Samsung LA46A950

The Samsung LA46A950 is without a doubt the best LCD television we've seen up until this point and proof that the technology has some fire left in it yet.


8.8
CNET Rating
7.1
User Rating

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CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


Design
Television design has been getting a little silly of late, what with the LG Scarlet's "love hole" and the Sony ZX1's wall-mount bracket in a fetching, scratchy piano-black that no-one will ever see, so it's refreshing to find a TV as understated as Samsung's Series 9. After all, people visit the Louvre for the pictures, not the frames.

But that's not to say that design has come last in the construction of this TV — it's actually quite a stunner, with a faux-carbon fibre finish and a clear plastic trim. While it's not as slim as the Series 8, it's certainly sturdier with a solid, non-swivelling glass stand.

Our only gripe is with the on-board controls, they are impossible to see under most lighting conditions. Unless you have a light shining directly on them — which is a no-no for television viewing — you won't be able to find them. They are of the capacitive type, but will light up when you ... erm, rub the area.

The remote is quite chunky, and with a decent smattering of friendly buttons. While controlling some of the network and streaming functions isn't always that obvious it's quite useful in most respects. We especially like the Previous Channel button for cycling easily between two channels.

Features
While this isn't the first LED-backlit TV, the 70-inch, AU$70,000 behemoths from Samsung and Sony didn't make that much of a dent on the market, only selling four between them. But it's an exciting feature as it allows better colours and better blacks at the same time.

The panel itself is a 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution LCD, and the backlighting contributes to the hyperbolic 2,000,000 to one(!) dynamic contrast ratio. Suspicious numbers aside, the black levels on this TV are very fine indeed.

Like the Series 8 before it, you get a generous four HDMI ports, and an Ethernet port for streaming weather information and media content from a DLNA server (a PC or NAS unit).

If that's not enough you can also connect USB devices like MP3 players or memory keys, and choose from a large selection of content on-board, which includes children's stories, illustrated recipes and even games. You don't even need to connect an antenna to get entertainment from this device, but if you must, there's also an EPG-compliant, high-definition tuner on-board as well.

Performance
We'll put this out there: if you're looking for a plasma-like picture without the associated burn-in problems then the Series 9 Samsung is the king. In fact, because this TV doesn't have the light bleed or off-axis discolouration problems of other LCDs, we think you could fool most people — experts included — into believing this was a plasma TV.

The LA46A950 is Samsung's flagship LCD and for the price it's very compelling, especially when considering that Sony's competing model is AU$1,500 more expensive and boasts many of the same features, and is doubtlessly the same panel.

Standard definition was a tale of two outcomes — while the TV failed our synthetic tests, it did well with our usual barrage of movie content. To elaborate further, the Samsung had real problems with "jaggies" — even after upscaling the test DVD. While enabling DCDi on our Marantz DV6001 player, it cleaned up the image straight away, but this is hardly the point.

However, watching King Kong was an engaging experience. Even without NR turned on, the MPEG noise in this movie was much reduced. Although, one thing did strike us during some of the darker scenes — the high-contrast coating is very reflective. You'll want to watch this TV with the lights off — not a point we usually make with LCDs, which usually do better in bright rooms. While the screen boosts black levels, we found it does also "flatten" them a little, meaning that some detail in dark areas can be lost. But the end result was so impressive — and certainly on par with typically softer plasma — that it didn't really matter.

A lot of the televisions we've seen recently have tended to be over-sharpened out of the factory, and what this does is create false levels of detail. This tactic is usually employed to make the set stand out when sitting on the shop floor, but it can make the picture look garish and noisy in your living room. As a result, we had to fiddle with the Samsung's "sharpness" controls to rein in the Mission Impossible III Blu-ray's tendency for graininess — even in Movie mode. Once we did that, the picture was vibrant and three-dimensional.

Off-axis performance was generally good — especially for an LCD — with only a minimal dulling of colours when you sit off to the size. There certainly wasn't any of the strange psychedelic effects other LCD polarising screens can give off-axis. The backlighting, however, was seamless, and only during very high contrast screens (white on black) was there a faint ghosting around the image, and only when viewed from an extreme angle.

The on-board tuner was capable and provided smear-free images, and the deep black levels brought out the best in Ten's afternoon HD documentaries. The complementary EPG is also easy to use, though a little slow to update.

