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Prior to our surprisingly underwhelming experience with Samsung's PS50A556, we were really looking forward to getting our hands on the PS50A756. After all, as well as introducing Samsung's delicious ‘hint of colour' design to the 50in plasma market, the PS50A756 grants us our very first glimpse of Samsung's much-hyped InfoLive system.
But then the PS50A556 came along and rather burst our expectation bubble thanks to its old-fashioned user system, flat audio and a picture quality that reminded us of plasma picture quality circa 2006.
So instead of hitting our test rooms on the crest of a wave, the PS50A756 arrives amid an atmosphere of anxiety and even a little suspicion. Here's hoping it can turn us round.
As a first step in rejuvenating our enthusiasm, let's go over the key InfoLive functionality for anyone currently oblivious to its existence. Essentially it's the first concerted, mainstream effort to bring some sort of Internet interactivity to a UK TV. This doesn't mean you've actually got a full copy of Internet Explorer pre-installed on your PC, though. There are all kinds of reasons why the ‘whole Internet' approach to interactive TV is seriously hard to implement - not least the thorny issue of how you would incorporate keyboard and mouse functionality into a TV interface.
So what you get instead with InfoLive is a Samsung deal with Yahoo to supply news, weather and finance data - from a dedicated online hosting location - that's formatted to harmonise both with the TV's screen and the menu navigation buttons on a normal, TV-style remote control. We'll go into more - much more - detail on the whole InfoLive aspect of this TV later, but right now we want to keep the excitement flowing by telling you about the PS50A756's truly extravagant looks.
These comprise an even more refined version of the ‘hint of colour' design sported by Samsung's A656 LCD TVs, with the TV's bezel - and in this case, the TV's stand - sporting a very fetching touch of deep red that becomes more overt the nearer you get to the TV's extremities.
What's more, the bezel on the PS50A756 is semi-translucent, so that if you happen to get any direct, penetrating light on it, you can actually see through the bezel to the inner chassis behind. Believe us when we say that this idea is much cooler in practice than it sounds when you just write it down.
The icing on the cake of the PS50A756's really imperious design is its use of a bold red stripe power light running across the width of the (swivelling) pole that supports the TV on its desktop stand. Though you can switch this off if you find it distracting.
The designer glories of the TV even extend to the remote control, as a hint of the same deep red colour is used in the handset's fancy menu navigation wheel.
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