You know how Spinal Tap’s Marshall amps go to 11? Well, Samsung’s PS51D6900 TV goes to 51. As in, 51 inches - a whole inch more than the 50in screens we usually see. Achieved by shrinking back the screen’s bezel slightly on all sides, the extra inch is, of course, arguably more of a gimmick than something that will revolutionise your viewing experience. But heck - it’s got us talking about it. And if nothing else it reveals that Samsung’s plasma department hasn’t just been sitting on its hands while all the brand’s R&D budget is blown on the LCD side of its business.
Despite the shrunken bezel, it’s clear right away that the PS51D6900 hasn’t achieved the ‘no bezel’ design that’s distinguished Samsung’s D7000 and D8000 edge LED TVs this year. But the PS51D6900 is still a very attractive TV by plasma standards, with its highly polished smokey grey finish and still narrow bezel being offset very nicely by a little transparent trim extending beyond the TV’s edges.
Considering it’s a 51in TV we’ve seen selling for under £1000, the PS51D6900 is amazingly well specified. Starting with its basic screen technology, it’s a full HD plasma screen with active 3D technology built in. It doesn’t have one of Samsung’s Real Black filters; you need to step up to the brand’s D8000 plasma sets for one of those. But you do get a pair of 3D glasses thrown in, which is more than Panasonic manages with its otherwise superb P50GT30 50in 3D plasma.
The PS51D6900’s connectivity is very comprehensive, meanwhile. Among the highlights are four v1.4 (3D-capable) HDMI inputs, a pair of USB inputs, and, rather excellently for the TV’s price level, built-in wi-fi - though obviously there’s also a LAN port if your household isn’t set up for wi-fi.
The USBs can be used for recording from the Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs as well as playing back photo, music and video files from USB storage devices. And the wi-fi/LAN connections let you either stream in files from DLNA PCs or access Samsung’s 2011 Smart TV system.
If you’ve read our reviews of Samsung’s UE40D7000 and UE55D8000 LED TVs, you’ll know that this latest Smart TV system is a striking improvement over Samsung’s previous Internet@TV online service. For a start, it introduces a bold and rather brilliant new interface, dubbed the Smart Hub, which is effectively a comprehensive but beautifully and intuitively designed source portal, providing one click access to all your AV inputs, multimedia files and Samsung’s latest suite of online features.
These online features have grown considerably from last year’s, especially when it comes to the amount of ‘apps’ you can download. We won’t go into all the apps available here - there are, after all, more than 40, with more coming online all the time - but we should definitely note the highlights, namely: Love Film, the BBC iPlayer, the AceTrax film rental/buy service, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a brand new Samsung 3D server.