So I went into Best Buy this evening and got a chance to play with the F8000 a bit more. I asked for a remote, not expecting the actual touch remote, since last time they told me it was taped behind the tv.
. But the salesman actually provided me with the touch remote. Cool. So here's my chance to try out the touch remote with this set. Not so fast! It didn't work. I tried every single button, I tried swiping...nothing worked but the power button. The salesman tried, and confirmed it wasn't working. He swapped out the batteries, and still it didn't work. Only the power button worked - nothing else did anything. Nice remote, Samsung.
So instead I was brought a standard remote, which worked fine. The first thing I did was switch from Dynamic to Standard, and disabled all settings available - ECO settings, Dynamic contrast, Smart LED, Cinema Black, AMP, and all other options. I then went into Movie mode and disabled everything there as well. Then I watched.
- There is a permanent auto-dimming in Standard mode, just like last year, that cannot be disabled. There is no doubt about it. My girlfriend easily saw it too. Because of the demo-mode fly-out style menus on the sides and bottom (those who have seen the demo mode in stores know what I mean), the dimming was easy to spot. Every time the screen faded to black, the screen dimmed, including the built-in tv-generated fly-out demo menus. Text also dimmed, when against a black background. Because of the nature of the Best Buy video clips, I could not judge at all how that affected normal viewing. I suspect it will be very similar to last year - dark content = dimmed panel, bright content = bright panel. The darker the image, the more aggressive the dimming is likely to be, like last year.
- I then went into Movie mode. To my surprise, I did not see any noticeable auto-dimming. I watched for several minutes, and saw no sign of auto-dimming.
- I then enabled Smart LED in Movie mode. Yes, Smart LED is available in Movie mode. You have a choice of Off, Low, Standard, and High. I set it to Standard for Movie mode. With Smart LED on standard in movie mode, there was an immediately obvious change in the image. It really was impossible to tell in Best Buy if this was doing good things or bad - you would need test images to know for sure what was happening. It did "appear" to be an improvement - more "pop" I guess you could say. There was no auto-dimming effect that I could see with Smart LED on standard.
So then I set Smart LED to high. There seemed to be little to no picture quality difference, at least with the video sample being displayed there, between Smart LED on standard and High. The big difference was between low and standard. There was a huge difference when switching from low to standard, but virtually nothing changed from standard to high. One thing did
change though - on high, Movie mode was now afflicted by auto-dimming, just like in Standard mode. Except in Standard mode, auto-dimming was going on even with Smart LED off - in movie mode, Smart LED didn't seem to cause any noticeable auto-dimming until set to high. If there was any dimming there in the store with Smart LED on standard, I couldn't see it. At home, it may become more obvious if there is any dimming going on.
So, Smart LED is available in movie mode, and seems to have some rather drastic effects on the image when set to standard. Low seemed to have little effect over off, and high had little effect over standard. Smart LED caused auto-dimming just like in Standard mode, but seemingly only when set to high. Low and standard didn't seem to cause a noticeable dimming effect from what I could see on display anyways.
Another thing to note - Motion Lighting is unavailable in Standard mode, but it is available in Movie mode. It was disabled in Movie mode for my experimenting this evening.
What does all this mean? Not sure yet - I still don't know just what Smart LED is supposed to be - is it "micro-dimming"? If so, why does it cause auto-dimming when set to high? And why is there forced auto-dimming in Standard mode, even when Smart LED is set to off? It does seem like for those that hate auto-dimming, Movie mode might be an option this year, unlike last year with it's drab blacks and dull image. No auto dimming by default from what I can see in Movie mode, and Smart LED can safely be turned up to standard and still not cause any major dimming issues (from what I can tell with the very little observing I was able to do this evening). Does that mean Smart LED is really Micro-Dimming, and we can have that choice this year in Movie mode? I hope so.