The whole concept of 3D TV is brand new, not only to you and me, but to TV manufacturers, who are now pushing display technology barriers to deliver a new TV viewing experience.
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If you have that impulsive urge to go out and buy a new 3D TV, I highly recommend that you do a little research and buy a TV that is both 3D and Internet-enabled, as well as one that includes a Skype capability, because if you do you will have a lot of fun.
Recently I was given a complete Samsung home theatre kit to review, which included their new UA55C7000, 55″ LED 3D TV.
It was impressive, not only from a vision and audio perspective, but because of the integration of new Internet technology which will change the way that we watch TV in the future.
Their new 55″ LED TV has 3D live Internet capability, Skype, and DLNA capability – it was a bit like opening up a Swiss army knife and then reviewing how everything works.
At first I was sceptical that everything could work efficiently and deliver a great consumer experience.
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Two other key Samsung home theatre products were included in this exercise: the new C6900 3D Blu-ray player, which loads blisteringly fast when compared to other models we have reviewed, and a brand new wireless home theatre system that eliminates the need to run cables around a room.
After a short while, I knew that this TV was a little different. It seemed complex but was easy to use, however, Samsung do need to do some work on their software interfaces and remote controls, especially when multiple products like a TV, 3D Blu-ray player and home theatre kit are integrated to work as one entertainment system.
Does the 3D work? YES. Are the glasses uncomfortable? Yes. And is it worth the investment? Very much so.
I am going to start this review back to front, as the price that Samsung is offering this gear for is ridiculously cheap.
For $4799 you get a 3D TV and a superb 3D Blu-ray player, plus a pair of 3D glasses, which usually cost $199 each, Samsung’s technology uses battery-powered active ‘shutter’ glasses to deliver a 3D image. These are more expensive than the polarised glasses some competitors employ, but you also get a 3D movie, plus features like Internet TV and Skype. At this price, it’s a bargain.
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The 55-inch, LED, edge-lit TV delivers an extremely sharp, clear, picture, however, I still believe that plasma is the better 3D technology.
We saw excellent levels of detail in the vision, but the 2D to 3D conversion of free-to-air TV programs was a bit rough. You can adjust the scale of the 3D, but really, is this a service that you really want at this early stage of 3D? Especially as none of the free-to-air TV content is shot for 3D broadcast.
What worked a lot better was when we upscaled a 2D movie to 3D via the Samsung Blu-ray player.
The TV features a 2D-3D conversion function that will add depth to any flat image, but the 3D Blu-ray player seems to have more functions for delivering a significantly improved 3D viewing experience. When it came to watching a true 3D movie, which in our case was Monster Vs Aliens, the rendering was excellent and the TV delivered a superb home movie experience.
The TV itself has a sleek, discreet chassis, finished to Samsung’s usual high standard. The comprehensive remote looks good too. This set is plenty slim enough to wall-mount, though Samsung obviously expect most buyers to connect all sources through a home cinema kit similar to what was supplied. Any connection that’s not HDMI, even the RF aerial, requires a bespoke adaptor to dock with the back of the screen, which spoils the skinny profile somewhat.
When it came to Internet@TV via the new 3D LED TV, we simply pressed a single button on the remote and immediately we switched to a whole new content world, where several new applications such as Google Maps were waiting to be downloaded.
We had access to YouTube, Skype, Samsung applications and a host of new games and cooking applications. Set-up menus for the C7000 were easy to navigate and as simple or in-depth as required. This legibility is carried over to Samsung’s Internet@TV, which over a Telstra BigPond connection was quick to connect, even over a wireless network. It was also fast when downloading new applications and YouTube clips
As a stand-alone TV, the C7000 holds up well. Both digital and analogue tuners are perfectly acceptable, with picture noise held to a minimum and pretty consistent motion-tracking. The Samsung is equally adept when it comes to upscaling DVD. Edges are smooth, detail levels high and motion of all kinds is handled confidently. The colour palette is subtle, with skin tones a highlight, while white tones in high-contrast images stay bright. Black shades are deep, but carry good detail.
When viewing a movie from the 1080p Samsung 3D HD Blu-ray player, you get epic levels of detail, and its 200Hz motion processing smoothly renders movement. Edge definition and apparent depth of field both impress and, thanks to LED backlighting at the edges of the screen, deep blacks and glaring whites happily coexist in the frame.
From any source, sound is an improvement on the new Samsung TV, however, it was even better when listened to via the new wireless HT-C5550W home theatre kit.
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Another impressive feature on this TV is the Media Centre feature. My house is networked and within seconds of installing the TV on my home network I was able to access music, videos and movie content stored on my DLNA PC’s and Cisco storage hub. You can also access content from an SD or USB storage device if required.
For now, using the battery-powered glasses and a 3D Blu-ray of Monsters vs Aliens, this TV stacks up and is well worth rushing out to buy for the upcoming State Of Origin series, which Channel Nine will put to air in 3D.
And at $4799 Samsung has really set the cat among the pigeons, with several vendors already scratching their heads as they struggle to compete with the Korean TV giant.
On the downside, Samsung need to sort out their remote controls, because at times I was utterly confused as to which button to press. Another weakness is the Skype control. This needs a lot of work as entering text and numbers using a remote control was a pain in the arse.
If you want Skype you will have to persevere with the process, because when you do the service is brilliant and the picture is crystal clear. It’s a smart new way to communicate with loved ones who are away from home.