Samsung LA46M81BDX LCD TV

The Samsung LA46M81BDX is a 46 inch LCD screen with magnificent black levels and a fine picture but it's not the final word on detail.


7.9
CNET Rating
7.9
User Rating

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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


No-one likes a format war. No-one. And just when we thought we found a winner between LCD and plasma, Samsung go and bugger it all up. The Koreans have attempted to not only up-end the apple cart, but shoot the horse and ride away on the grocer with their new range of LCD screens. The LA46M81BDX is one of these.

Samsung may have used a clumsy simile when they said this range was "like a fine bottle of wine" -- because old bottles get better with age instead of being replaced by new ones -- but they sure do have an excellent TV in this 46-incher.

Design
Similar in looks to Samsung's own R8, but less triangular, the LA46M81BDX (or M8 for short) features a rounded design with a piano-gloss finish. The only problem with this design is that it attracts dust like nothing else, and we couldn't find a cleaning cloth in the package -- as some manufacturers kindly supply. Along the bottom of the TV runs what appears to be a Perspex strip, as featured on the R8, but it is instead a subtle metallic -- and therefore slightly reflective -- bar. Very classy.

Users with a large living space will appreciate the swivel base which swings through 30 degrees, and can make watching easier no matter where you are in the room. For added convenience, Samsung also offers a motorised, wall-mounted swivel for an extra AU$900.

The remote control is the same one we've seen previously. It's a decent unit, and includes a backlight button which illuminates the channel and volume buttons. Given that most people now have their own sound systems and sources it would have been nice for the Source button to be illuminated as well.

Features
The M8 is a full 1080p set, and to complement this it comes with an HD tuner. No more messing around with analog, as in the case of last year's S7 series. Samsung's Super Clear Panel technology has seen the dynamic contrast ratio raised to 15,000:1, a significant increase on that of last year's crop. This has resulted in almost pitch-black blacks rather than the slightly murky versions we saw on the 6,000:1 LA40F7.

This TV is one of the few which includes a full three HDMI sockets; two of these are at the rear, and one on the side. This last one is particularly good for short-term connections such as a camcorder or an HDMI-equipped laptop like the Dell XPS M1330.

Like its plasma brother, the Q9, the M8 offers a number of configuration options, including the ability to alter MPEG noise levels and judder issues. However, as we found with the plasma, the proprietary Movie Plus Imaging Engine is pretty bad at resolving most content (as it seems to have been designed for NTSC and makes anything else a jerky mess) and is best turned off. One of the other many configuration options includes enabling black level control for HDMI -- with a choice of Normal and Low. Based on our testing Normal was best -- Low made everything "blacker" but at the expense of detail.

Performance
One common problem the LCDs of the last 12 months have exhibited is a cloudiness, or an inconsistency in the backlighting. This is particularly evident when the screen is black -- this is when the screen appears blotchy as the backlight shines more brightly through in some areas than others. The Samsung, along with the Sharp we saw earlier this year, doesn't have this problem and is consistently lit across the screen.

During testing we found that the M8 behaved more like a plasma than an LCD with a more "filmic" and less "analytical" picture. Viewed side-by-side against the R8 panel, and using the HD tuners onboard both sets, there was a certain softness to the M8, especially with skin -- freckles and wrinkles were much clearer on the cheaper model. Even with the Sharpness control jacked all the way to maximum, there was still less detail in the M8. It would seem as though the designers have sacrificed sharpness for absolute black levels.

However, colour is very good, with a touch of an emphasis on red and blue, but this has the effect of making the picture more vibrant. High definition images via the HDMI input are best served, and a Blu-ray disk such as Mission Impossible III delivers plenty of skin detail on close-ups, but we also noticed a little more digital noise than we liked. We hate to admit it, but the R8 was better here, too.

The Samsung LA46M81BDX is the cheapest 46-inch LCD we've seen yet, and as it's also full HD it also gains points on equivalently sized plasmas (think 50-inch). In terms of absolute detail, this isn't the TV to buy -- Samsung's own R series looks to be the sweet spot for image quality versus financial outlay, even if they're not full 1080p. Yet, that's not to discount the abilities of the M8: it will do full HD, with an amazing amount of black, and displays an even hand with most sources whether standard or high definition.



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adm posted a comment   

samsung **** my 46" lcd started the clicking and take hours and hours to turn on.
Sony or Panasonic have been proven to be the most reliable, pay the extra few bucks and buy them.

