In fact we recently reviewed Samsung's 51" version of the D8000 plasma, which can be found here, and we discovered a very capable display with much to like. However some owners of the 64" version felt the larger display's performance, especially where black levels were concerned, was actually much better than its smaller sibling. There were also reports of problems with line bleed, brightness fluctuations, the filter peeling off, buzzing and unwanted noise reduction that hadn't been apparent on the 51" version. Thankfully, Samsung have provided us with a PS64D8000 for review, so now we can measure the larger panel, look for some of the other issues that owners have reported and compare the performance of the PS64D8000 against Panasonic's P65VT30.
Design and Connections
Surprisingly, considering the larger screen dimensions, the bezel on the PS64D8000 is the same size as the PS51D8000 and measures 2.5cm at the top and sides and 4cm at the bottom. Around the outside of the bezel is a clear plastic edging which is 0.5cm wide at the top and 1cm wide at the bottom. As we have mentioned in previous reviews we prefer a black border, or bezel, as it helps with image quality, so from that perspective the P65VT30 has the edge - no pun intended. There have been reports of the filter peeling away from the screen but this was certainly not the case with our review sample, we inspected the filter and bezel very closely but could find no such issues.
The back of the PS64D8000 is made of black metal and the whole display has a solid and well engineered feel to it. The chassis is incredibly thin for a plasma of this size, 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. Some owners have reported an audible buzzing noise when using their Samsung plasmas and whilst like all plasmas the PS64D8000 did make a slight noise it was only audible if you held your head up to the chassis.
The PS64D8000 has the same generous selection of connections at the rear as the PS51D8000 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 all 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.
As with the PS51D8000, the PS64D8000 only comes with a standard remote control rather than the dual sided QWERTY remote control provided with the same model in the US. Whilst Samsung will make the premium remote control available for those that wish to purchase it as an accessory, the decision to not include it is annoying and in comparison Panasonic do provide a newly designed premium remote control with their P65VT30. The remote control that Samsung actually does provide feels decidedly cheap and plastic by comparison but at least it is 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 control 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 just like with the PS51D8000, sometimes the display wouldn't receive the IR command from the remote control, even when we pointed it directly at the receiver on the front panel of the PS64D8000. We still aren't sure if the blame lies with the remote control or the display but it was annoying when this happened.
One of the big problems with using a TV remote control in conjunction with an TV internet platform is that typing into features like the web browser can be time consuming and awkward. This is why Samsung included a QWERTY keyboard on the premium remote control that they sell separately but, if you don't want to pay for one of those, there is a free alternative. If you have a smartphone or a tablet device there is a Samsung application that works with both Apple and Android operating systems that allows you to use it as a controller for your display. The application is easy to set up, and use, and the addition of a QWERTY keyboard makes typing things into the Smart TV functions much easier.
The PS64D8000 includes a pair of Samsung's new SSG-3100 active shutter glasses that use Bluetooth rather than infra-red to sync with the display. This approach proved to be very successful and meant that there were no syncing problems with the PS64D8000 when you looked away or even when you left the room. The downside is that Samsung's 2011 3D displays are not compatible with the infra-red glasses they used last year. We generally like the design of the Samsung active shutter glasses because 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 there is no frame along the bottom of the lenses which tends to let some light in and makes them feel quite fragile. The PS64D8000 comes with one pair of glasses included, as opposed to the Panasonic P65VT30 which comes with two pairs included.
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. Since the PS64D8000 has a larger chassis it allows for slightly bigger speakers which produced a reasonable sound considering the depth of the chassis and their location. However, we think it's safe to assume 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, hidden away in the General sub-menu, that you will find the Game Mode. Quite why Samsung continues to put the Game Mode here rather than with the other modes in the Picture menu remains a mystery but if you want to use the Game Mode this is where you will find it.
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.
Within Picture Options there is Size which 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. Finally there is a MPEG Noise Filter, a HDMI Black Level control and a Film Mode option that allows you to choose between Auto1 and Auto2 for interlaced content or Cinema Smooth for 24p content.
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 PS64DD8000 allows you to save the settings (including White Balance and Colour Space) for each input, this is a very useful function as it allows you to correctly calibrate each input for the device that is connected to it.
The CIE chart shows that out-of-the-box colour gamut is reasonably accurate and, if anything, is slightly under-saturated which is unusual these days. The most important measurement is Luminance because this is error that our eyes are most sensitive to and here the performance is quite good. Most of the colours have Luminance measurements that are spot on including green which is the colour our eyes are most sensitive to. The colour with the biggest error is red which has a large error in Hue, is under saturated in Colour and over saturated in Luminance. There are also some errors in the colour measurements of the secondaries with cyan and magenta appearing under saturated and yellow appearing slightly over saturated. Thankfully, Samsung includes an excellent Colour Management System (CMS) so we should be able to calibrate the colours exactly.
