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Samsung C450 (PS50C450) Plasma TV Review

Samsung's C450 plasma TV is big on size and low on price but is it any good?

TV Review

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Samsung C450 (PS50C450) Plasma TV Review
SRP: £875.00

Introduction

Samsung is probably better known for its LCD panels and especially its recent promotion of LCD HDTVs with LED backlighting, so it might surprise some people to discover that Samsung also make plasma displays. The Samsung PS50C450 is a 50” 768p plasma HDTV that represents the entry point for its large screen displays. Despite the reduced resolution Samsung promises a performance that belies this display’s relatively low price tag so let’s take a look and see.

Design and Connections

The design of the PS50C450 is reasonably attractive with an unusual gloss ruby red finish, although, if I'm being honest, I think I prefer black. The bezel surrounding the screen is about 2” wide and the downward firing speakers are well hidden. The panel itself has a glossy coating which is surprisingly reflective and could be a nuisance when watching darker images if the room is overly bright. The cheap plastic stand betrays the PS50C450’s price and it doesn’t swivel which is annoying. In addition when attaching the stand there are no threads for the screws which just cut into holes in the plastic which makes assembling the TV quite difficult and made this reviewer’s job of disassembling it even harder. The detachable power cable is quite short too but at least you could change it if needed.

The remote control is simple in design but sensibly laid out and comfortable to hold. My only complaint would be that sometimes it could be unresponsive unless you aimed directly at the infrared receiver. The PS50C450 comes with a reasonable set of connections including 3 HDMI inputs, 2 at the back and 1 at the side. Also at the back there is a SCART connector, a set of component video connectors, stereo audio in and out, an optical digital audio out, a VGA connector and an aerial socket. On the side, in addition to the HDMI input, there is also the obligatory card slot, USB connector, composite video and stereo audio connectors. Whilst this is a sensible set of connections I still think Samsung and other manufacturers should consider downward facing inputs to make mounting the TV against a wall easier.

Menus

Set up is very easy with the TV providing a series of simple choices as you set the time and date and tune in the Freeview channels. The EPG is excellent, it is intuitive and easy to use and shows all the stations in a clear and concise way; it also includes a thumbnail image of the station you are currently on. The menu is well thought out, pleasing to look at and easy to follow, offering a clear and concise series of choices. The menu also responds quickly which is a pleasant change after recently using more elaborate and slower responding menu systems. The menu offers a basic set of choices including Picture, Sound, Channel, Set Up, Input, Applications and Support.

The Picture menu offers a choice of three types of viewing mode called Standard, Dynamic and Movie, the latter being Samsung’s attempt at an accurate preset. The viewing modes can also be accessed by pressing P. Mode on the remote control. Like other Samsung plasmas the PS50C450 includes a control called Cell Light that changes the overall brightness of the display much like a backlight control on a LCD. There are also all the usual calibration controls such as Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. in addition there is an Eco Solution control which reduces the light output of the display depending on which option you choose but I left this off.

Within Advanced Settings there is Black Tone which allows you to change the Black Level of the image just as the Brightness control does, Dynamic Control 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, RGB Only Mode which allows you to see each of the three primary colours individually and is a useful tool for checking correct colour decoding, Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto and Native, Flesh Tone which attempts to correct inaccurate flesh tones but at the expense of the rest of image and Edge Enhancement which I left off.

Within Picture Options there is Size which obviously gives you sizes to choose from including Auto Wide, 16:9, Wide Zoom, Zoom and 4:3. There is also Colour Tone which is more often called colour temperature by other manufacturers and gives you a choice of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2, a Digital Noise Filter control (3D noise reduction filter) which will reduce analogue background noise and an MPEG Noise Reduction Filter which attempts to address over compression in MPEG encoded material. There is an HDMI Black Level control that I left set to Normal and a Film Mode option that controls how film content is converted to the plasma’s native progressive format. To protect the plasma there is also a Screen Burn Protection option which allows you to choose how long before it is activated.

