Here are the AUO panel's backlight images (black, gray, white) for comparison to the images of the Samsung panel.
As you can see, the pattern is different, but in practical use, worse than the Samsung. The brightness and location of certain patches make it impossible to set the picture quality to acceptable levels while maintaining black (or even dark gray!) in the letter or pillar box borders (that to me is the ultimate sin), and of course, when content appears in those areas, contrast is reduced and colors are washed out, etc.
The backlight issues not withstanding, the picture quality overall of the AUO seems lower than the example I returned. Just a few of my observations:
- the AUO picture appears grainier (even on HD video sources) than the Samsung. Related to that, I believe, is the fact that very little sharpening (+2) can be applied before I noted distortions in the image. And, I'm not sure of the technical term for it, but patterns of closely packed horizontal or vertical lines were jaggy and seemed to be in motion, whereas such defects seemed to be inconspicuous on the Samsung.
- raising brightness or gamma (or both) on the Samsung allowed for opening up shadow detail while still maintaining picture quality. Doing so with the AUO washes out the colors and still leaves the shadows blocked up to a greater extent.
- viewing angle seems to be considerably more restrictive on the AUO. As an example, the shape or intensity of the dark and light patterns of the inconsistent backlighting on the AUO could be changed by moving only a few inches off dead-center. It's so bad that I seriously thought I needed to post the patterns from multiple angles for the test to even be valid. Instead, noting that this occurs will have to suffice.
Do others agree that Samsung is generally better than AUO, or is this another crapshoot? I think I know the answer.
With all that said, why do I even bother with this instead of just getting my money back and moving on?
1) I got such a great deal on this TV (at a local store even, so returns are fairly easy logistically) that to exchange for a different model at this point (similar size, specs etc.) would cost an extra $150+ dollars. An upgrade would cost even more, but I'm actually more open to the latter if it means I can find a good panel much easier.
2) Based on my soured experience thus far, I'm betting my experience with other models, especially in this price range, could be equally lottery-like, so I don't see where I'd gain by jumping ship now. Maybe the people at the store would like me better, but that's about it.
What is the LCD panel type of each of the two panels being discussed?