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Samsung Series 8 UE46B8000 - 46in LCD TV - Samsung Series 8 UE46B8000
With the set's glamorous exterior covered, let's now turn our attentions to its interior, starting, of course, with the key LED backlighting.
LED lighting in LCD TVs has repeatedly been proven to deliver a number of different advantages over the standard LCD single CCFL backlight. Much deeper black levels, improved motion reproduction, much larger contrast ratios and the potential for much slimmer screens are all associated with LED backlighting.
Samsung is very keen to stress the green credentials of the B8000 series, too. Apparently the LED lights burn as much as 40 per cent less power than standard LCDs. What's more, LEDs are also mercury free and the set's on-screen menus contain a mode that adjusts the backlight output and other picture settings in response to the light levels in your room.
In fact, Samsung is so proud of the B8000's green credentials that if you press the remote's info button, you get a little dial-like reading suggesting how much more efficient it is being at any given moment compared with a standard LCD TV. Though, without any actual voltage measurements on this dial, it's hard to see how it has any real, provable significance other than as a marketing tool for a cheeky salesman to use.
At this point things are going to have to get slightly complicated for a minute or two because, what you might not realise, is that there are actually two types of LED backlighting. The most common one just positions ‘sectors' of LED backlights in an array directly behind the screen, with each LED sector being individually controllable. This level of control allows for ‘local dimming', whereby each part of the LED array can have its light level independently set to suit the demands of the image being shown, resulting in the potential for almost totally dark image sectors to sit right alongside extremely bright ones in a way just not possible with a single CCFL backlight.
The other LED approach is to position the LED lights around the screen's edges, so that they shine their light across the screen's rear rather than through it from behind. This approach allows screens to be built much slimmer than ordinary LCD or LED TVs - as proven by Sony's 9.9mm deep 40ZX1 TV. Unfortunately, though, if you go for the edge-mounted LED approach, you lose the key local dimming advantage.
However, while this state of affairs has led to edge-mounted LED lighting traditionally being considered a design-led picture quality compromise, Samsung boldly claims that the edge-based system inevitably found in the Ultra-Slim UE46B8000 actually produces better picture quality than a normal rear-mounted array.
For instance, although you can't have local dimming with edge-mounted LEDs, Samsung claims that the more generalised dimming properties possible with this system can actually producer greater contrast results - and faster dimming response time - than local dimming engines.
What's more, Samsung also claims that its ultra-slim LED engine can produce greater image uniformity and higher brightness than standard LED engines, not least because 'direct' LED engines use a darker diffuser mechanism than edge-mounted LED systems in order to boost uniformity. And this darker diffuser, says Samsung, loses 20 per cent of brightness compared with its LED engine, which in turn leads to direct LED TVs using up to 20 per cent more power to achieve the same brightness levels as an ultra-thin model.
In fact, Samsung claims that its ultra-slim LED arrangement is as much as 30 per cent more energy efficient than direct-lit LED TVs, a fact which helps edge-mounted systems also enjoy a supposed 40 per cent greater life span.
Finally - and perhaps most cheekily - Samsung claims that while a direct, RGB LED TV can produce a wider colour gamut than an ultra-slim LED TV, this isn't actually very helpful to producing a natural colour from the colour maps associated with our main video standards. In other words, by being closer to the colour map of our video standards, Samsung says that its ultra-slim LEDs won't be as likely to suffer over-saturated reds and greens as a direct RGB LED set like Sony's X4500 models.