I hear you friend -- I spent 3 times what you did on a samgsun edge-lit TV with the same issues. When I first bought the TV I did not notice it at all - then I moved into a new house - I was inspecting the TV for damage and noticed that grey bar. At first I thought it was broken and then started googling and found this forum - I drove to best buy and looked at all their samsung edge lit TV's and sure enough its across the entire line.... ... I have been able to put it out of my head mostly. Especially if the TV sits slightly higher than eye level from where you sit. Its much more noticable looking down at the TV than looking up. However - for all of us that spend big bucks for the best picture it's really not cool. When I purchase my next TV (hopefully not for a while) I'll be on the lookout for this method of lighting.
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I've just purchased a Samsung UE49NU8000 TV and found the same issue. I've found that if I have the movie file (and subtitle file with the same name in the same folder) on my android phone then I can use Bubbleupnp to play the file on the TV with subtitles. There is no way of toggling the subtitles on or off once the movie is playing. I have also found the app Server Cast which does allow toggling of the subtitles whilst playing (it takes a few seconds as on toggling them the file loads again and then restarts at the same point in the movie). Ignore that the app warns that the TV shows it won't accept subtitles. Both apps require me to browse for the movie using the apps own file browser, I can't just select the file in my usual file browser (ES) and play a movie with subtitles. I hope this helps someone!
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