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2014 Value Electronics Flat Panel Shootout

21393 Views 136 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Robert Zohn
Robert will be posting links here for the current event. The other thread will be closed to assure that any new discussion occurs in one thead.


Video Experts Along with the Attending Audience Will Evaluate the Newest Flagship HD and 4K Ultra HD Panels To Answer The Question: Which Manufacturer Makes the Best TV?

Day One, Saturday, August 16, 2014 6:00 PM EST
Day Two, Sunday, August 17, 2014 3:00 PM EST

Value Electronics 35 Popham Rd, Scarsdale, NY 10583

Direct 914-723-3344 or 800-789-5050

Want to help us determine who makes the best TV for 2014... Join us on 8/16 or 8/17 and get an exceptional professional video education and meet our panel of experts, headed by Kevin Miller, DeWayne Davis and David Mackenzie. You will also meet and hear our two Keynote special guest speakers, Joe Kane and Dr. Larry Weber.

To attend in person email Robert Zohn: [email protected] and put in the subject line, 2014 TV Shootout Request.

Can't attend in person, watch the event on our live on our dedicated Livestream channel.

The Online live feed will be broadcast in HD and will allow viewers to submit questions which will be moderated by our staff a/v techs and select questions will be read out loud for our panel of experts to answer in realtime.

TVs included in our Tenth annual TV Shootout, Saturday, August 16th and Sunday August 17th, 2014. Email us for an application to attend in person. Live webcast in HD is open to everyone worldwide.

4K 2160p models:

Samsung S9 Direct Lit LCD/LED w/local dimming 105" UN105S9W

Samsung UN78HU9000 78" Edge lit local dimming
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The avs people in chat are extremely annoying!

EDIT: I shouldn't generalize like this. I do know some of the people in there from avs but I am generalizing. I do apologize to the avs people in chat who are not annoying. I think that this is a function that could, and should, be shut off in the future.
Really liked watching the 2014 Shoot-Out

Robert has spent a ton of money to bring this to us each year. I hope he gets a lot of sales for all of his effort.
Thanks for the audio fix, Robert. It was much better than ever before. ;)
Okay, I just got home and am completely wiped out, but I have a ton to say about this latest shootout, so I'll start posting on it tomorrow. For now I'll just give my most general take-away from the event: the flat panel TV industry is in the throes of a transition/upheaval for which it was not adequately prepared, and the short-term revenue they need in order to make that transition smoothly ain't comin' in. They don't know what to do.


Thanks to Robert and all the gang for what was a great event.:T:clap:
Okay, I just got home and am completely wiped out, but I have a ton to say about this latest shootout, so I'll start posting on it tomorrow. For now I'll just give my most general take-away from the event: the flat panel TV industry is in the throes of a transition/upheaval for which it was not adequately prepared, and the short-term revenue they need in order to make that transition smoothly ain't comin' in. They don't know what to do.


Can't wait to hear more from you about this David! :T
I was at the shootout, and want to thank Robert and his family for once again exhibiting their terrific hospitality and doing a great job making everyone feel welcome, and for performing an important service to the entire industry and hobby. Also thank you to the calibrators for all their work setting these TVs up all week for this event. Lots of great information and conversations, both formally in the presentations and in side conversations all throughout the event.

I have many impressions and thoughts, but for now I will give a couple overriding impressions.

Despite some shortcomings, it is clear to me that the plasma (still) and the OLEDs are in a whole different class as far as realized and potential picture quality goes compared to the LCDs.

Putting the Samsung plasma aside, the LG OLED is a terrific buy and a steal if you need a TV in that size range in the next few months. I am excited to see their flat OLEDS, and 4K OLEDS coming out in the remainder of the year.

Overall, I was disappointed with the UHD LCDs. I was hopeful that they would be much better. In a bright room, they can deliver some excellent pictures, but in the dark they are still nowhere near the OLEDs and plasma. The Sony 85X950B had the best black levels of the LCDs, but pretty significant blooming which hurts the good black levels on film scenes involving lots of dark content such as the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows scene. Of course, if you are looking for a real big TV near or over 80 inches, LCD is what you are getting, and there is something to be said for size if you can fit it and can afford it. Just here in this competition, we are concerned with performance regardless of price or size (reasonably).

