Samsung PS64F8500 (F8500) Plasma TV Review
Samsung go for a new look with their latest plasma, can anyone resist Magnum?
What is the Samsung PS64F8500?Whilst Panasonic have been stealing a lot of the plasma thunder recently, Samsung are certainly not going to let them keep their crown without a fight. The Korean giant might not be best known for their plasmas but as the only other major player left in that market they have been quietly producing very capable displays that often combine design, performance and value in equal measure. It would seem that, just like their Japanese competitor, Samsung feel there is plenty of life left in plasma and with the PS64F8500 we might just have their best model yet. Samsung have clearly invested a great deal in their latest line-up and with the Super Contrast Panel and Real Black Pro filter they claim they can deliver brighter images and deeper blacks than ever before. They have also introduced their eye-catching new ‘Magnum’ design with its ‘Metal Flow’ stand, not to mention their latest Smart Hub platform and quad-core processing. With all that on board the PS64F8500 is starting to look like a real contender. It’s shaping up to be one of the best year’s ever for the TV enthusiast and who can resist a battle royale between Samsung and Panasonic for the hearts, minds and wallets of all us plasma fans. Has the PS64F8500 got what it takes to win the fight? Let’s find out...
Design and ConnectionsSamsung’s talented designers have been at their drawing boards again and the result is one of the most striking televisions we have seen for some time. In the case of the PS64F8500, Samsung has turned its back on the ultra-slim bezel-less design which they’ve largely been responsible for making popular and instead have opted for something altogether different. There’s no question that the design of the PS64F8500 will elicit a ‘Marmite’ response from people - there will be those, like us, who love it and others we suspect that will hate it. However you have to respect Samsung for trying something different, rather than just going for the same ‘cookie-cutter’ standard design each year.
Samsung’s name for this new look is ‘Magnum’ (presumably ‘Blue Steel’ will be used next year) which is meant to be a perfect blend of both design and function. This futuristic design utilises a single piece of metal for the bezel and incorporates what Samsung refer to as a ‘Titan Black’ colour scheme, although it looked more like a dark gun metal grey to us. The bezel has a brushed metal finish and measures 2.5cm at the top, 3cm at the sides and 4cm along the bottom. We’re glad to see Samsung returning to a wider and darker bezel on their plasma displays as it offsets the screen and improves the perceived image. There is a gloss black strip along the top of the chassis and chrome edging on either side, all of which combines to create what we think is a genuinely beautiful design. Despite a screen size of 64 inches, Samsung have managed to cram everything into a chassis that is only 3.5cm - a feat that would impress even the TARDIS.
The PS64F8500 doesn't use fans for cooling, so there's no noise to worry about and whilst there was a buzz from the power supply, you could only hear it if you held your head up to the rear panel. This rear panel is made of matte black metal and there are the standard VESA points for wall mounting. Although if that is your intention, it’s worth remembering that the all-metal chassis makes the PS64F8500 quite heavy, clocking in at 32.8kg without the stand. Ah yes, the stand. This will undoubtedly be the most divisive factor when it comes to people’s opinions on the design of the F8500 series. Samsung call the new design the 'Metal Flow’ stand, which is fairly descriptive as it’s curvy and made of the same brushed metal as the bezel. The stand measures 5cm high and is also the same width as the chassis, which means you’ll need a space of at least 148cm wide in order to position the PS64F8500 correctly. We had such a space available and found the combination of stand and display to work really well in our room. However we can understand if other people might find this a nuisance and by its very nature, the stand can’t be swiveled and could block the placement of a soundbar or centre speaker.
At the top of the PS64F8500 in the centre of the bezel there is a five mega pixel camera which can be retracted, thus serving a double purpose of maintaining the display's clean lines and acting as a security measure. There have been fears that someone might hack into your camera, so when not in use you can push it back into the chassis, thus deactivating it. Aside from the increased resolution, Samsung has made a number of other improvements to the camera, especially in terms of the light levels it needs. We found that even with minimal lighting, we were still clearly visible when making Skype calls and this also meant that the motion control worked much better as the TV could actually see us.
