Turning to the PS64E8000’s picture specifications, it’s a full HD panel featuring the highest level of Samsung’s plasma panel design, complete with a filter to boost black levels to levels that will hopefully rival those of Panasonic’s outstanding current plasma range.
Serious movie fans will also be happy to note that the PS64E8000 is well-equipped with picture calibration tools, including a cell light adjustment on top of the usual contrast and brightness tools, plus extensive white balance adjustments and gamma controls.
Even to our post-CES eyes, the PS64E8000 quickly establishes itself as a remarkably classy performer - especially if you’re a regular watcher of Blu-rays.
The main reason for this, as usual with good plasma TVs, is the black level depth the screen can deliver. During run-throughs of our current favourite dark films, The Dark Knight Rises and the last Harry Potter film, it reproduced dark scenes with scarcely a trace of the grey overtone still seen with many flat panel TVs. Arguably even better, plasma’s self-emissive technology ensures that the screen’s black levels remain consistent right across the screen; there are none of the unevenly lit ‘clouds’ in parts of the picture commonly witnessed with rival LCD technology (particuarlrly the edge LED-lit versions). This enables you to get much more immersed in the action.
Yet more good news concerning the PS64E8000’s presentation of dark scenes is that the exceptional black level depths aren’t achieved at the expense of shadow detail. In fact, you can see subtle bits of picture information in the darkest corners of images that you wouldn’t have a hope of seeing on the vast majority of LCD TVs, since LCD models can’t deliver illumination levels down to the pixel level of precision that plasma can.
All these factors add up to the PS64E8000 producing dark scenes with a rare integrity that’s perfectly suited to film viewing.
As we so often find, moreover, the excellent black reproduction from the PS64E8000 helps it produce a really strong colour palette too. Even reds and greens, so commonly overdone with plasma technology, look bold and well balanced within the palette. Points are also earned by how much subtlety you get in blends, as the screen suffers relatively little - even in 3D mode - with the sort of striping/banding plasma screens commonly produce.
If we have any issue with the set’s colours, it’s that skin tones tend to look either a touch orangey or a touch over-pink. You can reduce this problem via the colour management tools, but we didn’t feel we ever completely cracked it.
Getting swiftly back to the good stuff, the PS64E8000’s HD pictures are outstandingly sharp and detailed. The smallest textures in the most highly detailed Blu-ray transfers are effortlessly rendered, gaining extra impact from the fact that they’re appearing on a screen as big as 64in.
It helps the sense of image clarity, too, that the PS64E8000 handles motion exceptionally well, suffering practically none of the blurring so common in the LCD world, and also not being troubled much by the judder that can afflict cheaper plasma TVs. In fact, the PS64E8000 outperforms even Panasonic’s mighty plasmas where motion is concerned in that it suffers less obviously with fizzing noise over skin tones.