On most curved TVs, the curve is subtle and kind of a gimmick, but on the 105" Samsung, it is significant and does add a feeling of immersion. Of course, you have to sit close and only 1 or 2 people can be in the middle, but it was kind of cool on a TV that big. I don't like that everything has to be scaled on this TV because of the unique shape. I'm not even sure this TV should have been in the competition. I understand that the shootout has always been for best TV not taking price into account, but even aside from price, even the Samsung guy admits this TV is not in their "consumer" line and is more of a special project. In the shootout it was over on the side and seemingly somewhat ignored by many, and that was exacerbated by the fact that everything was scaled and test patterns and real material was partially cutoff on this screen, and it seemed to have the hardest time hanging onto the HDMI handshake so had no signal more often than the others.

The Samsung plasma was disadvantaged by being up so high, but this really only affects people standing in the front or sitting in the front row. By the second row back, I don't think this was much of an issue and I expect it to do very well in the scoring.

I will admit that I will be surprised if the two OLEDs and the plasma don't finish in the top three in the shootout, unless people gave the LCDs points just for being large, which should be put aside just as price should be put aside for judging.
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Hi everyone,

I've had some sleep and I'm greedily shlurping my Peet's New Guinea Highland coffee, so I'm almost human now. Accordingly, let's get into it (further disclaimer: I have several very busy work days in front of me, so I quite doubt that I'll be able to post everything by the end of today):

First off, the whole weekend was a gas. Hanging out with the Zohn family again was, as always, an absolute joy. It did make me feel like an "old guy" to see that Katie, their youngest daughter, is starting her final year of college. I remember her from when she was just fifteen, and that feels to me like only a short time ago. So yeah--I'm gettin' long in the tooth. The Zohn house was a madhouse of activity, as they had me crashing in the basement, David MacKenzie (sp?) sleeping in a guest room, furniture from the store stored in the house during the shootout, and people working at the shootout coming and going all the time. It was wonderful.

The Saturday event was a real eye-opener for me with Joe Kane's presentation; I learned an enormous amount from him (as always), and I also learned a great deal from sitting down and talking with one of the Sony tech guys, an altogether charming gentleman named Pablo, who is extremely sharp, informed, and fully committed to the videophiles' collective dream of the perfect flat panel TV. The manufacturers' presentations were 90% marketing ("sales-speak," if I may adapt a term from 1984), but that was expected. The calibrators' presentations were much more informative, but boy, did they struggle to get those TVs to behave. The panels on the wall were switching on and off like strobe lights at a discotheque the whole night, and that, I'm told, had everything to do with the move to 2160p/4k resolution on some but not all panels. Saturday saw the whole wall of panels continuously struggling to re-synch; that's what you were seeing with the TVs turning on and off. They fixed that for Sunday by just reverting to 1080p for all the presentations.

From Joe Kane I learned especially that the bit-depth problem has finally become so pressing that the industry cannot continue to deliver real PQ improvements until they honestly address it. Even more urgently, the data pipeline will have to be increased much more dramatically than anyone in the industry has publicly acknowledged.

From Pablo I learned that there might (might, mind you) be a way for an upgraded HDMI system to accommodate those greater data demands. In principle, he hypothesized, it should be possible to make HDMI 2.x connections modular in largely the same way that DisplayPort is, thereby enabling full 4k video throughput at a much larger bitrate and without all the curses and burdens of 4:2:0. If that could be made to work, it would have some serious practical advantages:
  1. People are already familiar and comfortable with HDMI; they know how to use it.
  2. By its design HDMI is largely idiot-proof (but I don't know if it would stay that way if it went modular).
  3. All our other home theater equipment already has HDMI compatibility; it shouldn't be necessary to buy a brand new AVR to go with the new UHD TV and media player (but that is pure conjecture on my part).
  4. The industry already has the manufacturing facilities to crank out copious quantities of HDMI cables.

