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TV Panel Lottery
Samsung vs AU Optronics vs Sharp Panels Compared

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.

Samsung Panel Lottery

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.

50 inch panel code Version: DH02
Panel: AU Optronics
Samsung UN50J6300
55 inch panel code Version: TH01
Panel: Samsung
Samsung UN55J6300
60 inch panel code Version: MS01
Panel: Sharp
Samsung UN60J6300

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. 

Contrast

50 inch contrast ratio Black: 0.023 cd/m2
White: 102.4 cd/m2
Contrast: 4452:1
Samsung UN50J6300
55 inch contrast ratio Black: 0.027 cd/m2
White: 100.1 cd/m2
Contrast: 3707:1
Samsung UN55J6300
60 inch contrast ratio Black: 0.027 cd/m2
White: 108.4 cd/m2
Contrast: 4015:1
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

Motion blur

50 inch motion blur 50 inch response time50 inch backlight Response time: 6.3 ms
Overshoot: 2.0 ms
Samsung UN50J6300
55 inch motion blur55 inch response time 55 inch backlight Response time: 12.8 ms
Overshoot: 0 ms
Samsung UN55J6300
60 inch motion blur60 inch response time60 inch backlight Response time: 7.3 ms
Overshoot: 0.7 ms
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

Input Lag

Input lag: 33.9 ms
Samsung UN50J6300
Input lag: 44.9 ms
Samsung UN55J6300
Input lag: 36.9 ms
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

Viewing Angle

Viewing angle: 22°
Samsung UN50J6300
Viewing angle: 20°
Samsung UN55J6300
Viewing angle: 18°
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

Conclusion

We can conclude of a few things from this experiment:

  1. Different sizes of the same model can indeed have different manufacturers of the panels
  2. There are differences between them
  3. The differences are not big
  4. 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.

 

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Questions & Answers

8 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
18
Does LG make their own panels?
Yes. Most of them. They also use some VA panels here and there and those might be outsourced but LG don't use a lot of VA panels.
12
Other Notes

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:

Gray Uniformity

50 inch dseStd Dev: 2.890 %
DSE: 0.195 %
Samsung UN50J6300
55 inch dse
Std Dev: 3.635 %
DSE: 0.215 %
Samsung UN55J6300
60 inch dse
Std Dev: 5.707 %
DSE: 0.206 %
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

Black Uniformity

50 inch uniformityStd Dev: 0.709 %
Samsung UN50J6300
55 inch uniformity
Std Dev: 0.707 %
Samsung UN55J6300
60 inch uniformity
Std Dev: 1.281 %
Samsung UN60J6300

The black uniformity also varies. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the TV, the more clouding issues you can have.

Brightness

Max luminosity 259 cd/m2
Samsung UN50J6300
Max luminosity 286 cd/m2
Samsung UN55J6300
Max luminosity 240 cd/m2
Samsung UN60J6300

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.

12
Thanks. I hope you guys would be able to do more samples in the future. Maybe 3 sets (9 panels) a year or something. With those Motion Blur results, is it safe to say all sets are PWM? They look like PWM Ghosted trails instead of the "more natural" blurry motion. Any more ways to easily determine PWM for TVs?
Yes, all 3 were PWM. In our pictures, you can see identify them by the duplication of the logo, instead of a smooth blurred trail. We also capture the backlight with the osciloscope at 3 different backlight level (these charts), which exposes the PWM even more. At home or in a store, there is a really easy trick you can do: wave your hand very fast in front of the screen. If your fingers are smooth, it is flicker free. If you see distinct duplication of your hand (kinda like in our moving logo picture), it flickers.
11
Where does Vizio get their panels?
For Vizio, it is pretty much from everywhere. It depends on which size/series, but manufacturers include Sharp, AUO, Innolux and even LG.
3
Aside from all of the measurements, how did each set compare to each other with the same content being shown on the sets? Basically, how did they do on the eye test?
We took a look at each TVs before running our tests and they were all very similar to the point where it was hard to predict which one would 'score' better. Without having the 3 TVs side to side, one would be hard pressed to point any difference.
2
Hi there,
First of all, I found this website very informative and that helped me to buy me a 55KU6300. When I was exploring this website, I came to know about panels and after digging in a bit I found that my TV has a 55B6AUOVK. I could not find anywhere what this "B" panel is. Can you please enlighten me, what kind of panel is this?
55B6AUOVK is an IPS panel (technically PLS, Samsung's version of IPS) manufactured by BOE. This means that your TV will be quite different from the KU6300 we reviewed which had a VA panel. Your TV will have a much worse contrast ratio which will make the picture look more washed out, but it will also have a much better viewing angle so it will look better when viewed from the side. However if people will not often be viewing the TV from the side then you'd be better off with a TV with a VA panel. You could try to get a refund and buy a KU6300 from another store to see if they sell the VA version, but if you end up getting an IPS one again then it may be best to buy a different TV like the Vizio M55-D0.

Can you send us an email with the full model code of your TV, so we can note where it was sold?

It's rare for a KU6300 to have an IPS panel, it seems only recently they've started shipping with them.

1
Hi. On the chat at Samsung they told me that 55KU6290 has a quantum dot panel. I know that there is a PurColor. Is PurColor the same as Quantum dot?
As far as we know the 55KU6290 does not have a quantum dot panel. PurColor is not quantum dot, it's just a Samsung marketing term. Typically only the high end Samsung TVs have quantum dot panels, like the KS8000. Whether a panel is quantum dot or not doesn't really matter, all that matters is its performance in our color gamut test. The KU6290 series is very similar to the KU6300 series we reviewed, so we expect it to have a similar color gamut.
1
Apparently my 65KU6300 is a version DA02 and uses an Innolux(CMO) panel. Do you have any information, testing or otherwise about Innolux panels in Samsung 4K TVs? According to the service menu the sale date was January 2017.
We haven't reviewed a KU6300 with an Innolux panel so we don't know how it performs, but we do not expect it to perform very differently from the KU6300 unit we reviewed.
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