As you can see from the CIE chart, thanks to the reference greyscale performance, the colour of white is now measuring at exactly D65 which provides an excellent starting point from which to adjust the colours. We then chose the Custom colour gamut that allowed us to access the CMS and calibrate the colours to the industry standard of Rec.709. As you can see from the chart, all three primary colours and all three secondary colours are now measuring exactly in line with Rec.709 and these errors are all less than 0.5. This is an absolutely reference performance in terms of colour accuracy and once again Samsung are to be congratulated.
Video processing is an area where Samsung displays have usually excelled and as always we started with the SMPTE colour bar tests on the PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs which the PS64D8000 had absolutely no problems with, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The PS64D8000 also performed very well 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 PS64D8000 also had no problems resolving 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). As we expected from previous Samsung reviews the PS64D8000 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 PS64D8000 had no problems correctly detecting the 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) tests, producing rock solid images that were free of artefacts, however much to our surprise it failed the 2:2 (PAL - European) test using both Auto1 and Auto2. We're not quite sure what has happened here as Samsung displays have had no problems with 2:2 cadence in the past so this was something of a disappointment.
The PS64D8000 also performed very well in tests on the HQV Blu-ray benchmark disc with the player set to 1080i and correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the Picture Size is set to Screen Fit). The PS64D8000 had no problems handling 24p material either, reproducing the test images smoothly with no judder or other artefacts, when Cinema Smooth was engaged. In fact the only high definition test that the PS64D8000 performed poorly on as the one showing video text overlaid on film based material but once again switching to Auto2 fixed this.
We then moved on to the 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 PS64D8000 sailed through all the cadence and deinterlacing tests. We also used the ‘Image Cropping’ test to ensure there was no overscan and the ‘Luma Multiburst’ to make sure that the full 1920x1080 resolution was being displayed. In addition we were able to use the ‘Dynamic Range High’ test to check that we had set the Contrast correctly with the PS64D8000 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 PS64D8000 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.
In previous Samsung reviews we have found evidence of undefeatable noise reduction and this also proved to be the case with the PS64D8000. Using test images with noise built into them we could see some processing was still being done despite having turned off the Digital Noise Filter. The only way to avoid the unwanted noise reduction was to use the Game mode which is designed to bypass all extraneous processing. Switching between Game mode and Movie mode we could see the unwanted noise reduction but the effect will largely depend on the content you are watching. Most of the time we hardly noticed it but if you feel that it could be an issue you can always use the Game mode which has all the same calibration controls except the ten point White Balance.
In Game mode the input lag on the PS64D8000 measured at 40ms which is exactly the same as the PS51D8000 and worse than the 25ms that we measured on the P65VT30. Whilst this isn't a terrible measurement it could be better and might be a little slow for serious gamers and in this respect the VT30 has the edge. As mentioned previously we would prefer it if Samsung could put the Game mode in with the other picture modes rather than hidden away in the General sub-menu of the System menu.
Given the size of the screen it should come as no surprise to discover the PS64D8000 is not particularly energy efficient and 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 173 watts, 190 watts and 237 watts with an average of 300 watts for actual full screen material. The Panasonic P65VT30 produced much better results in these tests so from an energy consumption perspective the VT30 was the clear winner.
Picture Quality - 2D
When it came to high definition material, the PS64D8000 was equally as assured, producing images from Freeview HD broadcasts that were both detailed and free from deinterlacing artefacts. However it was with high definition Blu-rays that the PS64D8000 was really able to shine, producing some wonderfully detailed and film-like images that were judder free thanks to the Cinema Smooth function. We could occasionally see some of the unwanted noise reduction but as we mentioned earlier most people probably wouldn't even notice and if you do find it an issue there is the option of using Game mode instead.
Last year's Samsung plasmas did suffer from occasional instances of image retention but this seems to have been banished this year and we were never aware of any image retention whilst watching normal viewing material or during gaming. There have been reports this year of brightness fluctuations with the D8000 plasmas but during our review period we never once experienced this problem on the PS64D8000. Another issue that seems to be regularly reported is line bleed but whilst we did occasionally see this issue it was very rare and never impacted on our enjoyment of the image. As you would expect from a plasma the PS64D8000 also handled motion very well, had excellent screen uniformity and an impressively wide viewing angle.
