Samsung's new line of Luxia televisions isn't just improving how you view high-definition video in your homes, it's one of the first LCD TV lines that is fully equipped to serve as a hub for your home entertainment network. The Luxia televisions capable of logging onto your home network and reaching out onto the Internet.
Samsung has divided the Luxia line into three series, each with different specifications. The 6000 series represents the entry-level models, the 7000 series is the most well-rounded, and the 8000 has a few minor tweaks meant to appeal to videophiles and enthusiasts.
The Samsung 6000 and 7000 series LCD TVs are available now, while the 8000 series is not set to debut until May.
Why LED Matters
The most exciting feature on the new Luxia LCD televisions is their use of LED (light-emitting diode) backlights, in places of the old, CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlights. LEDs have many advantages over CCFLs, the foremost being that they consume far less energy, helping to drive down utility bills. They are also stronger and more vivid, and these Luxia LCDs claim superior contrast ratios and color details as a result of the switch to LEDs.
Additionally, by using edge-mounted LEDs, these Luxia LCD TVs are able to be much, much thinner than LCD televisions using CCFLs. All of these Luxia models are only slightly over one inch thick.
Samsung Luxia 6000 Series
The Luxia 6000 series consists of four entry-level models, the UN32B6000, UN40B6000, UN46B6000, and UN55B6000, which range in price from $1,599 to $3,599. Though they aren't as fully loaded as the 7000 or 8000 models, the 6000 sets are quite capable and would be an excellent option for consumers who don't need all the bells and whistles, but would still like to enjoy cutting-edge HDTV.
The 6000 series models offer full 1080p resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, and come with four HDMI inputs, one component input, one PC input, two USB inputs. The USB inputs can be used to view and enjoy MPEG4, MP3, DivX, and JPEG media files without needing a computer.
The 6000 models also have a single Ethernet port, for hooking up to your home network. This allows access to Samsung's InfoLink RSS service, which provides news and other informative updates, but does not feature the more robust networking capabilities of the 7000 and 8000 series models.
Samsung Luxia 7000 Series
The 7000 series starts out with the base features of the 6000 models and spices things up with support for home networking beyond the mere InfoLink connection. The 7000 series (and 8000 series models) support the DLNA protocol, which means they can access networked computers serving up video, music, and photos, and display the content right on the television screen. This can be achieved using the Ethernet input, or wirelessly with a USB dongle that is sold separately.
With prices between $2,499 and $3,799, the 7000 series models, the UN40B7000, UN46B7000, and UN55B7000 are not cheap, but if you're in the market for a truly extraordinary home entertainment (and home networking) experience, this is where you want to be.
Samsung Luxia 8000 Series
The Luxia 8000 series looks very similar to the 7000 series. There are only two 8000 series models, the 46-inch UN46B8000 and the 55-inch UN55B8000, and the only appreciable difference between them and the 46-inch and 55-inch 7000 series models is that the 8000 series offers a response time of 2ms, rather than the 4ms of the 7000 series. Response time is a specification that plays a part in reducing motion blur, particularly in scenes that involve a lot of quick, frenetic motion like sports games or action films. 2ms is arguably the fastest response time currently available on an LCD television, and is certainly numerically better than the 4ms of the 7000 series.
Consider, however: can the human eye really detect the difference between 2ms and 4ms? We think not. The average consumer will most likely have no need to spend $200 to $400 extra on the 8000 series in order to save 2 milliseconds.
The 8000 series models also feature 240Hz refresh rates, twice as much as the 120Hz refresh rate found on the 6000 and 7000 series. Refresh rate also affects image smoothness, but 240Hz is overkill. Frankly, 120Hz is a little overboard as well, but some viewers may find it useful. 240Hz is simply a gimmick.
Conclusions: The 7000 Sweet Spot
If these Luxia TVs seem appealing to you, we advice you consider the 7000 series over the others. Though more expensive than the 6000 series, the extra $200 to $400 you'll spend will open up all sorts of excellent opportunities that are worth the money, namely the DLNA-networking capabilities. The same can not be said for the 8000 series however; the extra $200 to $400 required to buy one of those models seems to buy only inessential features, window-dressing, not substance.