Looking at the Big Picture: Thoughts on my new 50″ Samsung LED TV

I recently picked up a new 50″ Samsung LED TV, and I had a few thoughts on it.


I’ve been playing games and watching movies/ shows on a 42″ Panasonic plasma for about 4 years now, so the switch to LED was a little jarring at first. This Samsung LED took more setting up than any other TV I’ve used in my life. I had GTA V running the other night for over two hours, not playing the game, but just trying to get the picture to look right. The default settings on the TV are absolutely AWFUL. Fortunately, with a little tweaking, I was able to get it looking pretty good, maybe even better than the plasma.

Plasma TVs naturally have better color, but LEDs have gotten really good. This wasn’t my first impression of this particular LED, though. At first, the picture looked blown-out, the dark areas were too dark, and the colors were so off it looked like an old tube TV with years of abuse pausing Mario and forgetting to turn off the TV before running off to eat dinner.

I messed with the contrast, brightness and sharpness, and although these things helped, they were ultimately only for minor adjustments. Something still didn’t look right. The whole picture still had that look of an old TV with bad colors.

What I finally discovered is that it’s all about the white balance and tint, things I’ve NEVER had to mess with on any other TV.

I looked in the White Balance setting and found R, G, and B Gain were turned up to 30. I put all of these to 0, and immediately the picture was better (Gain is rarely a good thing, unless you’re trying to get more crunch out of your electric guitar). The RGB offsets were all at 25, so I put those at about 20. Picture was a little darker and nicer-looking. The colors were still a little off, so I went to that setting that’s on every TV and no one ever touches – Tint. I shifted the Green/ Red ratio from 50/50 to 60/40. Now we’re talking. After some more brightness and contrast tweaking, the picture was near-perfect, easily rivaling the plasma.

One thing I noticed even after getting the colors right was that the game still looked really pixelated. Turns out, it’s not the TV – it’s just the game running at 720p and being annoying. Not much I can do to fix that (except play a PC game instead *ba-dum tssshh*), but a method of doing a sort of “fake anti-aliasing” is turning the sharpness down just enough so the pixelated edges smooth out a bit. In the end, it’s probably more worth having the jaggies, because the textures end up looking muddy (much like FXAA, which indeed just makes everything look like the sharpness was turned down).

All in all, I love this TV, and at this size, it’s hard to beat the price (about $640 after tax at Best Buy). Recommended.

A small update from last night, I actually did end up boosting the gain a tiny bit, and put the tint back to 50/50. Sharpness was brought up to 70, and HDMI Black Levels was set to Normal (lighter blacks) instead of Low (darker blacks). Normally, darker black levels are a good thing, but in this case, it was making the picture far too dark and forcing me to over-compensate on the brightness. Gamma was boosted all the way up to +3, and brightness brought down. Looks pretty clean now, but there’s still a grittiness to the image sometimes that isn’t there on the plasma. I’m thinking the plasma might have some kind of automatic noise reduction that is activated when displaying a resolution lower than 1080p. Fortunately, it’s only sometimes when there is fast motion. It’s faint, not annoying, and something I can easily get used to. The LED has its pros and cons and sometimes, it looks better than the plasma. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s still worth having a 50″ TV in my room that I paid under $700 for.

UPDATE 2/2/14: The picture is perfect now. Just had to keep fiddling with settings over time and put it through its paces.

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~ by The Retro Gamer on January 29, 2014.

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