It’s worth remembering before we get too carried away by this that few brands play the ‘extravagant numbers game’ better than Samsung. But even if the 50P96FD’s black levels don’t get quite as close to those of Pioneer’s KURO sets as the numbers suggest, they must surely still be a cut above the average.
Picture processing elements of note, meanwhile, comprise Samsung’s Digital Natural Image engine, Movie Plus, Natural True Colour, and a Silhouette Editor. DNIe tackles colours, black levels, fine detail and motion handling; Movie Plus calculates the appearance of extra image frames and then inserts them to make motion across the screen look more fluid; Natural True Colour uses 18-bit processing to deliver a claimed 18 quadrillion colours (told you Samsung was good at the numbers game!); and the Silhouette Editor apparently addresses the usual delay plasma technology suffers in switching between light and dark, in a bid to reduce contour glitches and edge noise.
And still we’ve not touched on anything like the full setting flexibility available to you, with other user options including adjustments to the white balance, gamma levels, colour tones, noise reduction levels and black levels.
It should be said here that having all these features is made a little less enjoyable by the TV’s use of a strangely sluggish set of onscreen menus that react really slowly to the remote control. But of course, the chances are that once you’ve spent some quality time getting things looking right the first time you use the TV, you probably won’t need to return to most options again very often, if at all.
The above statement assumes, naturally, that it’s actually possible to get the 50P96FD’s pictures ‘looking right’. So we’re happy to say that our assumption is fully supported by the 50P96FD’s image performance. In fact, it looks very right indeed.
Looking first for obvious benefits brought by the full HD pixel count, all the things we’d expect to see are abundantly apparent. And so, for instance, fine details while watching HD sources are sensational, delivering every last atmospheric texture with the Xbox 360’s Bioshock, and every last leaf of the Skull Island jungle in the HD DVD of Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
Colours, too, enjoy the sort of blend subtlety only possible via the extra pixel density afforded by full HD TVs, helping skin tones in particular look more authentic and three-dimensional than is common.