The PS64F8500 has a comprehensive set of connections at the rear, including four HDMI inputs, which is good as some manufacturers are dropping one this year. Unfortunately unlike the F8000, they are not downward facing, which means we have the usual problem of side facing inputs that are too close to the edge. In the case of the PS64F8500 the HDMI inputs are only 9cm from the edge of the panel, which means you end up with cables poking out the sides and ruining the beautiful lines of the display itself. One of the HDMI inputs supports the Audio Return Channel (ARC) whilst another supports Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). As well as the HDMI inputs along the side, you also get three USB ports and an optical digital audio out. Facing downwards there is a LAN socket, legacy connections using breakout cables and aerial and satellite connectors for both FreeviewHD and FreesatHD. There are twin tuners for each, which means if you add a HDD you can create a fully functioning PVR. Finally, in the rear panel itself there is a CI (Common Interface) slot and a special port for adding any future Evolution Kit. It should be noted that the PS64F8500 doesn't include a headphone socket.
Among the connections you will find a 3.5mm connection jack for the IR blaster, which is thankfully much smaller than last year, and once you have paired it with the TV you can use it to convert the second remote into a universal controller. You can then use a menu wizard to set the second remote to control your make of set top box and Blu-ray player, thus minimising the number of remotes lying around. We set the second remote up to control both our PVR and BD player and whilst it certainly worked, we found the implementation could be rather slow and the number of available controls is limited.
As is the case with all of Samsung’s high-end models, the PS64F8500 comes with two remote controls, the first of which is a small black plastic version of Samsung’s standard controller. Whilst it includes all the usual controls, along with a Smart Hub button for accessing Samsung's internet platform, it’s diminutive and simplistic nature shows that Samsung would rather you used the other remote provided. This is the Touch Pad remote, which uses RF to connect to the PS64F8500 and includes basic controls along with its eponymous touch pad. There is also a built-in microphone which is used for voice control and we certainly found the touch pad useful for effectively navigating the Smart TV System. However, despite offering a graphical representation of the full remote onscreen, we found that for basic control the simpler remote was a lot quicker and easier to use, especially when calibrating. As has been the case since last year, there is no P. Size button on either remote, so you either have to use the dedicated Picture Size page in the menu or the Tools button to change the aspect ratio.
The PS64F8500 uses active shutter 3D and comes with two pairs of RF glasses that are basically the same as last year, although there has been a slight make-over. The shape of the lenses has been redesigned slightly but, despite this, they’re still reasonably large and can fit over regular glasses. They possess certain advantages, they’re very light and there is very little tint to the lenses which means that images in 3D appear more accurate and brighter. The disadvantage is that they’re quite fragile, an unfortunate side effect of their lightness. We also didn't like the fact that you can't fold the arms of the frames in but our main issue with the glasses was the lack of any sides to the frames which meant they couldn't block out ambient light. The glasses provided with the PS64F8500 use batteries but you can also buy an optional USB rechargeable version if you prefer.
MenusThe PS64F8500 uses Samsung’s standard menu system which is well designed, pleasing to look at and provides a clear and concise series of choices. Thanks to the quad-core processing, the menu system is also very responsive, allowing for extremely fast navigation. The main menu offers a basic set of options including Picture, Sound, Broadcasting,Network, Smart Features, System and Support but within these main choices are a large number of sub-menus. When a menu option is selected it is highlighted with a light blue overlay and the various sub-menus are listed and can then be selected using the directional keys on the remote control. The transparency of the overlays can be adjusted and one useful feature is that when you select the various menu options a box appears to the right which briefly explains the purpose of that particular control.
The Picture menu offers a choice of four types of Viewing Mode - Dynamic, Standard, Relax and Movie. The latter is designed to approximate industry standards and thus it should offer the most accurate out-of-the-box setting. Both the Picture Mode and the Sound Mode can be accessed directly using the Tools button on the remote control. There are also all the usual basic controls that you would expect to find on any modern TV such as Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. There’s also Samsung’s Cell Light control, which is unique to their plasma TVs and allows you to adjust the brightness of the panel. From the Picture menu, you can access sub menus for Picture Size, 3D, Advanced Settings and Picture Options. You can also apply your calibrated picture mode to other inputs, although it would appear you can’t copy the white balance or colour space settings, which is annoying.
