Back in Mid-August, I was told by BB that the computer showed an expected arrival date of September 12 for the LN-T5281F. But, I was in the area so I called up the Magnolia department and sure enough, one and only one had just arrived today. So I stopped in, they brought it out. I asked to see some Blue-Ray material, and they opened the box and hooked it up. Stunning! It was awesome. So they bubble wrapped it so it would fit in the car and now it is in my living room. Just in time for a 3-day weekend too!
First off, I have to make a few comments. None of the pictures I have seen on the forum, including the ones I am about to post, come close to doing this display any justice. If you could try to imagine an ABSOLUTELY pristine and perfect image this does it. You know the blooming effect around white objects on a black background seen in other pics? There is NONE, totally a camera artifact. I took a few pic myself and they appear to have this bloom, but it is NOT visible on the display at all. The white on black edge is crisp and sharp.
WARNING: There is one flaw with this TV model, that really bothers me. The PIP. Sure it has PIP, but it only works with the Off-Air source! No component, no HDMI, no svideo. ONLY -ATSC or NTSC off-air coax.
After discovering this, I almost packed it back up and brought it back, but then I thought of a workaround. I use the Composite video out on my HR-20 HD Satellite receiver and pass it through an old VCR and connect the Coax out to the off-Air input on the TV. OMG, I can't believe I have to do that! My pervious TV could use any source in PIP (Samsung HL-R4667W), so why not this new, state-of-the-art TV? What a screw-up! I hope this will get fixed in a firmware update, but I'm not holding my breath...
The display itself is flawless as a computer display. I just hooked up my computer to the display using HDMI and it is perfect. It appears to have perfect 1:1 pixel mapping, although I still have some tests to do to really verify that, but my 1:1 test images are showing up perfectly. There is a trick to it though. I connected the computer to HDMI1. Then, you MUST
go and label that HDMI1 input as "PC". As soon as you do that, you'll notice the display brightness changes. Then, in the menu options, there is an option to enable "Home Theater PC" (which was previously greyed out or disabled before the labelling of the input). Again, that changes something in the display (not sure what). Then, set P.Size to "16:9". Notice the previously mentioned "Just scan" mode is no longer available. Then, I went into the NVidia control panel to resize the desktop and adjusted the width/height to perfection. Once I finished that, voila! Perfect, 1920x1080 perfection, undistorted 1:1 pixel mapping. With no overscan/underscan. Now, to the average Joe it looks good without doing any of this because of the shear resolution the display has, but once you get that 1:1 pixel mapping... WOW. Text is so sharp and colors are so bright, it is unimaginable to me that any display could look better. I see no display uniformity issues either. No banding. No dead pixels.
Note: I am not using the VGA input... some might ask why not. well, you can choose to switch inputs through your audio receiver and put up with HDMI compatability issues and other crap, or you can choose to switch inputs using the TV. I chose the TV. I think it's the logical choice. So, I have digital audio coming out of the computer, but if I use VGA, I can't pass digital audio through the TV with the VGA. The 81 series PC audio is a 1/8" stereo plug. Useless! And if I routed it to the receiver, I would have to change sources on my receiver and TV everytime I go from computer to TV... YUCK. So that's why. I am 100% HDMI and I use the SPDIF fiber optic audio out on the back of the TV. Working great so far.
Also, if you're gonna do an HTPC with this TV, I highly recommend, getting an NVidia card with HDMI out. I am using this card: MSI NX8500GT-MTD256EH GeForce 8500GT. It has no fan, so it's quiet. Also, it has integrated HDCP, so when I get a BlueRay or HD-DVD drive in the computer, everything should work at full 1080P resolution. If your card does not have HDCP, it won't pass through the 1080P! If you're a gamer, there is a faster card (but louder with fan): MSI NX8600GTS Diamond Plus GeForce 8600GTS.
Remember what I said about these pics. The bloom is NOT there. The black is awesome and even when I get up close the space shuttle looks awesome. I can almost walk up to the TV and read the serial numbers off the tiles.
Oh yeah, and that glare thing...? We have bright windows to the sides, but none behind us and my wife and I don't notice the glare. I was really worried about it after reading all the comments about glare but it just isn't an issue for us. But, in the store it did look very reflective. Once it's on though, I just stopped noticing it.
Samsung LN-T5281F 1080P LCD with LED backlight
DirecTV HR20 Dual Tuner HD DVR with integrated ATSC
Onkyo TX-SR501 Audio Receiver
Custom HTPC with Foxconn G9657MA Motherboard and MSI NX8500GT-MTD256EH graphics card