I also learned from him that Sony absolutely, positively has not written off OLED. They're not selling such panels yet, but that's because they're persuaded--and I agree with them--that the technology isn't ready yet. It has too many remaining kinks in it, it is still too expensive (assuming one intends to implement it correctly), and the simple truth is, no one in the industry really knows where the market is headed right now. In the coming years I am going to keep a very close eye on Sony, as they have committed themselves to working in the high-end market and delivering what the really fussy people in both audio and video want. The color reproduction on their XBR950 was flatly superior to anything else up on that wall. Samsung and LG need to take a hard lesson from what Sony has done there, or they'll get left behind.

Just from the contents of the wall at Value Electronics I learned that Samsung truly has taken over the flat panel TV market. They own the joint now (though both Vizio and China pose a big, big market threat in the coming years). On Robert and Wendy's wall there was one LG product, two Sonys, and five Samsungs (including last year's plasma way up at the top). Regardless of anything Sony and LG do now, they face a basic problem of numbers.

I also learned this: for years now, plasma technology has been the unmatched PQ king--we all know that. The king is dead, and we all know that, too. But no way can anyone yet add "long live the king." As things stand, neither locally dimmed LCD nor OLED are up to that task. OLED obviously has the potential to do it, but they just aren't there yet. Both the LG and the Samsung OLEDs had color tracking problems, viewing angle problems, white balance/gamma problems, lingering motion resolution issues, and price point struggles. I'll note that LG absolutely kicked the snot out of Samsung on the price point problem: $3500 vs. $9000, same size, same basic panel tech. I'll say much more on this in my Sunday write-up. $3500 is actually a sensible price for a 55" TV. $9k manifestly is not.

Oh, and one general, deeply felt criticism I have of the entire industry: the viewing angle problems have become just absurd now, and those ridiculous curved screens only ever make it worse. The manufacturers' companies are not mine to run, but I strongly encourage them please, please to stop shooting themselves in the foot with such stupid, stupid, breathtakingly stupid marketing ploys, presumably cooked up by overpaid and under-informed Armani-wearing know-it-alls in the marketing departments. Increasingly, I have no respect for what those marketing people do. None. They think we're stupid; they think they can metaphorically jingle their key chains in front of us, and we'll be amused and distracted by that and go buy their frantically hyped junk. They're wrong.

I did not vote on Saturday because the room was much too crowded for me to walk around and get an honest look at each TV from the proper viewing angle. (Seriously--viewing angles should not be presenting such problems on premium TVs!)

Another reason why I say the industry doesn't know what to do in the wake of plasma's death is revealed by the prices on all these TVs. The cheaper ones Samsung and Sony had to offer were, to my mind, prohibitively expensive. The top-of-the-line ones were waayyyyyy off in la-la-land. Samsung actually wanted ~$120,000 for a 105" curved-screen TV that honestly doesn't deliver that great of a picture. In which alternate universe does this make sense??? Sony's XBR950, which was impressive in many ways but also had real flaws in its implementation of local dimming, was ~$35,000 MSRP. Again, which brand of hashish should I smoke in order to start thinking that that's a cost the burden of which I could reasonably, rationally assume?? It'll have to be really good hash, man. Premo.

So how did they get into this pickle? On Sunday I learned from an anonymous source that China pressured all the companies into selling panels with the increased screen resolution because the higher-resolution panels are cheap and easy to manufacture, so in theory it ought to goose sales margins in the short term. So now that stuff is getting marketed as "UHD" or "4k" (but see Joe Kane's presentation on why quadrupling the resolution alone actually does little for the perceptible picture quality (unless you nose is against the screen)). But in order to justify that increased resolution, manufacturers had no choice but to move to much, much larger screen sizes, which gets very expensive very quickly. And so now here they are sending to market eighty-odd inch TVs priced well over what I paid for my car. Good luck, fellas--glad I'm not in your position this year...​

So that's it for my Saturday write-up. Sunday's stuff will be along in due time.

