Earlier this year (2011) Samsung launched their new range of LED TVs in South Africa, including their more affordable LED-backlit D5500 series.
“More affordable” doesn’t mean cheap or underspecced, though.
The TVs have a respectable list of features, including a 120 “Clear Motion Rate” – Samsung’s own refresh rate measure, 3,500,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 4 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, optical audio, component and composite ports, and mini jack input.
The 5500 series includes both a 32-inch and 40-inch model and MyBroadband recently had the opportunity to review the larger TV for 2 weeks.
Picture quality and colour reproduction was excellent, though the display did pick up quite a bit of glare when there was light coming from behind the viewers.
Even when the light wasn’t shining directly on the TV the reflections were distracting. A room with good curtains and soft overhead light is recommended to minimise this.
Although the built-in speaker offered acceptable audio, a good sound system is really recommended to get the most from this TV.
We used the HT-D5300 Blu-ray home entertainment system provided by Samsung and discovered that the Series 5500 doesn’t support a reverse HDMI channel.
This means that if you have your video game console, DStv decoders, or other devices connected to the TV, you’ll need to run an optical audio cable from the TV to your sound system if you want audio to be played through your external speakers.
While the recommended retail price of R10,999 competes well with other full HD LED-backlit connected TVs out there, many buyers may be willing to trade some of the features and slick design to get a TV at a lower price.
Considering that one of the main attractions of a connected TV – on-demand video – is unavailable in South Africa, the value of an Internet-connected TV may be in question for those who can afford it.
The integrated web-browser, YouTube streaming, and apps such as Twitter and Facebook are all great, but would you use your TV to access social networks or play games when you probably already own a desktop PC, laptop, tablet PC or smartphone?
The real value in having a network-connected TV in South Africa is being able to access all the content on your local network through your big screen from the comfort of your couch.
Unfortunately, Samsung already has some stiff competition in the form of the PlayStation 3’s media streaming capabilities, and other networked-linked media players.
If you’re looking for a sleek, LED-backlit TV with a thin border around the panel and you’re willing to a pay a bit of a premium for it, then the Samsung 5500 series is worth considering.
Should you be willing to compromise a little, however, there are cheaper models to be had – you might even be able to pick up one of Samsung’s previous 5000 series TVs for a song.
It is worth noting that the 40-inch Samsung 5500 Series TV was spotted on special for R7,789 in the online shop of a retailer that maintains storefronts in Pretoria, making it a somewhat more attractive buy.