Samsung Series 5 LCD TV - Why So Series?

Launch SRP: S$1399

Cosmetics & Features

Design

Be prepared for some light assembly work before you rock with this set. Essentially, you'll need to piece together the rectangular base and guide-stand to bring it up to speed. The C550 is a smite heavy due to its glass furnishings, so take extra care. For wall attachments, plug in the "blanking bracket" below before attaching the panel to the wall mount kit.

Unlike the other contenders from the same affordable league, the Series 5 might just pass off as a premium model, all credit to Samsung's rose-colored Crystal Design. Other subtle additions include a row of touch-sensitive controls and glass spine to augment its lavish vibes. Since this model is powered by CCFL backlights, don't expect any razor slim form factors like the Series 9 or C9000 LED model. Then again, we have to say that the C550 is relatively thin for a conventional display at 80mm. 

Assembling the panel and stand is fundamentally a one-man job. Keep a large cross-tip screwdriver handy since this TV tends to wobble if the holding screws aren't fastened tightly enough. Be sure to put that adjustable cable tie to good use.

You've got to hand it to the Koreans. They know how to make a simple device look expensive. Dressed in dark crimson hues and a glass-top base, Samsung's Series 5 does stand out from the rest of the nonchalant LCD crowd. You're in luck if you abhor the new "X-shaped" stands since the C550 is using a more conventional rectangular base.

How we love a TV that swivels. We have yet to test out the C550's viewing angles at this stage, but that's of little concern since you get to swing the panel to suit your viewing position. Remember to give the wires some slack.

The C550 swivels, that's a good thing, and it also comes with a wide array of AV goodies for your analog and digital devices. Look behind and you'll find three HDMI and two component outfits. Unlike many budget offerings, Samsung has upped the ante with the inclusion of an Ethernet and USB port as well. In case you need to couple a HDMI cable with a DVI connector, do note that it is only friendly with the "HDMI 1" input. For easy access, the side bar also includes another USB option apart from a composite and HDMI jack.

Let's move on to that control stick. Despite the TV's expensive appearance, the drab remote is a rather stark contrast. However, that doesn't mean the wand isn't practical or functional. Noticeably, Samsung has since thrown that rotary-dial design out of the window. In its place is a more conventional and usable directional pad. Dedicated buttons include one for Media Play (more on that later), and another to call up programme schedules provided by broadcasters, otherwise known as EPG (Electronic Programme Guide).

It's true that the "analog sunset" mandate isn't too far away, but rest assured this TV has both analog and digital connectors to cover your AV needs. Pay close attention and you'll spot an Ethernet and USB input as well. Sweet.

Samsung says, plug your portable AV peripherals here. The C550 extends a HDMI, USB and Composite connector at the side panel, and they are also easily accessible compared to LG's recessed design found on some of their recent HDTV models.

Samsung has gone back to the drawing board to engineer a more practical albeit less appealing remote wand. Notice the basic directional keys instead of a rotary dial. Controls for Anynet+ devices are placed below, whilst other dedicated buttons such as Media (for Media Play) and Guide (for EPG) makes a nice sweetener.

Features

Samsung might have slightly tweaked the color scheme of the interface, but its overall design remains more or less the same. After hitting "Menu" on the remote, simply scroll up or down to toggle between the TV's display, sound, and other options. Four picture presets are available; namely Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie. We'd recommend sticking with Movie or Natural mode should you prefer less intense colors and harsh backlights.

The Series 5 boasts of an "Eco Sensor" so if you tend to leave the TV on all day long, then you might want to consider engaging its "Eco" solution with adaptive brightness perks. The equation is simple. Dimmer backlights yield a lesser power draw, which equates to a lesser shock when viewing your utility bills.

Moving on, we also found a number of advanced tweaks to keep the enthusiast happy. They include black tone adjustments, HDMI black levels, white balance controls and edge enhancements, just to name a few.  Do you hate trawling through input selections? If your answer is yes, then we're happy to be harbingers of positive tidings. The C550 detects and highlights active AV inputs. Aside from that, the Series 5 has other noteworthy features such as Media Play, which allows you to read multimedia content from USB drives or networked devices, as well as a DLNA perk dubbed as "AllShare". Prior to activating AllShare, however, be sure to connect the TV to your home network (via the Ethernet port) should you wish to exploit its wireless streaming features.  

 The TV and PC inputs are perpetually there, but notice how the HDMI2 selection is highlighted above the rest. Hint - our Blu-ray deck is plugged into the HDMI2 port. This active input detection should save you some finger work.

To be honest, we were rather surprised to find a DLNA feature or "AllShare", as dubbed by Samsung, on this budget piece. To view compatible DLNA devices, simply hook the TV up to your home network. Needless to say, ensure they are on the same subnet while you're at it.

Media Play is a simple platform designed to playback media files either from your USB drive or home network. The C550 supports video codecs such as DivX and MP4, but not AVCHD.

 
 

8.5
Design
9
HD Performance
9
SD Performance
8
Features
9
Value
8.5
The Good
Extensive AV connectors
DLNA support
Impressive HD performance
The Bad
Average standard definition reproduction