If you keep your ear to the AV ground, you'll probably know that Samsung has a swanky new range of flat TVs waiting in the wings for a spring launch. So we feel it's only fair to say up front that the PS50Q97HDX is not one of these. It's simply a 50in plasma model from the Korean brand's current flat TV range.
But we also feel we just had to cover it before it disappears from UK shelves, for the very simple reason that it can now be had for comfortably under £900, making it potentially an AV steal that you simply cannot afford to pass up.
As with all of Samsung's recent flat TV output, the PS50Q97HDX is quite a looker. The glossy black bezel and cute, subtle curves ensure that it cuts a dash that leaves the vast majority of its rivals looking bland by comparison.
The PS50Q97HDX's up-front appeal merely grows with the discovery on its rear of no less than three HDMIs - one more than you've any right to expect on such an affordable 50in telly. Perhaps inevitably these HDMIs are slightly ‘limited' in that they're built to the v1.2 standard, not the latest v1.3a standard, and so can't take Deep Colour signals or auto-lipsynching data from any sources that might support such features. Nor can they handle 1080p. But I personally don't consider either of these issues a ‘biggie' on such an inexpensive product.
Elsewhere among the TV's connections are a component video input, a PC D-Sub input, two SCARTs and the usual lower-quality S-Video and composite video inputs. In an ideal world there would have been a digital audio output for shipping soundtracks from the digital tuner or received via the HDMIs to an external AV receiver, but then there probably aren't many people out there who would really want to use such a facility anyway.
As usual with a Samsung TV, the PS50Q97HDX claims one or two pretty outlandish specifications. The 1,365 x 768 HD Ready native resolution is straightforward enough, but the claimed contrast ratio of 15,000:1 falls only a fraction short of the 16,000:1 figure claimed by Pioneer's premium-priced, genuinely ground-breaking KURO range. Surely Samsung's contrast can't really be that good for £874?
Probably not. But Samsung does have a technological explanation for why it can claim such a high figure: a new Ultra FilterBright screen structure which apparently eliminates as much as 90 per cent of all onscreen reflections, thus allowing black levels to look deeper and purer. Also playing its part in delivering such a high claimed contrast is a new Optimal Light Filter that Samsung reckons considerably reduces light diffusion as the picture emerges from the screen.