“It's nice to find an LCD HDTV that performs beautifully under almost any circumstance or configuration.”
- Affordable price; beautiful case & housing; excellent picture; simple menu system
- Video cables are not included; weak built-in sound
Samsung, a widely known, well established company with a reputation for giving its consumers top-notch products, has produced another winner in the LCD HDTV category. The LN-S2651D is a beautiful television that offers rather stunning performance for a price that won’t leave you hurting. Check out the review to see if this TV should find its way into your home or office. Chances are, you’ll want to get your hands on one right away.
Features and Design
The Samsung LN-S2651D HDTV is a gorgeous, well designed and very satisfying LCD TV. The first and most noticeable aspect of the LN-S2651D is the super-glossy black finish. It’s shiny and smooth, like a brand new Mercedes. Unless you’re opposed to gloss-black finishes on your home entertainment equipment, this HDTV is going to look sexy anywhere.
The LN-S2651D has an impressive 4000:1 contrast ratio which helps create realistic looking deep blacks and bright whites. Contrast ratio is very important in an LCD TV, and 4000:1 is great, especially for an HDTV priced between $800 and $1000 USD retail. Some Samsung HDTVs have contrast ratios as high as 10,000:1, but they’re typically much more expensive. The LN is also capable of displaying 1080i/ 720p HD sources thanks to its 1366 x 768 resolution.
This Samsung also has a super-fast 8ms refresh rate, meaning that colors don’t stay on the screen longer than they should – ghosting and artifacts are nearly nonexistent given a high-quality video source. Another important factor is the 500 cd/m2 brightness. Of course, the brightness can be reduced if you want, but 500 cd/m2 is really quite good for a moderately priced HDTV.
The LN-S2651D can also be used as a computer monitor with its 1366×768 screen resolution. This is a smaller screen res than most dedicated computer monitors, but for those folks who want to simplify things and multitask their display, the LN-S2651D provides excellent colors and clarity for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Apple’s OS X.
Of course, the LN-S2651D has two built-in speakers with 5 watts each. This may not seem like much, but the sound produced by the TV is pretty good (note – not fantastic, but certainly acceptable). You can hook up any analog or digital receiver (or even computer speakers with 1/8″ inputs) to the LN-S2651D for enhanced sound.
Even though the LN-S2651D is a widescreen TV, it can correctly display standard television at 4:3 ratio. In fact, there are several viewing modes available in the setup menu.
One cool feature of the LN-S2651D is the ability to use PIP, or Picture in Picture. PIP can be used to watch two TV channels at once or it can also be used to watch a single (though small) television channel while using the LCD screen as a computer monitor.
The included remote control is well designed and feels good in the hand; it is very lightweight even with batteries installed. Despite the light weight, the remote doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap. Channel, volume and source buttons are easy to find and use, whether your fingers are big or dainty.
For near-insomniacs or for those who watch TV in bed, the LN-S2651D even has a sleep timer. This allows you to just fall asleep without worrying about the TV staying on all night. It’s a good trick for parents who want their kids to stop watching TV by a certain time, too. Just set the TV to turn off by a predetermined time and voila – “Hey kids, the TV is on the fritz. Go play outside!”
The LN-S2651D can also be mounted on a wall with an optional VESA mount. These are typically pricey, but tons of them are available on eBay for much less than retail.
The Samsung LN-S2651D and on-screen menu
Setup and Use
Setting up the Samsung LN-S2651D HDTV is a very easy process. Unpacking the TV may be what took me the longest part of the setup. After getting the TV out of the well padded box, you’ll find that the LN-S2651D is in two major pieces – the body of the TV itself and the small, oval-shaped base.
Place the base on the floor or on your TV stand. Pull the body of the TV out of the box and carefully slip the base attachment into the base. It makes a little “click” when the base is properly attached and secure. The base feels very stable and keeps the 24lb TV from wobbling. Plug the TV into a good quality surge protector. Pop the two included AAA batteries into the remote control.
Depending on whether you’re going to use HDMI or component cables, the setup will deviate slightly. HDMI is by far the easiest to set up, because an HDMI cable has one single plug for both digital video and digital audio. HMDI ports look like thinner, flatter USB ports. For HDMI, plug the cable into the back of your DVD player or HDMI-enabled HDTV tuner, and then plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI1 port in the back of the TV. The Samsung LN-S2651D supports two HDMI connections from separate devices, however the first (or solo) device must be plugged into HDMI1.
The audio/video connections on the back of the LN-S2651D
For component connections, plug the component video and component audio cables into their respective ports on the DVD player and then on the TV. Each video input can have it’s settings changed through the menu system and the TV will remember each connection independently.
The Samsung LN-S2651D also has two coax connections, one for the integrated ATSC HD tuner, and the other for last-gen cable boxes, standard RCA audio/video, S-Video for computer connections, and digital optical audio outputs to a higher-end audio system.
For those of you who would like to hook your computers up to the Samsung LN-S2651D, there’s an analog VGA video port and corresponding 1/8″ jack for audio. I found it very disappointing that Samsung used an analog VGA connector instead of a DVI port. Of course, DVI-to-RGB conversion cables abound and can be purchased in almost every computer store in North America.