The one area where Samsung's plasmas have traditionally had a weakness has been black levels but it would seem that the company has stepped up a notch this year. Last year there were reports of big differences in black levels depending on the refresh rate of the panel and this year we have had similar reports, along with suggestions that the black levels are better on the larger panels. Well, since we had already reviewed the PS51D8000, the arrival of the PS64D8000 allowed us an opportunity to check these claims. Whilst it is true that the measured black level does vary depending on the output refresh rate of the panel, to our surprise the overall black level measurements of the 64" panel actually were slightly better than the 51" version.
Now, before going through the numbers, we should make our usual disclaimer that black level measurements are dependent on a number of factors and should never be looked at in isolation, there are so many other elements make up a good picture. Having said that the measurement for 0IRE at 60Hz material was 0.03cd/m2, at 50Hz it was 0.05cd/m2, for 24p with Cinema Smooth off it was 0.03cd/m2 and for 24p with Cinema Smooth on it was 0.05cd/m2. We should stress that we weren't actually aware of any difference in black level until we took the measurements and when watching actual material the blacks looked excellent regardless of whether the content was 60Hz, 50Hz or 24p.
When we took the same measurements on the PS51D8000 at 50Hz we got a measurement of 0.06cd/m2 so it would appear the PS64D8000 is capable of slightly better blacks. A measurement of 0.03cd/m2 with 60Hz material is very impressive and actually equals the 0.03cd/m2 we measured on our reference Kuro and is almost as good as the 0.02cd/m2 we measured on the P65VT30. One area where the Samsung plasmas do have an advantage over the Panasonic plasmas is in dynamic range, thanks to the Cell Light control which can adjust the brightness without affecting the black level. In its calibrated mode the P65VT30 measured 79.2cd/m2 at 100IRE whereas the PS64D8000 measured 119.5cd/m2 and could have gone even higher.
The PS64D8000 was capable of excellent blacks, even when there was some ambient light in the room and it was equally as impressive in a dark viewing environment. Whilst there was some PWM noise this wasn't visible at any normal viewing distance and we did also notice some additional green noise in the black part of the image but once again this was invisible at any normal viewing distance.
Once you combine all the areas where the PS64D8000 is strong - such as colour and greyscale accuracy, video processing, motion, black levels and dynamic range the resulting 2D performance was just breath-taking. In fact, we would go as far as saying it was as good as the Panasonic P65VT30 apart from the unwanted noise reduction but then the PS64D8000 doesn't have motion problems with 50Hz material better; so let's call it a draw.
Picture Quality - 3D
We watched a large amount of familiar 3D content on the PS64D8000 and found it was capable of producing wonderfully bright and detailed images with a natural sense of motion regardless of whether it was 60Hz, 50Hz or 24p. In fact thanks to the Cinema Smooth option the PS64D8000 can reproduce 3D Blu-rays with images that are impressively smooth and free of judder. As with all 3D plasmas that we have reviewed there is an increased amount of PWM noise when the display is in 3D mode but, once again, at a sensible distance and wearing the glasses you can't really see it.
The area where the PS64D8000 really impressed us was when it came to crosstalk and we saw a level of performance here that almost matched the Panasonic plasmas. 3D content that had been plagued with crosstalk when we viewed it on the PS51D8000 had completely vanished, even on side-by-side content which we had found particularly troublesome on the PS51D8000.
Overall the 3D performance of the PS64D8000 was excellent and easily the best we have seen with the exception of some of the Panasonic plasmas. In fact, without doing a side-by-side comparison of the PS64D8000 with the P65VT30, it is difficult to tell which was better so once again we would call it a draw.
Almost every feature on the PS64D8000 can be accessed by using the Smart Hub interface which is in turn accessed via a dedicated button on the remote control. All the manufacturers have released upgraded internet platforms this year but Samsung's is probably the best because it is easy to set up thanks to built-in WiFi, has a sensible layout and is easy to use thanks to functions like network control via smart phones. The Smart Hub interface itself is clearly laid out and uses applications similar to the ones found on Samsung's Galaxy tablets and phones. You can customise the layout to suit your personal preferences, which is useful as it not only keeps the Smart Hub from becoming cluttered but also means you only have to see the applications you are interested in. You can also save your own login page which would allow parents to control a child's access.
On the top right of the Smart Hub screen is the Samsung Apps Store where you can choose and add more applications. This area includes applications that are bundled into different sections for Videos, Games, Sports, Lifestyle, Information and Education. Here you can find all the applications that Samsung currently supports, including Picasa, Google Maps, AccuWeather, MUZU.TV, Picture Box and BBC News to name but a few.