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One quick add-on for the Saturday segment: NYPete is absolutely right about the LCDs vs the OLEDs and plasma. Except for the XBR950, no LCD could compete, and the XBR's local dimming flaws were too extreme for it to stay in the race, either (though I think Sony easily ought to be able to fix that for their next model).


David, it was good to see you again at the shootout Saturday.

On the price issue, after the shootout I had a hard time in my mind grasping the wildly different prices, and the humongous prices of some of these TVs. I mean Pioneer had to stop selling Kuros because people wouldn't pay $5000 for a TV anymore, but now they will pay $10,000 or $25,000? Not to mention the Samsung 105" at $120,000. The TV sizes are bigger than the Kuros, but come on.

To help myself I tried to see how the manufacturers are pricing the TVs normalizing the size to a certain extent. I looked up how much each of the LCDs is being sold for in 65 inch size, which seems like a nice normal big size TV to me, and common to almost every line of TVs. Maybe this info is useful so I'll post it. I just did a quick online search and mostly relied on Amazon as a good barometer of the price you could buy these TVs for today in the US. They might be cheaper or more expensive at other retailers, but this is for a ballpark idea.

Samsung UN65HU9000 is going for $4300 ($5000 MSRP)
Samsung UN65HU8550 $3000 ($4000 MSRP)
Sony XBR-65X900B $4000 ($5000 MSRP)
Sony XBR-65X950B $8000 ($8000 MSRP)

The Samsung PN64F8500 is going for $3100 ($4400 MSRP).

The LG 55EC9300 at the shootout is $3500 ($4000 MSRP). This OLED is 10 inches smaller than the 65 inch models above.

Reports are that the LG 65EC9700 4K UHD OLED will go for $7000 ($9000 MSRP).

Now there are problems here because we now know on the Sony X900B line, the 79" has an IPS panel and the 65" has a VA panel so they will look quite different. Also the Samsung UN85HU8550 is direct lit while the smaller sizes are edge lit, so you can't judge the 65" picture quality based on the 85" TV. But it at least in my mind helps me see where the manufacturers are pricing these TVs as a model line and against the competition.
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Plasma dead? Na I bet its just moved markets, someone will build a 1080p reminiscent of a Panasonic Kuro in a small boutique style high end way and there will be a new genera the same as Vinyl vs Digital.

Long live the King
Hi NYPete,

Absolutely, all you say is right, true, and wise; I've nothing to contest there. The issue, though, is that at the smaller sizes it becomes impossible to rationally justify moving from 1080p to 4k. Suppose I get me a top-of-the-line 65" UHDTV from any of these guys. Where do I put my couch?

You see my worry?


David and NYPete,

Thank you both for your impressions from the Shootout! I couldn't draw too many conclusions regarding the panels via the livestream feed so it's good to hear yours. I think that Joe Kane's presentations were probably the best of the show.

Nice job Robert and family!! And thank you!!
Hi NYPete,

Absolutely, all you say is right, true, and wise; I've nothing to contest there. The issue, though, is that at the smaller sizes it becomes impossible to rationally justify moving from 1080p to 4k. Suppose I get me a top-of-the-line 65" UHDTV from any of these guys. Where do I put my couch?

You see my worry?


If you buy a top of the line TV, you may have to sell your couch which will solve you problem :D
If you buy a top of the line TV, you may have to sell your couch which will solve you problem :D

"Couch"?? House.

And yeah, that'd solve a lot of problems, but it'd generate a few new ones.


but it'd generate a few new ones
As long as one is not your wife renting out your side of the bed to pay for it your golden :T
David and NYPete,

Thank you both for your impressions from the Shootout! I couldn't draw too many conclusions regarding the panels via the livestream feed so it's good to hear yours. I think that Joe Kane's presentations were probably the best of the show.

Nice job Robert and family!! And thank you!!
Dr. Weber, it was so nice listening to him, he talked immediatelly about the 8K Plasma, looooool, for introduction.
Help me remember:

What was it about the LG OLED that was causing some problems?

