Samsung PN58C8000 3D 58″ Plasma-First Review
(September 11, 2010) The C8000 models are Samsung’s top-of-the-line plasma HDTVs. In addition to 3D capability, Samsung loads this series with a number of high-end performance features and functionality including 96 Hz refresh rate for smooth pans (for 24 frame per second film based material),a single pane front glass, a state of the art anti-reflective filter, Internet connectivity for movie streaming and firmware updates and more. It is a self contained HDTV (no external tuner/switcher) with a depth of only 1.4″.
Features and Styling
Samsung’s 8000s contain almost every feature available in today’s HDTVs. While we applaud Samsungs long list of Internet services and the promise of adding new exciting “apps”, the list of picture controls and settings are almost mind numbing. This is a trend shared by a number of other vendors and one we would like to see reversed. It is very inexpensive proposition for a set maker to add a new picture controls, so they do it under the “more is better” school of marketing. Items like “Black Tone” and Dynamic Contrast” may appear to the uneducated purchaser to increase the contrast ratio of the TV by creating more black area and brighter white areas of the image. Actually, they only compress (crush) the light and dark details within the image, degrading the picture.
We fell in love with the styling and back panel functionality. The edge of the bezel is a thin strip of clear plastic that blends beautifully with the set’s black frame. Who needs reds, yellows or whatnot on their TV? The inputs are all on the back of the set. Samsung’s wafer thin LEDs require adapters (dongles) that consist of a non-standard connector on one end and a standard jack on the other that hang off the back of the TV like a price tag. We wonder if those odd dongles are often thrown out with the packing material before consumers realize their use. Thankfully, every input on the PN58C8000 is an industry standard jack. There are four HDMIs, one component video, one composite video, two USB, PC and an Ethernet input jack. Samsung sells an optional wireless (WiFi) adapter, although we continue to recommend using an Ethernet cable for maximum reliability.
The 8000s infrared emitter (used to sync the TV to Samsung’s 3D glasses) is contained within the bottom left side of the screen bezel. Switching to 3D mode is automatic when using the DirecTV HD set top box and tuning to one of its three 3D channels or using a 3D disc with a compatible Blu-ray player. There is also a manual override for choosing side-by-side or over-under content 3D format used by cable systems and Internet downloads (select3D content is available from websites via PC and transferred to a USB flash drive for playback).
The remote control is laid out smartly, but nearly impossible to read in the dark, especially when wearing 3D glasses.Ã‚Â Although backlit, the fonts are too small, with insufficient contrast due to its brushed aluminum finish. We found the backlight times out too quickly and lacks a motion sensor to keep the control lit while being used.
The 8000 is equipped with a pivoting stand. Like many other large screen TVs we’ve tested, the PN58C8000 tends to wobble a bit when swiveled. We would like to see set makers invest a few more cents in a sturdier swivel.
The Internet connectivity includes services from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Video on Demand, Vudu, Pandora, CinemaNow, Blockbuster, Hulu Plus and Dailymotion. Internet apps include Yahoo widgets, Weather, Facebook, News, Twitter, Sports, Picasa/Flickr (photos), Stocks and Google Maps with many new apps promised in coming months.
The PN58C8000 produces outstanding 2D images. The internal signal processing for 480i and 1080i signals aced all the HQV tests including deinterlacing, 3:2 film conversion, detail, noise reduction and freedom from jaggies. The 8000 also passed all the various non-standard video capture rates such as Varicam and animation sequences, a minor yet notable achievement. The motion resolution comes in at the full 1080 lines per picture height.
“Cinema Smooth” control converts 24Hz based content such as film to 96Hz, repeating every frame four times (as opposed to normal 60 Hz conversion known as 3:2 pulldown). A new feature Samsung only offers with plasma models in its 8000 series isÃ‚Â “Dejudder” option which employs motion estimation-motion compensation (ME/MC) for 24Hz content. Activating “Dejudder” creates very smooth, fluid motion sequences using film based content. This circuit is included in all LED (LCD) and LCD HDTVs with 120 Hz or higher refresh rate. The ME/MC has a side effect. It makes film based content look like video, often referred to as the “Soap Opera Effect”. We don’t like the effect as we want film to appear as film which means hitching in pans with the 96Hz refresh just as it appears in a movie theater. We retained the “off” position for our viewing evaluations.
