Its pictures are, for instance, slightly brighter and more colour-intense than those of Panasonic’s ST30 Series, and considerably richer in black level than LG’s 50PW450T. It also handles motion more effectively and cleanly than either of these close rivals too, and its HD pictures look slightly more detailed - especially where 3D is concerned.
It’s worth reminding you, too, that the PS51D550’s contrast performance is streets ahead of that of any similarly priced affordable LCD TV you might care to mention, and that you can watch its screen from almost any angle you like without contrast and colour dropping off as happens with LCD screens.
The PS51D550’s 3D performance also knocks spots off that of the LG 50PW450T, simply by virtue of the fact that it doesn’t suffer anywhere nearly as badly with the dreaded ‘crosstalk’ double ghosting noise. In fact, in a really quite bizarre turn up for the books, the PS51D550 suffers less with crosstalk than its own up-market PS51D8000 sibling, only really showing it in any significant way with particularly tough content like the lanterns sequence in Tangled, where you get really bright objects against very dark backgrounds.
However, before we get too carried away, the PS51D550 also suffers with more 3D crosstalk than Panasonic’s ST30 models, at least when showing dark scenes.
Also, the rival Panasonic series has a deeper black level response, and suffers slightly less with screen reflections.
Two last points to mention briefly before wrapping up are that the PS51D550 measured a very respectable sub-30ms of input lag (meaning it shouldn’t present any significant issues for console gamers) and that its sound quality is entirely respectable, with a passably open mid-range and plenty of treble detail. Yes, bass is a little artificial sounding, and the mid-range can ‘buzz’ a little under duress. But overall the PS51D550’s audio can be considered above average for its market level.
Just as the PS51D8000 showed how far Samsung has come since 2010 with its flagship plasma TVs, so the PS51D550 shows how far the brand has progressed at the value end of its plasma proposition, too. In fact, weirdly it’s actually a better 3D performer in some ways than its otherwise more illustrious flagship sibling!
There’s still room for further improvement certainly, but even as it stands today the PS51D550 is a great TV for its money, and one which comfortably deserves to be added to any audition list alongside Panasonic’s ST30 series.