Auto brightness limiters (abl) in plasma sets - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
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I see so many comments that say something like "if you don't like x problem with LCD screens then go with Plasma". Everybody seems to talk about how great Plasma is. Yet every time time I look at a plasma set one of the first things I notice is how every time a bright scene appears or the screen goes all white, the screen dims by over 50%, ruining the image. After doing some research into this, I have learned that this is called the "auto brightness limiter" which is on all new plasmas and has been cranked up higher and higher each year to the point where, in my opinion, it has totally ruined the quality of these sets.

So are people really just ignoring this fluctuating brightness issue on these new plasmas? It seems that people are real quick to bash LCD with all its flaws (and there certainly are many flaws) and speak of the virtue of plasma, but I never see anybody mention this deal-breaking design flaw with the new plasmas. People talk like if I really want quality I should get a plasma. But what good is a plasma if every time there's white on the screen the screen auto-dims? That would drive me nuts.
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post #2 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle_2 View Post

I see so many comments that say something like "if you don't like x problem with LCD screens then go with Plasma". Everybody seems to talk about how great Plasma is. Yet every time time I look at a plasma set one of the first things I notice is how every time a bright scene appears or the screen goes all white, the screen dims by over 50%, ruining the image. After doing some research into this, I have learned that this is called the "auto brightness limiter" which is on all new plasmas and has been cranked up higher and higher each year to the point where, in my opinion, it has totally ruined the quality of these sets.

So are people really just ignoring this fluctuating brightness issue on these new plasmas? It seems that people are real quick to bash LCD with all its flaws (and there certainly are many flaws) and speak of the virtue of plasma, but I never see anybody mention this deal-breaking design flaw with the new plasmas. People talk like if I really want quality I should get a plasma. But what good is a plasma if every time there's white on the screen the screen auto-dims? That would drive me nuts.

As has been pointed out many times in these forums, there are setting on plasmas that minimize (not necessarily eliminate) this from occurring. Getting a Samsung off of "standard" is just one of them.

Personally, my viewing preferences don't include watching polar bears in snow storms so I hardly ever encounter this. Once in a while watching hockey is about it. I can live with that considering just about everything else is better with a plasma.
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post #3 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 11:11 AM
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To each his own. I can live with the ABL of plasmas. I would be bothered much more by the off-angle deterioration of picture quality, brightness uniformity and blooming during dark scenes that are prevalent in most LCDs.
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post #4 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle_2 View Post

I see so many comments that say something like "if you don't like x problem with LCD screens then go with Plasma". Everybody seems to talk about how great Plasma is. Yet every time time I look at a plasma set one of the first things I notice is how every time a bright scene appears or the screen goes all white, the screen dims by over 50%, ruining the image. After doing some research into this, I have learned that this is called the "auto brightness limiter" which is on all new plasmas and has been cranked up higher and higher each year to the point where, in my opinion, it has totally ruined the quality of these sets.

So are people really just ignoring this fluctuating brightness issue on these new plasmas? It seems that people are real quick to bash LCD with all its flaws (and there certainly are many flaws) and speak of the virtue of plasma, but I never see anybody mention this deal-breaking design flaw with the new plasmas. People talk like if I really want quality I should get a plasma. But what good is a plasma if every time there's white on the screen the screen auto-dims? That would drive me nuts.

50% is an extreme exaggeration but you should buy an LCD so you can be happy.
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post #5 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 11:54 AM
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Plasma sets do give you "dirty whites". This is most obvious on TV commercials where most of the screen is white. Plasma sets turn this into a light grey.

When viewing normal content, this effect is not nearly as obvious. Outdoor scenes with clouds and sky look natural - and the clouds are white.

LCD makes this issue with plasma sets really stand out. Any light colored background that fills most of the screen will look tons brighter on LCD than plasma.

I think the real deciding factor between the technologies is the environment you will be using the set in. Dark rooms will make plasma sets look their best. Bright light in the room favor LCD.

Unless you spend a lot of time looking at white screens, the plasma "grey" factor will only be noticable during tv commercials. Without an LCD screen right next to the plasma, you get used to the level of white on a plasma and it begins to look normal.
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post #6 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by aydu View Post

Plasma sets do give you "dirty whites".

