Samsung 61" 750 series DLP

I've had a few days now with the new television in the basement, and I have a few thoughts.  If you want to lookup the specifics yourself, the television is a Samsung HL61A750, which is the 61" DLP set in the 750 series.  I've gotten a lot of the same questions, so I'll try to answer them here.

Why a DLP and not an LCD or Plasma?
The choice between DLP, LCD, and Plasma is going to be different based on what you will be doing with your set.  For me, I knew this set would be used mostly for gaming and movie watching with a little television thrown in, and possibly connecting a PC.  Gaming and PC usage leads to having a static image on the screen for a long period of time.  A static image on the screen for extended periods can lead to burn in.  We can see this on our television upstairs, which will show the shadow of the Nickelodeon station mark in the lower right corner any time the set displays a solid color background.  Plasma displays are very susceptible to burn-in, so this type of television was out for me.  LCD screens can get burn in, but it is much less likely.  DLP sets do not burn in at all.  So DLP is a pretty good candidate.  I also didn't have any aspiration of mounting the television on a wall.  A DLP is a rear projection set, and is a little thicker than an LCD.  The HL61A750 is around 14" at the base, but the rear of the unit is angled such that it is only a couple of inches wide at the top.  Still, this prevents wall mounting, but that wasn't a concern for me.

The other big difference between these television types is price.  There are only two manufacturers that are making DLP sets anymore: Samsung and Mitsubishi.  If you are looking for a very large screen, this is your best buy for the dollar.  At 61", the DLP can be had for $1200 by a bargain shopper, while an equivalent size LCD will run at least 30% more.  Until recently a Plasma set was also price competitive at this size, but while the LCD and DLP costs have continually gone south, a plasma set has retained the same price of just over $2,000 for 60" or higher.  To highlight this, when I was pricing out the HL61A750, I also looked for an LCD from Samsung in the similar price and feature range.  The LN46A650 is a 46" model with equivalent features and a $1500 price tag.  So you would lose 15" of screen real estate.

The drawback to a DLP (as with any other projection set) is that off angle viewing is degraded.  If you are sitting at more than  45 degree angle off to the side of the set, or more than a 15 degree angle above or below the set, the picture washes out.  In our home, we have very direct viewing, so this is not an issue for us, but could be for others.

Why the 750 series?
Samsung breaks down their sets into series.  The lower the series number, the less features in the set.  In the DLP line you can get a 56" in the 550 or 650 series, or a 61" in the 650 or 750 series.  The 56" 550 series is below $1,000.  The difference between the 61" 650 and 750 series is about $200.  So why spend that money?  The big deal to me was the use of three LEDs in the light engine rather than a halogen bulb.  A DLP set requires a light source, and for most televisions the light source is a special bulb.  This bulb ages over time, and is often expressed in the technical specifications as a bulb life of X thousands of hours.  A typical bulb might have a 5,000 hour life, which is the number of hours the television is on before the bulb is at half the brightness when first used.  The 650 series uses a halogen bulb with a 10,000 hour life.  The 750 series uses three colored LEDs instead, which have a tremendous lifetime.  In addition, the LEDs are much more energy efficient than a halogen bulb.  I'll easily get back that $200 in the saved energy cost and avoiding any need to replace the bulb.

Any other thoughts?
The set is beautiful!  I hooked up the PS3 and the games are simply gorgeous.  I've watched bits of the Iron Man Blu-Ray and it looks good.  I have to admit, though, I was expecting more from a Blu-Ray film.  I think I've just gotten spoiled on the HD we get from AT&T.  The 1080i signal looks great.  I was hoping to get the same "Oh Wow!" sensation that I had when watching my first DVD and HD content.  It does look better, but only by a little.  I don't know that I would change out my existing DVD collection for Blu-Ray, but I might get a few select titles in that format (like Pixar films).  

The set really demonstrates how much impact the source of the video has.  The over-the-air high def tuning looks amazing on our local NBC affiliate.  That same signal from the AT&T service is a little degraded, but still quite good.  The ABC and CBS affiliates look about the same as the non-HD content.  The PS3 games look fantastic.

I've only encountered one bug with the set so far.  Last night, after around 3 hours of gaming on the set, the picture suddenly went out.  From time to time the screen would flicker between a projected black and off.  Meanwhile, the LED light on the front of the set would pulse on and off.  I read through the manual and it indicated that this happens when the lamps get too hot.  I read online that this can sometimes happen when the set really isn't that hot, and that firmware upgrades can solve it in most cases.  I left the set off for about five minutes, and then it came right back up without any problem.  Firmware upgrades are as easy as downloading the file to a USB drive and plugging it into the back of the set.

There is also a ethernet jack on the back of the set that I haven't connected yet.  This allows for scrolling news and weather across the screen anytime.

I'll keep playing with this thing and post back if I have any other useful information.


Sam said...

Do you happen to know what the power consumption is for a LED DLP versus a LCD?

Adam said...

The Crutchfield website has some lab tests results for power consumption. I compared the HL61A750 to a LN52A650, which is a 52" Samsung LCD. According to Crutchfield:

Powered On: 156.29 Watts
Stand By: 0.59 Watts
Estimated Cost per Month: $2.88

Powered On: 293.60 Watts
Stand By: 0.48 Watts
Estimated Cost per Month: $5.38

The powered on consumption of the DLP is almost half of the LCD. That's not really a fair comparison though, as the LCD set uses a halogen bulb where the DLP uses an LED lighting system. So if you instead look at the LN55A950 (a 55" Samsung LCD that uses LED backlighting)

Powered On: 198.75 Watts
Stand By: 0.46 Watts
Estimated Cost per Month: $3.65

More, but not drastically more power consumption. Of course, the biggest difference between the LN55A950 and the HL61A750 is in the sticker price. The 61" LED DLP set lists for $1900, and from my own experience can be found for much less. The 55" LED LCD lists for $4500. Just out of curiosity, I also checked out a 58" plasma set. It was found to pull 453.55 Watts powered on.

I think the overall message here is that, when looking at a large television, the lighting source will make the biggest difference in power consumption. An LED light engine will offer considerable power savings over a bulb based set or plasma.

Jade Mason