Samsung's first go at throwing out the traditional 4,000 hour DLP bulb and color wheel in favor of a cluster of red, green and blue long life LEDs seems to be a success. We have been enjoying the HLS-5679W for a week or two and got to say up front, it has a great picture – post calibration. Just like most other HDTVs, the out-of-box color is horribly wrong, but thankfully it can be adjusted easy and once done produces an outstanding picture. Keep in mind we are saying that the picture quality is great as the HDTV as a whole is not without flaws; continue reading for the full review.
UPDATE: There is a common thread running through all users questions/comments: how does this set compair to Sony's new SXRDs. I can't say for the XBR line as they are just now shipping but as far as the A2000 line, this set seems just as clear and bright as those sets. It would be hard to tell which one is 'better' without 'em side by side but I can say this DLP does provide what seems to be better color uniformity then the bright SXRDs. However, this set is priced to compete with the higher quality XBR line so we will have to wait and see how those new sets look. Thanks for the questions and keep 'em coming.
BTW, you can win one of these brand spanking new HDTVs here.
Picture QualityLike we said to start with, this set can output a great picture. Colors are accurate, minimum noise, black blacks and white whites, but only once it's calibrated. The pre-calibrated colors are sales-floor-bright and have a strong red push but thankfully Datacolor's SypderTV corrected these issues and suddenly, the LED-powered HDTV produced a very nice image.
In fact, I can't say enough about the post-calibrated picture, as it's just that good. Thankfully the internal scaler does a superb job at up-converting non-HD material to the native 1920x1080. Basic cable looks doesn't look bad, doesn't look great but we can't complain about the 480i native image. DVDs look all right coming from our Helios HVD2085 via ether component or HDMI and even SD Xbox games are very playable.
The blacks, while not CRT 'inky', are better than any DLP I have ever seen along with whites producing a crisp and bright tone. Like I indicated before, the reds are exploited very hard out of the box but once I calibrated the set, the issues were resolved although NTSC's inherently red push was still slightly apparent in some programming. Surprisingly though, the internal scaler dealt very well with SD cable channels and produced an unexpectedly watchable image from these channels.
The wife enjoys watching TLC programs and unfortunately this station isn't in HD just yet and even our CRT HDTV doesn't do a great job at displaying these stations without noise. I can honestly say that this Samsung DLP did a great job at displaying these stations ether through our Motorola 6412 cable box or the CableCARD. Sure, there was evident noise but it wasn't that bad for a high-resolution 1080p native HDTV. Even standard DVDs looked great on the set.
The wife and me sat down for a night at the movies and watched the incredibly boring flick The Interpreter. Terrible movie but it was a good workout for this Samsung HDTV with deep blacks and bright white. There was a scene that placed at some African country (sorry, we didn't make it all the way through the movie to remember) at a brightly-lit soccer stadium but in the shadows, there were bodies laying in a non-noisy but still highly defined black shadow. The HDTV easily produced great black levels while still portraying a bright white. Yet another scene placed the main character (don't remember the name 'cause once again we didn't make it through) in a dark room overlooking the United Nations main floor and suddenly the florescent light flickered on producing a pleasant bluish light surrounded by, well, black – not grey but black. What more can you ask for?
Well, we can ask for great sports picture and some HDTVs drop the ball when it comes to producing a smooth image but I, along with seven of my buddies can say, that this DLP had no issue with a weekend full of football. No one complained of a noisy or pixilated action when Michigan railed over Wisconsin. Even the rain that we are going to blame for Michigan States loss to Notre Dame wasn't affected with of macro-locking artifacts. There was some but we could still easily see the 17-point lead slip out of the hands of the Spartans. My buddy Justin wanted me to indicate that the off-axis viewing is just fine on this set as he sat a good 60 degrees off center and could still see the action just fine.
Speaking of games, Samsung has included their highly touted Game Mode in this set that supposedly increases the picture quality and improves the motion found in many games, but our experiences didn't prove ether. In fact, the Game Mode boosted the brightness of our calibrated set back to the inaccurate Dynamic mode, but we gave it a chance. After a few minutes of dealing with a picture that was similar to the out-of-the-box settings, we couldn't deal with it anymore. This mode didn't increase the PQ at all and we couldn't see any motion improvement, plus the mode is buried in the menu system. (More on that in a bit) Our word of advice is this mode didn't improve our gaming experience but thankfully Samsung made it an option and we choose not to use it every again.