I don't have dirty whites on my plasmas, but they are calibrated.
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post #7 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 01:43 PM
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When i first got my plasma, i really struggled getting used to the dimmed down whites when watching hockey only. Now i watch hockey on an LCD and the whites seem way too bright. You get used to it. The LCD cannot compare in any other way however to my VT25. If you want a stadium lit TV screen, then go LCD/LED. If you want a more natural looking picture that will not strain your eyes then get plasma.

The off angle viewing on LCD's stink also, which would be a huge problem in the room my TV is in. The motion issues and non-uniformed screen is also crappy on LCD.

Basically everyone's eye is different. I was once a big LCD booster, now its plasma all the way.

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post #8 of 161 Old 07-15-2011, 02:01 PM
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One really important thing to remember is that once the TV is in your home, it's the only TV in your living room. The presence of other much brighter things is not affecting your perception of what you're seeing. If you Google some optical illusion things, you'll see how badly your visual perception is affected by the presence of the "other" and how unreal that perception is. This is something to be considered when viewing TVs in stores, at least. It might not apply to the original poster's concern, but it might.

There is no difference in HDMI cables. If you can see the picture without visible dropouts or sparklies, the cable is working at 100%. No other cable will display a better version of that picture. You're simply wrong if you think there is a better digital cable than one that is already working. (Oh, and plasma didn't die because of logistics problems, nor does OLED ship in big boxes because it comes from Korea.)
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post #9 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 12:10 AM
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I wish there was a setting to have it dim down more. I have an HTPC, and it is blinding whenever I bring up Google in Internet Explorer.

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post #10 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 12:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I appreciate the input. There's actually a lot to like about plasma. It was only recently that I was made aware of ABL because I was looking at some plasmas in some stores and I noticed whenever the screen got white (commercials for example) the screen got very noticeably darker. The whites indeed did turn gray. I have read that the ABL in these sets are being cranked up more each year and that some sets dim the screen by more than 50% now, which seems quite excessive to me.

I watch all kinds of programming and I'm sure that there will be many times that I come across a white scene and I would find that very annoying. While I'm not a huge follower of polar bear documentaries I do sometimes watch Discovery channel and I have indeed watched some docs with ice/snow/polar bears, etc. - and I like my white to look white. Right off the top of my head I'm thinking of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" - the original one - and the long scene with an all-white room with the teleporting tv set. Or how about THX-1138? My point is I don't know if I could ever get used to the screen just suddenly dimming whenever a white screen appears. I admit LCD has many issues, and they can be very frustrating, but sadly I don't know if I could get past the ABL issue.


Michael2000, I know what you mean with Google though - blinding in fact.
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post #11 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle_2 View Post

I appreciate the input. There's actually a lot to like about plasma. It was only recently that I was made aware of ABL because I was looking at some plasmas in some stores and I noticed whenever the screen got white (commercials for example) the screen got very noticeably darker. The whites indeed did turn gray. I have read that the ABL in these sets are being cranked up more each year and that some sets dim the screen by more than 50% now, which seems quite excessive to me.

I watch all kinds of programming and I'm sure that there will be many times that I come across a white scene and I would find that very annoying. While I'm not a huge follower of polar bear documentaries I do sometimes watch Discovery channel and I have indeed watched some docs with ice/snow/polar bears, etc. - and I like my white to look white. Right off the top of my head I'm thinking of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" - the original one - and the long scene with an all-white room with the teleporting tv set. Or how about THX-1138? My point is I don't know if I could ever get used to the screen just suddenly dimming whenever a white screen appears. I admit LCD has many issues, and they can be very frustrating, but sadly I don't know if I could get past the ABL issue.


Michael2000, I know what you mean with Google though - blinding in fact.

I've never noticed this effect and have been a plasma owner for 3 plus years. To each his own I guess. I think I here that LCD forum calling you home btw

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post #12 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle_2 View Post

I appreciate the input. There's actually a lot to like about plasma. It was only recently that I was made aware of ABL because I was looking at some plasmas in some stores and I noticed whenever the screen got white (commercials for example) the screen got very noticeably darker. The whites indeed did turn gray. I have read that the ABL in these sets are being cranked up more each year and that some sets dim the screen by more than 50% now, which seems quite excessive to me.

