Top critical review
76 people found this helpful
on 1 May 2011
This is a brilliant television for the price. I purchased it yesterday and have spent many hours with it, testing all sorts of content: both blu-ray, xvid / divx (std def) and MP4's - 720p (via a PS3 and Samsung D5500 blu-ray player)and the FPS game 'Crysis 2', also on the PS3. It has so far exceeded my expectations.
I can only compare it to previous purchases and experiences: first is a 4 year old LG LCD (720p), the second a Sony EX710 (EX712 in the UK) purchased in December '10 LED and swiftly returned due to severe back-light uneveness which lead to clouding / 'mura' effect and flash-lighting (clearly visible angular light beams protruding inwards all four edges), then a third - a Samsung C6500 LED in Jan '11, also returned for the same reasons. I am fanatical about watching television in an environment as dark as possible. As close to a cinema as I can get and the white patches / clouding on both displays just drove me nuts. The latter 2 were full HD displays and not cheap by any means - I expected far better. After reading a review of the D8000 LED and the awful clouding even in that unit, I've deducted it's more a by-product of the technology itself: edge lit / thin bevel.
The plasma has better black levels than all of these LCD/LED's. They're not pitch black but certainly acceptable and allow for the image to have plenty of contrast, detail and vivid colours (although I calibrated my display to look as natural as possible, dialing into 'movie' mode immediately - the default setting itself is actually fairly natural and accurate without tweaking required).
The +1" is certainly a benefit and cosmetically a large improvement. I found the C series plasmas (4 to 6 series) to have bevels far too thick which made them unattractive to look at. The increase in screen size with the same overall dimensions ensures the unit looks sleek wherever its placed.
Amazingly, I've not had to even select 'game' mode at all when playing Crysis 2, which requires a lot of fast movement and accuracy being an FPS shooter. So all the video processing leading to the same stellar picture quality is retained, without being forced (as was the case with all the LCD / LED's) to downgrade the PQ to ensure no lag. Hugely impressed with that!
Unfortunately plasma does tend to consume far more energy than LCD (and especially LED) - the reason I opted to go that route with my previous 2 purchases but I have managed to reduce it from the 240w maximum to possibly under 200w due to a huge reduction in the 'cell light' from a default of '13' for movie mode to 3-4 (at night with the lights off). The Sony EX710/712 46" will only consume 70w after calibration but the unacceptable backlight issues inherent in edge-lit (not local dimming) LED technology, it's something I'm afraid the planet will need to live with! The unit after many hours of use was still completely cool to the touch, I could feel no heat dissipation whatsoever. Comments by C series owners have stated that the units produced a lot of heat (and I can verify this after experiencing a 50" C6500 plasma) - not the case here at all.
Forum posts on AVSforum.com have mentioned the odd unit can have a directional buzz (also common in the C series): this is only audible when muting the volume and placing your ear right up to the rear of the unit. I presume due to a capacitor which handles power conversion. Nothing out of the ordinary and to be expected.
Another criticism I'd level at the C450 (and this review will effect the C490 too since they're the same panel with the former not 3d-ready) is the judder upon panning within scenes, which could be better. It's an improvement over the aged LCD, but not on a par with the LED's (which had 100Hz processing). At this price point however you cannot expect perfection.
The OSD menus and navigating the various options could be zippier. There is a noticeable lag there too, but it's a small issue.
Interestingly enough even though this unit is only HD-ready, my external devices consider it to be 1080p! My PS3 asked me at initial setup (via HDMI) if I could see the content displayed to which I could - that is now my resolution default. On the point of HD-ready vs full HD, the 450d still looks superb when viewing blu-ray and you'd be hard-pressed to spot the difference unless you have one placed right next to the other.
I will also add that the D450 / D490 only allows for HDMI connections to the rear which protrude outwards - not ideal for those wall-mounting the unit. The 5 series and up improves on this with side inputs.
The D450 has the same in-built media player as that of their blu-ray units, I'm sure most are aware of this by now. You can connect any type of USB hard-drive (whether 3.5" with own power supply or laptop sized drawing power from the TV) and you're able to watch movies in all popular CODEC types in use today (divx / xvid / h264) etc. It's a decent user interface: locating and accessing the media is user-friendly. The D450/D490 only has 1 USB connection but that's enough.
A fault I've found after weeks of ownership is that the D450 is doing what I have read is fairly common on the AVSforums.com site: black levels change during the same scene. In other words, scene isn't changing at all but the black levels adjust - get lighter for some reason and depending on the duration of the scene, seem to either stay lighter or darken again. I'm fairly sure it's an image processing fault and one not particular to my unit, so I'm not going to replace it. It is noticeable to me and happens quite often, but I've not tested in all circumstances, only at present via HDMI PS3 on xvid / divx material (not sure if a change of variables would fix this, seems unlikely). I've applied the most recent firmware update via Samsung's website, for this particular product, but it didn't fix this issue.
Also black levels at times will be deep and dark but in other scenes where I'd expect them to be the same, they're simply not and certainly lighter than I consider they should be.