Colour reproduction deserves particular mention -- the natural look of the skin tones is something that projection technology is traditionally good at, but given the right setup tweaks, the SP-50L7HX is particularly enjoyable to behold. Of course, given the price and current state of the technological playing field, we could reasonably expect an integrated Freeview tuner, since we've seen so many digital displays fall apart when faced with an RGB Scart feed, but the SP-50L7HX takes it in its stride, so we can forgive it somewhat.
Despite being impressive from the default settings, you can tune the picture to how you like it. There are a pretty limited number on the picture side -- Dynamic, Cinema and Standard -- of which only the latter two were to our taste. There are more on the audio side, with Standard, Music, Movie, Speech and a Custom one to tailor to your own tastes. Particularly welcome is the ability to alter the individual levels of the colour spectrum, which will be useful to advanced users with access to a disc like Digital Video Essentials or the THX Optimiser.
The speakers are also unique in design, marked out as three circles that run down each side of the screen. In terms of power, they're not much to shout about, with only 30W to play with. However, you can add a little more perceived oomph by engaging the SRS TruSurround mode, which is accessible from the remote itself. We've always shied away from adding anything synthetic to the audio experience, but we can't argue that it's slightly more suitable for movie playback, giving a little bit more authenticity to action sequences and soundtracks.
Thankfully, whatever the geniuses in Korea have done to get such a funky design, none of it has detrimentally impacted on the picture quality. It's very impressive across the board, from RGB Scart to HDMI. This has to be down to Samsung's DNIe system, which is not simply another boast for the product launcher but also a highly effective way of cleaning up the picture. The lower the quality of the source, the better the results actually are, but it works both ways -- if you're going to be using a high-definition or HDMI DVD player, then you might want to turn DNIe off. But with Freeview broadcasts, all of the detail loss and motion artefacting seems to be removed in favour of a smooth, crisp picture.
The Samsung SP-50L7HX really was born for high definition, though. In the UK, we're pretty much limited to downloading movie clips from Microsoft or Apple to sample them, but if you're really up on technology and plug your Media Center into the television, you're in for a treat. Images are so smooth and detailed that it's really quite hard to go back to regular broadcasts.
In terms of the downsides, even though the brightness is excellent, like any other rear-projection television, it's best when used in a dimly lit environment. It also has a relatively limited viewing angle -- sit two or more spaces away from the straight-on position and you'll receive a negative effect to your viewing experience. It also takes about a minute and a half to warm up to full brightness, but once it's there, the level is very impressive.
Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Nick Hide