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Samsung D8000 (PS51D8000) 51 Inch 3D Plasma TV Review

We take a look at Samsung's latest 3D plasma TV

by Steve Withers Jun 11, 2011


Home AV review

145


SRP: £1699.00

Introduction

Given the amount of fuss that surrounds the release of a new Panasonic plasma it is easy to forget that other companies also manufacturer them. In fact both LG and Samsung have plasma lines but between LG's recent launch of Cinema 3D and Samsung's obsession with LED backlighting their plasmas can sometimes feel like forgotten relatives. This is a shame because both LG and Samsung make rather good plasma displays that can easily compete in most areas with Panasonic - black levels being the obvious exception. In addition the South Korean plasmas haven't suffered from issues with 50Hz and have much better video processing, especially Samsung who offer some of the best scaling and deinterlacing on the market. We reviewed the PS50C7000 last year and overall we were quite impressed with the display, our only real concerns related to black levels and image retention. This year we have Samsung's top of the line plasma the PS51D8000 which promises to deliver more than just an additional inch of screen size. The PS51D8000 includes last year's funky styling and offers active shutter 3D of course but it also includes Samsung's new Smart TV and promises to improve in areas such as image retention and black level. Let's take a look and see how the PS51D8000 measures up.

Design and Connections

The look of the PS51D8000 is very similar to the LED-LCD version and shares the same attractive silver brushed metal design. The major difference is that the plasma version has a slightly wider bezel at about 2.5cm thick at the top and sides and about 4cm thick at the bottom. Around the outside of the bezel is clear plastic edging which is 0.5cm thick at the top and sides and 1cm thick at the bottom. The additional inch in screen size is achieved by making the bezel an inch smaller whilst keeping the overall dimensions the same as the previous 50" plasma. The idea here is that anyone who has limited space can upgrade to a slightly bigger screen but be safe in the knowledge that the new display will fit in the space occupied by the old one. The back of the PS51D8000 is made of black metal and the whole display has a solid well engineered feel. The chassis is incredibly thin for a plasma being only 3cm at the top and slightly wider at the bottom, which is where the speakers are hidden. One downside of this super thin chassis is that the power cable cannot be detached because it is earthed and would require a kettle style cord for which there is simply no room. We don't necessarily have a problem with this but the power cable was far too short and despite the display being very close to a power socket we could barely reach. The stand remains something of an acquired taste but its purpose is clearly to make the Samsung displays stand out at point of sale and in this sense it works very well. One complaint is that although the chassis and lower part of the stand are both made of metal, the column attaching one to the other is hardened plastic with no special threads for the screws, just holes. This not only makes the display difficult to assemble (and disassemble) but also gives this part of the construction a slightly cheap feel. However overall the build quality is excellent and the design of the D8000 series remains both elegant and contemporary.

The PS51D8000 has a generous selection of connections at the rear and their layout follows the trend that has developed amongst all the manufacturers this year. At the rear there are downward facing inputs for an aerial, a satellite antennae, a LAN port, component video in, composite video in, analogue audio in, a RGB in and a VGA in. With the exception of the aerial, the antennae, the VGA and the LAN sockets the other connections require special adaptors that are provided with the display and are clearly designed to reduce clutter and keep the chassis as thin as possible.

The remaining connections are also at the rear but are sideways facing and about 17cm in from the edge. There are four HDMI inputs one of which has an Audio Return Channel, two USB ports, a headphone socket, a Common Interface (C.I.) slot, an optical digital audio out and an analogue audio in that requires an adaptor. It is clear that Samsung are trying to accommodate both the slim design of the display and the possibility of wall mounting in the position of the connections but we're not convinced by sideways facing inputs. The problem is unless these inputs are far enough away from the edge of the display you can see the cables poking out the side, especially if you use high quality HDMI cables. However that minor point aside we liked these connections, they were plentiful, sensibly placed to allow for wall mounting and the adaptors were easy to use.

Last year the C8000 series came with a high quality and stylish remote that complimented the avant garde design of the displays themselves. We quite liked the design of that remote and when we heard that the D8000s in the US were shipping with Samsung's dual sided QWERTY remote we were looking forward to trying it out. Unfortunately unlike our cousins across the pond we have been deemed unworthy of this premium remote and only get a very basic remote that is essentially the same as you would get with an entry level Samsung. Whilst Samsung will make the premium remote available for those that wish to purchase it as an accessory, the decision to not include this remote is clearly cost related and reminds us of our position in the world market place. The actual remote included is at least well laid out and includes all the necessary buttons including one for the Smart TV Hub and also one for 3D. The only problems we had with the remote related to the position of buttons next to the up/right/down/left buttons which we kept accidentally hitting during calibration. We also found that quite often the display wouldn't receive the IR command from the remote, even when we pointed it directly at the receiver on the display. We weren't sure if the blame lay with the remote or the display but it was annoying when this happened.

The PS51D8000 uses active shutter glasses and according to the Samsung website there are none included with the display which given the high end status of this display seems a bit mean. Having said that we sourced our review sample from a retailer and there was one pair included so it would be best to check if you decide to buy the PS51D8000. We generally like the design of the Samsung active shutter glasses and they are comfortable to wear even for long periods of time, they can be worn over normal glasses and are designed to stop light from coming in from the sides. Our only real criticisms relate to the size of lens which could be bigger to improve your field of view and the fact that they are quite fragile and could fall victim to clumsy users.

