Also, dark Blu-ray scenes on the Samsung PS51E490 exhibit green dot noise that’s quite noticeable if you’re sat close to the screen – though thankfully this becomes less and less visible the further away from the screen you are, and isn’t often problematic from typical viewing distances. Especially if you’ve got the Cell Light setting down to 12 or less.
Motion still looks a bit jerky too, especially during camera pans, despite the panel claiming a ‘600Hz’ system via sub-field driving. On the upside, though, you seldom see any sign of the fizzing trails sometimes seen over moving objects – especially skin tones – on Panasonic’s plasmas.
Samsung PS51E490 3D
The last aspect of the Samsung PS51E490’s performance we need to check out is 3D. And in some ways the TV does very well for its money. Particularly welcome is how little crosstalk you have to tolerate. The image isn’t completely immune from the double ghosting issue during notoriously difficult sequences like the Monsters Vs Aliens Golden Gate Bridge scene or the night-time lantern release segment of Tangled. But it’s subtle even during these moments, and is seldom visible at all during the less difficult material that makes up most of your 3D viewing time.
The Samsung PS51E490’s 3D images look passably vibrant and bright, too, considering the set uses active technology, with its brightness-reducing shuttering glasses.
The Samsung PS51E490’s 3D performance still falls quite a bit short of that of Samsung’s E6500 plasmas, though. For instance, with the Samsung PS51E490 pushed hard to combat the dimming effect of the glasses, it’s sometimes possible to see quite a lot of plasma cell ‘fizzing’, especially during bright scenes. Motion often looks quite uncomfortable in 3D mode too, with the slight judder noted with 2D looking more pronounced once there’s depth of field to deal with.
It’s also immediately clear that there’s less detail and sharpness in the Samsung PS51E490’s 3D pictures than there was in the 3D efforts of the PS60E6500. This even extends to the occasional jagged curved edge, something we definitely didn’t see on the PS60E6500.
One final, rather odd flaw with the Samsung PS51E490’s 3D pictures is that the unit’s colours sometimes look bleached out, especially in the brightest parts of the picture.
As a gaming monitor, the Samsung PS51E490 is solid. Its difficulties with motion are problematic with games involving a lot of panning round, but its impressive black levels/shadow detailing both serve it well, and our tests for input lag revealed an impressively low figure of around 34ms. This shouldn’t be enough of a delay to seriously impact your ‘twitch-gaming’ skills.
The Samsung PS51E490’s relative bulk versus Samsung’s LED models serves it quite well when it comes to sound quality. There’s a noticeably richer, more open mid-range than you get with the brand’s ultra-slim models, with more bass underpinning proceedings so that treble information sounds more balanced – a fact which leads to less instances of soundstage ‘harshness’.
Samsung PS51E490 Verdict
How appealing the Samsung PS51E490 is depends pretty much completely on your financial situation. If you can afford to spend more, we would recommend that you step up to either the Panasonic TX-P50UT50 (available for around £800-£900) or one of Samsung’s E6900 models. All these alternatives give you online functionality and significantly better all-round picture quality.
If, however, you only have around £600 to spend and you couldn’t care less about Smart TV content, then the Samsung PS51E490 is both bigger and at least a bit better than you probably expected any such affordable TV to be.
Score in detail
3D Quality 7
Image Quality 7
2D Quality 7
Sound Quality 8