Is local dimming worth it?

alank2

Novice Member
My story is that I'm using a 15 year old 40" Sony TV that refuses to die and still has a great picture, but I want something larger. It was one of the first LED backlit models.

I tried a 55" Q80T and returned it yesterday for 2 reasons:

I didn't like the remote (no numbers, no input select).
The brightness would fluctuate wildly in a program that had white words in the background.

I did like its picture when it wasn't fluctuating.

So then I was looking at 55x900h, but I saw this in the rtings settings and it has me questioning local dimming all together:

"When displaying HDR content from streaming sources with subtitles, the subtitles can sometimes cause the screen brightness to fluctuate considerably, and there can be blooming around the subtitles in dark scenes. If this bothers you, we recommend decreasing, or even disabling the local dimming feature."

Is this a local dimming issue? An HDR is a new technology issue? It seems crazy to me to spend almost twice the price on a TV and have it do this - would I be better off looking at mid range models in the $500-$600 range like the 55x750h ?
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
Its a by product of local dimming. You can only dim per zone, so the zone area where the subtitles are can't be dark around the text whilst also retaining its brightness. You may be able to reduce it on platforms like Netflix or Amazon where you can customise the size and colour of subtitles, but not regular broadcast TV.

What you can do instead is buy a cheaper LCD TV without local dimming and have it behave similar to your old TV. Blacks throughout the entire screen will be raised, and at the same time because there's no zones you won't notice it being light around the subtitles.

The best way to limit blooming surrounding subtitles on an LCD TV would be to buy a TV with a large zone count. Something like the Hisense H9G or Samsung Q90T will do better than the Q80T, it will be limited by zones still, but since they have more they can cope better. Or you could go for an OLED that has no backlight at all, or the 2021 QN90A which has even more zones than the 2020 Q90T. You'll probably want to wait for prices on new 2021 models to drop before buying though, since they will be too expensive to be considered good value until Black Friday or later.

Regarding remotes there's a trend to have everything smart nowadays. Instead of having a remote to hit numbers on you can speak and tell your TV to change channel instead. I think its only Samsung that have removed channel numbers from the remote. Its also part and parcel of TVs nowadays which are designed more with streaming in mind than traditional broadcast TV. You could always use your own universal remote though.

Which brings me to my last point. If you are still watching a lot of broadcast TV, you may just be better off keeping with what you have. It won't be a new TVs forte, even with the best upscaling in the world.
 

alank2

Novice Member
I appreciate the help. I think I'm going to give the $519 55X75CH at Sam's a try and see how it does for us.
 

JustTheFacts

Active Member
Googled how many square inches on a 65" TV; 1805 square inches. If you had 1805 dimming zones you would be able to control the lighting of every square inch. An OLED TV that controls every pixel s going to be far better in this regard. The reason local dimming is adequate for most people is because they start with a VA panel which has very good blacks to start with.
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
I use subs for everything and have an older 65" Sony with local dimming.

Is it noticeable, a little. It's a lot less noticeable than trying to watch HDR content on a TV that's not capable of showing it with grey blacks, poor contrast and scenes so dark you can't see what's going on.
 

JustTheFacts

Active Member
I use subs for everything and have an older 65" Sony with local dimming.

Is it noticeable, a little. It's a lot less noticeable than trying to watch HDR content on a TV that's not capable of showing it with grey blacks, poor contrast and scenes so dark you can't see what's going on.
Is that watching HDR in a dark room? Or do you notice a little blooming when the lights are on also?
 

Sloppy Bob

Distinguished Member
A mainly darkened room.

Not so much when the lights are on but it's hardly noticeable at all.

It's a 65XE9305.
 

alank2

Novice Member
Part of me wonders if this is an HDR issue more than it is a local dimming issue, or maybe it is caused by the two not working together as well as they could. I'd rather have it be less vibrant and consistent than not. One of the things I noticed is that some content is just too dark - my room is usually a normal level of brightness. It reminds me of movie mode on TV's which I have always hated. I know these are new technologies and that they bring something that wasn't there before, but I'm not sold just yet.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
Its certainly not helped by HDR because the backlight by design is on full. Pre HDR TVs always were a lot dimmer.

The Sony you have bought in replacement is not really a proper HDR TV, and won't be very good when used with HDR content. Its a lot dimmer and doesn't have local dimming. So instead of the TV dimming parts of the screen and light parts around subs you'll get raised black levels all-round, but with no blooming.

Best way around it is going for a LCD TV with more zones, or an OLED.
 

alank2

Novice Member
Just a follow up post - the 55X750H was very disappointing after being used to the Q80T. It also seemed to have a weird problem where the screen image would appear to slow for a moment and then speed up, on both tuner sources and HDMI.

It went back and I picked up an LG 55" OLED BX. I think this one is a winner; hopefully its longevity will be good.
 

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