Menus

The PS51D8000 uses Samsung’s latest iteration of their menu system which is well thought out, pleasing to look at and offers a clear and concise series of choices. Although the layout and choices are essentially the same as last year the menu screens have had a cosmetic make over since then and in fact look very attractive. The menu offers a basic set of options including Picture, Sound, Channel, Network, System and Support but within these main choices are a large number of sub menus. The Channel menu obviously shows you all the available Freeview channels and the Networkmenu allows you to set up your network and AllShare settings. The internet connection is very simple to set up and can be made with a LAN cable or with the built-in Wi-Fi which is a nice touch.

The Sound menu is also fairly comprehensive with a choice of modes such as Movie, Music, Standard, Clear Voice etc. as well as controls for Sound Effect, 3D Audio, Broadcast Audio Options, Additional Settings and Speaker Settings. The sound produced by the PS51D8000 was reasonable considering the depth of the chassis and the location of the speakers but I’m assuming that anyone buying a display like this will wisely be using an outboard receiver to provide the surround sound. The System menu contains controls for the Time, Language, Eco Solutions, Subtitles, Digital Text, Security, PIP, Screen Burn Protection and General. It is here in the General sub-menu that you will find the Game Mode hidden away. Quite why Samsung continues to put the Game Mode here rather than with the other modes in the Picture menu is a mystery but if you want to use the Game Mode this is where you will find it.

The last of the non-picture menus is the Support menu and in here you will find the e-Manual, a Self Diagnosis function and the Software Upgrade sub-menu. The Picture menu offers a choice of four types of viewing Mode called Standard, Natural, Dynamic and Movie. In lieu of any THX preset the latter is Samsung’s attempt at an accurate out of the box setting. There are the usual basic controls that you would expect to find on a plasma display such as Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. There is also a control called Cell Light which allows you to adjust the overall brightness of the display by boosting the voltage to the screen and achieving a similar effect to a backlight control on a LCD display. In addition there is the Eco Solution control which adjusts the setting depending on the ambient light but I find that this can cause fluctuations in the display’s brightness and I prefer to leave it off. Both the Picture Mode and the Eco Solution can be accessed directly using the Tools button on the remote.

Within Advanced Settings there is Black Tone which allows you to change the brightness level, Dynamic Contrast which varies the Contrast on-the-fly to try and boost the dynamic range, gamma which adjusts between the bright and dark areas of the image, Expert Pattern which provides a series of test patterns and RGB Only Mode which allows you to see each of the three primary colours individually and is a useful for checking correct colour decoding. Most of these controls default to off which is good as we recommend that you leave them that way. Also within Advanced Settings is an option called Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto, Native and Custom; if you choose custom you have access to a full Colour Management System (CMS) which will allow for accurate calibration of the colour gamut. There is also a choice of a two point white balance control or a ten point White Balance control which will allow for very accurate calibration of greyscale. Whilst the display doesn't have ISF certification, Samsung are to be congratulated for including such comprehensive calibration controls.

Within Picture Options there is Size which obviously gives you sizes to choose from including Auto Wide, 16:9, Wide Zoom, Zoom, 4:3 and Screen Fit. This function can be accessed directly using the P. Size button on the remote. There is also Colour Tone (really colour temperature) which gives you a choice of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2 and a Digital Noise Filter control (3D noise reduction filter) which will reduce analogue background noise. There is a MPEG Noise Filter, a HDMI Black Level control that we left set to Normal and a Film Mode option that has two choices - Auto1 and Auto2. The final sub-menu within the Picture menu contains all the 3D related controls and can be accessed directly by using the 3D button on the remote. This sub-menu allows you to choose the 3D Mode (2D to 3D, Side by Side, Top and Bottom etc.), the 3D Perspective (which adjusts the 3D perspective), Depth which only affects the 2D to 3D mode, L/R Change which swaps the images for each eye, 3D-2D which shows 3D content in 2D and 3D Auto View which automatically selects the correct 3D Mode when it receives a 3D input. The PS51D8000 allows you to save the settings (including White Balance and Colour Space) for each input, this is a very handy function as it allows you to correctly calibrate each input for the device that is connected to it.

Test Results

For the purposes of measuring the out of the box performance we used the Movie mode preset and made sure that all picture enhancement features were turned off. We then set the Cell Light to an appropriate level and used a PLUGE pattern to correctly set the Brightness, a Hi-Lo Tracking pattern to correctly set the Contrast and we set the Colour Tone to Warm2. As you can see from the graph above the Greyscale performance is very good with Gamma tracking around our target of 2.2 and the DeltaEs all measuring below 5 and some even measuring below 3. There are a few errors creeping in around 50 to 70IRE that will result in visible discolouration but the 10 point White Balance control should allow us to improve this performance still further. As you can see from the CIE chart above there are some sizeable errors in all the colours except yellow which was actually spot on. Most of the colours were undersaturated, especially green, blue and cyan which stands to reason as cyan is a combination of green and blue. There were also some sizeable errors in the hue of red and green and the luminance (brightness) of red and blue were too high. Given that the CMS built into the PS51D8000 allows control over hue, colour and luminance we should be able to correct most of these errors.

To calibrate the PS51D8000 we left the majority of settings as they were and used the 10 point White Balance and the CMS to set the Greyscale and Colour Gamut as correctly as possible. As we had experienced previously with Samsung’s 10 point White Balance control we found actually calibrating the Greyscale to be time consuming and counter-intuitive at times but we were able to get a good result ultimately. As the graph shows the Greyscale tracking is now ruler flat with DeltaEs of less than one for all IRE levels. The Gamma is still tracking at the 2.2 target and overall this is a reference standard performance. The Greyscale forms the backbone of the displayed image and that is why it is so important that there is a smooth transition from Black to White with no discolouration. If you think about it in painting terminology the Greyscale creates the canvas to which we add the colour, any discolouration of that canvas will affect how the colours we add look.