Finally there is a white balance screen which allows for two point calibration of the display’s greyscale. Sadly unlike more expensive Samsung plasma displays the PS50C450 does not include a Colour Management System (CMS). The PS50C450 allows you to save all the settings individually 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

The PS50C450 offers three choices of picture mode, Dynamic, Standard and Movie and perhaps unsurprisingly Movie offered the most natural looking image of the three. I therefore used this mode to measure the display’s out of the box performance. The Gamma curve measured at 2.24 for the majority which is about right for a display that will be used in viewing environments with some ambient light. However, you will see that in the out of the box settings it is not flat and this mirrors the greyscale tracking that is not uniform. The colour temperature was also reasonably accurate when using the Warm2 preset in the Movie mode. With the exception of Sharpness which was set to 20, the Movie mode turns off all the other special features on the display such as Black Tone, Dynamic Contrast, Edge Enhancement and the Noise Filters. The Flesh Tone control was set to 0, the HDMI Black Level to Normal, the Screen Mode to 16:9 and the Film Mode to Auto1. The out of the box Greyscale measurements were average with a large error in red and some errors in green and blue too. An ideal greyscale measurement should show smooth red, green and blue lines overlapping each other around 100 on the vertical scale. However since the PS50C450 has a White Balance two point greyscale calibration function I would hope to be able to improve this performance.

The out of the box Colour Gamut measurements show good performance in red and blue but green is over saturated quite considerably and this in turn is distorting the performance of cyan and yellow both of which contain green. This error in green was visible in actual content where colours had a slight green tinge to them. This oversaturation in green is not uncommon as manufacturers try to increase the brightness of their displays. Sadly unlike the more expensive Samsung plasmas the PS50C450 does not include a CMS and thus we will have to try and improve the gamut performance using just the Colour and Hue controls.

First off I made a few changes to the settings in Movie mode, adjusting both the Brightness and especially the Contrast setting which was far too high. There was also a small amount of Sharpness in the preset which I reduced to zero to avoid any unwanted ringing. I left the Gamma setting at zero since this was already measuring a flat curve at around 2.20 and I left the Colour Temperature setting at Warm2 as this was also fairly accurate. All the other features had been set correctly by the Movie mode preset so I left those as they were.

Using the White Balance controls I was able to calibrate the Greyscale at 30ire and 80ire which resulted in much smoother and more accurate tracking of red, green and blue. The Greyscale dE errors all measure less than 2 which I consider to be an excellent performance from the PS50C450. As I said previously the lack of a CMS meant that I would have difficulty in fully calibrating the gamut performance but using the Colour and Hue controls I was able to produce some minor improvements. This process was greatly helped by the fact that I could choose blue only in the RGB Mode. As the CIE Gamut chart shows the performance of red, blue and yellow was quite good but there were still errors in green, cyan and magenta. The biggest problem was the oversaturation in green which still gives images a slight green tinge and is impossible to remedy without recourse to some kind of CMS.

I put the PS50C450 through a whole series of video processing tests and it was here that the display truly excelled. The video deinterlacing is excellent and using the HQV PAL Test DVD the display scored very highly on all the jaggies tests. It also has excellent scaling and scored highly on the fine detail tests, producing crisp and finely detailed images from the 576i signal. The PS50C450 passed the 2:2 cadence test and in the film detail test it locked onto film based material very quickly and produced a rock solid image. It also handled video text with ease and produced smooth scrolling text over film images. For those of you who are like me and own a lot of US DVDs you will be glad to know that the PS50C450 handled the HQV NTSC Test DVD equally as well with impressive deinterlacing and scaling and the correct handling of 3:2 and 2:2 cadence tests.

With 1080i and 1080p sources the PS50C450 was equally as impressive, passing all the tests on my HQV Blu-ray with ease. Reviews of earlier Samsung plasmas had reported a problem when receiving a 50Hz feed but I encountered no such issues. I fed the PS50C450 480i at 60Hz, 576i at 50Hz, 1080i at 50 and 60Hz and 1080p at 50 and 60Hz and it displayed them all at its 768p 50Hz resolution without any issues what-so-ever. Overall the video processing capability of the PS50C450 is superb and Samsung is to be congratulated on producing performance that is comparable with some of the best stand alone processors.

