Samsung has worked harder than any other brand over the past handful of years to make inroads into Panasonic’s dominance of the plasma TV market. And there can be no better evidence of just how far the Korean brand has come - with a TV technology which isn’t even its main focus, let’s not forget - than the PS64E8000.
This is the flagship plasma model from Samsung’s current range - a fact revealed immediately by its epic 64in screen and the E8000 part of its name. Its design is suitably opulent too, with its reasonably narrow bezel, subtle but effective transparent outer trim, passably slender backside, cute cross-style pedestal, and pleasant glossy ‘Titan Black’ finish. It’s nice to see as well how comfortably Samsung has managed to tuck a little camera into the centre of the TV’s top edge - no excessive webcam bumps here.
Having said all that, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that even this relatively sleek plasma screen looks rather dated compared with the latest LCD models in town. It’s sad to say, but this apparent inability to shrink the frame of plasma TVs is hardly going to be helping the technology’s losing battle against its LCD rival.
Connectivity is mostly strong. Multimedia use is particularly well catered for, via three USBs, a LAN port and built-in Wi-Fi. There is one disappointment, though, in that as with all of Samsung’s high-end TVs this year, for some reason you only get three HDMIs when the vast majority of other high-end - and mid-range, actually - TVs carry four.
As you would expect of a relatively high-rent Samsung TV, the PS64E8000 carries active 3D playback with two pairs of active shutter glasses included, as well as Samsung’s Smart TV platform. This elegantly presented system cunningly presents all sorts of different source types (from USB devices and networked DLNA PCs through to broadcasts and online video apps) on a more or less equal footing.
You also get Samsung’s intriguing but currently rather lightweight Fitness, Family and Kids zones, featuring apps designed respectively to aid health, build family photo/message networks, and entertain children.
The latest Smart interfaces we’ve just seen at the CES have made it clear that for all its prettiness and its content equalisation approach, Samsung’s current Smart TV system still doesn’t make it as easy to find content as it probably should. We still maintain, too, that Samsung needs to introduce much more quality control to the apps it populates its Smart TV platform with, and we still don’t feel comfortable using either the gesture or voice controls supported by the PS64E8000.
Despite all the niggles, though, Samsung’s Smart TV platform still impresses overall thanks to the impressive amount of video streaming services it carries - these being by far the most useful things on any Smart TV platform.