Samsung LA46N81BX (46-inch LCD) - First Look

Samsung LA46N81BX (46-inch LCD) - First Look

First, it was the budget hotels, and then there were the value airliners that charged no more than a ferry ticket. With cost of living soaring in Asia, cautious consumers are increasingly on the lookout for value-for-money goods and services. To cash in on this fast growing trend, a number of first-tier electronics vendors are now rolling out low-cost full-HD flat panels. The latest is Samsung and its new N8-series LCD TVs. True to its purpose, these were launched without the usual mumbo jumbo and big-ticket festivities.


Think value and most will associate a plain Jane offering that's typically transacted in cash-and-carry fashion. But not the spanking new Samsung LA46N81BX. Simply put, this panel is a good example of a modern Cinderella in her finest hours. Tastefully dressed from head to toe in shimmering black and encased in a smooth streamlined chassis, it exudes class and elegance that easily rival many other pricier models. Sharp readers may also point out its striking resemblance to its premium F9, especially the near-invisible side stealth speakers.

For its price, it may be unrealistic to expect the usual bells and whistles such as good-to-have inbuilt multimedia playback. So we were pleasantly surprised to find a third HDMI 1.3 terminal on the left of this sleek 114mm-thick TV. Taking the dual sets of component-video sockets into consideration, we are now talking about a whopping five 1080p50/60-ready inputs for HD duty. The former digital jack have the added advantage of Anynet+ (HDMI-CEC) for one remote operation for all compatible boxes and xvYCC wide color gamut support for richer hues.

Samsung is also breaking new ground as far as the software menu is concerned. Nested in the submenus is a suite of advanced video settings that are identical to the high-end M8. Whether they are there for convenience is anyone's guess, but we are definitely not complaining here. Videophiles may like to check out the SpyderTV Pro-friendly white balance offset and gain, while the option to defeat image sharpening (edge enhancement) is another nice touch for purists. Lastly, the Just Scan aspect mode delivers visuals which display every pixel detail from HD sources.


Here's an advance warning for those wall-mounting the LA46N81BX. The onboard TV controls are on the chassis top just like some of the older Sharp Aquos. Unless you are wearing heels in your living room, there's an extremely high tendency that these may be out of reach for most. There is also no rear S-video input to pair with your legacy equipment. This is not really a big deal in our opinion since newer A/V boxes are going HDMI anyway. Plus there is still the option to tap the side S-video if you are willing to forego a clean look.


Prices of full-HD LCD TVs are dropping faster than we have anticipated and, at the rate it's currently going, it will probably reach mainstream critical mass in around six months' time. Those itching to go ultra-high resolution and unwilling to wait are highly recommended to check out the various entry-level models. If you are seeking an even prettier panel than the well-received Toshiba X3500, this S$5,999 (US$3,946.71) Samsung may just be the perfect solution for you.