Flat panel displays continue to be hotter than Texas in the middle of summer. Plasma has been the mainstay of thin, fixed pixel displays, but over the past couple of years LCD panels have been getting larger and larger. They are now approaching the size of plasma panels, and are expected to grow in the near future. Currently, the largest LCD panel is the $8,999 40-inch Samsung. This is a 16:9 widescreen, 1280x768 resolution panel, and it is one of the better overall packages that I have seen.
We should first discuss the advantages of LCD versus plasma. LCD is lighter in weight--the Samsung weighs in at 52 lbs., while a similarly sized plasma would be about 80 lbs. It uses less energy and does not get the dreaded burn-in like plasma panels can. LCD does have some disadvantages, as it shares the difficulty of getting true deep blacks and shadow detail that plasma does. It also can have some limitations of off-axis viewing.
If some of these concerns sound similar to those voiced when plasmas first came out, that is not coincidence. LCDs, although popular as computer monitors for several years now, have been adapted only in the last couple of years to the more demanding requirements for television and home theater use. The development curve will probably be more rapid, as plasmas have set the pace, but so far LCDs have populated the smaller sized end of the market as replacements for direct-view CRT televisions. Sharp led the way with the AQUOS line, but now just about all the major manufacturers have brought out 20-inch and under LCD panels. There are a few companies (like Sharp, LG, Philips, and Samsung) that are leading the charge to ever larger LCD panel sizes. With the LTN406W, Samsung has entered an arena that has only been populated by plasmas.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
The Samsung came in one box together with the stand and speakers. This was a pleasant surprise, as my experience with plasma displays is that everything is optional--stand, speakers, etc. It was packaged extremely well and easy to unpack and set up. Another pleasant surprise is that the Samsung is set up like a conventional television rather than a monitor, like most plasmas. It has a built-in NTSC tuner, S-Video, composite, component, DVI, and even coaxial input. I was able to directly hook up analog cable to the television, and use the internal tuner just like on any television. I also hooked up a high-definition Time Warner cable box and a Philips DVD player to this unit.
Due to the fact that Samsung has very few pieces available for review (actually, they sent me this one right from CEDIA, as it was the only one they had), I had a very short period of time with this unit.Read more on Page 2.