52" HD LCD 1980 X 1366 Resolution
Reviewer: Robert Wiley with Jack Burden
The LN52A850 is the newest high end TV in Samsungs Winter 2008/2009 lineup. One of the key feature differences is the new DLNA compliance certification of this TV over the LN52A750. Another big feature difference is the slim 1.9" cabinet housing. It certainly looks sleek on the table stand. The Touch of Color red accents remain on this series. The 120Hz refresh rate (Auto Motion Plus) feature is still present as well. Find out below how we rate all these features (one especially needs be careful with the 120Hz refresh rate).
PICTURE QUALITY RATING: 93/100
Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 13 feet
This scene from 300 shows the excellent definition and rich color of the LN52A850
720p/1080i/1080p Picture Quality: Color information with HD content is vibrant and accurate. Many LCD TVs have the tendency to oversaturate color information but the Samsung LN52A850 displays accurate, realistic colors along with deeply penetrating blacks to produce excellent depth. It's important to note again that the 120Hz (auto motion plus) processing feature needs to be turned off to maximize depth and not introduce a contrived appearance. You will be rewarded by this strategy. Dark Shadow detail in the Blu Ray version of 300 occasionally got oversaturated with blacks losing detail.
Accurate color information is a trademark of this excellent TV as displayed
here in the Blu Ray version of Little Man
Up conversion from 480i and 480p: Processing is excellent on this high end TV. An excellent chip set is one of the upgrades you get when moving up the offering ladder of a brand like Samsung. The processing chip sets did an excellent job with 3:2 pulldown upconversion to native resolution – removing motion artifacts and smoothing images. I was very impressed. Motion lag and some jerkiness does remain as in most LCDs even with the 120Hz processing feature turned on.
HQV Processor Testing: We tested the Samsung TV with the Auto Motion Plus feature (120hz) on. With HD signals there was little to no background noise. During video resolution loss testing the LCDs processor performed superbly. Diagonal Filter tests also yielded excellent processing showing little to no jaggies on the horizontal moving bar test. The LN52A850 has a stellar video processor. The only drawback was during the film resolution loss test, there was slight distortion in the upper right quadrant block of the test screen.
Black Level: Honest black levels characterize this LCD TV. Black levels appear natural and without the haziness which is pervasive of most LCD TVs. This is partly due to the transparent plexiglass outer screen as opposed to a severe anti glare screen. The black levels are nearly plasma like.
Dark Shadow Detail: Blacks can get slightly oversaturated at times blotting out detail – especially with some HD content. Overall, though we liked the tradeoff with dark matter detailing still solid.
Shadow detail was sometimes overpowered by oversaturating blacks
as seen in the hair of Lena Headey in 300
Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: This Samsung TV has excellent viewing angle for an LCD – nearly 120 degrees before degrading contrast.
Motion Lag: As mentioned above there was consistent motion lag and jerkiness with almost any signal and especially when panning side to side. The 120Hz feature does cut down on motion lag but is not recommended for film content.
Exceptions: We recommend turing off the Auto Motion Plus feature when viewing film based content including TV programming. There is a good bit of glare from the gloss screen, but it's a tradeoff we like.
FEATURES RATING: 92/100
Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: Aspect ratio processing and sizing was spot on non-distorted from a variety of input sources. Selection is 16:9, 4:3, Zoom 1, 2, 3.
Inputs: There is plenty of input selection including 3 HDMI inputs, 2 component, one 15 pin D sub (for computer). This TV also adds an Infolink USB port.
Aesthetic Considerations: The LN52A850 is quite attractive at only 1.9" depth its one of the thinnest on the market. The Touch of Color is nice and classy. The bezel frame is a little large for me at 2.75" on top and bottom (of the screen). It can throw off significant glare as our pictures show.
The thumb wheel is slick but not fast enough for us.
Remote Control/Menu Functionality: The menu system on the on the LN52A850 has an excellent little tutorial which helps the user understand what each function does. It's a slick looking- transparent menu but the scrolling navigation wheel is not fast to use. It's a little cumbersome when you want to make a quick adjustment. Another negative here is the gloss black remote which shows fingerprints too readily. The remote is backlit but does not have an aspect ratio button on it. The source button controls input selection.
To get to the Auto Motion Plus (120Hz) setting go to: Picture, then scroll down to Picture Options, then scroll down to Auto Motion Plus where you can turn it On or Off using the side arrow keys.
Audio Output: Audio output was excellent from our Dolby Digital Test disc. Volume level was plentiful and sound rich and full at just 35% of capacity. Virtual Surround sound effects also impressed us from the 10W X 10W speakers.
Features: Adding to the large increases in features and functionality of the 750 series such as Home Viewing Gallery or MPEG3 is the 1.9" depth and DLNA compliance (available only through certain devices using certain software. The aesthetics otherwise are very similar as is the menu system.
VALUE RATING: 85/100
At around $2500 this 52" LCD offers a ton of value. It's got a great feature set and picture and the 1.9" depth is a premium feature. This LCD sells at a nice discount to its Sony competition KDL-52XBR6 and just a slight premium to its own brother the Samsung LN52A750. Other price/quality competitors such as the LG 52LG60 and the Sharp LC-52D85U do sell at several hundred dollars discount to this LCD. It's a richly competitive LCD size range with most brands having several models in this important size category. In a crowded field of entries this LCD's strongest point is not its price.
OVERALL RATING: 90.75/100
Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.
Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player, JVC HM-DH40000U HD Video Cassete player, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro, Sencore signal generator.
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