Our only disappointment with this TV is a relatively minor one when you consider how magnificent the picture can be: media streaming still has a way to go. We had a lot of problems with Samsung's "DLNA" program, finding it hard to use and laboriously slow — and then it didn't even work! Eventually we had some success with streaming once we enabled sharing on Windows Media Player 11. But even then the TV's interface was slow and hard to navigate. If you have a PlayStation 3 or even a media centre then we'd suggest sticking with them.

Internet connectivity is still a bit of a gimmick, and we wouldn't buy this telly simply for that. Its LED backlighting is the star here, and it's what makes this TV worth every single cent. While you can get plasmas with an equivalent picture for cheaper, this is currently the best LCD television you can buy.

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alok69 posted a comment   
India

I agree completely. It is so bad in India that Samsung service engineers / technicians are running sort of "mafia" where they thrive on the poor customer service centre

 

Tony T posted a comment   

I spent 40 minutes on hold waiting to speak to a Samsung customer support person. After explaining my LCD television had been at their authorised (contracted) service rep for last 18 days and previous assurances the TV would be ready were broken, the Samsung customer rep asked whether i had taken the issue up with the service rep (yes of course i had). He then implied it was my responsibilility to tackle the service rep. When asked whether Samsung Australia had any opinion about the delay and failed assurances, the customer rep was silient. He then asked whether i would like Samsung to contact the service rep on my behalf and enquire as to the status of the TV. I said I would like Samsung to do whatever it thought was best in terms of customer service but I did not want Samsung to anything it would not normally do. The customer rep then asked again whether i would like Samsung to enquire on my behalf as the status of the TV (which was being repaired under warranty).

Any organisation that needs to be prodded to intervene in cases such as the above (i.e. after the customer has already tackled an authorised service rep the best he can only to be continually stone walled) is not worthy of brand loyalty.

Samsung after sales service is severely lacking.

 

JoeP posted a comment   

The Good:excellent picture quality

The Bad:DLNA & Samsung customer service

Excellent picture quality, if you guys try to stream HD video content over a network - forget it, it won't work, also has resizing issues.
Samsung technical support and VOC area are completely dysfunctional and run by a bunch of uneducated ratbags

hudson
7
Rating
 

hudson posted a review   

The Good:good price, easy setup

The Bad:Picture,100mhz is dodgy as

So i got this tv to replace my 2 year old samsung plasma, if i didnt get it at the work discount price i probarly wouldnt have brought it. Overall Pic in the shop was different to what i got at home checked cables settings pics good but i wouldnt say great.I only had the tv for 2 days when it would switch on and off by itself i took batteries from remote and yep still did it for about a week then stopped.I think the 100mhz thing is aload of BS i dont notice difference with it on or off.I have a new generation blu ray player as well pic is still the same,ive had a tech look at the tv and said it was fine went back to the store compared the pic asked the consultant said no difference between the two and that i was probarly expecting too much,

Amigatek
9
Rating
 

Amigatek posted a review   

The Good:Best Picture EVER, Heaps of Features, Low Power Usage 5 out of 6 Rating.

The Bad:Remote a little slow, some reflection from Crystal Design.

I bought LA55A950 the 55" inch Model from JB-HIFI at an excellent price. I have owned this TV for many months now and the first thing I have to say is, What a Fantastic Picture it produces, I mean its a WOW! factor in the 1080 or 720 mode. It has all the features one would want and adjustments to color and picture quality. It is well built, strong and solid. I can only expect that the next model after the 9 Series will be thinner, lighter and cheaper built. The 9 Series is an excellent built TV with FULL Direct LED Backlight, the Whites are the BEST ever seen and the Blacks are GREAT!!..When you are watching a 1080P picture it is so sharp and clear it almosts looks like 3D TV. I highly recommend it!. However, there is one problem I found when buying these TV's is Q.C. (Quality Control). The first one we received had old firmware, was not calibrated correctly and had dead pixels. After calibrating it, it was fantastic but I hated dead pixels so we returned it.
The second one we got had new firmware and calibrated OK but a terrible looking picture even in 1080P, it was shocking, and if I had not seen the first one I would have thought the picture acceptable and would have wondered why all the hype, which is why you hear other people complaining about what they saw in the shop to what they received!. I quickly returned it and demanded for another one. The third one I have now is Q.C. Pass! and gives the sharpest picture for what it is well known for!. If you get a good one you will not be disappointed.
This is why you get so many people loving or hating it not all made with highest Q.C. However, if you find a Good One Never Let It GO!.. RATE 9/10

TV Dude
9
Rating
 

TV Dude posted a review   

The Good:Picture and Pebble

The Bad:Remote

Awesome TV... Seems the closer you sit, the better the picture.
Oh, and now that it is a little older, managed to get it for $2000.

