We'd expect black levels this good to also help a TV's colours, and so it proves with the LE52F96BD. But that's only part of the story, since as well as enjoying more natural tones even during dark scenes because of the black response, the LED light source also seems to produce markedly richer colours than we're used to seeing from LCD TVs.
Turning next to the potential motion-handling benefit of LED technology, again the LE52F96BD doesn't disappoint. There's noticeably less blur over the swinging swords of King Leonidas' men during the HD DVD of 300 than we'd normally see, for instance.
It has to be said that LED technology doesn't suddenly make LCD motion completely perfect; there's still a sense that some resolution is lost where objects pass across the screen. But it's certainly a heck of an improvement.
It's pleasing to note, too, that nothing about the LED system appears to detract from the picture's general sharpness. The 52in screen revels in eking every last drip of fine detail from quality HD moments like, well, pretty much anything on the BBC's Planet Earth, as recorded onto a Sky HD box.
So how come, you're probably wondering, the score for picture at the top of this review only reads a 9, not a 10? There are a number of small reasons. First and worst, the LE52F96BD's picture doesn't bear viewing from much of an angle; from even as little as 30 degrees or so you'll start to notice pretty serious loss of black level.
The set is also rather uncomfortable with standard definition sources, tending to exaggerate any noise they may contain, and leaving skin looking a bit plasticky. Finally, just occasionally a slight greenish undertone creeps into dark scenes , seemingly without warning. But I actually found that I'd pretty much stopped noticing this by the end of my time (a few days) with the LE52F96BD.
So the LE52F96BD's images aren't totally perfect. But they're remarkably close to it for what is, after all, a debut product based on a new technology. In fact, this has to be one of the finest technology debuts ever in this reviewer's humble opinion, raising the very real prospect that one day LED backlighting just might become the default system of choice for the LCD industry as a whole. So long as they can get the price down a bit, that is…