...and I gotta say I'm pretty disappointed with the black levels. Now it is the new Samsung PN51E550, ok, I know the E550 isn't top of the line and I know the smaller 51" Samsung panels have higher black levels than the larger panels, I get all that...but damn, this thing ain't all that much better than my '09 LG 42LH40 LCD and really I would say looks a little worse I think.
I'm currently using the stock "cinema" settings, the things I changed being lowering the sharpness to zero and darkening the gamma a bit more. Now I don't expect top of the line blacks from the E550 series, but surely something at least better than an LG LCD?
My LG LCD blacks actually aren't terrible, they're pretty light during dark scenes but during brighter scenes letterbox and 4x3 bars look pretty decently deep, the bars actually looking better on the LG than the E550. For anyone familiar with LG LCDs, all the settings (backlight, contrast, sharpness, etc.) are on scales of 0 to 100; for my set I'm using the "cinema" setting with the backlight actually lowered very far down to 5, which is pretty low especially when most people and reviews recommend around 20-30 for the backlight, however it appears plenty bright in my small room at night with the lights out.
So I'm just not sure what's going on here? My room is about 10x10 feet and at night with the lights out is pretty much black. Given that it's a small room, could the actual light from the TV itself when turned on cause the blacks to wash out? (Since it's a small room, the light from the TV is sort of "trapped" so to speak, it can't dissipate out like in say a large basement or living room). Or could it be that the E550 is just such a larger and brighter set than my LG (like I said, 5 is a pretty low and dim setting for an LG LCD backlight) that I'm just not used to it? Whatever it is, the blacks just don't look good.
Anyway, I'm just kinda bummed because I decided about a year ago after paying off my TV that I was going to get a plasma because I wanted deeper black levels than my LCD. I hate the idea of having to return it, but I just may have to.
(I also really hate the way the screen will turn completely dark with nothing on, and then pop right back up the moment something is about to appear. For example, taking a look at Doctor Zhivago last night, between the overture and opening credits the screen turned off to a deep blank black, then a split second before the MGM lion comes on the screen pops back on. The same thing happened after the end of the credits and the opening of the film. Why does Samsung do this? Do they really think that by turning the screen off they're fooling us into thinking the TV has a deeper black than it really does? It's just annoying and distracting).