Samsung C750 (LE40C750) Review

We take a look at Samsung's affordable 3D LCD HDTV.

by Phil Hinton
TV Review

55

Highly Recommended
Samsung C750 (LE40C750)  Review
SRP: £1,250.00

Introduction

Probably one of the major complaints with 3D TVs as the market stands at the moment is with price. Almost all the TVs launched have been well towards the £2000 mark and with some that don't even include the 3D glasses or the sync transmitter. Well it looks like Samsung have set out to cut the admission price to the much vaunted technology by introducing a CCFL backlit LCD TV that is 3D Ready for half the cost of the others. Enter the LE40C750. If 3D is going to take off for normal consumers then price will be a factor and whilst there is no denying that the big ticket TVs in most cases offer great features and 2D pictures, the price tags perhaps relegate the mass market to delaying, or not even considering an upgrade to 3D. So Samsung have hedged their bets with the C750 in offering a normal LCD TV around the £1200 mark with the option to buy some Glasses and have 3D as a unique selling point at this level of the market. So is it a good 2D TV and how does the 3D performance stack up? We are about to find out...

Design and Connections

There is no doubting that this HDTV is aimed towards the mid market level with its plastic chassis and stand. It also sports traditional CCFL back-lighting which means it forgoes the super slim design of its more expensive stable mates. That's not to say that the chassis is overly deep at 9cm. The design of the Bezel has a transparent outer edge which joins the now common gloss black finish of the main body of the bezel. This is also raised by about 2mm from the screen surface with the Samsung logo placed centrally on the bottom bezel strip. There are no unwanted logos plastered around the front of the screen which leaves the HDTV with a sleek and assured design. Obviously appearance is a very subjective area of a review, but the Samsung looks understated and inoffensive.

The remote supplied is again plastic in nature but is also fully featured with every conceivable option available. This does make the unit feel a little crowded and it will take a little while to find your way around all the different buttons and their functionality. A neat feature for those who watch a lot of TV in dimmed conditions is a back light which is accessed via an orange button at the very top of the unit. Source connections are placed on the rear and side panels of the TV. On the rear are three HDMI v1.4 slots with the fourth on the side panel. Also here are legacy inputs including two Scart, one component, one composite and a VGA slot. There is also an Ethernet port and USB input with a variety of audio inputs and outputs. So a well specified connections list which will keep most users happy.

Menus

Setting up the Samsung out of the box is a simple exercise with automatic Freeview HD tuning. All the channels are saved correctly and the GUI is straight forward and easy to use. The menu system is also well laid out for picture and sound adjustments which is easy for the novice and expert user. By pressing the main menu button, the first set of adjustments are those for the picture settings. In the main menu we have a choice of picture modes ranging from Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Cinema. As you can imagine the first three selections are not based on any picture standards and are bright, vivid, over the top with blue whites and missing image detail.

Cinema mode is the closest to the standards we are looking for and is the most balanced in terms of colour neutrality and image detail. Next up we have a back-light adjustment tool along with the main front panel controls, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. Next is Eco solution which gives you control over three options. Energy Saving is the first of these and has four settings (auto, low, medium, high) that adjusts the amount of power the back-light uses to make up the image, thus saving energy. In practice this feature causes the image to change brightness in a very noticeable way that is quite distracting. The last two selections under the Eco menu are an automatic sensor which, as you would imagine, changes the back-light depending on the brightness of the scene playing and the room lighting, and a screen off mode which may be handy if you choose to listen to a radio station and don't want to waste power having the screen on.

The last items on the main menu are the advanced menu, a picture options menu, the 3D menu and a reset button. Let's look at the advanced selection first. As you would expect we have quite a few advanced picture modes that really don't add any desired quality to the image. These settings include the likes of the Black Tone, Dynamic Contrast, Shadow Detail, Edge Enhancement, Flesh Tone and xvYCC, all of which we left switched off. Options that are of interest are the Gamma control which works in one step increments and the two point and ten point Greyscale controls. Also of interest when calibrating the TV without a meter are the RGB mode and Expert Pattern options. With these we can set the main colour control.

Even with the main menu and advanced menu we are not quite finished with adjustable picture set up options. There are a further two menus we need to explore. These are the Picture Options menu and the 3D menu. Looking at Picture Options we have the colour temperature settings which give options of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2. We found that Warm2 was the closest to the picture standards out of the box. Next we have options for Size, Screen Mode, Digital Noise Filter, MPEG Noise filter, HDMI Black Level, Film Mode, Motion Plus and Screen Protection. Most of these settings are self explanatory with Motion Plus being of interest in terms of frame interpolation and motion control.

