Design and Connections
The 64E8000 also comes with a second remote control that has a touchpad to make navigating the Smart TV features easier. There are simple controls for changing the volume and channel, as well as buttons for accessing the Smart TV features and the voice control menu. There is even a microphone built into the remote to enable you to use the voice control without shouting across the room. Although if you have the remote in your hand, it is probably just as easy to use it in the more traditional manner. We found that once we had got used to using the remote and learning all the shortcuts, it was actually quite effective, especially when navigating the numerous Smart TV features.
The 64E8000 comes with two pairs of Samsung's latest 3D glasses, which whilst light and comfortable to wear over long periods, do have certain design issues. We found the glasses to be a little fragile, an unfortunate side effect of their lightness and we also didn't like the fact that can't fold the arms of the frames in. We would also have preferred the rectangular lenses to be larger thus providing a better field of view, although they did just about fit over regular glasses. However our main issue with the glasses was the lack of any sides to the frames, meaning they couldn't block out ambient light, which could distract from the enjoyment of the 3D. On the plus side there was very little tint to the lenses which meant that colours on 3D material appeared more accurate and they also use the new RF standard for 3D glasses.
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 which provides a series of test patterns and Black Enhancer. In Movie mode most of these controls default to off which is good as we recommend that you leave them that way.
Within the 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 industry standards. There is also a Digital Noise Filter and an 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.
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), Depth, L/R Change which swaps the images for each eye and 3D-2D which shows 3D content in 2D.
Video processing is a traditional strength for Samsung TVs and the 64E8000 didn't disappoint. Starting with the SMPTE 133 pattern, the 64E8000 scaled the images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The plasma performed just as well when it came to video deinterlacing, with jaggies only appearing when the line was at a very acute angle in the first test of the HQV disc. 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 64E8000 had no problems displaying film material with scrolling video text as long as Film Mode was set to Auto2 and it also had no issues correctly detecting both the 2:2 (PAL - European) and 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) tests. This is good as many of the other Samsung displays we have tested this year have failed to correctly detect 2:2 cadence.
The Samsung 64E8000 also performed very well in the high definition tests and with the player set to 1080i it correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the Picture Size is set to Screen Fit). The 64E8000 also showed a fast response to changes in cadence as well as excellent scaling and filtering and good resolution enhancement. The 64E8000 had no problems handling 24p material either and overall motion handling was excellent, with images smooth and free of judder. The TV displayed an excellent headroom performance from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) with absolutely no signs of clipping, even with Contrast and Cell Light set very high. In fact the only issue that we noticed was that there is still a small amount noise reduction in the image, even when that control, is turned off. This isn't unusual for Samsung and we suspect most people wouldn't even notice but we wish Samsung would stop doing it.
The 64E8000 provided a nicely responsive experience for our relatively limited gaming activities. We measured the lag at 40ms which is reasonably good and puts the plasma among the better performing TVs that we've reviewed with the LagTest device this year. To achieve the lowest input lag you need to choose the Game mode, which Samsung continue to hide away in the General area of the Setup menu. There have been reports that renaming an HDMI input to PC will lower input lag still further but we found it didn't make any difference with the 64E8000.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 385W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode: 360W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 390W
Picture Quality - 2D
The 64E8000 is also bright, much brighter than the VT50, especially when the Panasonic is in its Professional/ISF modes. This isn't really an issue at night but during the day, the added brightness of the 64E8000 could make all the difference. The ambient light filter did its job well and the screen was free of unwanted reflections, so if you plan on doing the majority of your TV watching during the day or there is a lot of light in your viewing environment, then the 64E8000 is definitely the plasma for you. The 64E8000 also had an excellent off-axis performance, as you would expect from plasma and was also free of any unwanted fan noise. There was a slight buzz but this is common for plasmas and wasn't audible at normal volume levels, although how noticeable someone finds plasma buzz can often depend on where the plasma is positioned and how acute that person's hearing is.
The black levels on the 64E8000 are also excellent, not quite as deep as this year's Panasonics but impressive none-the-less and certainly capable of delivering some beautiful dark scenes with wonderful levels of shadow detail. The lovely bright image also combines well with the excellent black levels to create an image that has plenty of dynamic range. The VT50 can still deliver a better contrast ratio, especially in terms of ANSI but the 64E800 is certainly capable of holding its own. In our review of the 51E8000 we experienced problems with the occasional brightness pop and some floating blacks but not so with the larger screen size. It's possible that Samsung have released a firmware update since the previous review but we had absolutely no such problems in two weeks of solid viewing.
