Samsung has an uncanny knack for understanding exactly what makes AV punters tick. And so it is that the new LE52M87BD, a 52-inch LCD TV, seems to jump off the shop shelf at you with its punchy design and huge feature count.
The only question mark hanging over it is whether it can justify the £1,800 figure printed on its price ticket.
If looks were everything, we could just award the 52M87BD a best buy rating now and head off home early. Its combination of a high-gloss black bezel and superbly harmonious curves and lines make it just about as attractive a sight as a 52-inch TV will ever be.
Just as attractive, albeit in a more techy way, are its connections. For included among them are a very healthy three HDMIs, all of which are compatible with the new v1.3 standard, and all of which take every hi-def format known to man, including the new 1080p/24fps format.
There are plenty of attractions amid the 52M87BD's claimed specifications too. The contrast ratio, for instance, is reckoned to be 15,000:1 -- easily the highest such figure we've seen associated with an LCD TV. Plus the screen sports a 'Full HD' resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels, and a 'wide colour gamut' system designed to produce more vivid colours across a wider, more expressive palette.
Happily, the 52M87BD's on-paper talents translate into some strikingly good picture quality. This is particularly true of the set's contrast, as it reproduces what could well be the deepest, most convincing black levels yet seen on an LCD TV. Dark shots such as those of the upturned ship bobbing in the night-time sea on the HD DVD of Poseidon are remarkably free of LCD's usual greyness, allowing you to clearly make out what's going on and appreciate a genuine sense of scale to the image.
The 52M87BD's black level talents also help it deliver great colours, with exceptionally rich and vibrant tones that also happen to look among the most authentic that Samsung has yet produced from an LCD TV.
Finally in the plus column is the sharpness of the 52M87BD's HD reproduction. The clarity and definition on show while watching a pristine HD source like Casino Royale on Blu-ray regularly beggars belief, enhanced as it is by the screen's 1080p resolution and sheer, delightful size.
You do need to take great care when setting the 52M87BD's picture levels. It only takes slightly too much aggression in the brightness or contrast departments to suddenly make the screen exaggerate any noise in a source picture.
More disturbing, in that it's harder to avoid, is a slight blurring of fast-moving objects. This isn't unbearably bad by any means, but the sharpness of static parts of the picture means you can't help but notice when motion causes things to lose even a little resolution.
A Movie Plus feature on the set improves motion resolution considerably -- but sadly only at the expense of some pretty distracting flickering and shimmering around moving objects' edges.
The final concern we have with the 52M87BD is its price, since at £1,800 it's considerably more expensive than most 50-inch plasma TVs. But then if you're a fan of LCD's extra brightness over plasma and fancy a 'Full HD' pixel count, you might well consider the 52M87BD money well spent.
Although it's not as cheap as plasma rivals, at around £1,800, and occasionally lets a picture performance crack show through, for the majority of the time the 52M87BD is quite simply a joy to behold and the finest king-sized LCD screen we've seen to date.
Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Jon Squire