Pablojo
2
Rating
 

Pablojo posted a review   

The Good:Looked great in the shop, and thats where I took it back!

The Bad:Worse picture than my old TV, Response time on every remote function was ridiuclously slow. DLNA a joke

MY purchase of this TV was long awaited and anticipated from all the positive reviews on cnet and else where.
Unfortunately my expectations for this TV were not met. Had a great picture from my old 40" Samsung across all inputs including Foxtel and FTA. After plugging in the LA46A950 I was surprised by how bad the picture was, even DVD was ordinary. Viewing from any angle other than directly front on was another big issue. Also had constant freezing and the response delays when moving through chanels and functions is just not acceptable for a TV in this price range. Luckily I know the guy I bought it from so took it back!
I think they have a number of issues to iron out before you could rate this the best LCD on the market!

 

hennabob posted a comment   

The Good:the picture is immaculate

The Bad:the remote response time and general user interface leaves a lot to be desired and the usb port only reads flash drives not external hard drives

I bought this unit from Greys online based on the above reviews after a lot of department store tire kicking. I scored it for under $3K which was great but i'll review it based on retail.
The inbuilt content is pretty much a watse of time, a nice thought for the future but it's pretty much a slide show you could make with jpgs from the internet. The biggest flaw is the remote reponse time which can leave you waiting for up to 4 seconds for it to change channel or input source, and there is no on screen hold that allows you to move up and down between options, you have to click up, wait till it loads the next channel/input then click again.

Frustrating as this is it has been a month and I still forgive it all for the resulting picture quality. There really is nothing out there that gives you the resonance of that screen. I run my PC and XBox through it at HiDef and it is mesmerizing.

If you have the patience I recommend the purchase.

 

MattyGK166 posted a reply   
Australia

The Wiselink port will read Ext USB Hard drive so long as they are FAT32 format.

You can even convert using freeware a NTFS 2TB HD into FAT32 and it will work.

HTH

 

PHAROHBENDER posted a comment   

The Good:DLNA WORKS A TREAT CONNECTED TO LAN CABLE

The Bad:NO SWIVEL, SCREEN REFLECTION

didnt have any problems with dlna, installed software and activated the tv via share, set device property no need for media player 11??? wtf anyway samsung software works perfectly on my virtual machinces as well, foxtel alittle crapy connected via rca but need to get upgraded soon. usb connectivity is awsome as well, tv a little slow to respond but that is to be expected its loading menus and data so i dont mind 3-5 secs ;), happy with hd tv, not happy with sd or anolouge picture the 100mhz makes it look like alittle weird, like someone has just shot the movie with a hd camera - dizzy looks awsome and bad at the same time speakers could be better but they do the job will save for HT-X810 next purchase for the brilliant samsung tv... meh its better than my previous tv the conia 82cm crt awsome, i would buy another one just for the media capability it has no need for any media center or xbox to stream movies off the pc - that just Fkn Rocks WELL DONE SAMSUNG

 

sedgie posted a comment   

The Good:not broken yet, blacks are good

The Bad:absolute rubbish, poor picture quality, $1500 set in bedroom looks allot better

I bought the 46inch version based on the reviews of CNET, and I am totally/ 100% disastified, the picture quality is shocking, i constantly loose sound, the picture constantly freezes, i have contact pixalation, dont even try to watch AFL, its shocking! The speed is appalling, I also have a 5yr old Fujitsu plasma, and the picture quality on that is so much better.
I wont even start with Samsung's after sales service, they sent a guy out who didnt even know the series 9 had been released, and had NO IDEA on what too do, tried using tghe foxtel remote to turn it on.
If I could return it, i would!


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung LA46A950

  • alok69

    alok69

    "I agree completely. It is so bad in India that Samsung service engineers / technicians are running sort of "mafia" where they thrive on the poor customer service centre"

  • Tony  T

    Tony T

    "I spent 40 minutes on hold waiting to speak to a Samsung customer support person. After explaining my LCD television had been at their authorised (contracted) service rep for last 18 days and previ..."

  • JoeP

    JoeP

    "Excellent picture quality, if you guys try to stream HD video content over a network - forget it, it won't work, also has resizing issues.
    Samsung technical support and VOC area are complete..."

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