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The first LCD TVs I've seen so far from Samsung's 2009 TV range have all made a very good impression. So my hopes are inevitably high for the first of Samsung's new plasma TVs to come my way - despite the brand suffering a few misfires with plasma technology in the past.
The PS50B650 is a 50in screen - but it looks bigger. For rather than following the current fashion for making bezels as thin and unobtrusive as possible, the one surrounding the PS50B650 is a good inch and a half wide along the top and down the sides, and this extends to more than two inches along the bottom edge. What's more, the impression of the bezel size is actually amplified by a two-layer effect that finds a ‘crystal' translucent top-sheet that lies over the main black bezel and extends out slightly further along each edge.
While large, though, the bezel's effect is certainly pretty, as we'd expect from a Samsung TV. Especially as there's a subtle hint of red funning along the bottom edge, and the supplied stand is also made rather stylishly of glass.
Samsung has a nifty habit of leading the way when it comes to connectivity on its TVs, and this trend continues with the PS50B650. The most important sockets to most of our readers will probably be the four v1.3 HDMI inputs. But my eye was also immediately drawn to the appearance down the TV's sides of not one but two USB inputs.
As well as allowing you to connect two USB sources at once - including an external hard drive, if you wish - for playback of various multimedia file formats, these USBs can be used for adding an optional (£20) Wi-Fi dongle that enables you to hook the TV up to your broadband router wirelessly. Why would you want to do this? Because the PS50B650 joins its 650-series LCD brethren in supporting Samsung's new Medi@2.0 online service.
In case you missed our review of the Samsung LE40B651, this online service doesn't mean you can access the full Internet on the PS50B650. But it's certainly true to say that the ring-fenced service provided is far more extensive than that offered by any rival brands to date - partly thanks to Samsung's exclusive (until September) access to the Yahoo Widget Engine.
Services currently on offer via a seriously pretty set of ‘pop-up' onscreen graphics include Flickr, news feeds, weather reports (that can be localised if you wish), finance reports, and even YouTube, with other content providers promised further down the line.
I should add at this point that the wireless USB dongle can also be used to access files stored on your PC network around the house. If you haven't made the move to wireless yet, don't worry - the TV also carries a DLNA-certified Ethernet jack so you can get your stuff in that way, too.
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