By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
55-inch LCD HDTVs are the current sweet-spot as home theatre centrepieces today. With prices going down and features from the high end trickling into the midrange, buyers have some great choices for large LCD HDTVs. We spend time with Samsung 650 LCD HDTV.
Samsung's 650 Series 55" inch LCD HDTV (LN55C650) has all the makings of a perfect 55" inch HDTV even if it is an older model. Incorporating Samsung's Apps, Yahoo! Widgets and various Internet applications (which you can access via a wired Ethernet connection) makes this a SmartTV with some set top box functionality including Netflix.
Connectivity options abound and are made out of:
- 3 x HDMI (19 pin HDMI Type A) - Rear,
- 1 x HDMI (19 pin HDMI Type A) - Side,
- 1 x Composite video/audio input (RCA phono x 3),
- 2 x Component video input (RCA phono x 3) - Rear,
- 2 x USB (4 pin USB Type A) - Side,
- 1 x Network (RJ-45) - Rear,
- 1 x VGA input (15 pin HD D-Sub (HD-15)) - Rear
It is relatively slim and thin and incorporates a number of key performance and connectivity features. Our first impression was that this set was incredibly bright. Credit this to the CCFL backlight which manages to give an evenly lit and bright picture even during daylight.
In terms of aethetics and design, the Samsung 650 Series is understated yet elegant. The screen is 3.4" inches thin and features Samsung's Touch of Colour feature which accentuates the border of the HDTV with a slight red glow (most visible at night). The usual shiny black plastic on the front bezel is overlayed with transparent glass accents. The base, which supports the 62 lbs weight, is made of up this glass material and sets this HDTV apart from the sea of typical, shiny black enclosures from competing models
Battery of tests
Having a 55" inch HDTV in the centre of one's home theatre set up requires some adjustment in terms of space as 12 foot viewing distance is optimal. Thankfully, we had already rearranged our area to accomodate our XBox and its Kinect controller so very little had to be done aside from moving the couch further back.
Speaking of Kinect, we found the Samsung 650 Series to be the perfect companion to this immersive gaming experience. Certain games, like bowling and track and field on Kinect Sports . Gaming on the Samsung is simply splendid as it plays back 1080p HD games with great contrast and no discernible lag or pixelation during action sequences.
Split screen multiplayer games like racing titles or the exhausting Kinect boxing game really benefit from the large screen.
Aside from gaming, we watched a number of HD sports broadcasts on the Samsung 650. After experiencing soccer, basketball, wrestling (we know, its not a sport, but it is entertaining) and hockey games in HD, on a screen this size, makes it terribly difficult to go back to anything smaller. You see so much more detail and can truly appreciate the live action as well as the slow motion replays.
Blu-Ray movies such as the mind-bending classic Memento and action-packed SALT looked spectacular on the Samsung 650 55" inch HDTV. While the video was generally outstanding, well balanced and saturated, the audio loudness was a bit dicey. The built-speakers are not bad but seem to lack loudness and punch so it is preferable to hook this up to a sound system for a better audio-video experience.
The Samsung 650 55" inch HDTV was also connected to an AppleTV, a PlayStation 3 and a Rogers Cable box and performed well with each of these sources. The AppleTV was quite a surprise as this was the biggest HDTV we used with Apple's set top box and the quality and clarity of the images was surprisingly crisp and we thoroughly enjoyed watching trailers to upcoming movies.
Samsung's 650 Series 55"-inch HDTV is not the latest and greatest large-screen set around, it lacks Wi-Fi connectivity out of the box ( you can buy a dongle for this purpose) but it is a great all-around HDTV that combines large size with a bright and clear picture.
With this HDTV you can check the weather at AccuWeather.com. Keep up on breaking news at The Associated Press. Manage your Netflix queue. Tweet on Twitter. Stream custom radio from Pandora. And we're just getting started. Fire up the LN55C650's whopping 55" of LCD and browse content from other providers, like YouTube, Flickr, Blockbuster, USA TODAY, Vudu, the Travel Channel, Rovi and more as Samsung pushes new appliactions to its devices.
The HDTV's LCD's 120Hz Clear Motion technology makes for great playback. Movies and tv content is filmed at different speeds: movies at 24 frames-per-second, and TV at 30fps. Samsung has equipped the LN55C650 with 120Hz playback technology. Clear Motion 120Hz is able to reproduce content at 120fps, a multiple of 24, 30, and 60. As a result, movies and television can be played back smoothly and naturally without unwanted artifacts and that's where this HDTV really shines.
This is probably the best large screen HDTV you can get today for under $1500.
Rating: 4 out of 5