Better 3d than the theater, great 2d without glasses PLUS internet & streaming
Great 2d picture, internet apps, networking/streaming. Only $400 more than a comparable LED.
Not the greatest 3d, but decent. Easily damaged glasses are expensive unless sold in bundle.
The Bottom Line:
For $400 more you're ready for the wave of 3d content and video cameras about to hit the market. Internet on the tv. Streams media from home network or internet.
Who's Gotta Have It?
The best way to think of Samsung's 3d sets is that they each produce an excellent regular 2d picture without the glasses, but they also come with free INTERNET applications you can view overlayed on top of the image you're watching or picture-in-picture, allow streaming from your home network or from the internet (Netflix app, Blockbuster app) with the additional capability of playing pretty decent but not perfect 3d when you want to wear the glasses.
You have to think about it like this because the urge is to think you can only watch it in 3d and since there's not tons of 3d content yet, you'll be stuck wearing glasses for everything which is not true. You simply hit a button on the remote and it bounces in and out of 3d. Very simple.
Then realize that 3d only costs about $400 more for the tv than a regular high end LED with the same internet enabled features and screen size as this 3d. Then it makes sense to get it now, especially if it's on sale, even if you don't want to get the accessories just yet (unless they are in a bundle deal).
3d TVs are a must have for gamers however, as most games are designed for 3d. And if you plan on filming home videos or vacations in 3d, get it now. (more on that below).
The LCD screen with LED sidelighting is one of the absolute best in the industry. It's incredibly clear, hardly any pixelation, fantastic viewing angles, no judder during image movement, simply no issue whatsoever. You can spot these differences side by side with other models in the store.
In the store, every model on the wall is on factory setting and each brand tends to tune things to a specific "flavor" of color, contrast and brightness to complement or compensate for it's underlying quality and it's perceived customer preference for exaggerated colors or dimmer lighting, etc.
When you have the TV professionally color optimized in your home, it improves the results. But that does not mean all TVs produce the same quality picture. This Samsung (and many other LED models from Samsung) excells in areas of pixelation, judder, color and viewing angles because of it's technology, not because of it's settings and optimization.
2d to 3d
The set can also turn ANY content, even non-3d, into 3d. But it's not really that great of a conversion because there isn't enough information in the file for the set to read. Films shot in native 3d are best. Especially video games.
What's required for 3d
You have to have 3 things to watch 3d movies on these sets - glasses and tv that are the same brand and a blu-ray player that's 3d of any brand. Or a PS3 or WII.
Each 3d manufacturer has set the shutter rate of their sets to match the shutter rate of their own proprietary glasses. That means you can't mix and match Sony glasses with a Samsung set. But there are aftermarket glasses available that can work with different shutter rates (same price, but I haven't tried them to see how good they are).
You can however mix and match the 3d blu-ray player - it can be from any manufacturer, not just Samsung. And that's true for all 3d sets. You can even use your PS3 or WII instead of a seperate blu-ray. Those machines can also function as the gateway for wireless internet or you can use the TV's connection itself.
Are They Prada?
The glasses are not cheap, but that's because they aren't the typical plastic film you're used to in the theater, they are actual liquid crystal displays. When pulsed with electricity, the liquid crystal turns solid dark for a microsecond, then goes clear when the charge is removed. That high speed shuttering on and off is invisible and the glasses synch their shuttering speed to match the rate of the TV's frequency to translate or convert the blurry image on the screen into something your eye understands as 3d with the glasses on.
They fit over your regular pair of glasses and using them is not uncomfortable. In fact, they dim down the outer areas of your viewing area and help you focus better on the TV.
There's a disclaimer on the website that headaches and other things can occur in some people and that if you're pregnant or have other issues you should be ware. Glasses are $150 a pair with a non-rechargable battery, $200 a pair with a rechargable battery.
The internet apps are free of course and they are pretty handy for getting specific news you want while watching something - multitasking for tv. It's great. And it's wireless or wired (USB) to your home network. But there is no actual browser.
Upper end Samsungs like the 3d and LED also have Allshare which lets you pick content like photos, music of movies from any device in your house (DLNA rated) and watch, play or stream it on your tv.
If you have a Samsung smartphone (like the Omnia or Galaxy) you can also use that phone as a keyboard and controller for remote functions either in front of the tv or from anywhere away from the house. For example, you could tag photos viewed on the tv streamed from your desktop. Or you could type in search info without the clunky old school 3 tap per letter you must do with the remote's number pad. Or you could start a movie for somebody at your house while you're at work because they don't know how to do it. It's cool.
Content - There's More To Come
There's already many World Cup games in 3d, there's entire networks talking of going 3d. Of course it has to be HD to be 3d so that means there is a bottleneck, but it's coming.
What's also coming (actually one is already on the market) is 3d video cameras. That means you can record and replay things that look great moving (like people) or things that have depth (like the Grand Canyon) or any other memorable place, event or person with the sense that you are right there, like the original.
When you think of what you can see and replay in your own home, you might as well pay the extra $400 now (assuming you're buying a new tv anyway) and think about glasses and blu-ray later if you don't plan on buying the current crop of DVDs or watching what limited network content exists yet. Games however, are another story - tons of them on the market in 3d, right now.
And the 3d winner is...
Because of the technology of the glasses used here, the overall effect is actually better than in the movie theater with the flimsy, uncomfortable, disposable polarizing glasses.
The quality of Samsung's 3d is good, but not great. With the glasses on, it has good depth, which means it feels like things are going away from the screen surface. But it doesn't feel like it's coming towards you, off the screen, just deeper into the screen. Panasonic's 3d has great depth AND it feels like it's coming off the screen towards you.
But Panasonic's basic 2d picture quality (pixellation, judder) isn't that great to begin with, which means it won't look as good the other 90% of the time you're watching tv without the glasses and Panasonic doesn't offer the internet apps or networking/streaming of content that Samsung does.
So it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other - depending on how serious of a 3d fan you are.
The Other Samsung 3d Models
The 8000 series has better blacks and picture overall for only a couple hundred more than the 7000 series who's blacks look a little dark gray instead. But both are great pictures and better values than the 9000 series. There's even a 3d plasma from Samsung if you're going to put it in a dark environment without much light pollution. LED is simply better in bright environments. There's even a 46" and a 40" model. But no 37" which is bad for TV cabinets that are only 40" wide for petite yet pricey apartments downtown.