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Editor's note: This review of the Samsung C7000 series is based on our hands-on testing and evaluation of the 40-inch UN40C7000. According to the manufacturer, the image quality and features should be equivalent for each TV in this model line.
The Samsung C7000 series LED 3D 240hz TVs are brimming with Web apps and "Wi-Fi ready" (add a LinkStick adapter and you're good to go). They also boast decent image quality, an attractive, superslim design, and a remote that resembles an old Razr phone.
The C7000 series has a thin, shiny, black rounded bezel and perches on a silver X-shaped swivel stand. A thin silver line frames the top and sides of the bezel, culminating in a thicker line at the bottom. The mirrored silver stand is unique but a little too prominent for my taste. Fortunately, this is the perfect television for wall-mounting. It's quite thin, and all of its ports are arrayed on the sides—parallel, not perpendicular, to the screen. The television is so thin, in fact, that many of the ports require an adapter.
Luckily, Samsung provides adapter cables for ethernet, cable/antenna, PC, digital audio-In, component (audio), component (video), and A/V-In. The set comes with four HDMI ports and two USB ports, too.
The remote is thin, silver, and brushed, like the keyboard on a Motorola Razr phone. In fact, working the remote is a lot like texting on a Razr—it's hard to get used to, and it provides little physical feedback. Because the keys are flush with each other and separated only by thin, raised-plastic lines, it's hard to use the device for navigation without looking at it.
The remote offers a few dedicated buttons, including ones for Yahoo Widgets, 3D TV, and InternetTV. Samsung's InternetTV service comes preloaded with various free apps (among them, Blockbuster on Demand, Facebook, Google Maps, Netflix, and Vudu), and it links to an app store where you can download additional free or paid applications. The Yahoo Widgets button brings up a small bar along the bottom of the screen, containing a customizable widgets for each member of the household.
Samsung's first-time setup guide, called Plug & Play, scans for channels and invites you to define variables such as language, mode (home or store demo), antenna/cable, and date and time.
The C7000 series' on-screen menus are very attractive, with icons for different types of media (picture, video, and so on), and you can give the Media Play menu any of four backgrounds for viewing photos. Pressing the Content button on the remote brings up a rotating list of content types (Channels, InternetTV, Media Play, and the like) without obscuring the picture.
The television has only four preset picture modes (dynamic, standard, natural, and movie), but there are quite a few customization settings. Adjustable settings range from standard (backlight, contrast, brightness, and sharpness, for example), to advanced (such as dynamic contrast, RGB only mode, and ten-point white balance), with both an advanced options menu and a picture options menu.
Picture quality on this HDTV looks pretty good at first, but closer inspection reveals some glaring weaknesses. The C7000 series aced our horizontal and diagonal panning tests, reproducing a still city scene with no sign of judder or blur.
Unfortunately, that smoothness didn't translate into moving pictures. In one of our scenes from The Dark Knight, windows on a building appeared to be jumping up and down, and the pattern on Morgan Freeman's tie moved all over the place. Using the Auto Motion Plus feature to adjust the refresh rate did nothing to help the party going on in Morgan Freeman's tie—in fact, it only served to make the previously super-smooth panning shudder a bit.
The C7000 series shows good contrast, with very black blacks. But the picture was generally oversaturated, especially in our DVD up-conversion tests. In a scene from The Phantom of the Opera, colors were so oversaturated that the whole image acquired a greenish cast. One judge remarked that the oversaturation, combined with the way colors seemed to bleed into each other, produced the effect of colors viewed on a 16-bit computer monitor.
Watching content on this set from angles other than "dead-on" causes problems, too. If you move a couple of feet to either side, colors fade, the contrast goes dull, and the image fades to a shadow of its dead-on picture. The set also sufffered from some LED backlight bleeding: When we turned off the lights during a clip from The Dark Knight, we noted some pretty obvious discoloration in the upper corners.
The preset audio modes include standard, music, movie, clear voice, and amplify (for hard-of-hearing viewers). An equalizer lets you further calibrate your audio settings. The surround sound isn't fantastic, but it has enough depth to be believable.
The C7000 series comes with good documentation; a fairly in-depth quick-start sheet and a clear, illustrated 66-page manual. The manual is also available online.
If you're in the market for a set that looks good when it's turned on, but even better when it's turned off, the Samsung C7000 series might be a better choice for you than rivals. And if 3D TV is in your future or you have a particular fondness for Razr phones, this HDTV won't disappoint you either.