The 64E8000 has excellent screen uniformity and didn't suffer from image retention at all. In fact in two weeks, we never once noticed any image retention when watching normal content and even when we deliberately left static images up, the 64E8000 proved remarkably resilient. If there is one area of weakness with the Panasonic plasmas, it is dynamic false contouring (DFC), which results in coloured contours around objects moving across the screen and during camera pans. There was no such issue with the 64E8000 and the image was clean and free of excessive PWM noise or any DFC. The 64E800 also delivered excellent motion handling with all content including 24p and didn't suffer from the stuttering issue found on some Samsung LCD TVs. The video processing was also excellent, with the 64E8000 passing all our deinterlacing and scaling tests.
The upshot of all this, is that the 64E8000 was capable of producing some of the best images we have seen all year. The image accuracy was immediately apparent, regardless of what content we were watching, with whites free of discolouration and the colours themselves appearing natural. Thanks to the excellent blacks and impressive dynamic range, the image also had real impact, never appearing washed out or dull. Thanks to the excellent video processing, standard definition content looked very good, which is important with a screen this size where any artefacts or limitations are magnified. Instead we were treated to a clean, accurate and artefact free image that presented both standard definition broadcasts and DVDs in the best possible light.
However with high definition content, the 64E8000 really delivered the goods, producing highly detailed images that took full advantage of the increased screen size. Blu-rays in particular were spectacular, with the 64E8000 rendering the high resolution images with breath-taking accuracy and clarity. Motion was also handled well, regardless of whether it was 50Hz, 60Hz or 24p, and the results were smooth and free of judder. The recently released Blu-ray of The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent demonstration of the 64E8000's strengths as the 1.78:1 IMAX scenes filled the big screen with eye-popping detail, deep blacks, accurate colours and plenty of brightness - an absolute treat.
Picture Quality - 3D
In fact the relative lack of tint on the 3D glasses really helped to deliver a more natural looking image and the excellent calibration controls meant that 3D could look reasonably accurate. The glasses use of the new RF standard meant that we never had any problems with sync and their incredible lightweight meant they could be worn comfortably for long periods of time. The only downside was the lack of shielding which meant that ambient light could enter the glasses and draw attention to the flickering nature of active shutter glasses. There was almost no crosstalk and what little there was we had to look for on especially difficult material such as Happy Feet Two. However, over all the 64E8000 was capable of delivering excellent 3D images that combined depth, accuracy, detail and a lack of distracting artefacts to deliver an enjoyably immersive experience.
The review of the 64E8000 happened to coincide with the arrival of a number of 3D Blu-rays, including Prometheus, Brave and The Amazing Spider-Man, all of which were wonderfully reproduced by the Samsung. The carefully composed shots and dark scenes of Prometheuslooked magnificent, whilst more frenetic action in Spider-Man was delivered with similar confidence and no apparent motion artefacts. The beautiful 3D animation in Brave was rendered with every pixel of detail and an absence of any noticeable crosstalk, resulting in a thoroughly engaging experience. The recently released 3D Blu-ray of The Creature from the Black Lagoon uses plenty of old-school in your face negative parallax and an insane amount of depth in the background, both of which the 64E8000 handled with ease. Anyone who likes their 3D to really pop out of the screen won't be disappointed where the Samsung is concerned.
Audio and Features
- Excellent black levels and shadow detail
- Impressive dynamic range and contrast ratio
- Reference greyscale and colour after calibration
- Superior video processing
- Incredible set of features
- Superb calibration controls
- Sublime motion handling
- Built-in camera is great for Skype calls
- Attractive design
- Fantastic price
- 3D glasses need a rethink
- Only 3 HDMI inputs
- Quad stand remains an acquired taste
- No aspect ratio button on remote
- iOS remote app doesn't work
Samsung E8000 (PS64E8000) Flagship 3D Plasma TV Review
The 64E8000 uses Samsung's usual menu system, which is clear, concise and easy to navigate. The included calibration controls are excellent and the 64E8000 is capable of a reference performance in terms of both greyscale and colour gamut. The video processing is equally as impressive and the 64E8000 passed all the usual tests. Samsung has included all of their current smart features and whilst the motion and voice controls are a bit of a gimmick, we found the built-in camera was very useful for making Skype video calls. The rest of the smart platform is absolutely superb and our only criticism is that the iOS remote app doesn't currently work.
The 2D picture performance was absolutely superb, with the 64E8000 producing wonderfully clean, accurate and bright images. Thanks to the excellent video processing, standard definition held up well on the larger screen size, whilst high definition material oozed with detail. The black levels, contrast ratio and dynamic range were also excellent, as was the motion handling. The screen handled reflections well, the ambient light filter performed its task admirably during the day and the off-axis performance was superb. The 64E800's 3D performance was equally accomplished with bright, accurate and detailed images that were largely free of flicker and crosstalk. The sense of depth and the immersive nature of the larger screen size are sure to please fans of 3D.
In fact, regardless of whether you're watching 2D or 3D content, the Samsung PS64E8000 is sure to please, with an absolutely wonderful image. Once you include the incredible features, the attractive design and competitive price, the 64E8000 becomes very difficult to resist - a definite Best Buy!
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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