I found the performance of the PS50C450 with games to be excellent, as you would expect from a plasma there was no lag between the game pad and the display and the results were very responsive. Also since a lot of games are released in 720p this suited the PS50C450’s native resolution. The only issue was once again image retention, not during actual game play but afterwards when you changed channels.

Out of the box the PS50C450 consumed 106w at 0ire, 117w at 50ire and 141w at 100ire. After it had been calibrated the power consumption dropped to 105w, 113w and 136w respectively. In its standby mode the PS50C450 only consumed 1w.

Picture Quality

Since the PS50C450 is a 768p display some people might be concerned about a loss of resolution but when viewed at a sensible distance this was never an issue and the images always looked bright and detailed. When viewing actual images the quality of the deinterlacing and scaling became immediately apparent, with standard definition Freeview looking the best I have ever seen it. The scrolling text on channels like BBC and Sky News was smooth and solid with no break-up or blurring. Since a large percentage of our viewing is still in standard definition this is important and is a major strength of the PS50C450. However, that is changing and the PS50C450 also handled high definition content just as well, producing detailed and vibrant images that were very pleasing.

As is to be expected with a plasma the off axis image accuracy of the PS50C450 was excellent with no noticeable change when moving from side to side or up and down. Motion is also a strong point of plasmas and in this area the PS50C450 excelled with fast moving sport action being very well displayed. The was no evidence of panel flicker or false contouring and individual pixels were very sharp and free from any noticable PWM noise at normal seating distances. There was one quirk that I noticed, when I first watched a blu-ray encoded at 24p the PS50C450 displayed the image at a refresh rate that wasn’t a multiple of 24, this resulted in slight judder. To solve this issue you need to go back into the menu and make sure that Film Mode was enabled, then 24p was displayed at the correct multiple, producing smooth, film-like and judder-free motion again.

Aside from the previously mentioned over-saturation in green the rest of the image had a pleasingly natural look to it, perhaps due to the excellent greyscale tracking. However the black level and the contrast ratio could have been better and certainly weren’t as impressive as I’ve seen on other plasma displays. The biggest problem with the PS50C450 was image retention which could really be an issue at times. Whilst not really a problem when watching a film or normal TV program if you spent just a few minutes on a news station you could clearly still see the scrolling news bar or station ident when you changed channel. This is a shame as it really marred what was otherwise a very good performance in terms of picture quality.

Features

The PS50C450 has a number of features, including 600Hz subfield motion which adds 10 full subfields into each frame which provides seamlessly smooth frames, crisper contours, sharp scrolling texts and no judder. There is also a Mega Dynamic Contrast Panel that is meant to produce richer colours, deeper blacks and purer whites. The addition of a Clear Image Panel improves the off axis viewing providing clear and blur free images from every angle and the Wide Colour Enhancer expands the colour saturation and luminance to provide a wider colour gamut. Finally the response time of the PS50C450 is 0.0001ms which means no blurring, ghosting or eye strain.

Verdict

The Good

  • Excellent video processing
  • Good calibrated greyscale performance
  • Good off-axis image accuracy
  • Excellent handling of motion
  • Large screen size for the price
  • Gaming performance is good with no lag time

The Bad

  • Bad image retention issues
  • Oversaturated colours especially in green
  • No Colour Management System
  • Mediocre black levels and contrast ratio

Samsung C450 (PS50C450) Plasma TV Review

Overall the PS50C450 has many attributes to recommend it including the excellent video processing and calibrated greyscale tracking. The 768p image is pleasing and enjoyable to watch and benefits from all the advantages of plasma display technology such as great motion handling and good off-axis image accuracy. Blacks levels and contrast ratio could be better and it’s a shame that green is so oversaturated but the absence of a CMS at this price point is perhaps to be expected. In fact the only major issue with the PS50C450 was with image retention which could really be a problem at times. It’s a shame because aside from the image retention the PS50C450 offers big screen images and great performance at a very reasonable price.

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

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.
.
.
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5

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
.
.
5

Colour Accuracy

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.
.
.
6

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
.
7

Video Processing

.
.
8

Picture Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Sound Quality

.
.
.
.
.
5

Smart Features

.
.
.
.
.
5

Build Quality

.
.
.
.
6

Ease Of Use

.
.
.
.
6

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

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.
.
.
6
6
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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