LED-lit HDTVs aren't new — Samsung [SEO:005930] itself had one in production this past year — but the company's second generation sets are nothing short of breathtaking in picture quality. The old LED TVs (dubbed the 81 Series) has given way to a much-improved pair of Series 9 sets that feature the much-loved 120Hz refresh rate, which makes fast action look less choppy on screen during the kinds of movies that feature cars blowing up and other awesome action sequences. The flagship of the series is the 55-inch, which will sell for $4200, and the model below will be a 46-inch version that will retail for $3200.
What makes the picture quality superb on LED-lit TVs like the Series 9 is LED technology that allows localized dimming. What's that mean? Let's say you're viewing a movie scene in which a cop is looking around a dark corner. The half of the screen that shows the cop in the streetlight will be fully backlit, while the other half of the screen — which should be the color black — will be dimmed down to reveal a "true" black, instead of the glowing gray color that most HDTVs portray as black. All this happens without the viewer realizing, and the result is unmatchable contrast. Staring at these two sets today at Samsung's media event in New York, I was absolutely awestruck at the contrast ratio (which Samsung says is 1 million to one.)
The TVs also feature ethernet connectivity and a new honeycomb-gray bezel that Samsung seems to think is a big deal. Looks like a regular bezel to me, but hey, they're the experts. Both Series 9 TVs will be available in August.