Within the Advanced Settings sub-menu there is Dynamic Contrast which varies the Contrast on-the-fly and thus boosts the perceived dynamic range, Black Tone which is best left off as it crushes shadow detail, Flesh Tone which primarily adjusts the luminance of magenta, RGB Only Mode which allows you to see each of the three primary colours individually and is a useful for checking correct colour decoding, Expert Pattern provides a series of test patterns and Motion Lighting. In Movie mode most of these controls default to off which is good and we recommend you leave them that way.
Within Advanced Settings there are also all the key calibration controls, starting with Gamma which globally adjusts gamma across the entire image. Then there's a choice of a two-point White Balance control or a ten-point White Balance control which will allow a professional to accurately calibrate the greyscale.
Finally, there's 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). This allows for the accurate calibration of the colour gamut by adjusting the luminance, saturation and hue of the three primary colours (red, green and blue) and the three secondary colours (cyan, magenta and yellow).
The Picture Size menu allows access to the Picture Size options and whilst there are a number of different choices, for watching high definition material Screen Fit is the most appropriate because it shows the content without zooming in and adding unwanted scaling. You can also change the image's position on the screen, as well as select if you want to watch 4:3 material in its original ratio or stretched across the 16:9 panel.
Within the Picture Options sub-menu, you can choose the Colour Tone (really colour temperature) which gives you a choice of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2. We found that Warm2 comes closest to the industry standards. There is also a Digital Clean View and MPEG Noise Filter, both of which we would recommend turning off. In this sub-menu, you will also find HDMI Black Level for choosing between PC and Video levels and the Film Mode option for cadence detection. Finally there is the Motion Judder Canceller, which you shouldn’t need and a Black Optimiser feature. This new feature promises deeper blacks using PDP waveform and signal compensation and offers a choice of Off, Auto, Bright Room and Dark Room. We'll come back to the Black Optimiser in the Test Results section.
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 parallax), the amount of 3D Depth, L/R Change which swaps the images for each eye and the 3D-2D which shows 3D content in 2D.
Audio and FeaturesWhilst not everyone will be sold on the chassis design used for the PS64F8500, there is one major advantage to all this bulk and solid build quality, it definitely sounds better. Samsung haven’t gone to town with the audio the way they did on the F8000 but perhaps they felt there were less weaknesses for which to compensate. The PS64F8500 includes two speakers at 2 x 10W and, thanks to the larger chassis size, there was a much greater sense of presence. The bigger screen size also helped create a better sense of stereo separation and as a result the PS64F8500 could create a much better soundstage than many smaller TVs. Whilst the audio performance can’t match that of a separate amplifier and speakers, with clear dialogue and well delivered music and effects the PS64F8500 certainly gave a good account of itself in the sound department. Which is just as well because with the new stand, fitting in a centre speaker or soundbar might be tricky.
Samsung continue to offer the best Smart TV platform on the market and the addition of a powerful quad-core processor significantly boosts the performance of the PS64F8500 with faster access to Smart features, higher quality video streaming and true multitasking capabilities. The internet and app response times were lightning fast and you could even watch TV while simultaneously taking a Skype call or carry on viewing your favourite programme whilst using an app. Thanks to this feature, it was genuinely easy to toggle between apps, online services and on-air TV, for a truly seamless TV experience.
Samsung's Smart Hub remains a class leader, intelligently organising and managing all your content into five easy to navigate panels. The intuitive interface uses thumbnails to provide instant previews to help you quickly and easily select what you want to watch. The five panels include 'On TV', 'Films & TV Shows', 'Photos, Videos & Music', 'Social' and 'Apps'. The addition of S-Recommendation technology lets you discover more of the TV you love by suggesting what's new to watch based on what you like. It Intelligently learns your preferences and instantly searches live TV, video on demand services and apps to recommend TV and online content tailored to your viewing habits.
Voice interaction lets you interact with your TV by simply talking to it using natural speech via the touchpad remote. You can control your TV, run applications or combine it with Samsung's S-Recommendation technology for a truly personalised TV experience. Just ask the TV to find you something to watch and it will search live TV and online content and make recommendations based on what you like. Using everyday language you can easily search for content by actor, title or genre. As an alternative, motion control lets you simply wave at the TV and take charge. You can change channels and the volume level with ease, swipe though the 5 panel Smart hub and grab and select the content you want just like you would on any smart mobile device. New two handed gestures recognise natural movements enabling you to zoom in and out and rotate images, making interaction much easier. Whilst both these technologies are a definite improvement on last year, we found that just grabbing the remote was still the quickest and easiest approach.
