To maintain a standard across our review units, we calibrated the Samsung ES8000 with Datacolor's Spyder3TV Home Theater Color Calibration kit prior to our visual tests. This is to ensure we assess the HDTV based on optimal display settings and not on visual estimation alone. Using the TV's Standard preset, we've also disabled all the necessary enhancement features.
Here are the recommended picture settings after calibration - Brightness: 48, Contrast: 98, Color: 50 and Tint: G49 R51. Black and white luminance levels are measured at 0.141cd/m2 and 371.828cd/m2 respectively. These figures are very close to the TV's native values, which shows that Samsung's engineers have taken great care in getting the picture settings right with minimal deviations as possible. Sony's HX855, another edge-lit set with similar dynamic backlighting technology to Samsung's, garnered a black and white luminance reading of 0.020cd/m2 and 84.159cd/m2. The Bravia has a superior black depth in comparison, but Samsung's white luminance is much brighter. Typically, brighter backlights would produce a picture with greater detail. However, too much of it may result in washed-out images and poor black levels as well. We'll see how the Series 8 holds up during our DisplayMate and video tests.
DisplayMate is an application which generates a sequence of test patterns to determine the capabilities of imaging devices, like color, uniformity, and gray-scale accuracies for example. For our tests, we've hooked up the Samsung ES8000 to our display test-bed system via a HDMI connection. Similar to our calibration setup, we have also disabled all visual enhancements on the TV to reduce the variables involved. Here are some of our findings.
|Dark Screen||Minor backlight bleeds are evident when the vertical viewing angle is raised. To enjoy the deepest blacks on this TV, we'd recommend sitting 'dead-center' in front of the panel.|
|Screen Uniformity||We did not detect any irregularities on brighter test patterns, but minor degrees of clouding were observed on the darker backgrounds.|
|Dark Gray Scale||The ES8000 was able to highlight the darker gray tones well. Samsung's panel was also adept at shadow detailing, judging by its ability to render the darker grays. Blacks could be deeper though.|
|Color Scales||Color gradations were excellent on the ES8000, except for the display's abrupt darkening characteristics towards the last two bands. Horizontal viewing angle is laudable too. They're good up to 80 degrees off-center.|
|256-Intensity Level Color Ramp||Near perfect gradients were observed, except for minor compression issues detected on the mid to darker bands. Color accuracy on the white, red, green, and blue bands were commendable as well.|
IDT's HQV Tests (on Blu-ray) are designed to assess image quality and handling of digital displays through a variety of video signal processing tasks which includes decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction, and film cadence detection. We've programmed the Blu-ray player to playback in 1080i to test the TV's de-interlacing capabilities. Here are the results we noted on some of the more crucial HQV tests:-
|Digital Noise Filtering||Average noise filters. A fair amount of noise grains were still perceptible with the Digital Noise Filter set to High. (Samsung has another MPEG Noise Filter to improve the video quality of MPEG picture clips).|
|Diagonal Filter Test||Diagonal interpolation did not faze the ES8000's video processor, judging by a lack of feathering or jaggies on the rotating bar. Enabling MotionPlus (Samsung's frame interpolation and backlight scanning feature) did not produce any artifacts either.|
|Film Resolution Loss Test||For the TV's inverse telecine properties, the Auto 1 setting worked best in recreating the original 1080p24 pattern from the 1080i60 test clip. However, slight strobing was perceived. The ES8000 is less endowed in this area compared to Sony's HX855.|