The squares on the CIE graph represent where each colour is supposed to be when material is mastered to an industry standard called Rec.709. The closer a display is to Rec.709 the closer the viewer is to watching the material as the creators intended. This is the reason why we measure the colour gamut and place so much importance on colour accuracy. It is also the reason why we push manufacturers to include a full CMS and why we resist attempts to expand the colour gamut of a display beyond the colour space in which PAL and high def material is mastered. When using the CMS the native colour gamut of the PS51D8000 was actually wider than the one we measured in Movie mode and thus we were able to produce a very accurate Colour Gamut. The first thing to notice is that now the Greyscale has been fully calibrated White is measuring at D65 which we would expect given the excellent results for Greyscale. In addition the luminance, colour and hue DeltaEs are almost zero now and whilst there is still a small error in the colour of red it certainly wouldn't affect colour accuracy. In fact the overall DeltaEs all measure less than 2 and most are less than 1 which is an error level that is indistinguishable to the human eye and a reference for colour accuracy.

Video processing is an area where Samsung displays have always excelled and the PS51D8000 is no exception, we put it through all the usual processing torture tests and the results were absolutely superb. Samsung has previously used processing provided by HQV but more recently they have started using in house software which sits within the HyperReal Engine chipset.

As always we started with the SMPTE colour bar tests on the PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs which the PS51D8000 had absolutely no problems with, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The PS51D8000 also performed brilliantly when it came to video deinterlacing with jaggies only appearing when the line was at a very acute angle in the first test. In the second test the motion adaptive deinterlacing was also excellent with only very slight jaggies appearing on the bottom most extreme of the three moving bars. The PS51D8000 also resolved all the fine brickwork in the detail tests and quickly locked onto and displayed a solid image in the film detail test (provided the Film Mode is enabled). However as we expected based on my experience with other Samsung displays the PS51D8000 actually failed the test displaying film material with scrolling video text when Film Mode was set to Auto1 but passed when it was set to Auto2, so if you experience any problems with video text over film try changing between the two settings. We're not entirely sure why Samsung includes two film modes but according to the manual Auto1 is optimised for viewing film material and so we generally used that setting. In the cadence tests the D8000 had no problems correctly detecting both the 2:2 (PAL - European) and 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) tests, producing rock solid images that were free of artefacts.

The PS51D8000 also performed very well in tests on the HQV Blu-ray benchmark disc and with the player set to 1080i the PS51D8000 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the Picture Size is set to Screen Fit). The PS51D8000 also showed a fast response to changes in cadence as well as excellent scaling and filtering and good resolution enhancement. The PS51D8000 had no problems handling 24p material either, reproducing the test images smoothly with no judder or other artefacts, especially when Cinema Smooth was engaged which increases the frame rate from 24 to 96. In fact the only high definition test that the PS51D8000 performed poorly on as the one showing video text overlaid on film based material but once again switching to Auto2 fixed this.

Finally we moved on to our trusted Spears and Munsil test disc which contains a number of very handy test patterns to measure the overall performance of the display and needless to say the PS51D8000 sailed through all the cadence and deinterlacing tests. We find that the ‘Image Cropping’ test is useful for checking if there is any overscan and the ‘Luma Multiburst’ is handy for making sure that the full 1920x1080 resolution is being displayed. These tests are particularly useful for demonstrating why you should always use the Screen Fit aspect ratio instead of the 16:9 ratio. If you leave the PS51D8000 set to the default 16:9 ratio then the image is cropped by up to 30 pixels and the scaling involved results in reduced resolution that is easy to see on the multiburst test. We understand that manufacturers use the overscan to avoid consumers seeing junk at the edges of the video image when the display is in a showroom but if you don’t choose the correct pixel mapping ratio you are no longer watching a full high def image. The situation isn’t helped by the fact that each manufacturer uses a different name for its own pixel mapping option and quite often these names aren’t very informative. In the case of Samsung they call their pixel mapping option Screen Fit but other names we've seen include Just Scan, Dot By Dot and best of all Pixel By Pixel.

In addition we were able to use the ‘Dynamic Range High’ test to check that we had set the Contrast correctly with the PS51D8000 showing excellent headroom performance from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) and absolutely no signs of clipping. On the ‘Dynamic Range Low’ test the PS51D8000 also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0 which confirmed that we had also correctly set the Brightness control. This test also showed why you should leave the Black Tone and Dynamic Contrast controls off because engaging them immediately resulted in lost video levels at the bottom of the dynamic range.

In Game mode the input lag on the PS51D8000 measured at 40ms which is worse than the 20ms we measured on the PS50C7000 last year. This is something of a disappointment and might be a little too high for very serious gamers. Apparently the Game Mode is optimised for use with an X-Box 360 so if that is your game platform of choice you might find the input lag is a little lower. As mentioned previously the Game Mode itself is hidden away in the General sub-menu of the System menu.

For a reasonably large plasma the PS51D8000 is surprisingly energy efficient, although due to the self-illuminating nature of the technology the power usage varies depending on the content being shown on the screen. The consumption figures in Movie Mode using 0, 50 and 100 IRE windows were 85 watts, 99 watts and 180 watts and the PS51D8000 used less than 1 watt in standby. The average power consumption when watching actual full screen material in Movie Mode was about 240 watts which is quite good.

Picture Quality - 2D

The 2D performance of the PS51D8000 was very good with both standard and high definition and this was in no small part due to the reference greyscale and colour gamut. These two areas combine to produce the key building blocks of an image and if they aren't right then no image can ever look it's best, which is why we place so much emphasis on them.When it came to standard definition content the excellent video processing really helped and the resulting images were very impressive. The built-in tuner was also very good which combined with the processing produced very watchable pictures from standard definition Freeview programming. Any compression artefacts and other problems were the result of the broadcasts themselves rather than any failing on the part of the PS51D8000. Things improved even more when we watched DVD based material and film content in particular had a smooth, judder and artefact free appearance.