The latest version of Samsung’s remote app is slick and effective and there are versions for both iOS and Android, although we found the Apple version worked best. When we launched the app it immediately started streaming live TV and offered both a simplified and full version of the remote control. It also included a touchpad, a microphone feature for voice control and a full keyboard, so it's only a matter of time before your smartphone or tablet becomes the primary remote control. Overall we found the 2013 version of Samsung's Smart TV System to be absolutely superb, setting a reference to which other manufacturers will aspire - a full in-depth review can be found here.
Test ResultsUnlike some of the competition, Samsung keep the number of picture choices to a minimum and we’re grateful for that as it makes correct setup much easier. In terms of a basic setup, all you need to do is select the Movie picture mode, which should be closest to the industry standards, and then adjust the brightness, contrast and cell light controls to suit your environment. The majority of the picture features are turned off by default in Movie mode but the sharpness control is set way too high at 50, in fact we recommend turning it down to zero. After doing this we ran the measurements to see how the PS64F8500 performed after a basic setup.
The greyscale performance is shown in the left hand graph and as you can see the three primary colours are all tracking quite close to the target of 100 up until 50 IRE. After that we see an excess of red and green and an underpowered blue which results in some visible DeltaEs (errors) from 60 to 100 IRE. The gamma curve meanwhile is quite good and is tracking very close to a target of 2.3, so overall this is a reasonable out-of-the-box performance. The PS64F8500 includes both a two-point and a ten-point white balance control, so we should be able to improve this further. The CIE chart in the right hand graph shows the colour performance and as you can see the red and green in the greyscale is pulling white slightly away from its target colour temperature of D65. The overall colour performance is very good however, with all the colours close to their targets and most of the errors already below the visible threshold of three. Only red is slightly above that threshold due to an error in its hue but with the available colour management system (CMS) we should have that fixed in no time.
For these measurements we switched from the Auto colour space to the Custom colour space and turned the ten-point white balance on, otherwise we left the settings as we had selected for the basic setup. We started calibrating the greyscale by adjusting the amounts of red, green and blue at 30 and 80 IRE using the two-point white balance control and then, once we had that as close as possible, we fine tuned using the ten-point control. As you can see in the graph above we now have equal amounts of red, green and blue at every point along the target of 100. The gamma is still tracking close to 2.3 with a slight bump at 90 IRE but that’s nothing to worry about. The resulting errors are now all below 1, which is essentially perfect, and overall this is a reference performance.
Moving on to the colour management system, we have always liked Samsung’s implementation and found it to be very effective, with the PS64F8500 proving to be no exception. After calibrating the greyscale white was now hitting its target and the accuracy of the primary and secondary colours had increased, so it was an easy task to fine tune them to hit their targets for Rec.709. As you can see in the graph above, the hue, saturation and luminance measurements of all the primary and secondary colours are now spot on and the overall errors are all below 1, which again is a reference performance.
One of the reasons for measuring all the colours at different saturation levels is to look for any issues that might not be apparent when measuring at 100% saturation. After all we don’t watch 100% saturated images, so it is important to check that the colours are still accurate at lower saturation levels. We found that overall the colours tracked very well but there was some under-saturation in red and blue at 50 and 75%, which in turn was also affecting magenta which is obviously a combination of the two colours. It was nothing that was obvious in actual viewing material and if given the choice, we would rather a slight under-saturation as opposed to an over-saturated image.In their marketing, Samsung have made a great deal about the improved brightness and black levels of their new Super Contrat Panel, so we were curious to see how it actually measured. In terms of brightness, there was no question that the PS64F8500 could deliver, although to get 120 cd/m2 we did have to set the cell light to 20 and the contrast to 90. However that is a fantastic performance for a screen this big and there’s no question that you can create effective day and night settings with the PS64F8500 when it comes to brightness. Where the PS64F8500 didn’t perform as well was in terms of black levels, which we measured at 0.013 cd/m2. This is slightly better than last year but far higher than this year’s Panasonic plasmas and robs the PS64F8500 of some of its dynamic range, giving it an on/off contrast ratio of 9,231:1. In previous years the black levels on Samsung plasmas has varied depending on the input, with 60Hz or 24p measuring darker than 50Hz. We checked all three and the measurement was the same regardless, so it would seem that is no longer the case.
