time.
Another big benefit that the Samsung series 6 has is that its performance is not compromised by tricky gimmicky design. It is more evolutiionary than revolutionary.
Samsung Series 6: 5/5
LG Scarlet LG 60: 3/5
See it: www.samsung.com.au
Pricing for the LG Scarlet 60 is still to be set.