When it came to high definition content things were even better and content from FreeviewHD looked especially impressive with plenty of detail and minimal compression artefacts. Obviously with Blu-rays the image quality improved still further with wonderfully natural and detailed images. The PS51D8000 produced impressively film-like images from all our usual test material and also had no problems with 24p content especially when the Cinema Smooth function is turned on. There were also no problems with motion handling as tests using the FPD benchmark disc evidenced. The PS51D8000 includes Samsung's latest Real Black Filter which is designed to reduce the amount of light that reflects off the screen and in this area it was a success with far less reflections than we've seen from other recent displays. The PS51D8000 also includes the Clear Image Panel that uses a new filter and panel structure that is designed to eliminate layered images and improve viewing angles. The viewing angles were certainly good and the PS51D8000 was capable of producing clear and detailed images, although there was some PWM noise.

The only real area of weakness in the Samsung plasmas remains black levels, especially when compared to this year's Panasonics where the Samsung blacks were clearly inferior. Now in all fairness Panasonic has spent a fortune acquiring patents, engineers and technology as well as building state of the art facilities in order to produce the kind of blacks that we're seeing this year but even so the blacks on the Samsung are basically the same as last year. Whilst we ultimately feel that measuring black levels is a pointless exercise but we appreciate that some members place a great deal of importance on them, especially in plasma reviews where more importance is placed on native blacks.

So with that in mind, the PS51D8000 measured using our Klein K-10 in dark surroundings and a calibrated mode produced 0.06cd/m2 at 0IRE and 115.47 cd/m2 at 100IRE (approximately 1,925:1 on/off ratio) using standard window patterns from our Sencore MP500. By comparison our 2 year old Pioneer LX5090 Kuro measured 0.03 cd/m2 at 0IRE and 110.1 cd/m2 at 100IRE calibrated (giving an on/off ratio of 3,670:1 approximately). The ANSI-contrast measurements on the Pioneer were 0.04 cd/m2 black and 85.4 cd/m2 white which gives a ratio of 2,135:1 approximately, whilst the PS51D8000 managed 0.06 cd/m2 black and 94.95 cd/m2 white which resulted in an approximate ratio of 1,583:1. Overall the blacks weren't bad but there was clearly room for improvement and we felt that the dynamic range was also a little disappointing resulting in images that sometimes seemed a little flat. There is the option of choosing Black Level Low rather than Normal in the Picture menu but we found that doing so crushed the blacks and the image lost shadow detail.

One annoying problem last year was the amount of image retention and we were happy to see that Samsung had clearly addressed this with their 2011 models. The PS51D8000 was much better in this area and whilst there were still occasional instances of image retention it was never a problem. There have been reports on the Forums of problems with brightness fluctuations and whilst this has certainly been true with some of the recent Panasonics we found no evidence of this on the PS51D8000. There had also been reports of banding but once again we found no evidence of this outside of limitations in the source material itself. We also saw no evidence of line bleeding of any unwanted noise reduction as reported in other Samsung reviews.

Picture Quality - 3D

This was an area where we were quite impressed last year but as with the black levels we found the 3D performance a bit of a disappointment this year because Samsung don't seem to have moved on in the same way as other manufacturers. There is no doubt that the 3D performance of the Panasonic plasmas is truly excellent this year and whilst the performance of the PS51D8000 was good we felt it could be better. One of the major problems with 3D is a lack of brightness caused by the glasses and whilst the PS51D8000 has a reasonably bright image for a plasma the 3D mode could have been better and perhaps because of the disappointing dynamic range we found the 3D images to be a little dull and unexciting. This was especially true in side by side comparisons with a passive 3D display. Whilst the PS51D8000 might have a higher resolution we found the passive image had more punch and appeared brighter. However the 3D mode did produce a reasonably accurate image free from obvious discolouration or clipping, so perhaps Samsung has chosen a more accurate image over a brighter one. We found that the active shutter glasses worked very well in conjunction with the PS51D8000 and we never lost synch during testing. We also weren't normally aware of any flicker although sometimes it could be seen out of the corner of your eye. The glasses were certainly comfortable and light and they blocked ambient light from the sides but we felt the lenses themselves could be bigger.

Overall when watching 3D blu-rays the PS51D8000 performed reasonably well producing sharp and detailed high definition images but there were instances of crosstalk which we found distracting. The 50” screen is large enough to give the 3D images impact and the overall quality of the display does give the whole experience a real sense of accuracy and dimensionality. The PS51D8000 also performed well with 3D games - thanks i part to the motion handling - and we found the images to be both involving and exciting which greatly enhanced our gaming experience. Finally the PS51D8000 also correctly displayed side by side 3D material provided by a 3D camera which is similar in nature to the content on Sky 3D. We believe that Samsung’s 2D to 3D conversion software is actually one of the more advanced that is available and as such it does work surprisingly well. However we feel it is best suited for use with 2D games, here the software seems better able to determine depth information and the resulting dimensionality is more believable. When used with real world material we found that the software became too easily confused and the illusion was shattered resulting in an uncomfortable experience. Ultimately though it remains a novelty feature and in the same way that you can’t turn a standard definition image into a high definition image, you can’t make just a 2D image into a 3D image, no matter how sophisticated the software.

