Yet more good news finds the PS51D8000’s HD images looking extremely crisp and detailed, and in a real advance over previous Samsung plasma generations, this sharpness is achieved without the picture looking ‘fizzy’ or grainy. Sharpness remains intact when there’s lots of motion going on too, in typical plasma style. And Samsung has managed to keep plasma’s common dithering noise over moving objects almost completely out of the picture. There are no serious problems with judder either.
Other strengths comprise fairly satisfying upscaling circuitry for standard definition viewing, the fact that you can watch the screen from pretty extreme angles without its pictures losing any contrast or colour, a gaming-friendly input lag of just 32ms, and finally the extent to which the screen soaks up ambient light compared with some other rather reflective big-screen TVs we’ve seen recently.
Donning the single pair of 3D glasses you get free with the TV, the good news mainly continues.
Full HD 3D Blu-rays, for instance, look exceptionally sharp and detailed - more so, in fact, than they do on Panasonic’s 3D plasmas.
The sense of depth the screen creates is reasonably deep but always natural and never fatiguing, and pictures are a bit brighter than those of a well-calibrated Panasonic 3D model - a fact which also means you can see a little more detail in dark picture areas.
There’s also less of the hated crosstalk double ghosting noise than you get with most rival 3D TVs too - including Samsung’s own LCD models. However, the PS51D8000 does clearly suffer more with crosstalk than the Panasonic 3D plasmas with which it inevitably draws comparison, especially - though not exclusively - during dark scenes.
One other area for Samsung to work on is its 3D colours. For it seemed to us that the set doesn’t adjust its colour tones enough automatically when a 3D input is detected to compensate for the colour-changing impact of the 3D glasses. We ended up calibrating things to look better ourselves, and leaving our settings permanently stored under the Dynamic picture preset, using adjusted versions of the Standard or Movie presets for normal 2D viewing.
With excellent black levels and light uniformity to join the other 3D strengths described earlier, though, the PS51D8000 remains one of the better 3D screens we’ve seen to date. Wrapping up with the PS51D8000’s audio, it’s another success story for the most part. Very decent levels of volume can be achieved without the speakers sounding compressed or distorted, and the mid-range is open and bright without trebles descending into harshness. There’s even a reasonable amount of bass to be heard - something that’s very rare in the flat TV world.
While the PS51D8000’s 3D pictures aren’t perfect, they’re still well above average by the standards of the 3D world at large. As such, they join with its terrific 2D picture quality and some well rounded, potent audio in making the PS51D8000 an almost ridiculously good value proposition for the discerning buyer.