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Samsung UN55C7000 55-inch 3D LCD HDTV Review

Samsung UN55C7000 55-inch 3D LCD HDTV Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: If you're a technology geek it's hard not to get excited the first time you hear about 3D HDTV. It's one of those amazing Jetsons-esque technologies that seems like we'd never quite get to, along with hover cars and robot butlers. PCSTATS cuts through the marketing hype and tells you if the 3D Samsung UN55C7000 55-inch HDTV is worth it.
 90% Rating:   
Filed under: Home Theatre Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Samsung Aug 19 2010   Julian Apong  
Home > Reviews > Home Theatre > Samsung UN55C7000

How does the 3D work?

Viewer experience with 3D can depend on the person. For example, a few visitors in the PCSTATS test labs were asked to try out the Samsung UN55C7000's 3D mode and tell us what they saw, for each it was the first time viewing a home 3D-HDTV. While some reported that the picture was flickery or difficult to focus on even in ideal conditions, others could view the 3D effects with no problems at all, and immediately fell in love with the UN55C7000. It's some thing you'll definitely need to test yourself before putting money down on a display like this, but if you are giving it a test drive make sure the glasses are calibrated to the display directly in front of you first.

How does the 3D work?

The 3D effect is achieved by having the Samsung UN55C7000 flashing two images at once on the screen very quickly (each one is flashed 120 times per second, or 120Hz), one for the left eye and one for the right eye. If you stare at the screen when it's like this you'll see it's just a blurry mess, both of your eyes are seeing two images at once, and can't separate them into proper pictures.

This is where the active 3D glasses come in. The left and right liquid crystal lens blink on and off alternatively at a rate of 120Hz each, so that each lens only effectively 'sees' for 50% of the time, and this blinking is kept in sync with the UN55C7000's 3D output. In the end the glasses make your left eye only see the left image, your right eye sees the right image, and when you put the two together you get stereoscopic 3D.

What do I need to use it?

To get the optimum viewing experience, you actually need quite a bit.

First you'll need a 120Hz to 240hz 3D-capable display, which comes in the form of the $3300 Samsung UN55C7000. Next each person watching the Samsung UN55C7000 in 3D mode has to have a $150-$199 set of Samsung's proprietary electronic shutter glasses on, or the TV will simply look blurry.

Then you'll need a special $399 3D Blu-Ray player which can output 1080p content at 120Hz. Finally you'll need some properly encoded 3D Blu-ray content, which will cost about $30.

It's kind of telling why the electronics industry is so excited about 3DTV... if you want the full experience you could be buying up to $5000 worth of equipment to get you, your spouse and your 2 children watching 3D movies together. Do you need special content to watch 3D? Well, yes and no...

Do you need special 3D content?

To get the best experience out of stereoscopic 3D, you'll want a 3D encoded Blu-ray disc (and a 3D Blu-ray player to run it on). It's the only format where 3D content will appear to flying out at you, along with showing depth going into the screen. Right now there are only a handful of 3D Blu-Ray movie titles available, most of which are family-friendly CGI movies like Monsters Vs. Aliens 3D, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D, Polar Express 3D, Avatar 3D etc.

Fortunately Samsung has made it possible to turn boring, flat 2D content into glorious, immersive 3D. A 3D algorithm on the UN55C7000 can transform most visual content into a fair approximation of 3D. This 2D to 3D conversion is at its best when paired with a high-definition 1080p video source, with content that has plenty of contrast and sharp lines (think CGI movies like Star Wars: The Clone Wars). The converted effect looks pretty close to a 3D-encoded Blu-ray disc, with the biggest difference that the Blu-Ray will show 3D images that pop out towards the viewer and depth going away from the viewer and into the screen. Converted 2D-to-3D feeds won't pop-out at you, they'll only show depth going into the background.

In some cases 2D-to-3D conversion doesn't work so well. With certain scenes the technology simply isn't able to tell what should be in the foreground and what should be in the background, resulting in an image that's mostly flat. In other cases it'll bring the wrong elements forwards, and you'll be starting at scenes where somehow things in the background look like they're in front of foreground characters. It's like staring at an MC Escher optical illusion, and can be very distracting and even headache-inducing when it crops up.

Can I surf the net/play games/do other things in 3D?

Here's an informative chart that will explain what does and doesn't work in 3D, and how well the 3D effect works if you can turn it on.

3D Chart

3D Blu-Ray

2D->3D conversion, HD source

2D->3D conversion, SD Source

2D->3D conversion, still image

2D->3D conversion, computer desktop

2D->3D conversion, computer gaming

2D->3D conversion, Samsung Internet@TV

The best 3D experience, gives you the chance to see objects popping out of the screen towards you, no foreground/background confusion. Some people may experience ghosting and flickering on extreme foreground objects.

Can look good when paired with certain types of content, like CGI movies. Depth can at times be rendered incorrectly, which is distracting.

The blurrier edges of SD content don't lend themselves to 3D conversion, the result is a 3D image that looks relatively flat.

A mixed bag. Depending on the photo there may be some depth added using 3D conversion, but as often as not the depth doesn't match the perspective of the image, leading to the "MC Escher" effect.

Since the computer desktop is a flat 2D plane, turning on 3D simply makes some desktop icons and UI elements have the illusion of depth, but for the most part this doesn't change or add much to the usage experience.

Gaming on a connected PC or game console works partially, with UI elements and some foreground imagery showing depth, but inaccurate depth rendering can make it difficult and disorienting to play games in 3D for extended periods of time.

Not supported by the Samsung UN55C7000. 3D modes cannot be activated while using Internet@TV content like the embedded Youtube, Picasa or Skype applications.

Can anyone use it, even if they have glasses?

Samsung's 3D Glasses are large enough to fit over most pairs of glasses worn by adults, so unless you happen to be a hipster or Lady Gaga you shouldn't have trouble getting them on. The 3D shutter glasses that Samsung included for this review of the UN55C7000 have a built-in rechargeable battery (recharges via USB using a proprietary cable).

One of the reoccuring questions we've fielded often while testing the Samsung UN55C7000 3D-HDTV is how long you can watch before eyestrain happens (or if it happens at all). Here's what we found...

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Contents of Article: Samsung UN55C7000
 Pg 1.  Samsung UN55C7000 55-inch 3D LCD HDTV Review
 Pg 2.  — How does the 3D work?
 Pg 3.  How long can you watch 3D for, is there eyestrain?
 Pg 4.  Samsung 7000-series 3D HDTV Panel Design
 Pg 5.  3D TV Remote Control
 Pg 6.  Active Shutter 3D Glasses
 Pg 7.  HDTV Media Inputs and Outputs
 Pg 8.  MediaPlay, the feature formerly known as Wiselink Pro
 Pg 9.  Connecting to the internet, Youtube and more
 Pg 10.  Conclusion: Is 3DTV ready for prime time?

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