Features

As one would expect from a modern display the PS51D8000 has an impressive array of features and in this area Samsung truly is at the cutting edge. Aside from the 3D capability that we will discuss later, the PS51D8000 also has built-in tuners for FreeviewHD and FreesatHD. Set up is simplicity itself and the resulting EPG is one of our favourites that provides clear programme information, is easy to navigate and includes a PIP of the channel you are currently on. As is often the case with high end displays the PS51D8000 provides the ability to record programmes via a HDD connected through one of the USB ports and it also offers a time shifting capability. The PS51D8000 also includes Allshare which wirelessly connects the display to compatible devices through DLNA, thus allowing you to stream content from other devices including music, photos and video.

All the manufacturers have been pushing their updated internet platforms this year but of all the ones we've tested we believe that Samsung's Smart TV is currently the best. Firstly it offers Smart Hub which centralises all the functionality in one place and allows the user to download apps and search for TV content whilst watching live programmes. The Search Allfunction will allow you to find video content from a number of sources including broadcast TV, You Tube and VOD services which it will then show at the highest resolution available. It also allows you to surf the web and to keep in touch with friends and family using various social networks as well as use Skype when you buy an optional TV and microphone.

As much as we like the development of internet TV one of the annoying aspects is trying to type in words with a standard remote and in fact the premium Samsung remote tries to address this by including a QWERTY keyboard. Thankfully Samsung has provided an elegant - and free - solution for those that don't want to stump up for one of these premium remotes. There is now an app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices that allows you to both control the display and use their keyboards when surfing the net. There is even the ability to stream content to your device, which might prove handy if you have to move away from the TV but don't want to miss something. The combination of a display, the internet, video on demand, social networking, streaming content and tablet controllers really does place the TV at the centre of the digital home and we can expect to see further integration over the next few years.

Conclusion

8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Pros

  • Reference greyscale performance after calibration
  • Reference colour accuracy after calibration
  • 10 point white balance control
  • Colour Management System
  • Freeview HD built in
  • Impressive internet platform
  • Very well designed menu system
  • Superb build quality and design
  • Excellent video processing
  • Excellent off-axis performance
  • Built-in WiFi
  • Low power consumption for a plasma

Cons

  • Black levels and dynamic range could be better
  • Some PWM noise
  • 10 point white balance control can be problematic to use
  • Occasional instances of crosstalk
  • The input lag could be better
  • 3D glasses might be a bit fragile
  • Only a basic remote is included
  • Display didn't always register the IR signals from the remote

I own this 0
I want this 0
I had this 0

Samsung D8000 (PS51D8000) 51 Inch 3D Plasma TV Review

There is much to recommend about the Samsung PS51D8000, it is attractively designed and well built and is capable of some excellent 2D performance. It is a shame that the UK model doesn't include the premium remote control that is being shipped with the US model but with a free app available that turns your tablet device into a system controller perhaps remotes will soon be a thing of the past. The out-of-the-box performance was reasonable but could be better, however the PS51D8000 has excellent calibration controls that are capable of producing a reference greyscale and colour performance. We still find the white balance controls a bit counter intuitive but the results speak for themselves. The video processing remains some of the best that we have tested in a domestic display and the motion handling is also very good. The screen filter reduces reflections from ambient light which is useful when watching content during the day and the off-axis performance is excellent. There are also no real problems with image retention which is a big improvement on last year's models.

The PS51D8000 is as featured ladened a display as you are likely to find and comes with built-in tuners for both FreeviewHD and FreesatHD. It also includes Allshare which allows for easy streaming of content such as music, photos and videos and it can time-shift programming using a USB connected HDD. The EPG and the general menu system are well designed and easy to navigate and the Smart Hub provides an excellent home screen for the whole system. Best of all Samsung's Smart TV is one of the most impressive internet platforms available offering applications, video on demand, internet surfing, social networking and Skype. The black levels, whilst not bad, are essentially the same as last year and therefore something of a disappointment, especially when compared to some of the competition. The dynamic range was also rather underwhelming which resulted in images that sometimes felt a little flat. The 3D performance was also a bit of a disappointment, once again it seemed no better than last year and once again it wasn't as good as some of the competition. The 3D images were rather dim and didn't feel as dynamic and immersive as they could but they did at least look accurate, although there were some instances of crosstalk.

We also had some other minor complaints such as the length of the power cable and certain difficulties we encountered assembling the stand. We would also prefer it if the HDMI inputs were further from the edge and we found that sometimes the display didn't receive IR commands from the remote. At 40ms the input lag might be a bit high for serious gamers but it shouldn't pose any problems for the more casual player. Finally we found the 3D active shutter glasses to be a little fragile and considering this is a high end model we would have liked to see Samsung include more than one pair. However overall the PS51D8000 is a very competent plasma that is both attractive to look at and capable of producing an excellent image, especially in 2D. In addition the 3D performance is good and the Smart TV platform is excellent so if you're looking for a good all round performer we'd recommend giving this display a demo.

Recommended

The Rundown

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

6

Screen Uniformity

7

Colour Accuracy

8

Greyscale Accuracy

8

Video Processing

8

2D Picture Quality

7

3D Picture Quality

8

Sound Quality

6

Smart Features

9

Build Quality

9

Ease Of Use

9

Value for Money

8

Verdict

8

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    1. The News Bot

      The News Bot News Supplying Robot Staff Member

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      Reviewed by Stephen Withers, 11th June 2011.
      However overall the Samsung PS51D8000 is a very competent plasma that is both attractive to look at and capable of producing an excellent image, especially in 2D. In addition the 3D performance is good and the Smart TV platform is excellent so if you're looking for a good all round performer we'd recommend giving this display a demo.

      Read the full review...
      Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2013
    2. MrGrumpie

      MrGrumpie Active Member

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      Hi Steve, can you expand on this at all?

