I’m a fan of Indian food and often find myself tucking into a thali at a place in Mount Albert. What’s that got to do with technology? Well I avoid the corner booth because there’s an old school Panasonic panel on a wall mount right above the chairs. I know it’s old school because it’s inches thick and looks damn heavy. I don’t really want that thing landing on my noggin (probably never happen but still, paranoia strikes deep etc. etc.).
Which brings me to Samsung’s flagship C9000 3D LED TV, which at a mere 7.98mm thick, is billed as the world’s slimmest 3D LED panel. Given a choice of the chunky Pana squashing me like a bug or the stainless steel guillotine blade that is the Samsung slicing me in half, I’d choose, well neither actually, but I know which one I’d prefer to have in my TV room.
As I said here, I reckon the C9000 is the best looking TV I’ve ever seen. I had another chance to check it out at a launch event in Auckland yesterday and I haven’t changed my mind at all. Stunning is the word.
The slimness combined with the stainless steel construction is a world apart from your average ordinary panel. Samsung has used stainless steel in the main chassis for three purposes – looks, strength and heatsinking (there are no cooling fans or vents). This 55” panel really is a statement product and at $9,999, you’d expect it to be. To keep the bezel clean and uncluttered, the C9000 features touch sensitive front controls as per earlier Samsung TVs. The speakers are in the base of the unit, along with the digital tuner and other electronics.
As a unique feature, this set comes with a gesture capable full learning universal remote with a 3” touchscreen. The remote has second TV functionality with a built in speaker and a headphone jack, which allows you to watch TV on the remote’s screen. This works by Wi-Fi from the TV so you don’t have to have line of sight and the remote has a similar look and feel to a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, complete with gesture support. This remote is optional for other Samsung 3D TVs.
The C9000 had better be about more than just the looks and fortunately, it’s got the top of the range Samsung panel technology in place. In 2D, you can expect the panel to put on a very decent performance indeed. In fact, I’ve never been anything but impressed by any of the high end full HD Samsung panels and I’ve seen most of them since the original Tulip model.
Like all the Samsung 3D TVs, the 9000 series can convert standard 2D content to 3D and this conversion process is fully customizable. Even standard definition 2D content can be converted. The set also offers Internet connectivity which gives access to Samsung’s Smart TV functionality and a number of purpose built apps.
Converted 3D works quite well, the effect is clearly defined with a reasonable depth of field but there are noticeable artifacts to be seen when the conversion process is dialed up to its maximum setting in order to increase the apparent depth. Native 3D is where it’s at though; it’s very clear and noticeably more distinct with a deeper depth of field within the borders of the panel compared to the converted 2D content. However, I’m still not convinced by 3D TV – some content looks good but other scenes look average and you’ll always be constrained by the edges of the panel. The 3D effect can’t escape its physical boundaries, which is why 3D is so much more impressive at the movies, the sense of scale works better on a really big screen.
I also noticed major reflections on the inside of the 3D glasses, which were a big distraction not to mention the weight of the glasses themselves. Then there’s the lack of content and the hassle of needing 3D glasses for everyone who wants to watch in 3D. Also, what do you do with a family member who doesn’t like 3D? I suppose you can always send them to their room with the remote in this case.
I’m baffled as to how the manufacturers expected to sell 3D TVs without anything to watch on them. The availability of 3D content in 2010 was very limited, not just in NZ but across the world. There are major efforts afoot to release more content in the course of 2011 – around 90-100 titles should be released in 2011 according to Glen Chean, head of Samsung NZ’s TV division. That’s still not a lot of movies to watch but at least things are slowly moving in the right direction.