The bottom half of the screen includes the icons for the Allshare networking functions as well as USB media playback of Photos, Music and Videos. You can also access the Guide (EPG) as well as the Channel tuning options and the Sources. As we mentioned earlier, there is a PVR functionality which can be controlled using the Schedule Manager and any recordings can also be accessed via the Recorded TV icon. The functionality is a little limited but it's still a nice feature to have, although it isn't really a substitute for a dedicated PVR. Finally there is a Web Browser which can be a bit laborious with the supplied remote control but much easier if you use the control application available for smart phones and tablets.
- Impressive black levels and dynamic range
- Excellent out-of-the-box greyscale
- Reference greyscale after calibration
- Excellent out-of-the-box colour gamut
- Reference colour gamut after calibration
- Impressive array of calibration controls
- Excellent video processing
- Well designed and responsive menu system
- Freeview/Freesat HD tuners
- PVR functionality
- Well implemented Smart TV platform
- Bluetooth 3D glasses
- Built-in WiFi
- Competitively priced
- Undefeatable noise reduction is a shame
- Failure to correctly detect 2:2 cadence
- Some PWM noise, especially in black areas
- Supplied remote control is a disappointment
- 3D glasses could have larger lenses and be more robust
- The input lag could be better in Game mode
- Display didn't always register the IR signals from the remote
Samsung D8000 (PS-64D8000) 3D Plasma TV Review
First of all the PS64D8000 has a very good out-of-the-box picture with an excellent greyscale and reasonably accurate colour gamut. In addition, Samsung has included an impressive array of calibration controls that result in a reference performance for both greyscale and colour gamut. As always the video processing is excellent too which means the PS64D8000 is capable of producing very watchable images from standard definition, even on such a large screen.
The performance with high definition material was equally impressive and resulted in images that were both detailed and natural looking regardless of whether the source material was 1080i or 1080p. The PS64D8000 could handle both 50Hz or 60Hz refresh rates without any issues and thanks to Cinema Smooth, 24p material was also suitably judder free. The 3D performance was a vast improvement on previous Samsung plasmas and the PS64D8000 could produce bright and detailed images that also had smooth judder free motion. Thanks to the larger screen size the 3D experience was very immersive but perhaps the biggest surprise was the almost complete lack of crosstalk, even on side-by-side content which had proved problematic in the past. The glasses synced perfectly with the display and thanks to Bluetooth we never had any problems with losing synch either. Our only complaint about the glasses is that lenses could be bigger and block out more ambient light from the bottom front. The PS64D8000's 3D performance was so good in fact that it is the first plasma we have seen that is capable of competing with the 3D plasmas from Panasonic.
In the past the biggest weakness of Samsung plasmas has been their black levels but not any more, with the PS64D8000 delivering the kind of measurements only seen previously from the Kuro and the VT30. Whist there were small differences between the black level measurements at 60Hz, 50Hz and 24p, they really weren't noticeable when watching actual viewing material and overall the blacks on the PS64D8000 were excellent. In addition, the PS64D8000 was capable of producing a very bright image without affecting the black levels which not only helped increase the brightness of 3D images but resulted in a wonderful dynamic range that gave 2D images real punch.
There are also other areas where the PS64D8000 impresses including the built-in Freeview HD, Freesat HD and WiFi, as well as extensive connectivity, streaming and media capabilities. The menu system and EPG are well designed and responsive and there is also a PVR functionality when used in conjunction with an external HDD. The PS64D8000 includes Samsung's Smart TV internet portal that remains the most flexible and impressive platform that we have seen, to date. Finally, one of the unexpected benefits of the larger screen is that the side inputs are now far enough away from the edge that you can no longer see any cables.
The only major issue that we had about the PS64D8000 was that the digital noise reduction could not be turned completely off unless you used the Game mode. To be honest most people might not even notice the unwanted noise reduction but we should be able to turn it off when we want to and hopefully Samsung will address this. Another issue was the failure of the PS64D8000 to correctly detect 2:2 cadence but hopefully Samsung will address this soon. It is a shame that Samsung continue to ship the D8000 series to Europe without the premium remote control and when using the remote that they did supply we found that sometimes the PS64D8000 didn't always register the IR signal. However, at least there is a free remote control application for smartphones and tablets that actually works very well and makes typing much easier. The input lag was still a little large, even in Game mode, and as always we wish that Samsung would move the Game mode itself to a more sensible place in the menu. Finally whilst we understand why the power cord is hard wired, it is far too short.
However these issues are all relatively minor and what really matters is that the PS64D8000 is an excellent display that can produce wonderful images from both standard and high definition content as well as deliver a truly immersive 3D experience. In fact Samsung are to be congratulated for producing a display that delivers such effective big screen performance at such a competitive price and we have no reservation in highly recommending the PS64D8000.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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