I watch all kinds of programming and I'm sure that there will be many times that I come across a white scene and I would find that very annoying. While I'm not a huge follower of polar bear documentaries I do sometimes watch Discovery channel and I have indeed watched some docs with ice/snow/polar bears, etc. - and I like my white to look white. Right off the top of my head I'm thinking of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" - the original one - and the long scene with an all-white room with the teleporting tv set. Or how about THX-1138? My point is I don't know if I could ever get used to the screen just suddenly dimming whenever a white screen appears. I admit LCD has many issues, and they can be very frustrating, but sadly I don't know if I could get past the ABL issue.


Michael2000, I know what you mean with Google though - blinding in fact.

If you're looking for a perfect television I'm afraid you'll never buy one. Not CCFL-LCD, LED-LCD, or plasma, etc. As has been mentioned ad infinitum in this forum (do you read any of the posts?) if you switch your plasma out of "standard" and into "movie" you'll virtually never experience any significantly annoying issues with the ABL.
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post #13 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 08:50 AM
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I think ABL has been around plasma longer than just "recently". Too bright a screen for too long a time will burn the plasma circuits due to the low power efficiency of plasma cells.

It will help if u lower the brightness or get it calibrated to reference 80-120cd/m2. But it's an inherent plasma issue until they can improve on the luminosity. LCDs are often tweaked too bright >120cd/m2 and IMHO may hurt your eyes (depending on your environment) if for eg the Google home page pops up.
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post #14 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 09:02 AM
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eg means "for example" so you don't need to say "for eg"
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post #15 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 10:43 PM
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The ABL issue is plasma's most serious handicap. Even more so than burn-in -- sorry, er, I mean image retention.

It's pretty obvious with whiteboard advertisements, but who cares? It's not so bad with night sports. A nighttime baseball game often looks about the same on plasma as LCD. However, if you spend a lot of time watching the NHL (or Bikini Destinations), it can be a dealbreaker.
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post #16 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 10:43 PM
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The AWB issue is often blown way out of proportion by lcd pundits or by people with un or improperly calibrated plasmas. I watch hockey religiously and do play alot of nhl11 on my plasma and I have never actually ran into an AWB issue, whites look white and thats that, calibrate your contrast settings properly and you should never have to see your set "dim" itself.
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post #17 of 161 Old 07-16-2011, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by chunon View Post
I think I here that LCD forum calling you home btw
Actually I've said goodbye to that LCD forum for good!

I made the leap today with the Samsung PN51D7000F plasma and I can't wait for it to be delivered.

I've given these new LED lit LCDs many chances and I have been very unhappy with the uneven lighting/banding/poor viewing angles/light leaks, etc that plague LED lit LCD screens. I've been stressing myself for 2 weeks with LCD returns due to horrible lighting issues. After looking at some plasmas again today I decided that even though ABL might make itself known in some situations, the huge gains in other areas make it well worth the jump to plasma.

I was also impressed that both sales people I talked to today, from 2 different retail chains, both said they owned plasmas themselves for years and were extremely pleased. And one of these guys was from Best Buy even.
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post #18 of 161 Old 07-17-2011, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by specuvestor View Post

I think ABL has been around plasma longer than just "recently". Too bright a screen for too long a time will burn the plasma circuits due to the low power efficiency of plasma cells.

It will help if u lower the brightness or get it calibrated to reference 80-120cd/m2. But it's an inherent plasma issue until they can improve on the luminosity. LCDs are often tweaked too bright >120cd/m2 and IMHO may hurt your eyes (depending on your environment) if for eg the Google home page pops up.

Correct. Even my old CRT(Thomson) had ABL that kicked in sometimes. I can agree that it is irritating with ABL on plasma.

I wish I could turn this "feature" to "off". But I'll guess its built in?
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post #19 of 161 Old 07-17-2011, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle_2 View Post

Actually I've said goodbye to that LCD forum for good!

I made the leap today with the Samsung PN51D7000F plasma and I can't wait for it to be delivered.

I've given these new LED lit LCDs many chances and I have been very unhappy with the uneven lighting/banding/poor viewing angles/light leaks, etc that plague LED lit LCD screens. I've been stressing myself for 2 weeks with LCD returns due to horrible lighting issues. After looking at some plasmas again today I decided that even though ABL might make itself known in some situations, the huge gains in other areas make it well worth the jump to plasma.

I was also impressed that both sales people I talked to today, from 2 different retail chains, both said they owned plasmas themselves for years and were extremely pleased. And one of these guys was from Best Buy even.