However the on/off ratio is only part of the story, after all you don’t just watch a black or a white screen, what is more important is how a display combines both dark and light images within the same scene. Here the PS64F8500 performed very well, delivering an ANSI contrast ratio of 7,821:1. As you can see on the chart above, the spread of measurements is reasonably consistent and the PS64F8500 can maintain an impressive level of brightness even whilst showing black in the same scene. This was also true when it came to shadows, not only could the PS64F8500 maintain detail in dark scenes but it could also deliver shadow detail when other parts of the image were very bright. The Black Optimiser promises deeper blacks and on a completely black screen in Dark Room mode we got that with a measurement of 0.007. Unfortunately the ANSI contrast measurements were identical to the Off setting and this was borne out in actual viewing, with no apparent difference between the two settings.
The performance of the PS64F8500 in the video processing tests were excellent, as we would expect from a Samsung and there’s no doubt it benefited from the added horsepower provided by the quad-core processing. The detail and resolution tests were all reproduced correctly, with the PS64F8500 scaling the images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The Samsung also scored very highly in the jaggies tests on both discs as well as performing very well on the diagonal interpolation test, with two of the three moving bars appearing smooth and only the bottom most extreme bar showing very slight jaggies. The PS64F8500 had no problems correctly detecting both 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) and 2:2 (PAL - European) film cadence, as long as the Film Mode Auto2 was selected. The PS64F8500 also performed well when displaying film material mixed with scrolling video text and correctly displayed the words without blurring or shredding.
When it came to 1080i material the PS64F8500 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests provided Screen Fit was selected. The PS64F8500 also showed very good scaling and filtering performance as well as extremely impressive resolution enhancement capabilities. When it came to 1080p24 content, the PS64F8500 delivered incredibly smooth movement and even on the torturous moving wedge tests on the Spears and Munsil disc were reproduced with little sign of moire or flicker. The PS64F8500 was comfortably capable of hitting reference white and, even more impressively, was able to show 1% black simultaneously. This resulted in a truly impressive dynamic range that delivered an excellent contrast ratio that was free of any clipping, which was evidenced by the six concentric squares in the white, red and green patterns on the Spears and Munsil test disc all being visible simultaneously, there was some clipping in blue and red but nothing likely perceivable with real world content. The motion handling on the PS64F8500 was quite superb, as was evidenced using the FPD Benchmark disc, where the full 1080 lines of resolution were clearly visible on the moving tests.
If there was one area where the PS64F8500 disappointed, it was in terms of input lag. Without Game Mode engaged we were getting a lag of 130ms and with it engaged that dropped to 100ms, which is still way too high for any serious gaming. We managed to get the lag down to 60ms by using the old trick of renaming the input as ‘PC’ but even then that’s too high for hard core gamers. If you’re main interest is in watching TV and movies and you’re just a casual gamer then the input lag won’t be an issue. However if you’re looking for a TV to use for serious gaming then the PS64F8500 isn’t the one for you. Of course a big screen, expensive TV like the PS64F8500 probably isn’t the ideal choice for a gamer anyway but the reality is there are far better TVs for gaming. In fact even Samsung’s own F8000 LED LCD TV is a better choice with an input lag of 40ms, although that might still be too high for the die hards.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 324W
- Calibrated – Calibrated Mode: 306W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 591W
Samsung PS64F8500 Picture Quality 2DAs anyone who has ever seen one will know, you can’t beat a big TV screen for creating a visceral and enjoyable viewing experience. Even in 2D there is a feeling of being surrounded by the action and, depending on how far away you sit, an ability to fill your field of view. The downside to all this screen acreage is that the display needs to be at the top of its game, any deficiencies will be ruthlessly revealed and any weakness in source content all too obvious. Thankfully the PS64F85000 is more than up to the task, delivering the goods in terms of big screen entertainment.
