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With so many big screens with similar model names in its massive flat TV range these days, you could be forgiven for not even noticing that Samsung has now added the LE52F96BD to its big-screen offering. But this would be a mighty shame, for the reality is that this TV is anything but ‘more of the same' from the Korean mega-brand. In fact, it's arguably the most revolutionary LCD TV that's so far passed through our doors. Honestly; we're not just exaggerating in some desperate bid to keep you reading right to the end of the review (for a change?!). Its genuinely ground-breaking nature is just a simple fact, no more, no less.
Essentially, it's all about the backlight. Now when you put it like this, I'll grant you that this Samsung's ‘big feature' doesn't sound all that exciting. But maybe if we point out that normal LCD TVs' static, constantly on backlights are responsible for the vast majority of problems LCD technology has with showing video, then you might start to get an inkling of where we're headed.
Take, for instance, normal LCD technology's problems reproducing a convincing black level response. This is largely down to the fact that the need to keep a single backlight shining at all times means that even pixels that should be dark end up with a bit of the backlight creeping into them, resulting in the greying over effect we so commonly talk about in our reviews.
The always-on stationary backlight also has a negative impact on the presentation of motion. For the fact that the light can't ‘scan' like good old CRT technology means moving images are presented as a series of static frames rather than truly fluid, a situation that causes blur since your eye's natural response is to track the average motion from one frame to the next.
As you've probably started to suss from everything we've said so far, the big trick of the LE52F96BD is that it addresses such backlight-related issues head on, by completely doing away with the solitary, constant backlight approach. Instead it lights its pixels using an array of LED backlights, all individually controllable.
The advantages of this approach are immediately clear. For instance, black levels should be much deeper, since LED-driven screens can completely remove light from dark picture areas, stopping the potential for light seepage to cause unwanted greyness. In fact, Samsung claims the LED system allows the LE52F96BD to produce a jaw-dropping - or should that be eyebrow-raising! - contrast ratio of 500,000:1.
What's more, having an array of controllable lights opens up the possibility of recreating the scanning effect so key to CRT's immaculate handling of motion. And as a final ‘bonus' benefit, LED light sources tend to produce a noticeably wider, richer colour palette than standard lamp types.