The sleek remote features backlighting, although when the backlighting is activated, pressing any key momentarily cuts the backlighting off. The brushed aluminum “skin” features gentle embossing for the cursor section and the volume and channel up/down buttons.
3D Blu-ray Evaluation: Monsters vs Aliens
The movie begins with a planet exploding in outer space sending a radioactive chunk of debris hurtling towards Earth, and the 3D effect with the active shutter glasses is very impressive, much more so than can be achieved with the typical polarized (passive) glasses used in most 3D movie theaters.
When the 3D effect is activated, the set automatically adds some additional brightness and some color shift, to counteract the effects caused by the 3D specs. At the default mid-setting, the color saturation is a tad on the rich side, and turning it down a few steps evens things out.
Great blacks is one of plasma’s strong suits, and as this movie is a widescreen release (2.35:1 aspect ratio) there are the customary black bars above and below the image, and they’re 100% black, and not a dark gray as would normally be the case with a typical LCD flat panel TV.
In an early scene, the movie’s heroine is awoken early in the morning on her wedding day by her maids of honor, as they sneak into her home before dawn. In a darkened hallway, it’s easy to pick out details of pictures and even of a framed diploma.
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC via Dish Network)
Shot in crisp 1080i, the show features sharp graphic elements that the Samsung handles with ease.
Close-ups of Ms. Maddow and guest correspondent Richard Engel show natural flesh tones.
The set features a glossy black desk, and in front of Ms. Maddow is a black computer keyboard and black mouse, and both are rendered crisply. In the episode used for my test, Ms. Maddow is wearing a black jacket with a black lavalier mic attached to the jacket’s lapel, and it’s easy to see folds in the sleeves of the jacket.
Part of the set design includes a number of low-hanging, non-operating studio lighting fixtures, and occasional pans around the set show details in darkly lit areas.
Of the companies now offering 3D HDTVs, only Samsung gives you a choice between plasma and LCD models. Compared to their LED edge-lit LCD sets, Samsung’s equivalent plasma models provide better value in terms of cost versus screen size (the 50” plasma set test here is priced $500 less than their 46” LED-powered 8000 LCD series equivalent). The set’s abundance of internet-enabled apps is another draw, and it supports a bunch of streaming video content providers, not just one or two as is usually the case.
What sets the Samsung 3D models apart from the competition is their 2D-to-3D upconversion function, which provides a gentle but noticeable 3D effect with both movies and TV shows. Until Hollywood kicks into high gear with more 3D Blu-ray releases (slated to happen towards the end of the year), that 2D-to-3D feature ensures early adopters can get their 3D fix with their favorite shows and movies right away.
Samsung PN50C8000 3D Plasma HDTV
Screen size: 50” diagonal
Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Video inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 component or 1 composite, 1 RGB PC
Other connections: 1 stereo audio input, 1 PC audio input, 1 stereo audio output, 1 optical digital audio output, 1 ATSC/NTSC/ClearQAM RF input, 2 USB ports, 1 Ex-Link control port (for service only), 1 RJ-45 LAN port
Dimensions (W x H x D): 47.7” x 29.5” x 1.4” (w/o stand)
Weight: 54 lb.
Warranty: 1 year parts & labor