Samsung LE52F96BD review

This new backlight system itches to give traditional LCD tech its marching orders

Samsung LE52F96BD
This LCD TV gets mightily close to the subterranean black level delights of Pioneer's Kuro plasmas

TechRadar Verdict

This outstanding TV offers a jaw-dropping glimpse at the future of LCD technology


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    Clever LED technology

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    Excellent HD pictures

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    Amazing black levels

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    Sleek styling


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    Restrictive viewing angle

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    Dodgy standard-def pictures

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Welcome to the future. In one audacious move, this 52in beauty vanquishes the two thorns in LCD's side – resolution loss over moving objects, and grey-looking dark areas. Samsung's LED debut, the LE52F96BD, is here – and it's brown trousers time for plasma.

But how does the LE52F96BD achieve this miracle? This innovative giant does away with established LCD thinking by chucking away the old single backlight and replacing it with an array of individually controllable LED light sources.

This enables it to also completely deactivate lights in dark parts of the picture, thus revolutionising black level response.

Samsung's LCD stunner

Samsung claims an unbelievable contrast ratio of 50,000:1 for the LE52F96BD. Compare this with the 'mere' 20,000:1 of Pioneer's ground breaking Kuro plasma TVs, and you can see how exciting LED technology has the potential to be.

It's tempting to dive straight in and discover just how much of a difference LED's UK debut makes to picture quality, but there are a few other basics we need to cover first. For starters, it looks amazing; utterly resplendent in black.

The connections are on the money too. Three v1.3 HDMIs (meaning they're compatible with the Deep Colour HD format) lead the charge, joined by component video input, PC connectivity and a USB2.0 jack for MP3/JPEG playback.

The LED backlighting is far from the only feature for boosting picture quality. Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine is included for improving colour tones and saturations, motion handling, black levels and detail, as is Movie Plus for interpolating extra frames into the picture in a bid to further boost motion handling.

Vibrant pictures

Unleashed on a Blu-ray disc of Pirates of the Caribbean, it's swiftly apparent that LED is not only here to stay, but might also one day become the only LCD lighting system.

Black level response is astonishing: we've never seen such rich, credible blacks from an LCD TV during the Black Pearl's night-time assault. Although we have doubts about the real-world reliability of the 50,000:1 contrast ratio claim, it's true to say that there's practically zero greyness to be seen. This LCD TV gets mightily close to the subterranean black level delights of Pioneer's Kuro plasmas – some accolade.

Colours are also remarkable, enjoying a vibrancy and, especially, a range of hue that's simply beyond normal LCD backlight technology. Needless to say this works a treat on making our test film's Caribbean setting look even more tantalising.

When it comes to sharpness and detailing, basic fine detail levels from the 1920 x 1080 panel are great in themselves. But the general sense of clarity is further enhanced by the way the LED light allows the Black Pearl's ghostly crew to charge about causing havoc in the fort with only the mildest trace of motion lag.

See the future

As amazing as the LE52F96BD is, there is room for improvement. For instance, standard definition looks a bit scuzzier than we'd like, with some exaggerated noise and waxy skin tones. Also, you don't have to watch from too great an angle before the set starts to severely lose contrast.

But, if you sit right in front of it and feed it an HD diet, the LE52F96BD is a real glimpse of the future, and has to count as one of the finest technology debuts ever.

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