As the C750 is a 3DTV we have a dedicated menu for selection of the various 3D picture modes. One that will interest most users is the 2D -3D conversion which we will look at later in the review. Plus there are options to select side by side plus top and bottom playback modes along with sequential for 3D Blu-ray. There is also a control selection for adjusting the 3D picture depth, view point, auto view, auto correction and optimisation.

Further menus available help set up the Audio playback quality using the built-in speakers including a fully manual option. Looking at the audio performance from the C750 with its small built-in speakers and we found the audio quality to be good when compared to similar TVs. The stereo imaging was acceptable with a clear sound stage at reasonable volume levels. With film material there was a little distortion with the lower frequencies and if pushed the high end is likely to clip quite easily. However, with normal viewing at standard volume levels, we found the sound quality to be clear and concise for a flat panel TV. It will, however, never compare to having a separate off board sound system, which is an approach we would always recommend.

Test Results

With many manufacturers improving their HDTV's approach to producing image quality close to our desired industry standards, it's time to see how this Samsung performs. To measure the C750 we chose the picture presets that looked close to the desired standards. These were the Cinema Mode, with colour temperature set to Warm2 for the Greyscale and the main front panel controls (Contrast, Brightness etc.) set by eye with test patterns, with Gamma set to +1. Looking at the Greyscale first we can see that whilst the tracking is not completely flat at 100% the errors are very good. Red is tracking between 5-8% high, with Green about 5% under and Blue in between both for the majority. This means that images on screen will produce a convincing white level that is just slightly red in tone, noticable to those with a keen eye. There is a larger error at the top end of the scale (80-100 IRE brightness) giving highlights a very small red cast, which to be honest is not a big deal in our opinion. Gamma on the other hand is slightly skewed in the lower light levels with a result at 2.4 which is higher than our desired goal. Moving the Gamma adjustment in the menus either added a darker error, or dropped gamma too low at the bottom and high end of the curve. We settled with the results here which will cause some loss of shadow detail but also evens out the highlights further up the curve. Overall this is a very good out of the box result.

Moving on and the colour gamut produced by the Samsung gave some interesting results. First of all the TV attempts to track towards the Rec.709 standard we are looking for with HD and Pal material. This is a good sign and it looks like the days of 'completely over the top' gamut results may be behind us. However, there are a few issues that will affect colour performance seen in the CIE chart result. Green, Red and Yellow do not line up far enough in terms of saturation with all three points low and green also has a large hue error. Even though the C750 has a Colour Management System (CMS), the lack of saturation is an issue with the HDTV's native gamut not being wide enough to quite meet the standard (even when using the wider colour settings). However, most of the other primary and secondary points are close enough to not cause any real on-screen issues with colour performance, but the lacking Red and the hue of the greens (plus some understated yellow) do show up with images looking just slightly off. But overall as an out of the box preset the colour reproduction is close enough not to cause any real issues, unless you want absolute accuracy. Sadly because of the restricted Gamut performance we will not be able to calibrate the colour points to where they should be, but we will be able to balance things a little better.

The Samsung does include some excellent picture controls with a full 10 point Greyscale option and a useful (if not perfect) CMS system. So we should be able to get some excellent results. Looking at the Greyscale performance first and as you can see the 10 point calibration control has worked very well. It is a little on the coarse side with some adjustments, but after an hour or so of fine tuning the end results were very good. Thankfully there are no issues with the low end of the scale with greys and blacks remaining balanced with no colour errors. The general greyscale tracking is as flat as you would expect given the control available, however there is still an issue with Gamma Luminance. Because we can only select from preset points in the menus, we cannot get the Gamma to track as we would desire towards the 2.2 reference. Plus by correcting the high end of the Greyscale we see a peak at around 90ire of just over 2.4. Gamma correction proved to be tricky and no amount of balancing managed to get it tracking as flat as we would like. Also note the scale of the graph. However, even though Gamma is not perfect it also doesn't overly hamper the image quality on screen, apart from perhaps some low level shadow detailing, which on an LCD panel is never a strong point anyway. Overall, we are satisfied with the end result here and it can be considered excellent.

Moving to the colour gamut and the efforts of an hour or so calibrating we managed to produce a more balanced colour accuracy to the panel, with a few compromises. Keeping in mind that one of the most important areas of colour accuracy is the luminance (brightness) of the colour points, we set about balancing the results so we could get as close as possible to the standards. Because of the restricted gamut that we discussed in the measurements area of the review, this meant trying to get the three under saturated points (green, yellow, red) to at least line up correctly and not introduce large errors at any point. Overall the end result was pleasing and whilst not perfect by any means, the green and red errors on-screen are no longer as pronounced as they were out of the box. The lack of overall red in the gamut did give the image a slightly more yellow tone, but nothing that any end user would really notice, unless they had a reference screen sitting next to the C750 (as we did).

