It’s actually a testament to just how good this Samsung’s black levels are that we’ve started our assessment of its performance by focussing on them rather than the TV’s full HD resolution talents. But that’s not to say that these don’t also serve the LE52M87BD very well indeed.
The outstanding HD fine detail subtleties found in the environments of Gears of War on the Xbox 360 are reproduced with scintillating clarity and sharpness, while the remarkable detailing found in the digitised backdrops of Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith as recorded from Sky HD has seldom, if ever looked clearer.
The general HD crispness and ‘snap’ is particularly evident if you use with 1,920 x 1,080 sources the ‘1:1’ pixel mode Samsung has thankfully included on the LE52M87BD, with which the set doesn’t need to indulge in any potentially noise-inducing scaling processing.
Full HD loveliness is also apparent in the Samsung’s colour presentation. The extra pixel density afforded by the 1,920 x 1,080 pixel count makes for near-seamless colour blends, as well as extra solidity to such colourful HD delights as the sun-drenched sequences around the Bahaman resort in the immaculate Blu-ray transfer of Casino Royale.
The LE52M87BD’s colours are also notable for their extreme vibrancy, as colourful scenes burst into your living room in a genuine blaze of glory. But unlike a number of previous Samsung TVs, this 52in range-topper can also do subtle tones that tend to look unusually authentic by LCD standards.
Not even the sort of immediately gratifying picture features described so far can completely hide a couple of flaws in the LE52M87BD’s performance, though.
First and worst, the screen isn’t the best at handling moving objects. With the Movie Plus mode we mentioned earlier deactivated, fast motion can look slightly unfocussed as it loses resolution as a result of LCD technology’s response time issues. Yet while calling Movie Plus into play certainly sharpens motion up, it also makes the picture look a little over-processed, and causes edges of moving objects to flicker. The motion problems reduce a little with 1080p viewing, but at no point did we manage to get movement looking quite as immaculate as we’d like.
The second, lesser problem concerns some occasionally quite obvious video noise with standard definition sources. But this is very common with full HD sets, and seems to some extent the price you have to pay for their extra HD potential.
Furthermore, judicious tweaking of some of the TV’s settings can considerably reduce the impact of the problem. We’d recommend using the new HD Digital Video Essentials HD DVD to help you calibrate your settings for the LE52M87BD – or if you don’t have an HD DVD player, the Digital Video Essentials DVD works fine too. Both are available from amazon.co.uk.
Although we finished our assessment of the Samsung LE52M87BD’s pictures on a bum note, and have to say too that its audio talents aren’t quite as powerful as such a large, movie-friendly TV really deserves, we still openly admit to loving this TV to bits.
Its colours, sharpness, looks, sheer size, connectivity, features and above all ground-breaking black levels all mark it out as something really quite special that no prospective big TV buyer can afford to ignore.