First of all the reference greyscale and colour gamut meant that the PS64F8500 could fill its 64 inch screen with accurate images, natural colours and realistic flesh tones. This is important when there’s a face filling the screen, as the last thing you want is someone looking like they’ve got sun burn. Another area where Samsung has always been strong is video processing and this is very important when scaling content up to this screen size. Whilst we might enjoy the highest quality Blu-ray from time to time, the reality is that a lot of our content is still standard definition or streamed from the Internet, so the quad-core processing in the PS64F8500 has never been more important. Thanks to a recently acquired addiction to Netflix, we found ourselves watching a lot of compressed content on the PS64F8500 and were impressed with how well shows like House of Cards stood up on the larger screen size. The same was true of all our other streamed content, along with standard definition material watched on Freeview or DVD.
Of course it’s when you move up to high definition content that a big 64 inch screen really comes into its own and here the PS64F8500 could strut its stuff in style. The Samsung was capable of delivering some beautifully clean and detailed high definition images, that were generally free of noise and other artefacts like false contouring. There was some dither in dark areas of the picture that you could see when up close to the screen but it couldn’t be seen at any sensible viewing distance. In addition the Real Black Pro filter worked very well during the day, reducing reflections and maintaining effective black levels despite ambient light. As we would expect from a plasma, there was a wide horizontal viewing angle with a great off-axis performance but perhaps due to the filter the vertical performance wasn’t as good, so bear that in mind if wall mounting at a high angle.
Samsung’s efforts in developing their Super Contrast Panel has certainly paid dividends in terms of screen luminance and even the PS64F8500’s big screen could pump out enough brightness to compete with a lot of ambient light during the day. Screen uniformity was also excellent, with no banding or other artefacts apparent on any of our tests. Where they haven’t been quite so successful is in terms of the native blacks, which don’t come close to the subterranean levels found on the new Panasonics. There’s a reason why we list dynamic range and black levels first in the scoring criteria and that’s because the difference between the blacks and the whites is what gives an image its impact. The deeper the blacks, the brighter the whites and the greater the range between the two, the more effective the overall picture will be. The PS64F8500 still has an impressive dynamic range, thanks to its brightness, but the lack of really deep blacks robs the image of some of its overall impact.
That’s not to say the PS64F85000 couldn’t handle dark scenes well and in fact its ability to show both dark and bright images within the same frame was excellent, as was the level of shadow detail it was capable of. A good test of this is the last 30 minutes of Zero Dark Thirty, where director Katherine Bigelow is brave enough to show much of the assault on Bin Laden’s compound in almost total darkness. It’s a tough test for any TV but the PS64F8500 does a fantastic job of revealing all the detail within the very black shadows and also handling the sudden bursts of light from explosions. In previous years there have been issues with brightness pops and changing black levels, although we experienced neither issue with the PS64E8000 we reviewed in 2012. The same was true with the PS64F8500 and during the time that we were reviewing we didn’t experience any brightness pops or changing blacks levels.
The PS64F8500 was also very strong when it came to handling motion, fast moving sports looked fantastic and 24p content retained a lovely film-like quality. We were also glad to see that Samsung’s habit of introducing backdoor noise reduction is a thing of the past. There was rare instances of image retention but only after leaving a static image up for some time during calibration and we never had any issues whilst watching normal viewing material - even BBC News 24. Since the PS64F8500 is a plasma, it has an excellent off axis performance with wide viewing angles in the horizontal plane. However we did notice that the performance wasn't so good in the vertical plane at more extreme angles and whilst you're unlikely to be looking down at the TV, it is worth bearing in mind if you plan on mounting it high on a wall. Overall though this was an excellent 2D performance from the PS64F8500, with a bright, detailed and accurate picture that is sure to please anyone who demos it.
Samsung PS64F8500 Picture Quality 3DWhen it came to 3D the increased brightness of Samsung’s Super Contrast Panel really paid dividends, delivering some of the brightest 3D images that we have seen from a display and that includes LED LCD TVs. The combination of the brighter panel and the minimal tint of the glasses resulted in 3D images that had plenty of impact and the large screen size really added to the overall sense of immersion. The faster response time of the plasma panel meant that there was absolutely no crosstalk and as a result, there were no annoying artefacts to draw you out of the three dimensional illusion. The PS64F85000 was also able to deliver 3D pictures that had plenty of depth, both in terms of negative and positive parallax, resulting in the kind of 3D ‘pop’ that people are often looking for. The motion handling was also excellent, with smooth judder-free 3D images and we were glad to see that Samsung had avoided the back door processing we saw on the F8000.