 

kendall posted a comment   

Samsung is pathetic and a total rip-off. Bought a 40' and had to have replaced 3 times as base was scratched badly. Never got one that OK, but eventually kept one and was promised an extended warranty would be posted. Never got warranty after chasing manager for 2 years and now TV has big bubble on side and Samsung hasn't done a thing in 6 months. Never buy Samsung.

CNET sucks Samsungs You know what
1
Rating
 

CNET sucks Samsungs You know what posted a review   

The Good:Makes for a nice decoration since it doesn't work

The Bad:Notorious clicking sound

After just 2 1/2 years our 40' Samsung no longer works. Although Samsung has admitted to a known defect with its capacitors, they refuse to address the problem free of charge. Equally outrageous are these types of informative websites which are not informative at all. Samsung is a shameful company which treats its customers rudely. I, like everyone else, will never purchase another Samsung. I would also suggest that CNET do a some homework and post something a little more objective.

Adam
4
Rating
 

Adam posted a review   

The Good:The high def i found to be quite good

The Bad:Famous clicking.. need i say more

TV was good, was quite happy with paying $2500 for a nice looking well functioning tv until just after the warranty period ended and i got the infamous clicking. Surely SAMSUNG would know by now that their capacitors are pure crap and should invest in putting in the right tools for the job. If it is not a design flaw as they will say (and they will tell you they have the lowest repair of all brands in asia pacific) why is it when under warranty does the technician replace the 10v 1000uF with the 16v ones that everyone says to put in?? So obviously they know the problem exists and they are at fault!!!

manojoze
3
Rating
 

manojoze posted a review   

The Good:Was good when it worked

The Bad:Tend to Fail just towards the end of warrenty

My LCD TV failed twice, , fist time died after 9 mths and Samsung replaced the LCD screen only, and 2'nd time it failed just 2 mths before end of warrenty.
Still waiting for samsung to resolved my issue. Being bounced across many teams, but no resolution after 40 days, warrently only left for 20 more days. I think samsung is stalling me till my warrenty expires.
Will not buy Samsung T.V again.

 

Ronee p posted a comment   

My 14 month Samsung 32 inch lcd wouldnt turn on after we used the sleep timer. The Samsung service people were of no help. We sent it for service and they said it had a bad lcd screen and the cost to replace was more than the cost of a new tv .We paid 700 last year .I am so upset with Samsung that I will never buy another one ..

 

Baffled posted a comment   

How can a reviewer of samsung not pick up any bad feedback from the net. 7.9 out of 10 you must be blind or on samsungs payroll or both

a-nnoyed
1
Rating
 

a-nnoyed posted a review   

The Good:Nothing, because I now have no picture

The Bad:Clicking noise leads to no picture

I have had my samsung for the last 3 years and now I find that we have no picture we have a clicking noise instead. I would not recommend to buy another samsung TV or or any other Samsung product from reading the articles on the web regarding their service or durability of their tvs.

I bought a samsung for the look rather than the brand. I have been totally dudded and to say that i am annoyed is an understatement. My tv cost $2000

maltyful
1
Rating
 

maltyful posted a review   

Put "Samsung tv clicking" into a google search and read about how they burn out and turn to TOAST just after their warranty's expire (all models).
Read how thousands of Samsung customers are told more or less by Samsung customer service YOUR OUT OF LUCK SUCKER.
Do the searches so YOU won't be the next "Samsung Sucker".

jon
1
Rating
 

jon posted a review   

The Good:non

The Bad:lots

I agree samsung sucks.
They came to fix my tv and left it in a even more broken state.

AVOID THEM LIKE A PLAGUE!!!!!


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung LA46M81BDX LCD TV

  • adm

    adm

    "samsung **** my 46" lcd started the clicking and take hours and hours to turn on.
    Sony or Panasonic have been proven to be the most reliable, pay the extra few bucks and buy them."

  • kendall

    kendall

    "Samsung is pathetic and a total rip-off. Bought a 40' and had to have replaced 3 times as base was scratched badly. Never got one that OK, but eventually kept one and was promised an extended warra..."

  • CNET sucks Samsungs You know what

    CNET sucks Samsungs You know what

    Rating1

    "After just 2 1/2 years our 40' Samsung no longer works. Although Samsung has admitted to a known defect with its capacitors, they refuse to address the problem free of charge. Equally outrageous ..."

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