The connection panel includes four HDMI inputs but only one component video input--a trend we're seeing with many new higher-end models. It also has a PC input and an RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners (picture-in-picture functionality is available). The HDMI inputs accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one is located on the side panel for easy access. Also on the side panel are three USB ports that support photo playback. The Ethernet port is located on the rear panel. The M550NV lacks an RS-232 or IR port for integration into an advanced control system.
The M550NV has a solid but not extensive array of picture controls, beginning with nine picture modes (four of which are tuned for sports programming). You get four color-temperature settings, including a custom mode through which you can adjust RGB gain and offset to dial in a more accurate white balance. The TV lacks advanced gamma control and a color-management system to individually fine-tune the six color points. Instead, you get a Color Enhancement system that lets you choose between five color palettes: Off, Normal, Rich Color, Green/flesh, and Green/blue. An ambient light sensor allows you to tailor the screen brightness to suit your environment. Noise reduction is available, as is a Smart Dimming control that lets you turn the zone-dimming function on or off. The 120Hz function is controlled by two menu options: Real Cinema and Smooth Motion Effect. The Real Cinema setting lets you dictate an initial setting of Off, Precision, or Smooth; then, the Smooth Motion Effect menu lets you dictate the level of intensity of the Smooth setting. Finally, the TV has five aspect-ratio options, including a Normal mode to view HD images without overscan and a newly added Zoom 1 mode to crop out extraneous noise when needed.
On the audio side, the setup menu includes five preset audio modes, plus a balance control, a lip sync function and an equalizer to fine-tune various frequencies. SRS TruSurround HD and SRS TruVolume are available. You can enable Bluetooth audio to send audio signals wirelessly to a set of Bluetooth headphones.
Read more about the high points and low points of the M550NV on Page 2.