Samsung includes a small info sheet on connecting a typical iPod to the LN-S2651D for listening to music (which is very different from the a/v cables required to watch videos). Unfortunately, they recommend buying a complex-looking, Samsung-branded iPod connector cable. At $39.99 for this cable, it’ a bit of a sting.
The final bit of setup involves watching some test media, such as a new high-quality DVD, some HDTV programming or whatever suits you. Watching the content for color, contrast, brightness, etc., use the remote control to navigate the well-designed setup menus. Adjust the picture and sound to your liking. Again, the menus are well designed, visually pleasing and provide a simple interface for controlling almost every aspect of the TV.
Once the LN-S2651D is connected to appropriate audio and video sources and adjusted for personal viewing pleasure, the real fun begins.
I have a number of movies that I use to test the video and audio qualities of televisions and computer monitors. They run the gamut of dark, brooding colors and heavy bass all the way to bright, vibrant colors and lively music and spoken words (I should also note that I tested audio and video quality with the AppleTV and a Samsung DVD-HD860 DVD Player).
In movies like Bourne Supremacy and Underworld, plenty of night scenes help me judge how dark colors render on screen. The Samsung LN-S2651D provided excellent blacks with few to no artifacts. Colors are very life-like. Audio is crisp, clear and held up well with deep, booming explosions and high pitched sirens and wails. Despite the 4000:1 contrast ratio, I noticed a slight amount of color banding in some scenes. Granted, I was sitting less than a foot in front of the screen, looking for flaws. Had I been 4-6 feet away, I would have noticed nothing wrong at all.
The 500 cd/m2 brightness and the awesome 8ms response time really help provide a genuine HD picture on-screen. Using the HDMI connection with the Samsung DVD-HD860 player was great – not flawless, but truly great. I also tested the AppleTV via HDMI cable. Clearly an issue with the AppleTV, I noticed ghosting all over the screen, especially in areas that recently held images but then faded to black. Those images could still be seen as faint dark grey apparitions.
Kill Bill running on the Samsung LN-S2651D
Component Video Results
While I loved the simplicity and near-perfection of the HDMI cable connection, especially the fact that HDMI carries audio AND video on the same cable, component connections seemed to give better results. Blacks were still pitch black, colors were jumping off the screen and audio was flawless. The major difference I noticed was that the slight color banding visible with the HDMI connection was eliminated with component video. Despite the fact that this adds 5 times the cable bulk behind my TV, I would clearly select component connections over HDMI if picture quality had to be perfect. I got the same results with two different brands of quality HDMI cables.
The HDMI and component video connections are ideal for Apple’s newest, hottest product, the AppleTV. While I found that the AppleTV gives better results with component cables, the HDMI is also very good. Component just rendered close to flawless in my numerous tests. The picture integrity is much stronger. Audio sounds awesome either way the AppleTV is connected to this HDTV.
Samsung LN-s2651D and Apple TV
5G Video iPod Results
The Samsung LN-S2651D can even be paired with a 5G video iPod for watching movies, TV shows, video podcasts and more. A conversion cable is required for this – one that converts right audio, left audio and video from the iPod’s single 1/8″ plug to standard RCA jacks. Apple sells these cables for about $25.
I tested the same movies on the LN-S2651D using a 5G video iPod as I did using the Samsung DVD player and the AppleTV. The displayed video was very impressive. No doubt, the higher quality your digital movie file, the better the resultant picture. I tested movies and TV shows downloaded from within the iTunes store and they played very, very well. The video compression required to cram a full 16:9 digital movie into the iTunes/iPod video format admittedly bleeds plenty of quality away from the original. Some pixellation is evident, but at 4-6 feet away, it looks pretty darn good. In fact, I would put the video quality from a 5G iPod on par with video from digital cable TV.
Samsung LN-S2651D and Apple iPod
The Samsung LN-S2651D is a full-featured LCD HDTV with plenty of impressive specs. It’s nice to find an LCD HDTV that performs beautifully under almost any circumstance or configuration. Beyond the hubbub of specifications, numbers and performance charts, the most important factor in an HDTV is what the eye sees. If the picture looks great and is free from faults under tough scrutiny, then you know it’s a good product. Couple that with a name-brand manufacturer’s rep and you know you’ve got a convincing situation on your hands.
I found the Samsung LN-S2651D to be a pleasure to use on a regular basis. It is one of the best LCD HDTVs I’ve gotten my hands on, and I’m a critical nit-picker when it comes to high-tech products like this.
Also noteworthy is the LN-S2651D’s very affordable price point. There are cheaper 26″ HDTVs on the market, for sure, but they’re typically from off brands that offer as much risk as they do discount.
If you’re in the market for a new LCD HDTV, this Samsung is worthy of some serious consideration. You should get yourself to a local retailer so you can see it in person and test if out. While I realize that there may be some consumers who pass on the LN-S2651D for a larger plasma or LCD screen, I think most people will find that their search for a mid-sized HDTV has ended.
• Affordable between $800 and $1000 retail
• Beautiful 720p widescreen picture
• Excellent for gaming
• Connects to iPod, AppleTV, laptops and more
• Awesome 4000:1 contrast ratio
• Easy to use PIP (Picture in Picture)
• Easy but in-depth system menus
• No video cables included
• Built-in sound could be better
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