      Which ones were these? Personally I've found the Samsung 3100 glasses to be the most comfortable out there, there's no issue with the lens area (3300/3700 excepted which are more style over substance imho), and they are perfectly robust.

      Can I ask though, why no review of the 59" or 64"? Same as last year, the superior of the Samsung sets don't get reviewed :( Are Samsung not very forthcoming?

      Thanks for the review of the 50 anyway :thumbsup:
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    3. pioneer 1985

      pioneer 1985 Member

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      when was the set manufactured? and will you be reviewing a psd6900.i am currently on my second 59 inch d6900 and they both have the brightness pops/flucts.

      also i had a 51 d6900 and blacks are much better and deeper on the 59 inch models.
    4. Phil Hinton

      Phil Hinton Editor Staff Member

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      The TV reviewed here is a retail set provided by our supporters at Multizone AV and if we didn't get the sample from them, we probably wouldn't have been able to review this TV at all, in the time frame we have here. Just ask any reviewer out there and they will tell you the same; that getting hold of a Samsung plasma for review is very hard work. Does that answer your questions?
    5. MrGrumpie

      MrGrumpie Active Member

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      Samsung don't exactly do themselves any favours do they? Completely missed the multizone av banners in the ad :suicide:
    6. delgers7

      delgers7 Member

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      I thought that this tv had built in wifi but the reviewer state

      "The internet connection is very simple and can be done with a LAN cable or a Wi-Fi adaptor that can be bought separately."

      Are you able to confirm which is the case.

      Thanks
    7. peedroo

      peedroo Member

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      I have the 64d8000 and it has a built in wi-fi
      I think all d8000 models have


      I would love to see a review of the 64' to confirm the better black level performance
    8. Kimberson

      Kimberson Member

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      Did you forget the d6900 range of plasmas for 2011?
      Also why did you turn off cinemasmooth ?
      I know it's supposed to decrease black levels is that why you don't like it on or does it just not improve motion like its supposed to.
      Regards Matt
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    9. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      It didn't mention built-in WiFi anywhere on the specs so I used a LAN cable when I was testing Smart TV but if the D8000 range does have built-in WiFi then that's good news and I'll correct the review accordingly.
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    10. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Matt, I didn't turn on Cinema Smooth because it uses frame interpolation which results in film based material looking like video or as we like to call it the "soap opera look".
    11. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Smurfin, I'll come back to you on the White Balance control as I'm going to take a look at it with the guys on the THX course next week and see if I can figure out what's wrong.

      As for the 3D glasses, I think the lack of a frame around the whole lens tends to let ambient light in at the bottom and make them less robust but they are at least light and reasonably comfortable to wear. I was watching a 3D movie on the Panasonic VT30 last night and as usual the lenses were far too small and they were really uncomfortable after about half an hour. The only 3D active shutter glasses I like are the ones from XpanD/JVC which are comfortable, robust, block out ambient light and have big lenses
    12. Nivek TT

      Nivek TT Active Member

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      As well as being ridiculously too short (same size for the 64"!!!) the power cable is non-detachable and Samsung will tell you that removing the plug will void the warranty. This makes wall mounting this thing and hiding the cable almost impossible.

      There have been a few of us complain about this and its the same situation as last year's model. Please feed this back to Samsung.

      Just to note, the power cord is detachable with a screw driver and a reckless attitude, but it connects using a proprietary connector that is probably larger and more awkward to handle the a 3 point kettle lead.
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    13. janos666

      janos666 Member

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      Do you aware of the observer metamerism?
      The short version: If you have a display which has a native Rec709 color gamut and you have a display which has a significantly wider color gamut then no matter what do you try to calibrate them, the colors will never match!

      You can use a freshly certified reference grade sensor and apply high bit depth 3D color processing, the problem is that practically every CMS is based on the CIE 1931 XYZ system (you can measure the spectral distribution but you will eventually work with XYZ or xyY numbers during the gamut mapping, even if you do not see it directly because this is the "de facto" standard in color management...) which is not perfect.

      Of course, nothing is perfect but a display with real Rec709 primaries and a WCG display with any kind of post-processing will show you noticeable differences!

      (Let alone that these corrections are rarely perfect in practice...)

      That's why we should resist that manufacturers have to create displays with standard gamut! (which is Rec709 right now, the legacy PAL standard can be freely emulated on modern displays... No matter if it's CCFL, LED, phosphor surface/cell... But oh yea, LED and CCFL will always give you different colors, no matter what... because they have a different spectrum to start with and filters are not perfect. :rotfl:)


      Did you measure the PC mode? (Label your input as PC and feed it with 1080p60, 1080i30, 720p60, 720i30 signal. -> exact 60.000Hz for 1080i30 and 1080p60, not 1080i29 or 1080p59 NTSC 1/1.001 refresh rates!)

      It bypasses even more processing, like the RGB->YCC step, so it's not only better for RGB signals (sharper image with real RGB 4:4:4 reproduction while the Game mode is only YCC 4:2:2 with reduced precision compared to the normal YCC modes) but it can also be faster. But I don't have a CRT to compare them.
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    14. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Kevin, we had a meeting with Samsung recently where we gave them our feedback about the non-detachable power cable being too short.
    15. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      The whole point of a Game mode is to by-pass unnecessary processing in order to produce as low an input lag as possible, if you have to result to naming input labels as PC and messing around with refresh rates then the manufacturer has failed in my opinion.