Black level measured .009 ft lamberts using our Minolta LS-100 meter, making it very dark but not as deep as the Panasonic TCP50VT25 (which measures .004 ft lamberts). The difference is noticeable in a dark room; however, the higher black level becomes nearly obscured with normal room ambient light levels. Plasma TVs have the ability to produce these deep blacks even with adjacent bright areas. LED (LCD) HDTVs with local dimming can produce deep blacks, but always create halos around the bright area. This is because plasmas can produce blacks at a single pixel level while LEDs can only dim in multi-pixel zones.
Image brightness was excellent with a measurement of 38.06 ft lamberts (post calibration “Movie” mode) while maximum brightness (“Dynamic” mode) came blasting in at 56 ft. lamberts, far brighter than needed for daytime viewing in most living rooms.
The anti-reflective filter coating is similar the one in Panasonic VT25 series models and is extremely effective in reducing off-axis light. Like the Panasonic, this Samsung series uses only two sheets of glass (top and bottom as opposed to models with two top sheets), eliminating contrast robbing internal reflections.
We found “Movie” mode gave the most accurate preset image with nearly neutral gray scale. The 8000 allows gray scale calibration using two points (low and high), or ten point adjustments (or one can combine the two controls).Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Color temperature in the “Movie” mode pre calibration measured 7179K at 20 IRE and 6844K at 80 IRE. After calibration the gray scale results were near ideal with readings of 6340K at 20 IRE and 6447K at 80 IRE.
Color accuracy measured well, (“Movie” mode) with primaries very near the Rec. 709 standard (in parenthesis) Red x=.643 y=.333 (0.64, 0.33) Green x=.290 y=.598 (0.30, 0.60) Blue x=.152, y=.062 (.15, 0.06). Gamma (tracking of the transition from black to white) was just under 2.2 in the default 0 setting. We recommend a slightly higher gamma of 2.4, afforded by changing the setting to -1.
Power consumption was very good for a 58″ plasma, although not as energy efficient as big screen LED/LCDs (per sq. inch of screen area). The PN58C8000 came in at 270 watts using the industry standard IEC test disc with our wattage meter. With plasma’s lower purchase price than comparable sized LCD, a far wider viewing angle with a consistent off-axis image, deep blacks with fine dark detail, no halos and overall better picture quality, we feel the higher power consumption is a worthwhile tradeoff.
The PN58C8000 produced excellent image quality in the 3D mode (as it does in 2D), with one notable exception. Crosstalk (seen as a ghost image due to leakage of the left eye image to the right eye and vice versa) was occasionally visible in content that was crosstalk free on the Panasonic VT25 plasma. However, the frequency and severity of the crosstalk was significantly less than observed on the Samsung UN55C8000 LED (LCD).
The PN58C8000 is the finest Samsung HDTV we have tested to date, with very high marks in a large number of performance areas including color accuracy, signal processing, motion resolution, gray scale, and detail. The styling, svelte form factor, coupled with a large array Internet services places it on the short list of the big screen HDTV readers should consider when shopping for a top performing display. The only significant areas where the Panasonic VT25 bests it is in black level and 3D crosstalk. Priced at $2999 retail, it can be purchased at [amazonify]B0036WT41U::text::::Amazon for $2549.98[/amazonify] with free shipping, a free BD-C5900 3D capable Blu-ray player ($230 retail) and a free starter kit consisting ofÃ‚Â two pairs of Samsung 3D glasses, and the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Blu-ray disc ( $350 retail), making it a really sound deal.Ã‚Â The HD GURU awards the Samsung PN58C8000 Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥ (four out of five hearts) overall and Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥Ã¢â„¢Â¥ for its 3D performance*.
*Beginning with this review HD Guru will provide overall performance rating and a separate 3D performance rating with all 3D capable HDTV reviews.
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