The PS51D6900’s 3D Smart TV service is the first online 3D delivery system we’ve seen, and it makes a lot of sense given that 3D content in general is still rather limited. That said, even with our 5MB broadband connection we suffered with frequent stuttering when trying to downstream the service’s 3D content, and the content available on the service is currently rather limited. There were a trio of documentaries at the time of writing, a selection of not particularly high profile music videos, a few film trailers, and some kid’s shows. We didn’t check out all the kid’s shows, though, for the simple reason that many of them appeared to be Korean in origin.
Doubtless the 3D offerings will expand over time though, given the Smart TV’s cloud-based approach. And we’ve heard that Channel Five’s Demand 5 catch up service is due to join the other video services soon.
The only issues we’d have with Smart TV as found on the PS51D6900 would be that some, even many of the apps currently available are rather pointless, and that unlike Samsung’s D7000 and D8000 LED models, the PS51D6900 doesn’t have either a built-in open Internet browser or Skype support.
Shifting our attentions away from the new Smart Hub, tucked away within a separate but still attractive suite of set up menus are a long list of features and adjustments. For instance, there’s a degree of colour management; white balance fine tuning including the comprehensive 10-point calibration system; and an option for tweaking the plasma cell brightness level that exists separately to a general brightness adjustment.
We were also pleased to find how much flexibility Samsung allows when it comes to adjusting the strength and focus of the PS51D6900’s numerous processing tools, such as those devoted to noise reduction, colour boosting and black level enhancement.
We suspect the level of calibration would easily have earned the PS51D6900 endorsement from the Imaging Science Foundation had Samsung chosen to pursue it, but in any case, pretty much anyone should be able to use the tools available to get the picture looking as they want it to look.
We wouldn’t say this, of course, if the end results of your picture fine tuning weren’t impressive. But they are. In fact, the PS51D6900 delivers a big step up in picture quality from last year’s equivalent model.
Starting with 3D, there are two prongs to its improvement. First, 3D pictures with Samsung’s new Bluetooth 3D glasses on your nose enjoy better and brighter colour tones, and more detail in dark areas. This is because the PS51D6900 is brighter than last year’s model, enabling it to combat the darkening effect of the 3D glasses.
The other improvement comes with crosstalk; the double ghosting problem with 3D caused when screens can’t refresh themselves fast enough to cope with the active 3D’s alternate left eye/right eye full HD frames. Last year’s Samsung 3D plasmas suffered much less with crosstalk than the brand’s LCD models, on account of plasma’s innate response time advantage. But Samsung has refined things further with the PS51D6900, so that crosstalk is now only rarely visible, and even when it is, it’s more subtle.
To put this in a wider context, there is still a little more crosstalk around than you get with Panasonic’s latest 3D plasmas. But there’s also less than you get with Samsung’s LED sets, even this year’s models.