We watched Planet Dinosaur and found that the PS64F8500 handled the side-by-side broadcast very well, really giving a solid and believable dimensionality to the computer animated dinosaurs. We also watched a number of 3D Blu-rays and discovered that regardless of what we watched, the PS64F8500 did a superb job of creating a totally immersive three dimensional experience. When we watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey we found that the PS64F8500 perfectly replicated Peter Jackson’s desire to create a world beyond the screen. As a result there was very little in terms of out-of-the-screen effects but a lot of depth behind the screen and plenty of layering in each shot, with scenes like Gollum’s cave looking absolutely stunning. Conversely Michael J, Bassett went for a more old school out-of-the-screen effect in some parts of Silent Hill: Revelation and was clearly trying to poke our eyes out at times. Regardless, the PS64F8500 did a fantastic job with both films and thanks to the the larger screen size it was an enveloping and highly entertaining 3D experience.
- Excellent black levels and shadow detail
- Very good contrast ratio and dynamic range
- Lack of PWM noise and clean looking images
- Excellent out-of-the-box greyscale and colour
- Reference greyscale and colour after calibration
- Reference level 3D performance
- Comprehensive calibration controls
- Sublime motion handling
- Superior video processing
- Built-in WiFi, Freesat HD and Freeview HD
- Reference Smart TV platform
- Built-in camera
- Highly effective remote app
- Well designed menus
- Attractive design and excellent build quality
- Some dither noise in darker elements of the picture
- Limited vertical viewing angles
- HDMI inputs are too close to the edge
- Input lag too high for serious gaming
Samsung PS64F8500 (F8500) Plasma TV ReviewThe Samsung PS64F8500‘s new ‘Magnum’ look may sound a bit Zoolander but we really like it and think the combination of design and function works perfectly. However we can understand why some people may not appreciate how much space will be required to position the display, the fact it can’t be swiveled or where exactly they are going to put their soundbar. However there’s no denying that the all-metal chassis and solid construction is appropriate for a flagship model, as is the inclusion of two remote controls, an IR blaster and two pairs of 3D glasses.
The PS64F8500 uses Samsung's usual menu system, which is clear, concise and easy to navigate. The included calibration controls are excellent as always and the PS64F8500 is capable of a reference performance in terms of both greyscale and colour gamut. The video processing is equally as impressive and the PS64F8500 passed all the usual tests with flying colours. Samsung has included quad-core processing along with the latest version of their reference status Smart Hub platform and whilst the motion and voice controls still have a way to go, we found the built-in camera very useful for making Skype video calls. The rest of the smart platform is absolutely superb, with a bewildering array of apps, including a highly effective remote app.
The 2D picture performance was absolutely superb, with the PS64F8500 producing wonderfully clean and accurate images. Thanks to the excellent video processing, standard definition held up well on the larger screen size, whilst high definition material oozed with detail. Whilst the black levels aren't as good as some of the competition, they were still an improvement on last year and the Super Contrast Panel certainly delivered the goods in terms of brightness. The overall contrast ratio and dynamic range were also excellent, as was shadow detail and the ambient light filter performed its task admirably during the day. The off-axis performance was superb and the motion handling and screen uniformity were equally as good. The PS64F8500's 3D performance was just as accomplished with incredibly bright, accurate and detailed images that were completely free of crosstalk. The sense of depth and the immersive nature of the larger screen size are sure to please fans of 3D.
Whilst perhaps not the all-conquering heavyweight that some had expected, there’s a lot to really like about Samsung’s new PS64F8500. It incorporates a striking design with a cutting edge Smart TV platform and the kind of big and bright images that we never thought possible from a plasma. If you’re looking for some of the best 2D and especially 3D pictures around, then you should definitely check out the PS64F8500.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £2,999.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
3D Picture Quality9
Ease Of Use10
Value for Money9
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