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9/10

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Samsung LE52F96BD 52in LED LCD TV - Samsung LE52F96BD

Itching though we are to find out if all this fine theory has been turned into perfect practice at the first time of asking by the LE52F96BD, we've got a little more groundwork to go over first.

For instance, you really need to know how remarkably pretty this TV is for such a gargantuan effort - just in case you hadn't picked up on this from the pictures we're running.

It's also phenomenally well connected. Heading things up are three HDMIs all made to the V1.3 specification, which is to say they are compatible with such v1.3-exclusive features as automatic lip-synching and Deep Colour (the as yet unseen but theoretically great system for delivering richer colours from specially mastered HD sources).

Also unusual is a USB 2.0 jack via which the TV can play MP3 and JPEG file formats, with other key jacks including a D-Sub PC port and a component video input.

Inevitably given its cutting edge status the LE52F96BD is a full HD screen, complete with 1:1 pixel mapping mode for the purest possible portrayal of 1080-line HD sources and 1080p/24fps support.
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The picture processing at the LE52F96BD's heart is Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine which, like most rival systems, focuses its attention on improving colour saturations/tones and fine detailing, as well as providing further boosts to black levels and motion control.

You also get Samsung's Movie Plus mode, with its bold but ultimately flawed (and therefore best switched off) attempt to make objects move across the screen more fluidly; and the equally problematic Edge Enhancer, with its tendency to over-stress rather than improve edges. Again, we'd suggest you turn this off.

There are still a few other picture tweaks at your disposal that we could mention, but frankly we've restrained ourselves for far too long already. It's time to see just what a difference LED makes. And the answer is: a lot. In fact, if I was still five year's old I might even say a very lot.

Take black levels, for instance. For once we have an LCD TV that really can produce a nearly true representation of black, with practically no trace of the misty greyness we're now so accustomed to seeing. This makes dark scenes like the opening shots of Ocean's Thirteen (on Blu-ray) look spectacularly dynamic and, for want of a better word, cinematic. Partly because the range between the screen's peak whites and deepest blacks is so prodigious, but also because the effortless darkness portrayed contains more subtle detailing than you can usually make out, and as such helps pictures look more full of depth.

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