WARNING: what is to follow is BIG, so it'll likely require two posts.

Hi again everyone,

Okay, so what about Sunday, right? Sunday was awesome. I was a little sleep-deprived (remember the house was both crowded and busy), but I got to the store nice and early, got my computer set up, got one of the comfy theater chairs to sit in, and generally had a nice time of it. The room was not quite as crowded as on Saturday, which also helped, and both Value Electronics and the various presenters had the kinks out of their presentations, so everything went a lot more smoothly.

Before I forget: thanks more than I can say to Robert, Wendy, Jeff, Lianne, and Katie Zohn all of Value Electronics for putting this whole thing together, for putting me up, for putting up with me, and for making the weekend one of the most enjoyable I've had in a long time. Thanks in abundance to each and every old friend I got to see there and each new one made; I've been out of the loop for way too long, and I so missed this beautiful hobby of ours. Thanks in equal abundance to the manufacturers for working hard to step up to the plate and deliver the best TVs they judged possible in such an uncertain and roiling market. Very special thanks to the Sony and Samsung reps who where willing to sit down with me one-on-one, answer my questions so clearly and honestly, and even listen to my obviously half-informed attempts at advice for future improvement. I remain convinced that Sony really can make something happen here with their local dimming technology if they just make sure they use fast LEDs and make sure those LEDs never turn all the way off. That along with some software improvements in smoothing the transitions between various zones could punch the ball right through the goal posts. Oh--and Kevin Miller is right on: please, Sony: give calibrators full and fully functioning CMS controls and blue-only, red-only, and green-only screen capabilities. For the amount of money on offer, all these things are owed.

People started showing up a little after two, and by 3:00 the place was hopping. Value Electronics got the video and audio feeds all straightened out by 3:30, and we were collectively off to the races again. Joe Kane gave his presentation again, but he included further information that was not in the Saturday talk, so you can bet I paid close attention to everything he said. His example from photography to show why a high bitrate matters was, IMO, inspired. Dr. Weber's presentation was fantastic, and it made very clear why and how each of the three display technologies encounters hurdles and why some such hurdles are surmountable while others are not. My biggest take-away from his talk, though he never mentioned this, is the extent to which LG's OLED TV this year is able to do what it does by including some already-known strategies from LED-backlit LCD technology, a technology in which LG has been successful for a long time now. Samsung, by contrast, really tried to do something new with their OLED, and I admire what they've done very much, but I'm dead certain the price difference will kill them. Given the bad economy both globally and in the U.S., manufacturers simply must control costs, and the white OLEDs pushed through a screen of color filters do that much better than three distinct colors of OLEDs pumping the light out emissively. It's that simple. Mainstream America no longer has that 90s-style delusion of being wealthy when we're not, so you can't sell us stuff as if we were. I think LG read the market a lot better than everyone else this year. They're even slated to release a much larger 4k version of this OLED TV in a few months, and that's the one that Ken Ross was gunning for yesterday. Not to steal my own thunder for the paragraphs below, but I agree with him. Were I buying this year and I had to buy something specifically from the wall other than the F8500 plasma, I'd grab that LG and not look back for a moment.

The manufacturers' presentations were largely the same, though a bit more informative, actually. The calibrators, I'm happy to report, streamlined their presentations considerably and really did a stand-up job yesterday. The actual audience test portion was a lot of fun and very informative, though it was hard to move around much with the place so crowded. I almost think for next year Robert & co. should have the audience queue up in some way and then walk clockwise (or whatever) around the room, thereby enabling every participant to get some proper quality time with each panel. After that it could become a free-for-all where folks just go where they wish and focus on whichever TVs most interest them. This way the room traffic could be rendered much more efficient.

