updated 10:45 am EDT, Wed July 23, 2008
Samsung 9 series HDTV
Samsung today prepped its HDTV line for the second half of 2008 by introducing a new series of displays, including the company's first-ever LCD TV with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The 950 display line is the first update to the 81 series from a year ago and combines the LED backlighting of the earlier set with improvements to the panel and image processing to hit the new record. LED allows the TV to shut off lighting entirely in truly dark parts of the image and creates true blacks. The set is also the first LED-lit model from Samsung to have a 120Hz panel, which frees buyers from having to choose either between the better contrast or reducing artifacts in fast movement.
The series also brings Samsung's flagship up to par with Internet-connected TVs released earlier this year and builds in an Ethernet jack that allows it not only to pull down RSS feeds for news and weather but to stream media from computers and consoles that either use the DLNA media hub standard or else Samsung's own WiseLink Pro. USB ports allow playing digital content locally.
The sets carry four HDMI ports with CEC automation support and will be available in 46-inch and 55-inch models with a subtler gray "Touch of Color" border priced at $3,200 and $4,200 respectively when they appear in August.
Samsung has also upgraded its conventionally-lit LCD TVs through the 850 and 860 series. The two both generate a still-high 50,000:1 contrast ratio and have improved image processing, but also introduce slimmer bezels that are 1.9 inches across at their widest points. Both also support the Ethernet connection of the earlier 7 series.
The two 8 series TVs will ship in 46-inch and 52-inch models; the 850 comes with the same red "Touch of Color" border and expansion as the 7 series at prices of $2,700 and $3,300, while the 860 switches to a new blue color and adds an extra USB port for another $100 each. These appear in September.
Plasmas have also been upgraded with the new 760 models. Thanks in part to the nature of plasma as well as 18-bit color processing, these too can match the 1,000,000:1 contrast of the 950 and also boast the option of calibrating the set for an ideal picture either in daylight or for dark environments. These are also the first plasmas from Samsung to introduce the "Touch of Color" design.
Each has the same HDMI and Ethernet support as the top-range sets but are available in larger sizes more conducive to plasma, with 50-inch, 58-inch, and 63-inch models coming in at $2,900, $4,500, and $5,500 respectively. The screens are due in August.
850/860 series (860 shown)