Aside from the simple issue of how many people really want 3D TV in their homes, three problems have undermined 3D’s 2010 debut. First, the number of full HD 3D Blu-rays coming out has been lower than expected. Second, the TVs capable of playing alternate-frame HD 3D have consistently been very expensive. And third, all the alternate frame LCD 3D TVs we’ve seen to date have suffered with distracting crosstalk (double ghosting) noise.
Despite - or maybe because of - all this, it’s actually with a high level of excitement that we take receipt of Samsung’s PS50C6900. For while this 50in TV clearly can’t end the 3D Blu-ray drought, its remarkably low price tag of £1,010 and use of plasma rather than LCD technology certainly raise hopes that it will be able to conquer the other two big 3D objections.
Let’s focus on that price a bit more. Basically, £1,010 would look pretty darned cheap for an ordinary 50in TV, yet here we’ve got one with full HD 3D support - complete with a built-in 3D transmitter and one pair of 3D active shutter glasses (worth around £100) thrown in for free. What’s more, the 3D capabilities are just the tip of a surprisingly large feature iceberg.
As for the fact that the PS50C6900 uses plasma technology, this is significant because the only 3D TVs we’ve seen that broadly avoid the dreaded crosstalk noise have been Panasonic’s plasma 3D models.
As well as the anticipation built by the factors we’ve just covered, the PS50C6900 builds on its instant ‘shelf appeal’ with a surprisingly pretty design. The single most striking thing about this is how slender the screen is - a surprising discovery given that the screen is a) so cheap and b) equipped with plasma rather than edge LED technology. We’re also fans of the cute grey colour used for the bezel - especially since this is offset so elegantly by a see-through outer trim.
Expectations that the PS50C6900 might have compromised its connectivity in its quest for cheapness are quickly shot down by even a cursory glance at the wealth of jacks on offer. Among the highlights are four HDMIs, two USBs, a D-Sub PC jack, and LAN port: everything, in other words, that we’d expect to find on a much more expensive TV.
What’s more, the USB and LAN ports just mentioned are all put to impressively wide-ranging use. First, the USBs are able to handle pretty much all the main video, photo and music file formats. Second, the USBs can be used to timeshift stuff - with no loss of quality - from the TV’s Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs. Third, you can use an optional extra dongle in one of the USB ports to make the TV Wi-Fi capable. Fourth, the set’s LAN port can be used to stream files from networked DLNA PCs if you don’t pay extra to go Wi-Fi. And finally, the LAN port can be used to access Samsung’s online Internet@TV platform.