      By the way, someone suggested something similar as a cure for the high input lag on the LG LW550 but it didn't make any difference.
    16. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      The industry standard for PAL (as near as dammit), high def broadcast and Blu-ray is Rec.709 which is why in our reviews we expect a display to be able to correctly reproduce that particular colour gamut. Of course nothing is perfect but as long as a display can reproduce Rec.709 to within our specified levels of error and test material looks correct (you can never just trust meters and software) then that meets our criteria for a reference colour performance.
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    17. janos666

      janos666 Member

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      It is not harder (but probably easier) to label your input as PC.

      If you do so, every "compatible" signal (and your PC or game console will probably output 1080p60 or 720p60 by default) will automatically trigger the RGB 4:4:4 mode, while NTSC refresh rates will trigger the normal Movie mode.
      It can not be more convenient! You label your input once any everything is automatic: Games will have low input lag but movies will be displayed with high quality processing. You don't need to engage the Game mode manually (it's fully automatic) and it's better than Game mode (because every GPU work with RGB and this is an RGB mode).

      The only thing you can blame about that Game mode shouldn't be there if PC mode is better. But you know that some people wouldn't understand why many brands have a Game mode and Samsung doesn't... and Game mode is useful to bypass some processing on YCC 4:2:2 signals too while the PC mode is better for RGB 4:4:4 signals.

      And I would blame them because this RGB mode is not available with NTSC refresh rates (there is no manual override to achieve this).

      ----

      I understand what you say but my opinion that you should ask the manufacturers to produce displays with as perfect native Rec709 gamut as possible, not "as wide as possible". Because most of the HD materials are mastered for this gamut and gamut emulation is far from perfect. You can see it without a meter.
      More precisely your software will say that the colors are identical - they are very close in the xyY space - but your eyes will easily tell the difference. Just try to compare any freshly calibrated sRGB/Rec709 and WCG (wider than AdobeRGB) displays. The difference will be so huge that you will think your sensor is broken. But it's only the observer mesmerism...
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    18. abap

      abap Member

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      Hi Steve,
      may I ask you to gore more in detail on how exactly Cinema Smooth works?

      I don't own a D8000, nor I could test it, but for what I understood so far from the web I thought that the following points applied (when dealing with 24p sources, obviously):

      >> CS OFF: panel working @ 60Hz = incorrect pulldown
      >> CS ON: 4:4 pulldown, cinema-like look, increasing black level
      (furthermore I thought D8000 came with no built in possibility at all to activate any kind of frame interpolation)

      Instead from what you say/write it seems like:

      >> CS OFF: 4:4 pulldown, cinema-like look
      >> CS ON: Frame interpolation, increasing black level
      (thus implying the panel being able to "motion interpolate")

      Could you please calrify on this topic?
      Thanks in advance!
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    19. Phil Hinton

      Phil Hinton Editor Staff Member

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      The arguement Steve is using is valid. If it has a games mode this should be optimised out of the box for lowest lag time and best setting for using with consoles. He is not arguing with the points you have read elsewhere and repeated here.

      That is not what Steve said. We of course would like all manufacturers to introduce Rec.709 gamuts and many do as presets. Some have native gamuts very close to Rec.709. This is one point we insist on. We would never insist on a wide gamut as you correctly say most material is mastered in Rec.709 and should be played back as such on a display. Not sure where you are getting the opposite of that view.

      Rubbish. The human eye is not that accurate with colours especially slight changes in colour values on calibrated sets etc. Unless I have misread your point here.

      Of course the differences are huge as all those gamuts are different. What is your point? I think you have misunderstood what Steve was describing with the wider gamut, which was that by using that preset he could adjust the gamut more easily to hit Rec.709 with very few errors, especially in luminance. Tested by the meter and by his experienced eyes with reference material. We are talking about consumer grade panels here so they will never be perfect, but we can get very close with experience and the correct tools to check.

      Doesn't really apply to calibrated displays side by side, but nice to see you are reading up on the different CIE theories and HDTVs in general from starting out at close to nothing, that should be encouraged. Lot's of theories out there, but be careful to only get those that apply to display devices, otherwise you could start getting lost. Also some review sites will go off on tangents which don't concern 99.9% of readers so their points should be taken as such - useful as they are...
    20. MrGrumpie

      MrGrumpie Active Member

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      What issues did you have with it? Apart from a bit of to'ing and fro'ing I found the 10p white balance to be a dream to use :)

      Also, I have to question the cinemasmooth thing. With it enaged there is absolutely no sign of the Panasonic "soap opera" effect, at least not on my set.
    21. icowley79

      icowley79 Member

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      I own a ps51d8000 and have done for a good couple of months now but when I bought it, it did not come with any 3d glasses in the box! Can you confirm that it does now because if it does I am going to get on the phone to samsung and see if they will send me some as I feel like I have missed out because I decided to invest early!! Also is there any chance you could post the all picture settings that you used so that I could try them. I know that different viewing conditions can change the settings but I am still interested to see the settings you used, cheers
    22. janos666

      janos666 Member

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      As I said, the Game mode has it's own possible uses as well:
      PC mode for RGB 4:4:4, Game mode for YCC 4:2:2 signals (no matter if it's actually a game or a movie).

      It's logically placed in the menu (as much has it could be) because Game mode is only available with YCC modes and it's disabled with RGB mode.

      The only glitch that every game engine render the frames in RGB, so you are better to go with RGB mode for gaming.

      So, it should be named as "Bypass" or "Thru" or whatever. (But marketing, marketing... "Where is the game mode which others have...?") But the PC name is correct because you can use your PC for many things, not only for gaming, and "RGB mode" could be more confusing for end-users than "PC". But there should be a "Game console" label with the same effect.