Starting off with Standard definition material the C750 continues the excellent pedigree that Samsung have built over the last few years for scaling and de-interlacing quality. Scaling was solid with good image integrity and a lack of any edge enhancement, ringing or blurring to fine detail and edges. This was further enhanced with excellent video de-interlacing suppressing diagonal jaggies within the HQV tests, with all three moving lines looking well resolved. This helps on-screen with the likes of live football where the lines of pitches are solid with no obvious signs of jaggedness. And with film material the C750 also managed to detect all the various Pal and NTSC cadences tested. With Blu-ray material at 24p (with motion plus switched off) the Samsung managed to playback without too much induced judder, but not quite judder free which was surprising. The motion plus processing on most Samsung HDTVs allows a custom set up of their frame interpolation, something that LG has also started to offer consumers. It has been known that setting the custom settings with de-judder at zero can produce acceptable results for such a processing system, where the soap opera effect is non-existent. However, I found using the usual work around for the Samsung did not produce the normal effect; instead we would see image break up between scene cuts that would take a few moments to disappear. This is not ideal and the issue has been reported to Samsung. Switching motion plus off solves any issues we have.

As with every 3D TV I have reviewed so far this year, the gaming experience in 3D is a major plus point. Yes, crosstalk issues are present with most material and accurate colour balance is non-existent in the majority of cases, but the sheer enjoyment factor of the extra immersion of 3D gaming wins me over every time. In normal Games mode the Samsung offers a rather average 38ms of lag time and this may very well be too slow for the more hardcore user. We would suggest again that you demo this TV with your console of choice before purchase.

The strong point of LCD technology is that of power consumption figures and this Samsung doesn't disappoint with a constant 105 watts in calibrated 2D mode, and 189 watts in 3D mode. This is the same at all three luminance levels we test, as LCD uses a backlight and is not self illuminating like Plasma. In stand by the C750 will use 1 watt of power.

Picture Quality - 2D

Picture quality on the C750 with standard definition material is actually a very pleasing experience, as long as the TV channels you watch are of a relative good quality in terms of compression. The excellent scaling and de-interlacing means that images have natural motion, with colour balance holding up well in the best out of the box settings. Only colour reproduction fails to live up to the excellence on offer elsewhere in the image, but this was only really obvious with sporting coverage like the Golf, where the off hue green stands out somewhat. Black levels are very good with a strong dynamic range and acceptable shadow detail for an LCD TV. Screen uniformity is also strong but not perfect. When watching in dimmed conditions with dark source material there are signs of inconsistent backlighting and clouding which may be distracting for some viewers. In calibrated picture mode the C750 offers excellent levels of accuracy and in-image detail levels. Only the slightly lacklustre shadow detailing caused any real issues in term of depth to the good black levels. There are instances of motion blur as you would expect from an LCD and the motion plus processing should be used caution as explained above. Colour reproduction for the most part is pleasing and contrast is strong. Considering the market position of the C750, it offers a very high quality LCD image. As with any HDTV you really should demo the set to see if the slight issues raised are important to you.

Picture Quality - 3D

As this CCFL LCD is aimed at the lowest price point possible for 3D technology at this moment in time, it better manage to perform the goods, and, it manages a very acceptable performance indeed. Using the optional extra active glasses the experience is a very good representation of LCD 3D playback which has its plus points and also some negatives. The first negative, which is the same for all 3D TVs, is that image calibration for the end user is impossible, unless they have an expensive non-contact meters and software. Because of this we tested the C750 in the same out of the box modes that most users will turn to. This doesn't mean we are being lazy by not testing the capabilities of the display, rather, we feel it would be pointless at this moment in time as we would be one of only a few calibrators with the means to do so. This would make any assessment irrelevant for the majority of our readers. So, lets keep things real and use best out of the box settings for our 3D experience on this Samsung.

One if the biggest issues with 3D playback is the need for enough light to get through the active glasses and at the same time retain colour balance and as much accuracy as possible. This is one area where LCD TVs do have an advantage over plasma models, with extra light output and in this Samsung's case, good colour balance performance. Images look bright enough with the glasses in place and there are no obvious colour drift issues with the majority of the 3D material we used. The fact that 100% of the movies available are animation titles does mean that with colour, you would be hard pressed to notice any obvious issues. However, we do now have a wealth of demo material that does feature natural skin tones and real backgrounds. With this material image performance was a little more varied in terms of colour balance, but nothing that would put us off. Obviously not everything is perfect with 3D playback systems just yet and the C750 is more susceptible to crosstalk issues. With full HD Blu-ray it is easier to ignore the artefact, but when switching to gaming and Sky 3D promo reels it becomes, at times, quite distracting. There have been two updates while I have had the TV here for review, but neither dealt with the crosstalk, which is more a technological issue with LCD than this single model. One issue that we did notice more on the C750 than other 3D screens is a slightly soft image and some added artefacts to fine lines like jaggies. This was more obvious with Sky side by side material than with the full HD BD experince.

