What’s more, the Samsung’s superb black levels are joined by much more intense brightness levels than we witnessed with the PS50A556, leading to images of truly outstanding dynamism during high-contrast ”National Treasure” scenes such as the early one in the university lecture hall.
The PS50A756 also thrashes the PS50A556 – and gets right up there with Panasonic again – with its colour reproduction. There seems to be a much wider range to the colour palette; colour blends are shown with greater, striping-free finesse; and tones generally – but especially skin tones – are much more consistently believable. In fact, at the risk of sounding blasphemous I might even say that the PS50A756’s colours are even better than those of Panasonic’s plasmas, at least when it comes to showing a convincing red colour.
Yet more good news concerns the PS50A756’s handling of motion, as even during ”NT2” action scenes, like the car chase across London, there’s practically no blurring or resolution loss whatsoever. Nor is there any sign of plasma’s once common ‘fizzing noise’ problem. Basically, if 99% of LCD TVs even dream of having motion that looks as clear and natural as it does on the PS50A756, they’d better wake up and apologise.
While I’m making comparisons with LCD, I might as well say that conventional wisdom has it that LCD does a better job of picking out fine detail in HD sources, motion blur notwithstanding. But the PS50A756 counters that argument too, serving up levels of clarity and sharpness that reproduce the exceptional fine detail in the NT2 Blu-ray like you wouldn’t believe.
In keeping with most feature-heavy TVs, it is possible to mess the PS50A756’s pictures up if you’re not careful. The provided Edge Enhancement feature, for instance, tends to make HD images look grainy and standard definition images look ugly thanks to the appearance of overt whitish ‘haloes’ around sharply contrasting edges.
Processing glitches can get thrown up by the Movie Plus system if you set it any higher than its ‘Low’ level too, and you should avoid the Dynamic image preset like the plague. Especially when watching standard definition (which actually otherwise looks surprisingly good by Full HD TV standards).
Finally, while the PS50A756’s colours are exceptional by plasma standards, one or two skintones do still look just a touch orangey from time to time.
After the considerable – and to some extent unexpected – picture joys, the PS50A756’s audio comes as a bit of a disappointment. The downfiring speakers can go reasonably loud, and even deliver a little bass. But they also lack clarity, are short of treble detail, and even occasionally make dialogue sound a little dislocated from the image.
The PS50A756 is a milestone product in a number of ways. It blazes a trail on two separate technology fronts: Internet connection and pre-stored image/interactive content. Its design is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. And it even manages to produce pictures that propel Samsung right up there with the ‘big two’ on plasma performance standards.
If I were to be really harsh I might say that the PS50A756’s trailblazing Internet and built-in content features occasionally feel like a ‘trial run’ for something likely to become much more satisfying in future generations. But you have to start somewhere, right? And in any case, the set’s picture quality is so good that all the multimedia functionality ultimately becomes just the icing on the cake rather than the set’s main raison d’etre.