      So, "PC" and "Game Console" labels for RGB mode and a "Thru" mode for the other YCC modes.
      But in an ideal world 4:4:4 modes could offer high or low level processing as well. So, the label would choose between YCC or RGB processing algorithms and a "Game mode" would choose between more or less processing...


      I not only repeated what I rode but I have a PN51D550 now, so I could test it myself.


      And I still have my U2410 which has >AdobeRGB gamut. I could compare it with my old ~AdobeRGB LCD and now with my ~Rec709 PDP. I could test it for myself how big the differences are between the different physical gamuts, even if you apply high quality 3D color corrections for both devices. (And there is a noticeable difference between the observers too...)

      Of course it's only noticeable by the naked eye (well, easily...) when you see them side-by-side, but it exists. It's not deniable or negligible.

      And yes, may be I misunderstood that part. I thought he asked for [as wide gamut as possible], so it's safer that standard gamuts are possible to hit with the CMS. While it would be better if we don't need to emulate the sRGB/Rec709 gamut at all...


      However, it's nice to see that you quoted that old post (it makes me think you have a good memory and you really understand what you talk about...). :)
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    23. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      The review sample came from a retailer (Multizone) and included a pair of glasses in the box but I notice that on Samsung's website they say that the PS51D8000 does not come with any glasses so I have adjusted the review to reflect that. It might be that certain retailers are including a pair of glasses and others are not but officially Samsung are not including any glasses so I'd hold off on that phone call.
    24. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Yes you misunderstood me janos666, what I actually said was that the native colour gamut was wider than the Movie preset. If you look at the CIE charts you will see that the colour coordinates for the Movie preset are within the Rec.709 triangle. If this was the native colour gamut of the display then we would have a problem because a CMS can't add what isn't there. However if you choose the custom mode then the colour gamut is wider than the Rec.709 triangle and you can then use the CMS to dial down the primary and secondary colours to the correct coordinates for Rec.709.
    25. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      Smurfin, I found that sometimes with the ten point white balance control if I selected say '7' which should correspond to 70IRE when I made changes it was actually affecting 80IRE for example. As I said I'm going to check it out with Phil whilst I'm helping out at the THX course just in case I'm missing something obvious.
    26. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      My experience of Cinema Smooth is that it uses some frame interpolation as opposed to just increasing the frame rate which results in an unnatural level of smoothness. I certainly didn't like the look of it but as with a lot of these features there is a degree of personal preference and if you're happy with it Smurfin that's your prerogative. However I can't see why using Cinema Smooth would make any difference to the black level.
      Last edited: Jun 12, 2011
    27. Mark Hodgkinson

      Mark Hodgkinson Reviewer & News Writer Staff Member

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      I had the same with a D8000 LCD Steve, except it was affecting 40/50/60/70 IRE. Got a D7000 (essentially the same TV) here at the mo and the 10 pt WB worked flawlessly. Go figure:)
    28. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers Assistant Editor

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      There will be some Samsungs at the THX course Mark, so let's try out their 10 point WB controls and see how they behave.
    29. Jtm79

      Jtm79 Member

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      Im really surprised that cinema smooth is some sort of frame interpolation, this is not the case with panasonic 96hz right? Also im surprised that 3D performance was let down, since cnet says that d8000 is actually better in 3d than Panasonic.

      Does D8000 have more or less image retention than VT30? Thanks :)
    30. janos666

      janos666 Member

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      I don't think CS uses frame interpolation. Moreover, I think this new 2011 chipset doesn't have any frame interpolation capabilities at all!

      If it does interpolate than it's a nice job because I can't see any of the usual interpolation artifacts.


      I think CS rises the MLL because it raises the refresh rate (to 96Hz). The same thing happens in 3D mode but that run at even higher refresh rate (120Hz), so the MLL is even higher. (More refresh ?= more cell initialization ?-> higher MLL)

      My measurements (not very accurate but something to start with) with and without CS were:

      60Hz - Standard - PC mode
      Black level = 0.05 cd/m^2
      White level = 174.38 cd/m^2
      Aprox. gamma = 2.20
      Contrast ratio = 3618:1

      23.976Hz - Movie - CinemaSmooth
      Black level = 0.06 cd/m^2
      White level = 138.19 cd/m^2
      Aprox. gamma = 2.15
      Contrast ratio = 2328:1
  • Screen

    Display Plasma
    Display Format 1080p Full HD
    Screen Size 51 In
    Resolution 1920 x 1080 Pixels
    1080p24 Support Yes
    Claimed Contrast Ratio Mega DCR
    3D Technology Active
    Refresh Rate 600 Hz
    Aspect Ratio 16:9
    Picture-in-Picture PiP
    Image Enhancement Engine 3D HyperReal Engine

    Digital-TV

    Tuner Freeview
    Freeview HD
    Freesat
    Freesat HD
    EPG Yes

    Features

    3D Accessories Active Glasses
    PVR Features External PVR Ready
    Smart TV Yes
    Smart TV Features DLNA
    Skype Ready
    Video on Demand Access
    Media Player
    Web Browser
    App Store Access

    Sound

    Speakers Stereo
    Speaker Output 20 Watts
    Supported Sound Formats Dolby Digital
    Dolby Digital Plus
    DTS

    Product Properties

    Release Year 2011
    Warranty Yes
    Screen Size 129 cm

    Connections

    HDMI Type HDMI
    HDMI with ARC
    HDMI 1.4
    HDMI Inputs 4
    Scart Connections 1
    Component Inputs 1
    Composite Inputs 1
    USB Ports 2
    Common Interface Slot Yes
    Ethernet Port Yes
    Digital Audio Out Yes
    Headphone Socket Yes
    Analogue Audio In Yes
    Wi-Fi Built-in
  • Loading