The picture quality of this set was built for HDTV. It doesn't matter what we watched on this set, (CSI, ER, My Name is Earl or random INHD/MHD programming) the programming looked great. All of it looked good and we're sorry that we can't say anything bad about the quality of the picture. It's just that amazing once it was calibrated but keep reading for 'issues' with this HDTV.
10 out of 10
Don't like it. We don't like the menu at all and while we know someone at Samsung does as they have included the same system into all of their new DLPs, it just isn't a good menu. The set-up is nice with a row of scrolling icons at the bottom but it is slow and clunky. If the menu was smooth and responsive, we wouldn't have that many problems with it but alas, it isn't. Hit a button, wait a second and it responds. Hit another button and wait another second and it will respond again, but don't hit the buttons to fast as the menu cannot keep up. The system does give users great control over picture but we think most users are ether going to mess up the image more or not touch these intimidating controls.
Buried under 'Picture' and then 'My Color Control' is the ability to adjust the red, green, blue, yellow and pink levels along with the standard set of brightness, contrast, and tint levels on menu step up. Thankfully, there is a reset button in there too so when you (or the kids) mess up the image, someone can easily reset the color. The menu system does have a little bit of everything included but shouldn't major features like 'Game Mode' and PIP controls be included on the remote? We think so but the remote does leave a lot to be desired too
4 out of 10
RemoteSamsung takes the vertical styled remote to the next level with their current series of remotes that can be found in most of their new CRTs, DVD players and HDTVs but sorry, we just don't like it. Maybe some of their remotes for simpler products like a SDTV or DVD players work fine, but the remote for the HLS-5679W is simply unusable. Thankfully the remote slides nicely in the hand because for instance, if you want to change the station, punch in the channels at the top and then slam the remote into your thigh or chair arm to hit the "Enter" button a full six inches down the remote. How hard would it be to put another enter button in the bottom right of the number pad like almost every other remote ever created?
Then somehow on this massive remote, there are missing buttons. Why are Samsung's highly publicized Game Mode or PIP controls buried in the TVs menu? You can turn on PIP with a remote button but if you want to change the input of PIP there is nine menu steps a person has to perform; Game Mode is eleven steps away. There simply should be buttons on the remote for these common functions. We have other small issues that most manufacturers seem to have forgotten about like direct-access input buttons and backlighting but not many OEM remotes feature these anymore for some odd reason.
6 out of 10
Design and connectivityThis set takes strong styling cues from past Samsung DLPs, in fact the HLS-5679W is using the same bezel from their 2003 model line. That's kosher with us though 'cause the larger cabinet offsets the screen size and produces an impressive look. The speakers are found on the bottom and sound O.K. We can't say they sound great and really, what micro-display has a great sound via small, underpowered speakers? The controls are flush mounted on the right hand side with the power button smack-dab in the middle in the standard Samsung fashion.
We like the fact that Samsung was courteous enough to put all the inputs in one central location on the right hand side even though the power cord is located on the same panel. Should be on left hand side like most CE products to minimize interference on all those analog connections – or just use digital HDMI connections.
7 out of 10
OverallThis TV was a treat to review. 1080p, no rainbows, great color, consistent black level all makes for a great picture. The HDTV isn't without flaws, but they have nothing to do with the picture and these issues can be avoided. How many times do you go into your TV menu and many people are now stepping up to a universal control, but still, Samsung should have built a more responsive menu and designed a better remote. This DLP doesn't have an expensive bulb to replace like all of their other ones out their but this one has a big price tag so don't expect to save money in the long one. We really think Samsung has a winner on their hands as long as the LEDs lasts as long they say they will.
Single-chip DMD device
52.4"(W) x 37.9"(H) x 15.3"(D)
Audio 10W x 2
Excellent picture – post-calibration
Long 'lamp' life – hopefully
Hard red push pre-calibrated
Overall Engadget HD score
8 out of 10
Samsung HL-5679W Calibrated by