So I've been spending some time with the TV yesterday and this evening. I was tied up earlier today with my PC stuck in a reboot loop after running Windows update, so that took up my afternoon. That's why I didn't post earlier. Still haven't figured out what happened but right now I can't update my PC.
So here are my initial impressions and feelings towards my set. I'm going to underline a couple things that I could use a bit of advice on.
Firstly, in terms of the usual things to watch for with this set:
- bezel/plastic strip being lifted outwards: Nope - looks perfect on all 4 corners.
- flashlighting: Zero! Not a hint of light from any of the 4 corners. Zero edge bleed. This is with Smart LED off, so it's not just being hidden - there is no light leak at all that I can see, even in a totally dark room.
- clouding: Here's where things get interesting. Yes, there is clouding. With Smart LED off, I see 6-7 clumps of clouding, which are very easy to see in a dark room on a black test screen. A few clumps are more pronounced than others. Most are in the upper-central part of the panel. With some test footage from a film playing a very dark indoor scene, and also a space scene with just stars and a small spaceship in the shot, the clouding is noticeable during the scenes. As my eyes adjust to the darkness, the clouding becomes more apparent. I would not want to keep a set with clouding like that, visible during dark content. But, as soon as I enable Smart LED, the clouding is absolutely gone. Even on a black test screen, the clouding is completely gone when Smart LED is enabled. During end credits, clouding is visible with Smart LED off, but eliminated with it enabled. Both low and standard seem to be just as effective at eliminating (hiding) the clouding. Not a hint of light anywhere on the panel. I couldn't ask for a better-looking panel, once Smart LED is enabled. With it switched off, the clouding immediately appears again. It's a dramatic difference. Without the option of Smart LED, I would not be happy with the panel. With it on, it's like magic. Like the old question, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, yes it does, but since nobody hears it, does it matter? In this case, if there's clouding on the panel but I can't see, is it still there? I guess it doesn't matter as long as Smart LED keeps it hidden, right?
- dead pixels: I think I may have 1 dead pixel. It's so tiny of course I can't be sure - but during various greyscale and color slides, that one pixel is always a light grey in appearance. It displays no color in any color slide - it's always light grey. When the panel is displaying black in that area, it can't be seen - it's not white, nor grey - it's invisible when the panel is displaying black in that area. But when it's any other color, it stands out as light greyish in color. Here's the thing - it's in the extreme bottom-left corner - about 1/2 inch from the left and 3/4 of an inch from the bottom. If there's a dead pixel, that's the place to have it I would say. Much better than being in the middle of the panel. From a foot away from the screen I can see it if I look for it, but I have to look. From my couch around 10 feet away, it's impossible to see of course. So I'm leaning heavily towards ignoring it. I hate knowing I have a dead pixel, but I could get an exchange and have 2 more dead pixels in the middle of the screen next time. I wonder how many in here may have 1 or 2 and not even know it? They're tiny on this panel if it is actually a dead pixel I'm looking at. Thoughts?
uniformity: Here's something that I'm confused about. If I display my greyscale slides - especially around the 30%-50% slides, the top half of the panel has lots of dark horizontal "sweeping" - like if you took a broad brush and just went back and forth across the panel sideways like on a canvas. It's very noticeable on the slides and this worries me. But like the clouding, once Smart LED is enabled, that issue is virtually gone (hidden?). Like magic, the panel looks virtually uniform across the entire panel. Just solid grey. My uniformity test slide, which is basically just a greyscale slide I believe, looks completely uniform with Smart LED on. With it off, it does show those wisps across the top half of the panel. I haven't had a chance yet to watch anything with lots of panning against solid backgrounds to see how noticeable this is with Smart LED off. With it on, I can't imagine I'd see anything wrong with the panel at all. Is this anything to worry about?
So considering all the issues these panels can have, I think I've done extremely well. Zero flashlighting, one possible dead pixel in the extreme bottom-left corner, and some clouding and weird wisps/uniformity issues, both of which are eliminated with Smart LED enabled. I'm not kidding when I say the screen looks black with a black test slide - the LEDs are on but the panel is displaying nothing but black.
I've put in both denpom's settings and prme19's, and they both appear quite similar to my eyes. Right now I've got Denpom's settings in. Prme19's 10-point didn't make much of a difference for me, at least with the limited amount of material I've tried so far. I've used the AVS calibration disc basic tests and the Disney WOW disc to tweak the contrast and brightness. I've got the backlight on 10. I watched some Twilight Zone and a few minutes of It's A Wonderful Life on blu-ray to see how black-and-white looks, and I prefer the standard color tone, at least for black and white. I know we're "supposed' to use warm2, but on my old set I used warm1, as warm2 was just too yellowish for my tastes. I feel the same with this set. I like more natural flesh tones in general, and for black and white, even warm1 has a yellowish tint that I can't get comfortable with. Standard looks ideal to me for black and white. For color, I'm not sure yet. If I switch back and forth, I still may prefer standard even with color, but I can't make up my mind on that. I know warm1 is closer to ideal studio color but skin tones look a bit warm/yellowish even on warm 1. Maybe I just need to adjust my eyes to it? I also can't figure out if I should leave gamma on 0 or move it to -1 like prme19. Other than that, I've got the settings dialed in quite nice. I'm using movie mode of course. No white clipping, no color clipping, no black crush. Dynamic Contrast on low. Black tone is off.
I used my trick to disable the screen turning off with black fades, and it worked like a charm, just like on my old set. It makes using black test screens possible, and I don't get annoyed with fades to black in films.
I haven't commented yet on the picture, and I'm trying not to use hyperbole here, but holy cow is this an amazing picture! I downloaded the clips from demo-uhd3d and loaded them onto my new thumb drive and plugged it in, and my jaw was on the floor. Anybody who says you need to be just a few feet from the screen to see the difference between 1080p and 2160p is out of their mind, because from my seating distance of roughly 10', I'm seeing detail like I've never seen on a panel before, and it's certainly not just the jump from a 46" to a 55" screen. The detail is mesmerizing in those demo clips. And then I played the HDR demos. Insane! That first shot of Life of Pi with the sun reflecting on the ocean is striking! What amazed me with the HDR clips is that even with the backlight maxed out on 20, there was zero flashlighting or clouding visible! I can't fathom anybody leaving Smart LED disabled for any reason. Yes, there can be occasional fluctuations on the letterbox bars, but the negatives are far outweighed by the positives when it comes to Smart LED.
Anyways, I knew this was going to be a big post. Sorry guys. Just wanted to cover all my thoughts so far. I need to set up game mode and 3D mode too, and I haven't played around with PC mode yet either. 3D mode is tricky to get the colors balanced because of the tinting of the glasses. Even different brands of glasses have an effect on the color you see in 3D mode. So far I feel very positive about this set. I'm still very glad I have the 90-day return policy at Costco, because I have plenty of time to get comfortable with this set, watch lots of stuff, and see how I feel about it, while keeping my eye on the new models. But honestly, I can't imagine wanting to spend another $1k on a new 2016 model - in fact I couldn't even if I wanted to - I'd have to move down to the smaller size if they even offer one this year, and even then it would cost hundreds more than this 55" set. Sure it will hit brighter nits for HDR, but every panel is a gamble, and I think I hit it lucky here.