3D Blu-ray Evaluation: Shrek Forever After
Sit way too close to the Samsung and you’ll notice a very slight dithering (pixels moving around that actually provide improved detail, but aren’t noticeable at all when watching from a proper distance—that’s typical of a plasma display). From a 3D standpoint, this animated movie from noted 3D studio DreamWorks Animation looks great, and the Bluetooth sync communication to the 3D glasses worked perfectly anywhere in the viewing room.
On the test bench the Samsung scored a solid “A” in terms of HD color gamut accuracy, and the set delivers a rich and colorful image.
Samsung claims a ridiculous 25,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio for the set, but that’s a completely worthless specification anyway. What’s more important is the “in-picture” contrast, which when properly measured, typically provides a contrast ratio number in the hundreds, not millions. The 8000 plasma nonetheless served up excellent deep blacks, and the picture deteriorated not a whit when viewed from way offside (another area where plasma TVs typically excel).
An early scene has Shrek lying in bed at night undergoing something of a mid-life crisis, and the gentle lighting effects reveal fine shadow detail in the bedroom.
Broadcast HDTV Evaluation: Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO via Dish Network)
1080i and 1080p test patterns confirm that the Screen Fit picture size option provides true 1080-line 1:1 pixel mapping. A recent episode has the show’s host wearing a gray suit with a silver and gray silk tie, and it’s easy to see the fine details in the tie’s fabric.
When the flesh tones are just right, typically everything else will look natural. Cutting the color saturation back from the default setting helps alleviate a small amount of extra color richness, while the Warm 2 color mode (along with the Movie picture mode) provides benchmark HD color gamut accuracy.
The show’s opening montage includes a black bar at the bottom of the screen with crisp white text to identify the show’s guests. The text bar is perfectly inky black with high visible contrast levels.
As the audience welcomes Bill Maher to the stage at the beginning of the show, there are a few quick wide shots that have the audience bathed in low light. The HD cameras and their operators are necessarily unlit and in the dark, yet it’s easy to see details in the shadows.
To state things simply, Samsung’s 8000-series plasma TV offers state-of-the-art performance at a reasonable (though not cheap) price.
To see just how far plasma performance has evolved over the past few years, I compared this 59” top line Samsung 3D set to the venerable Pioneer Kuro Elite models (which were regarded as best-in-class performers that established a “gold standard” for picture quality until, quite sadly, Pioneer exited the plasma TV business a couple of years ago). Back in the day, Pioneer’s 60” Kuro Elite model carried a suggested retail price of $6000 and at the time was thought to be worth every penny.
Now, we have Samsung’s latest top line plasma model, which at 59” is almost identically sized to the 60” Pioneer Kuro, yet which carries a suggested retail price that’s exactly half of what the Pioneer went for just three years ago. Of course, the Kuro didn’t have any kind of Internet functionality, nor was it able to handle 3D as the Samsung can. The amazing thing is that the Samsung 8000 plasma puts out a picture that’s every bit as good as the Pioneer Kuro Elite (I have a 50” Kuro Elite set on hand here as a reference). For anyone looking for a state-of-the-art 3D HDTV that’s got all the latest smart TV features, the Samsung 8000 plasma is highly recommended.
Samsung PN59D8000 Plasma 3DTV
Screen size: 59” diagonal
Pixel resolution: 1920 x 1080
1:1 Mode: Yes
Video inputs: 4 HDMI, 1 component, 1 composite, 1 RGB PC
Other connections: 2 stereo audio inputs, 1 PC audio input, 1 headphone output, 1 optical digital audio output, 1 ATSC/NTSC/ClearQAM RF input, 2 USB ports, 1 RJ-45 LAN port
Dimensions (W x H x D): 54.3” x 32.6” x 1.5” (w/o stand)
Weight: 67.5 lb. (w/o stand)
Warranty: 1 year, parts & labor