Samsung PS51E8000 review
|Review: December 2012|
In a nutshell: Samsung's flagship plasma TV has premium looks, outstanding picture quality and top-drawer Smart TV functions, but is very pricey.
Design & looks
Samsung's Series 8 plasma TVs look a lot like the Series 6 TVs, but with a glossier finish and a shinier quad-leg stand. It's very slim by plasma standards, and not bad even when compared to Samsung's ultraslim LED TVs.
The narrow metal bezel makes it feel very modern, and there's no doubt about it - the 51 inch screen makes a huge impression, stamping its authority on any room. This is certainly a stunning piece of eye candy.
The Series 8 TV also includes Samsung's Smart Touch Control.
This flagship TV brings all the qualities that you'd expect from a top-notch plasma.
The screen delivers satisfyingly dark blacks, thanks in part to Samsung's Real Black Pro anti-reflective filter, but also due to the very high native contrast ratio of the plasma panel itself. It's not as bright as LED displays, but in a normal home setting that shouldn't pose any problems.
The display has a very fast response time, so there's no danger of motion blur, and with Games Mode engaged, it's a great screen for gaming.
You may sometimes notice some image retention of fixed scene features like onscreen channel logos, but this fades in a matter of seconds with no long term effect.
As you'd expect from a plasma screen, viewing angles are extremely wide, such that we couldn't see any fading or colour changes from any viewing angle. This is in stark contrast to Samsung's LED range of TVs, which suffer from some pretty narrow viewing angles.
Overall, the picture quality of this display is extremely impressive, and close to that of the Panasonic TX-P50ST50B.
3D performance on this screen is also pretty good, with full 1080p support, although some of the limitations inherent in active 3D technology are apparent here.
Perhaps most notable is the loss of brightness when wearing the 3D glasses. Since the display is already on the dim side, this can be a problem in daylight conditions. The problem disappears when the curtains are closed and room lighting dimmed or turned off.
There can also be problems with crosstalk, which happens when the image intended for one eye is also perceived by the other eye. This confuses the brain and leads to ghosting effects. The phenomenon is most noticeable when watching scenes with high contrast. We also noticed a flickering effect under certain ambient lighting conditions.
We have to say that we do prefer passive 3D, but this simply isn't available with plasma screens.
Two pairs of 3D glasses are included, which is useful, since active shutter 3D glasses can be quite expensive to buy.
The audio quality isn't quite what you might hope for from a flagship television. In fact, the sound isn't really much better than on Samsung's slimline LED TVs. There's a noticeable lack of bass, despite the best efforts of the downfiring speakers and SRS TheatreSound HD. Still, this is no worse than most TVs from other manufacturers, although some Panasonic and Sony models do manage better. As this is clearly a TV built for the ultimate home cinema experience, we really recommend that you invest in a proper 5.1 home cinema speaker system to get the most out of it.
Samsung’s updated Smart Hub brings you access to features like youtube, facebook, twitter, web browsing and apps. Family Story lets you share special photos, messages and events with loved ones. It's powered by a dual core processor for super-fast responsiveness.
A front-facing camera enables features such as face recognition and motion control. There's also a voice control system. You can also use the camera for making Skype calls.
Additionally, the TV includes a Smart Evolution slot in the back where you can plug in a Smart Evolution kit to upgrade your TV. The idea is to future-proof it, at least in terms of smart technology.
We know that connectivity isn't high on most people's list of priorities, but get it wrong and you'll find yourself standing next to an expensive TV with a cable in one hand, an instruction manual in the other and a foolish look on your face.
Fortunately, this TV is equipped with both built-in Wi-Fi and an ethernet connection, so connecting it to your home broadband router presents no problem, and it can equally well talk to Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets such as smartphones and laptops. With DLNA you'll have no problems streaming content such as video, music and photos from compatible devices.
We always like to have 4 HDMI ports (just in case), but here we have 3 ports, which is probably enough for most people. In addition, the TV is equipped with 3 USB connectors, SCART, component and composite AV connectors, plus audio inputs and outputs. It's compatible with both Freeview HD and Freesat HD.
Conclusion - a top drawer plasma TV
If you've been reading up on plasma TVs, you might have the impression that Panasonic TVs are the best. This is probably still true when it comes to 2D and 3D picture quality. In particular the benchmark Panasonic TX-P50VT50B is still the ultimate TV. Still, this flagship Samsung puts up a good fight, and comes pretty close. You'll need a sharp eye to tell the difference, especially in 2D.
Besides, the Samsung has a few tricks up its sleeve. It easily beats Panasonic when it comes to design and looks, and Samsung's Smart TV offering is ahead too.
We do wonder about value for money in this Series 8 TV, though. The Series 6 plasma has the same picture quality and sells for substantially less. For the extra money you get a slightly more premium design, face recognition, motion control and voice controls. You also have the benefit of a Smart Evolution slot in the back, so you can upgrade your TV in the future. We're not sure that this justifies the extra cost, and for that reason we're giving it a 4 star rating.
Samsung PS51E8000 features include:
- 51 inch plasma screen
- 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Real Black Pro
- Clear Image Panel
- Wide Colour Enhancer
- 600Hz Subfield Motion
- 3D (active 3D) - includes 2 pairs of glasses
- Game Mode
- Samsung SMART TV, Smart Hub, Samsung Apps, Social TV, Web Browser
- Freeview HD & Freesat HD
- Audio: Digital Dolby Plus, Dolby Pulse, SRS TheatreSound HD, Dts 2.0+Digital Out, 10W x 2 sound output (RMS), down firing + full range stereo speakers
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet (LAN) x 1, DLNA, HDMI x 3, USB x 3, headphone x 1, component in (Y/Pb/Pr) x 1, composite in (AV) x 1, digital audio out (optical) x 1, DVI Audio In (Mini Jack) x 1, PC in (via HDMI), Scart x 1, RF In (Terrestrial / Cable input) x 2, Anynet+, MHL
- TM1250 and Smart Touch Remote Controller included
- Energy efficiency class: C
- Typical power consumption: 186W
- Size without stand (WxHxD): 1193 x 713 x 48.1mm
- Size with stand (WxHxD): 1193 x 806.3 x 309.3mm
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