We also have to assess the much touted 2D – 3D conversion option that takes place inside the TV using the latest video processing to turn ordinary TV in to 3D TV. We have to say that just having technology that can actually attempt to do this is impressive, even if the end results are far from it. At times, with static images on-screen you could be fooled into thinking you were watching a 3D program, but this feeling didn't last long. It is no surprise that any processing such as this is going to have to guess what an image should look like, and by doing so, you can also expect to see the issues of that approach. It is fun for about 10 minutes; after which you stop before you get a headache. It's a nice idea, but it no more than a gimmick in our opinion. Overall, given the price point of this TV the 3D performance is good if not ground breaking and this Samsung will certainly introduce many AV enthusiasts to the experience. We suggest that any potential owners, as always, fully demo to see if you notice the issues present and appreciate the 3D experience.

Features

There is no such thing as a simple TV these days, with just about every model on the market offering various features to entice consumers. The C750 is no different in this regard. The most obvious feature to mention first is the 3D ready capabilities of the TV. This uses active shutter technology to display the various 3D delivery formats such as Sky 3D and 3D Blu-ray content. The glasses needed are sold separately from the TV but some retailers may offer package deals that include these and a 3D player. There is a dedicated 3D button on the remote control along with full featured menus to set up the functionality. Samsung are also one of the only manufacturers to introduce 2D to 3D conversion; a technology that boasts the ability to turn any 2D video content into 3D. Even with the major advances in software and processing methods, this is a pretty bold claim that we will fully explore later in the review.

Next up we have [email protected] which offers a number of online application services including YouTube, Lovefilm, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps and the BBC iPlayer (which was added during our time with the TV). Samsung state that this service is not just an added feature that will be ignored, but rather the applications will be updated on a regular basis, with new content added from time to time. This certainly appears to be the case as the service updated itself at least three times during its stay with us at AVForums. As well as the Internet features, the C750 also has a media player fed with content via the USB slot. This will play back the vast majority of video file formats. Plus the TV is also fully compliant with the DLNA networking protocol so you can connect your home network for viewing content from your computer. Finally there is the Samsung Anynet+ control feature that allows complete control over all your Samsung products.

Verdict

7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Good build quality
  • Greyscale tracking out of the box
  • Reference Greyscale when calibrated
  • Good colour reproduction
  • Easy to use menu system and remote control
  • Added features like [email protected]
  • Black levels
  • Good dynamic range
  • 3D performance with BD movies
  • Good power consumption figures
  • Nice contemporary design
  • Quality scaling and de-interlacing with SD material
  • Excellent calibration controls, especially 10 point Greyscale control

Cons

  • Motion Plus issues with custom and clear modes causing motion artefacts
  • Crosstalk issues with 3D material, especially Sky 3D side by side and games
  • Some issues with screen uniformity and clouding of the backlight
  • Colour gamut is ultimately restricted
  • 3D Glasses are an optional extra and expensive to purchase
  • Lag time may be an issue for hardcore gamers

Samsung C750 (LE40C750) Review

The Samsung C750 is certainly a very interesting HDTV. It offers very good picture quality out of the box in terms of Greyscale and colour accuracy, with strong black levels for an LCD. It also adds to this performance after calibration, with only some slight issues with backlight clouding and uneven uniformity getting in the way. Plus like any LCD TV it also suffers from a loss of contrast and colour balance as you move off-axis, although interestingly this is not as bad on this model, as it is on the LED edge lit Samsungs. The other big selling point with the C750 is the fact that at £1200 (approximate street price – although available for far less with some shopping around), this is the cheapest way to have that 3D experience at home. So is it worth it? Well that will all depend on how much you value having a good quality 2D image and the ability to watch 3D. If you just want a good LCD for 2D viewing then there are some very tempting models at the same or lower price points. But if you want 3D as well, then this is, at this moment in time the cheapest way. Overall, we have been impressed with the C750 and although there are some slight issues that may affect some potential purchasers, we would highly recommend you add this to your demo list. It has a good mix of picture quality and added features that will please many enthusiasts, with only the hardcore videophiles likely to be disappointed.

Highly Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
7

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
7

Colour Accuracy

.
.
.
7

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

3D Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Smart Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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