Both before and during the test both Ken Ross and I were looking closely at the two OLEDs and I was looking hard at the XBR950, too (I don't remember if Ken had his eye on that one or not). The first and biggest thing we noticed is that the LG OLED did a much better job of handling off-axis viewing. When you go even just a little bit off axis on the Samsung OLED, the color balance and the gamma both get seriously borked. I mean, the gray ramps they had up there looked red and far from even in their transition from dark to bright. But as soon as we got both vertically and horizontally on axis, all that went away and Samsung's ramps actually were better than LG's. Really, though--you had to be dead center, which I should think is an obvious problem for anyone interested in buying an OLED this year. IIRC, one of the big selling points of OLED was supposed to be to absence of viewing angle problems, wasn't it? Well, that's not what we have with either of the ones on offer. LG's TV has definite viewing angle limitations, too, but they're nowhere near as extreme as Samsung's. For that reason alone I determined that, were I buying this year, I'd much prefer the LG OLED over Samsung's (regardless of price). The LG did have a very annoying problem to it, though: it had some of the most aggressive ABL I've ever seen. Seriously, it made recent plasma ABL that I've seen look half-hearted by comparison. It was sufficiently visually annoying that I resolved to ask them about it if Ken didn't (but he did). Both OLEDs handled black levels and perceived color saturation admirably, of course; here even the F8500 plasma could not hope to keep up. But on color tracking neither of them did so well, and the LG in particular went way off target in the color saturation charts. In real world content these flaws did not jump out at us immediately, but they were evident and sometimes very annoying. The industry in general, with the notable and admirable exception of Sony, has not paid anything approaching the attention to color accuracy that they have to black levels/contrast ratios, and I say that needs to change, pronto. If they want this kind of money from people, they owe their customers color reproduction technology that is not still derived from what they were using back in the 20th century. As best I can tell, there is just no defensible reason for color tracking to be as embarrassingly weak as it is. Like I said, the one exception to this is Sony, who has done strong work here for a long time, and that was evident yesterday. Sony allowed calibrators NO CMS controls of any kind on the XBR950 and only two-point grayscale controls. Armed only with that, the calibrators nonetheless got that thing to deliver the best, most accurate color I saw on any TV on the wall, and even the gamma was crazy near perfect. I mean, really--what excuse do Samsung and LG have for falling down so badly on this when they provide full CMS controls, blue-only screen capabilities, and TWENTY-POINT grayscale controls??? And even with all of that, the Sony still had better colors??? Look, that's just wrong. I say both LG and Samsung need to hit the drawing board on this.

But lest anyone think I have a hard-on for the XBR, I still say both OLEDs ended up delivering a much better picture, and black levels were NOT the reason why. The problem was the flawed implementation of local dimming on the Sony. I don't know if it was due to a decision by the calibrators or due to the way the panel works, but the 950 had its local dimming function set so that on a black screen the LEDs would shut all the way off, which I have said for years is just a disastrously bad idea. You don't just get uncorrectable blooming from that; you also get what I call "ghost images" from the relatively slow LEDs failing to keep up with motion-driven transitions in the LCDs. You watch the Star Destroyer first approach you in the Empire Strikes Back; There's a moon behind it. As that moon moves down the screen, the LEDs will be too slow in turning off, so you'll see a "ghost" of that moon chasing after the moon the LCDs show you. Anyone with a locally dimmed TV that turns LEDs completely off can get a copy of the DVD (or BluRay--I used a DVD) and test this. I tested it for almost a month before making my determination that the problem is real, that the slow LEDs are the culprits, and that stopping them from turning completely off is the only fix that really works. This strategy has the additional very considerable benefits of getting rid of all floating black level issues (assuming the TV has a reasonable number of discrete zones), getting rid of information loss ("black crush") in dark areas of the picture, and allowing manufacturers to get away with offering local dimming without using 300+ zones in order to make the picture acceptable. MY 46" UNB8500 has only 140 zones, and I never, ever have any of these problems, and stopping the LEDs from turning all the way off is the reason why. Sharp, I was delighted to see, apparently listened to all my screaming into the void of cyberspace and designed their Elites so the LEDs get very dark, but never turn fully off. And theirs are the best locally dimmed TVs out there. Their color problems are well known and very regrettable, but their implementation of local dimming technology has no peers. Sony, Samsung, LG, I beg you: learn from Sharp if you want to get this right. And while you're at it, study what they did with viewing angles, because they really nailed that one, too.