Okay good and welcome to the club then

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post #20 of 161 Old 07-17-2011, 10:21 AM
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I wish I could turn this "feature" to "off". But I'll guess its built in?

nope otherwise plasma failure rate would shoot through the roof
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post #21 of 161 Old 07-18-2011, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
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From what I've read it has gotten more aggressive just in the last few years, resulting in much darker whites when it kicks in. Does anybody know why it is so aggressive? It would be great if at least you could adjust it to some degree. I am looking forward to my plasma set but I think the one big thing I'll need to get used to is this ABL thing. It's a shame that this is an issue because it kind of takes away from the otherwise amazing picture plasma delivers.

I just read on the Samsung site that a reviewer back in May said he'd been told that a future firmware update would allow disabling of the ABL. I don't know if this is correct but it would be nice if it was true, or at least to allow us to minimize the amount of dimming that is applied.
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post #22 of 161 Old 07-19-2011, 01:49 AM
 
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nope otherwise plasma failure rate would shoot through the roof

what a load of bull ****
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post #23 of 161 Old 07-19-2011, 08:30 AM
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what a load of bull ****

Are u a one liner newbie or u care to share with us your expertise on ABL? Since u are just getting your display calibrated why don't u ask your calibrator and report back here? Ask also why they are using a small box to measure white.

@eagle_2 I'm guessing it may have to do with the energy requirements such that plasmas nowadays have low advertised power consumption default modes.
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post #24 of 161 Old 07-19-2011, 09:14 AM
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Of all the nitpicks I have with my plasma the ABL is actually not one of them. Perhaps because I run fairly low contrast anyways, usually around 50-55 night and maybe 60 during the day if lots of light is coming in. Is this something that shows up more at higher contrast? I'm thinking if at 100 contrast it has to dim by 40-50% for full white (probably not) then at 50-60 contrast maybe it doesn't have to dim at all?

I use windows on the screen all the time and don't notice any dimming, if I play with a white window size the only artifact I see is the FBr screwing around with the background a bit.
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post #25 of 161 Old 07-19-2011, 09:22 AM
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So what is the difference between ABL and fluctuating brightness? Is ABL just the cause of it or are they unrelated? Because the brightness fluctuation happens during dark scenes as well. Camera change in dark to bright scenes, I mean, pretty much everywhere. It seems to be more noticeable in brighter/whiter scenes, but its always there. Is that ABL too?
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post #26 of 161 Old 12-12-2012, 03:20 PM
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I hate to necro this bad boy, but it seems easier than creating a new thread. I realize this thread is well over a year old, but at the time TC was talking about how they are making this effect stronger and stronger in newer models. Most of the replies only discuss the impact on bright white backgrounds, but on my brand new P50U50 anything remotely bright becomes dim. What I mean is that anything bright that isn't a solid color comes in dim and appears faded. Examples include solid light backgrounds like blue or yellow, video games with bright environments (in-game) or even cartoons such as Family Guy. I could understand if this feature toned down only extreme brights, but this set is distorting the picture quality on anything even remotely "bright". Is this really normal or is there a chance I may have a defective set?

Thanks in advance if anyone takes the time to reply.
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post #27 of 161 Old 12-12-2012, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by JSpectre88 View Post

I hate to necro this bad boy, but it seems easier than creating a new thread. I realize this thread is well over a year old, but at the time TC was talking about how they are making this effect stronger and stronger in newer models. Most of the replies only discuss the impact on bright white backgrounds, but on my brand new P50U50 anything remotely bright becomes dim. What I mean is that anything bright that isn't a solid color comes in dim and appears faded. Examples include solid light backgrounds like blue or yellow, video games with bright environments (in-game) or even cartoons such as Family Guy. I could understand if this feature toned down only extreme brights, but this set is distorting the picture quality on anything even remotely "bright". Is this really normal or is there a chance I may have a defective set?
Thanks in advance if anyone takes the time to reply.

I don't have a U50 to judge the ABL myself, but FWIW, pro reviews have noted that the U50/UT50 plasmas have more aggressive ABL than some other plasmas, including the higher Panasonic models. David Mackenzie says this in his review of the UK UT50:

"The implementation of ABL on the Panasonic TX-P42UT50B appears to be a little more extreme than on other Panasonic plasma televisions, such as the ST50 series and up. In other words, images which wouldn’t trigger the dimming on the ST50 did appear slightly dimmed on the UT50, suggesting that the ABL kicks in sooner on this cheaper model."

