Other TV Brands
Samsung LE-37 A 557
The Samsung LE-37 A 557 TV is a 37"(94 cm) LCD flat-panel television and boasts full HDTV resolution. It has been available since spring 2008 and retails for just about 1,450 GBP.
Florian Friedrich, March 12, 2008
- Watching full resolution HDTV or multimedia material is fun even though the screen size is just 37".
- Punchy pictures result from the broad contrast range.
- Color correction can be applied in the finest of detail through the comprehensive range of adjusters.
- The Samsung has difficulty with cinematic 24p picture material and renders it sluggishly.
- The built-in loudspeakers deliver poor quality sound - an external AV-receiver is definitely required for sound improvement.
The Samsung LE-37 A 557 is very convincing with superb contrast and excellent HDTV representation despite its minor foibles. The Korean manufacturer does not only prove itself in terms of optical appeal; its resourceful engineers have managed to surprise us again with their sophisticated technology. This time, they have created an LCD flat-panel television with an exceptional contrast range and fine-tuning possibilities.
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Incredible Contrast Range:
The full HD panel, with its 1920 x 1080 pixels, has an incredible contrast range. In the laboratory, the maximum contrast ratio was an impressive 1,900:1 which, for LCD technology, is a mighty achievement. Even outside the laboratory in the customary living room surroundings, light objects displayed on a dark background stand out exceptionally well. However, the contrast reduces drastically when viewing the screen off-center, which is a typical and an inherent characteristic of LCD televisions.
"Cinema Plus" Software:
The video electronics ensure that motion is rendered without judder, and creates an almost three-dimensional effect. Video improvement software codenamed "Cinema Plus" can be regulated in several steps and calculates between-frame images, which sometimes introduce artifacts in the form of pixel clouds around motion objects - an effect that takes some getting used to!
Equipped with both analog and DVB-T digital tuners, the Samsung is on the same level as modern flat-panel televisions. If wishing to receive analog cable TV and digital DVB-T transmissions simultaneously, then an additional adapter is required that is readily available from suitably equipped specialty stores. Samsung, as with so many other flat-panel television manufacturers, only provides one built-in antenna interface.
Good choice of connectivity options:
3x HDMI, 2x Scart (including S-Video), YUV, standard (composite) video, digital audio (optical) and VGA for the home computer. In addition, the television engineers have installed a USB input for the playback of MP3 material or JPG formatted high resolution pictures.
The television engineers have also integrated a function called "Blue Only Mode" from more professional monitors for optimized color adjustment. This function, activated through the screen menu, displays only the blue channel of any given picture. Precise tuning of the color saturation levels is then easily accomplished with the aid of test pictures, such as those from the Peter Finzel Test Disk, or with the THX Optimizer available on many THX certified DVDs.
Remote Control and Screen Menu:
Zappers will love the response in analog mode as a mere 1.5 seconds are required to switch between channels. The response in digital mode, however, is a little on the sluggish side as some 3 seconds are more typical. Equally dawdling is the channel selection from the list of presets - if not careful, the required program will be skipped as the remote buttons are pressed in the hope of a response.
The overall control of the menu is now much more responsive compared with earlier Samsung models, and the controller itself has undergone some improvements with important functions such as the picture format button now being easily accessible.
TV and DVD Picture Quality
Analog pictures appear bright and the colors look realistic but the fine details are lacking. Texture details of clothing worn by TV presenters or actors dwindle away even if motion is barely discernible. News tickers or fast moving objects, such as those typical of sporting event scenes, are rendered equally slightly blurred.
Above all, keep away from the zoom formats, which magnify 4:3 transmissions and scale them up to the 16:9 format. The result is a saw-tooth patterning observable on the beveled ridge of the human nose, for example, which is a direct consequence of poor resizing and anti-aliasing algorithms.
DVD playback is much better, as the video electronics ensure the picture is flicker-free during camera panning, which can be clearly observed in the deckchairs of our favorite beach scene from the "Six Days, Seven Nights" movie.
Motion rendering can be further improved upon by activating the "Cinema Plus" option via the screen menu. Doing so will make motion sequences and camera tracking shots appear somewhat more three dimensional than usual.
Source images from the Scart-RGB interface are crisp but tend to have a pink color cast which, luckily, can be easily rectified: The highly accurate picture-tuning controls available in the screen menu deliver well balanced color reproduction without unnecessary complication.
HDTV Picture Quality
Impressive HDTV representation:
Colors are harmoniously presented, fine details render crisply and, by LCD standards, a high natural contrast range is achieved that is particularly beneficial when viewing Blu-ray material. There is practically no color casting of gray hues when viewing black and white movie clips, such as those in the opening credits of the James Bond "Casino Royale" movie. Here the Samsung, with its 6,300 Kelvin color temperature, is not too far adrift from the 6,500 Kelvin ideal.
The finest of details are picked out with precision - which is also valid for material played back at 1080i from a set-top box. One must be careful not to be distracted from the movie itself while observing the depth of detail that is present. This is exactly the way the HDTV experience should be.
Nighttime scenes such as the car chase through Montenegro - in the same "Casino Royale" movie - come across particularly well on the Samsung. Compared with other LCD models, the LE-37 A 557 has almost double the contrast range and is exceeded only by the latest plasma sets.
We did find one point in particular that is worth criticism:
The playback of 24p material did not flow as would be expected in the cinema, but rather introduced pauses in regular but unnatural one-second intervals. One solution is to play the movie at 60 Hz, as the typical "pulldown" judder associated with the conversion from the original 24 Hz Blu-ray material is actually less bothersome.
Computer Operation and Sound Quality
The Samsung can hook up to a computer through the analog VGA connector or digitally through the HDMI interface. With the VGA connector, the TV can be used as a computer monitor on older computers. Better results do arise from using the HDMI interface though, as the most intricate of fonts are rendered with crystal clarity, without flicker and the full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixel is available for the content.
Honestly: We at Televisions.com have never seen or heard such a poor sounding television set. If the set is not wall mounted, then there is practically no bass to be heard; and even if the largely rear facing loudspeakers are supported by wall reflections, the resulting sound is still somewhat thin and tarnished. Regardless whether analog or digital, interfacing this set to an external AV receiver with a good loudspeaker system is mandatory - the result will be just so much better.
Settings for the best home-theatre performance*
Color Tone: Warm 2
Size: Just Scan
Digital NR: Off
Movie Plus: Off
Color Space: Auto
Flesh Tone: 0
Black Adjust: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
White Balance: All adjustments set to 25
Edge Enhancement: Off
* applied to realistic playback from HD DVD/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations could necessitate slight adjustment.
Quick Points Summary
Exceptionally rich in contrast: Samsung's latest LE-37 A 557 delivers punchy pictures.
Connectivity enjoyment: The television does not just play back video content but also music (MP3) and photographs (JPG) through the USB interface.
Finally overhauled: The Samsung engineers have optimized the controller for improved operational comfort.
Longing for correction: The picture is rather on the cool side when displaying dark shades.