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Unfortunately, though, we’re not done with the bad news yet, not by a long chalk. Motion isn’t particularly well handled by the PS50A556, for instance, with occasional signs of fizzing noise over horizontally moving skin tones, and a general slight blurring unless you have the Movie Plus option set to its highest setting.
Yet pushing Movie Plus this hard also results in some noticeable shimmering glitches during rapid camera pans that’s for my money worse than the motion blurring it’s meant to counter.
The Movie Plus option doesn’t appear to be available at all during 1080p/24 Blu-ray viewing, meanwhile, leaving you no way of tackling the marginally stuttery, imprecise look such footage tends to carry.
I also found a strange colour glitch during Blu-ray viewing whereby some colour tones suddenly take on an artificial, noisy look. A great example of this occurs near the start of Sweeney Todd, as a curious pinky noise effect plays over the faces of Todd and Anthony during the close-ups on them just after they disembark from the ship that carries them to London.
Turning to the last of the PS50A556’s picture elements, black levels, I found them to be good without being spectacular. Which is to say they’re easily deep enough to show the door to many an LCD rival, and provide typical scenes with good punch and dynamism. But at the same time there’s definitely a trace of greyness to be seen during Sweeney Todd’s many very dark sequences. Also, shadow details don’t seem quite as evident as they are on Panasonic and Pioneer screens.
If the PS50A556 just about manages to pass muster as a solid if unremarkable picture performer, especially when its price is taken into account, it’s definitely below par sonically.
As soon as you push its ‘invisible’ speakers even slightly hard, the soundstage turns flat and lifeless, with very little bass or treble range, and muddied vocals. In fact, action scenes sometimes even caused my PS50A556’s cabinet to succumb to some unwanted vibrations and ‘phutting’ noises.
Experience of previous Samsung plasma TVs and the brand’s recent LCD efforts had me hoping for great things from the PS50A556. But while it can’t be considered a total washout given its price, it certainly can be considered a disappointment. And quite a substantial one at that.