And David Katzmaier says this in his review of the U50:

"Only when the screen turned mostly white... did the U50 get dimmer than the Samsung [PNE550]"

Both of them downplay the issue and give the TVs very favorable reviews, but when comparing the U-series directly to other plasmas, both reviewers witnessed that the U plasmas got dimmer in bright scenes than other plasmas -- although it's not totally clear how much of the problem was caused by ABL in Katzmaier's review, because the U50 may have been (by necessity) calibrated to a lower peak brightness than the Samsung.
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post #28 of 161 Old 12-12-2012, 05:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MechanicalMan View Post

I don't have a U50 to judge the ABL myself, but FWIW, pro reviews have noted that the U50/UT50 plasmas have more aggressive ABL than some other plasmas, including the higher Panasonic models. David Mackenzie says this in his review of the UK UT50:
"The implementation of ABL on the Panasonic TX-P42UT50B appears to be a little more extreme than on other Panasonic plasma televisions, such as the ST50 series and up. In other words, images which wouldn’t trigger the dimming on the ST50 did appear slightly dimmed on the UT50, suggesting that the ABL kicks in sooner on this cheaper model."
And David Katzmaier says this in his review of the U50:
"Only when the screen turned mostly white... did the U50 get dimmer than the Samsung [PNE550]"
Both of them downplay the issue and give the TVs very favorable reviews, but when comparing the U-series directly to other plasmas, both reviewers witnessed that the U plasmas got dimmer in bright scenes than other plasmas -- although it's not totally clear how much of the problem was caused by ABL in Katzmaier's review, because the U50 may have been (by necessity) calibrated to a lower peak brightness than the Samsung.

Thank you for the information, I didn't know about the UK model review. I find it troubling that this model has more aggressive ABL than the higher end ones, but I find it peculiar what he said afterward. He goes on to say that..

"In any case, it should have a minimal effect on real usage since almost no TV content (other than iPhone commercials) features these average picture levels".

This is certainly not the case for me, even outdoor scenes that have cut off views of a bright sky are dimming the television. By this I mean in a horizontal picture roughly 2/3 of the shot is the ground, and the remaining 1/3 shows the sky. Also, since I made my initial post I'm noticing that virtually everything I watch is being affected at one point or another with varying degrees of brightness limiting. On Cinema mode I don't notice as much since it's default brightness is lower, but on the custom setting I can just tell when any image has had its brightness altered, even if it's only by a small margin.

Unless there's any feasible way to remove the ABL through unconventional means, I'm hoping I can convince them to take this set back for being defective.
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post #29 of 161 Old 12-12-2012, 07:01 PM
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I think you may have a defective model. I have the same panel, just the 60 inch size and the only time I notice ABL is in game mode with my PS 3 and that is only 1 game I see it with. I get pretty sensitive to monitors with problems. My last one had a pulsating problem (a known issue with the model that was discovered after my purchase) when the screen was dark. Most people never noticed it, but it always got under my skin. It really sucks to have to send it in for return and be without a monitor, but I definitely would if I was having problems like you are describing.
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post #30 of 161 Old 12-12-2012, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steezus Christ View Post

I think you may have a defective model. I have the same panel, just the 60 inch size and the only time I notice ABL is in game mode with my PS 3 and that is only 1 game I see it with. I get pretty sensitive to monitors with problems. My last one had a pulsating problem (a known issue with the model that was discovered after my purchase) when the screen was dark. Most people never noticed it, but it always got under my skin. It really sucks to have to send it in for return and be without a monitor, but I definitely would if I was having problems like you are describing.

Yeah I am definitely starting to think this might be a problem that goes beyond the normal ABL. If you can, on a mostly white commercial what do you notice on your set? I tested mine on custom with a white commercial background with an average sized logo and the screened dims approximately to around 60 contrast. I have been keeping the set around 75 contrast for the break in period, but ideally I would like to have it in the 90's, comparable to the CNET settings for this set. So while testing again briefly, at 95 contrast non-white scenes that just have bright content will dim to anywhere from 70-85% contrast. The way I can tell is that when you bring up the menu since it covers up 3/4 of the screen the remaining image will be unaffected by the ABL.
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