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Samsung PS51D8000 review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Samsung PS51D8000

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Pros

  • Superb value
  • Gorgeous design and interface
  • Brilliant 2D picture quality

Cons

  • A little crosstalk with 3D
  • Colours could be better out of the box

Key Features

  • 51in plasma TV
  • built-in active 3D playback
  • Smart TV online services
  • Multimedia playback via USB and network
  • Real Black filter
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £1,099.99

The first thing that springs to mind as we start testing Samsung’s PS51D8000 is Spinal Tap. Not because the TV has long hair or a thing for bum cakes, but because just as Spinal Tap’s amps ‘go to 11’ instead of 10, where most mid-sized TVs only go to 50in, the PS51D8000 goes to 51in.

In reality, though, we can’t really say that we felt the extra size during our tests, leaving us feeling that the extra inch of picture is ultimately more of a clever marketing ploy than a revolution in plasma TV. But before too much cynicism sets in, it’s fair to say that the PS51D8000 has plenty of other stuff to crow about. Starting with its design.

The bezel round the screen is made from a gorgeously glinting burnished silver metal, offset beautifully by a few mm of slightly recessed transparent outer trim. As well as continuing the style theme established by Samsung’s D8000 LCD TVs, this lovely metallic finish really helps Samsung’s set stand out from the predominantly black crowds.

Samsung PS51D8000

The bezel is much wider than the almost non-existent bezel of Samsung’s D8000 LCD TVs, and its rear sticks out quite a bit further than those of its edge-LED siblings, too. But when the bodywork’s this pretty, who cares if there’s a bit more of it?!

As you’d expect of Samsung’s flagship plasma TV range, the PS51D8000 is bristling with connections. Four HDMIs are on hand for receiving digital HD and 3D sources, while other highlights include a pair of USB ports, a LAN port, and best of all, built-in Wi-Fi.

The USBs can be used for playing back the usual video, music and photo file suspects, or you can use them for recording (losslessly) from the integrated Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners to USB storage. You can even add a webcam via USB for use with the PS51D8000’s built-in Skype service.

The LAN/Wi-Fi connection options are there, of course, for accessing either files stored on a networked DLNA PC, or for connecting to Samsung’s Smart TV service.

Samsung PS51D8000

This service continues to set the bar in terms of both its interface and the amount of content it carries (though LG is now pushing Samsung hard with its own Smart TV service). Sony still leads the way, just, when it comes to providing our favourite online TV content or video. But Sony’s Bravia Internet Video interface is currently miles behind Samsung’s ‘Smart Hub’.

We’ve been over Samsung’s online features numerous times before this year, so this time we thought we’d just list the main features, and do a head count of the rest (bearing in mind that since we’re talking about a cloud service, its content can change at pretty much any time).

Anyway, here goes. The likely most used services as we see them are: LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer, Skype, Acetrax, Facebook, Twitter, Google Chat, the Explore 3D video channel containing quite a variety of free 3D content, Muzu.tv, the Cartoon Network, Box Office 365, Vimeo, Viaway Internet Media, Yupptv, YouTube, Picture Box, Blinkbox, teletext holidays, BBC News, ent bay TV, The Broadway Channel, Daily Motion, exercise TV, Yoga Helper, Sports Scoreboard, Check Body, Commonsense Soccer, a Workout Time Recorder, a Dance fitness tool, Betfair football access, an Abs Exerciser, and the Picasa photo site.

Samsung PS51D8000

Beyond these, there are nearly 60 lifestyle apps covering everything from how to tie a tie to religion, recipes and knitting; more than 50 ‘information’ apps taking in such diverse stuff as This Day in History, The History of Rome, advice on childbirth, plus tips on origami, giving up smoking, and avoiding food poisoning; 78 small and mostly forgettable games, including stuff like Sudoku, Minesweeper and Black jack; and finally 34 educational apps mostly aimed at young children learning to read, reason or count. Though we were pleased to also find in this section a couple of more ‘manly’ apps: one about the planets and one about - yes! - the periodic table. Now this is what our TVs have really been waiting for...

A Scotland

October 28, 2011, 6:56 pm

A couple of questions if you get a moment:-

1. Does this suffer from the indefeatable noise reduction "feature" of the Samsung LCD tvs?

2. Which would you choose out of the Panasonic GT30 or this?

A Scotland

October 28, 2011, 7:06 pm

One more question. Where have you seen it available for £1099 (as per the "price as reviewed")? Everywhere I look seems to be about £200 more than this making it significantly more expensive than the GT30.

Thanks.

John Archer

October 31, 2011, 8:57 pm

Hello A Scotland!

Regarding your first question, it does suffer undefeatable noise reduction unless you use the set's Game mode. This isn't actually too bad a situation, though, as you still get a good if not full set of picture adjustments available to you within the Game mode setup.

Also, I would argue that the undefeatable noise reduction isn't a really severe issue with HD sources, as there's usually so little noise in such sources anyway. But this is just my personal view and I know it won't tally with everyone's way of thinking!
As for whether I'd choose the Samsung over the GT30, that's a really good question as each screen has its distinct advantages. The GT30 is undoubtedly the best for 3D, simply because it has practically no crosstalk. The Samsung's 3D pictures are brighter and more colourful, but for me crosstalk is always the thing I struggle with most when watching 3D.
The GT30 also delivers a richer black level response in 2D mode, which can pay handsome dividends when watching films. However, the Samsung model has a more stable brightness level and much better motion handling with normal TV viewing. And its 2D pictures are brighter and more colourful for the most part. And the Samsung is a much prettier set aesthetically, AND it's got a (currently) superior Smart TV online service.
So the Panasonic model is probably the best option for serious HD movie fans, while the Samsung is a better 'all-rounder' when it comes to coping with - and providing - lots of different sources.
As for the £1099.99 price, it's available for that at www.electrical-shopping.com - though I note that the standard delivery charge is a pretty exorbitant £70...
Hope this is all helpful to you.

John

TROYBOY

November 2, 2011, 5:56 pm

Another question, whats the best tv for 3d and 2d right now that I could buy?
so far theres no definitive answer i can find.......

troy

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