For a few years now, it's no secret that TV manufacturers use outsourced panels in their TVs. For example, Sony doesn't even produce its own panels anymore. Not only the panel provenance can vary depending on the size within the same model series, two units of the same size and model number can have two different panels made by different companies. Samsung often does this, which lead to the term "Samsung Panel Lottery". It is called a lottery because you don't really know what you end up with when purchasing your TV.
To determine if the TV panel lottery is a real issue or not, we bought 3 different sizes of the Samsung J6300: a 50" (version DH02), a 55" (version TH01) and a 60" (version MS01). We then tested them with the same series of tests that we use in all of our reviews to see if the differences were notable.
Our Samsung 50" J6300 has a DH02 version, which means the panel is made by AU Optronics. Our 55" has an original Samsung panel TH01. The panel in our 60" was made by Sharp, and its version is MS01.
The contrast ratio of the panels are different. The 50" AUO (DH02) has the best contrast, at 4452:1, followed by the 60" Sharp (MS01) at 4015:1. The Samsung 55" panel had the lowest contrast of the three: 3707:1.
These results aren't really surprising. All these LCD panels are VA, which usually means a contrast between 3000:1 and 5000:1. The Samsung panel, like most other Samsung panels that we reviewed, was quite low in that range, leaving a lot of room for other panels to beat it.
For contrast ratio, we consider a difference of about 500:1 to be noticeable. This means if you put the 50" and the 55" next to each other in a dark room, you will see a difference in terms of the blacks, but it won't be huge.
The motion blur results are really interesting. The response time of the 55" TH01 Samsung panel is actually worse than both the Sharp and AUO panels, by about two times. This is even consistent across all 12 transitions that we measured.
For our measurements, a difference of response time of 10ms starts to be noticeable. They are all within this, so the difference isn't very noticeable to the naked eye, and the Samsung panel still performs better than most TVs we tested.
Our input lag measurements are also different. This isn't because the software is different. This is caused by the different response time of the panels (as illustrated in the motion blur section). We use the Leo Bodnar tool to measure input lag. It does so by flashing a white square on the screen, and measuring the delay between the signal sent and the light sensor detecting white. Therefore, the input lag measurement that the tool provides includes the 0% to 100% response time of the transition of the pixels. If you look at the 0% to 100% transitions that we measured, you will see that the 55" takes about 10 ms longer to transition from black to white.
Even if you are really looking for it, you won't really feel the input lag difference between these 3 TVs, as the threshold of detection of difference for most people is around 15ms.
All of them have a bad viewing angle, as expected. If you watch TV at an angle, none will satisfy you. The picture quality degrades at about 20 degrees from the side. The 60" Sharp panel is worse than the other ones though. In the video, you can see the right side degrading sooner than the other panels.
We can conclude of a few things from this experiment:
- Different sizes of the same model can indeed have different manufacturers of the panels
- There are differences between them
- The differences are not big
- Samsung panels are not better across the board
It is unfortunate that manufacturers vary the source of their panels and that the consumers don't really know what they are buying. Overall though, at least in the units that we tested, the panel lottery isn't something to worry about. While there are differences, the differences aren't big and an original Samsung panel is not necessarily better.
Questions & Answers
All the panels that we ended up with are VA. In the cases where the panel is IPS, the differences are bigger, mainly worse contrast ratio, but better viewing angle. Samsung rarely mix IPS and VA.
Also, there are a few differences that we didn't include in the main article, because they are not related to the panel lottery per se, but to the variance between units instead:
The color uniformity varies a lot per unit, even of the same panel. Here, you can see our 60" was noticeable worse than others, especially on the left side of the screen.
The black uniformity also varies. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the TV, the more clouding issues you can have.
The brightness varies between sizes. This isn't related to the panel, but to the backlight instead. A bigger TV needs more LED in the backlight to illuminate the screen at the same level. Depending on the configuration of the backlight and the number of LEDs, the resulting brightness don't end up exactly the same across sizes.
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.