One last point on this before I forget it: Robert has publicly credited me with inventing the zone-count test. Strictly speaking, I don't think that's true. Wayyyyyyy back when, I bought one of the very first Samsung 81F locally dimmed TVs offered in the U.S. It had just 64 zones and a host of associated problems. (I have no idea what Vizio thinks it is doing trying to sell a "locally dimmed" TV with EIGHT zones and even trying to get that thing into the shootout!) I was, at the time, just beginning to learn to calibrate, and AVS was where I did it (back then they had much better troll control). It was between a bunch of us that we came up with the strategy of maxing out brightness, going into Dynamic mode, using a perfectly black desktop image from our computers, and then slowly dragging the white mouse across the screen to count the zones as they lit up and darkened in response to the mouse moving across them. Accordingly, I cannot take all the credit for inventing that test; I was part of its invention, but so were several other AVS members, and IIRC it was one of them, not I, who first made the suggestion. On the other hand, I can and do take full credit for figuring out that stopping the LEDs from shutting all the way off was the only way to effectively minimize the otherwise-troubling artifacts of local dimming. No one else came up with that one; that's my original contribution, and I stand by it. It took me a very long time--weeks and weeks of amateur calibration work--to figure it out, but it totally, totally works. Do you get perfect 0 black levels? No. Do I care? No. Because you still do get black levels that beat even the 9G and 9.5G Kuros and the VTs. Show me any other TV short of OLED that can make such a boast. And all the while, you quite get rid of these ridicuously annoying floating black levels (both locally and globally across the screen), black crush, LED ghosts, and all the rest. It's worth it, and the price paid in black levels is absurdly small. Using my C5 meter profiled to my i1Pro in a perfectly dark room, I got consistently measured MLLs of 0.00x fL and below. I actually often can get it so dark with the help of my iScan Duo that even the profiled Chroma 5 can't read any light, though I can just see it in a perfectly dark room. Anyone who finds those black levels insufficient in an LCD TV has gone monomaniacal and needs to just sell the thing and get an OLED, because even plasma will never make you happy, man.

So Samsung, LG, and especially Sony, I hope you guys are reading this. If so, please perform the tests yourselves and see what I'm talking about; get a Sharp Elite and see how it handles dark and mixed scenes. If need be, find yourselves an old Samsung UNB8500 like mine and test it. The Elites wisely won't let you shut the LEDs completely off, but the UNB8500s will, so they're useful for comparing the different results. If ever you have any, any questions at all about this stuff, please, please, please PM me either at highdefjunkies (my internet home) or at hometheatershack (my internet "second home," if you will). I would love to answer any and all questions the manufacturers' representatives and engineers may have for me and just to bounce ideas around for how to optimize it. I firmly believe that if local dimming is going to work, this is the way to make it work, and also this is the only way to make it economical, because you can get away with having just 200-ish zones on a 1080p screen (for 4k, the number does climb, I'm sure).

At last I come to my final paragraph (may all the angels of Heaven be praised with great praise). So which TV did I vote for as the winner last night? The plasma. Sorry LG and Samsung, but you guys have got to get both color reproduction and viewing angles firmly under control (and the ABL for LG). Then and only then will your OLEDs get the nod from me. On motion resolution, I say both companies also have work to do, but not nearly as much. COLOR ACCURACY and VIEWING ANGLES; fix them or forever come in second and third at best in my book. So between all the TVs from this year who gets my vote? LG hands down. The Samsung OLED was awesome on so many points, but its viewing angle problem totally killed it for me. Add the insane price difference to the mix and I say I'd have to be on heavy unprescribed meds to look at anything other than the LG OLED this year. After the two OLEDs the only serious new-this-year competitor to my mind was the XBR950, warts and all. Really, though, that F8500 plasma was still tops. Its viewing angles were superior, it wasn't curved (just dumb), and its colors were right there. All the other LCDs were, well, forgettable.



Hah! Got 'er in just one post. So there you have it, folks.
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