This past week my business partner David Abrams and I spent some time evaluating my Samsung HL-S5088W 50" DLP/RPTV. Our associated gear included a Toshiba HD-A1 HD-DVD player updated to version 1.2 and fed into an iScan VP30 via HDMI and then back out to the display via HDMI. We also connected the HD-A1 directly into the TV via component cables (bypassing the VP30). Test patterns were supplied via a custom made HD-DVD test disc from JKP Labs as well as an Accupel HDG-3000 and Sencore VP-403 generators. Readings were taken by a Photo Research PR650 Spectroradiometer. Lastly, all testing was done in a darkened environment.
Off the bat, these displays cannot be approached in the same manner as prior Samsung DLPs because of major idiosyncrasies within the service menu. Dave and I spent the entire week having to come up with a new calibration method. However, our work paid off as it yielded a picture that was amongst the best that we've seen on any Samsung DLP/RPTV to date. That said, there wasn't a single aspect (brightness, contrast, color, tint, sharpness, gamma, primaries, secondaries, grayscale, focus, etc.) of this display that didn't need serious tweaking within the service menu before such a picture could be delivered.
Here are some of the key advantages over last year's HL-Rxx68/78 line.
1. Cabinet is now black which results in deeper blacks and an improved contrast ratio.
2. Cabinet is physically smaller due to the thinner bezel (good for tight installations).
3. Internal speakers sound slightly better.
4. DNIe and all its ill effects (floating black, excessive edge enhancement, horizontal banding) is once again defeatable within the user menu.
5. The LDL (light, dark, light) effect does not appear to be prevalent anymore.
6. In addition to 480p, 720p, and 1080i, the HDMI inputs will now accept 480i as well as 1080p (previous models only accepted 480p, 720p, and 1080i via the HDMI inputs).
7. There are individual memories for ALL scan rates via HDMI (previous models only had one memory per HDMI input).
8. Component inputs now pass PLUGE (below black).
9. The Movie mode (Cinema CCA within the service menu) now has 5 selectable grayscale memories (previous models were fixed to Warm 2).
10. Ring-focus is easier to get to (mine was way off).
11. The overscan adjustment in the service menu appears to stick even when switching inputs and powering off.
12. There is slightly more space on the back panel for easier connectivity.
Here are some drawbacks.
1. The lookup tables for the secondary (yellow, magenta, cyan) destination points within the CCA menu don't work as they should. However, we have found a way to correct this error so no worries.
2. While ring-focus is easier to get to, it is now a two person job - again not a big deal.
3. The bezel is much more involved to remove especially over the xx78 line making a Velux install difficult. On the other hand, the cabinet is already black so there probably wouldn't be a big benefit to lining it with Velux anyway.
4. The color decoder seems to be off with no real way to correct it as of yet. More testing will need to be conducted in regards to this.
Other than #4, I would say that Samsung definitely took a step forward with this line. The only other odd thing that we found was an inability to get the Toshiba HD-A1 to communicate directly via the HDMI input. The only way we were able to do so was to run it through the VP30.