"Beautiful TV!"on by Jesse-Manhart
Pros Sound from the internal speakers is actually quite good
Picture Brightness is much better than my old LCD
Lots of online content
Cable channels display quickly
Cons Volume is a very slow to change
There are no analog audio outputs from this TV
Summary I come from the land of LCD, and I have had this TV for about a month. This replaced a several year old Sharp Aquos 37" LCD. As is typical with electronics, this 51" brand new 2011 plasma costs significantly less than my 37" 2 year old (at the time) refurbished model.*NOTE, before you're will buy the Samsung PN51D8000, I suggest you have to check for best deal at: before-buy.info/Samsung-PN51D8000
I have limited space, and my choices to fill it included the LG 47" LED TV's, Samsung 46"LED TV's, and the Samsung 51" Plasmas. (Just for the record, an LED TV is just an LCD with LED lights behind it instead of flourescent bulbs. I use the term LED TV only because it's easier to type and read than LED-backlit LCD TV.) While I would have preferred an LED TV for my situation (which is a very bright room), The LG's were not impressive. Though the Samsung LED's were (to my eyes) the best looking TV's on display at my local BB, 51" is a lot larger than 46 and the seating is about 17' away from the TV. The new 2011 "Plus 1" models add an inch of screen, but are actually smaller overall. In other words, last year's 50" would not fit but the 51" would (barely!). Panasonic 50" would not fit either due to a larger bezel.
After you turn it on, you go through a step-by-step setup process. The first question is whether you are a consumer or a big box store. It then adjusts the picture settings for home viewing as opposed to trying to look like the brightest one in the store. Nice! I went through the network setup (wireless works fine), and it learned my channels with no problem. It actually picked up many digital (cable) channels that I wasn't getting before through the old TV, so that is great. Haven't tried OTA channels at this point.
-Screen burn in/break in: Since I am new to plasma, I am a bit paranoid about screen burn in and image retention (IR). During the initial setup, ghost images of some of the menu screens remained for a few minutes. I burned a break-in DVD that cycles through full-screen solid color for 24 hours and ran it whenever I wasn't watching TV for the first 3-4 days. I won't make any comments on burn in yet, but I have played some Xbox/Wii and haven't had any issues yet. There is a feature in one of the menus that will display scrolling vertical bars that transition from white to black. No evidence yet of any permanent burn in or IR yet.
-Heat: Plasmas have come a long way since I was shopping for my old LCD. Used to be they would dim the lights and heat the whole house when you turned them on, but new models are much more efficient. This one gets pretty warm in the cabinet but not hot enough to be a concern.
-The sound from the internal speakers is actually quite good, surprisingly. I wouldn't want to do any serious movie watching without 5.1 surround, but for TV shows it is adequate.
-The picture: Brightness is much better than my old LCD, but significantly less than today's LED TV's. That being said, I have a wall of south facing windows behind the couch which is opposite the TV. The picture is bright enough during the day to watch, but still looks much better at night when the room lighting is dimmed.
-Picture settings: I put in my old Avia HT setup dvd and went to the picture settings. The TV seemed to match pretty well right out of the box. There are boatloads of picture options though, more than enough to baffle the average user (myself included). This thing is ready to be professionally calibrated, if that's your thing.
-I hear lots of complaints about TV's not displaying standard definition material well. Okay, you have to understand what you're watching. If you crank up your old VCR, it is still going to look like an old VHS tape. This TV does an excellent job of upscaling poor quality content on the large screen.
-I have done some gaming, and have not noticed any lag.
-3D. I have done some research but have not tried out any 3D content yet. The glasses have gone as low as thirty-six dollars lately! The glasses for 2011 samsungs are bluetooth instead of IR. The TV has 2D>3D conversion capability with a dedicated button on the remote. I've got 2 pairs of glasses on order, and will update after I get to check out the 3D features.
-Lots of online content. Checked out the YouTube app last night, pretty slick. It's not the equivalent of having a full browser interface, but I was able to find what I want and watch several relevant clips. Hulu demo clips looked excellent, but frequently buffered on my wireless connection.
-Cable channels display quickly, and you can quickly switch through channels without waiting for them to display. You can delete channels you don't want, though they make this a bit of a tedious process. You can mark favorites, so a star will show up up by the channel number when you are surfing. One thing I haven't figured out is how to quickly surf just your favorites--but you can get to them deep in the channel menu.
The Bad: (mostly minor gripes except the first 2)
-There are no analog audio outputs from this TV! Unless I'm missing something, you can't pipe analog sound from this TV to your receiver. It does have an optical port for outputting digital sound, but I never found a channel that I could listen to on the home theater. If someone knows otherwise, please let me know with a comment--Thanks!
-The glossy finish: The glass front does reflect a good bit of light from the windows behind the couch. I got the 7000 model for the "Real Black Filter" (listed above as "Rel black filter"), which is a polarized screen filter. I would definitely prefer the matte finish of my old Sharp Aquos, but nearly every current model has a glossy finish.
-Hulu "plus" - Just for the record, this is hulu, "plus" a bill for $8/month. I'll stick to plugging in my laptop and watching it for free, thanks.
-To search in youtube, you type in text using the 1-9 keys like a phone. This would be easier if they found a way to put the letters onto the remote's 1-9 keys. It is displayed on the screen but not on the remote. This is a minor gripe though, since it does a good job of figuring out what you are typing and giving suggestions.
-Volume is a very slow to change. If you switch from a quiet channel (or youtube video) with the volume on 50 to a loud one, it can take several seconds to get the volume down to a 20-25 using the remote. Volume levels vary widely on youtube, not so bad on cable.
The bottom line:
If you go to a big box store to compare, the Samsung TV's definitely stand out amongst the competition, the LED's in particular. I am very happy with my plasma, but if I had unlimited space I would have loved a 55" LED. If you have a very bright room, go for either a LED TV or the 7000 series Plasma with the real black filter.
Updated on Feb 19, 2012
Hope this helps.
Pros Accurate color.
Inky blacks and amazing contrast.
Excellent viewing angles, with no reflection.
Cons None thus far.
Summary I was in the market for my very first HDTV and spent countless hours doing all sorts of research and due-diligence. The room that my TV is in is only 11x11 (with one large window) and I did not want to go any bigger than 51". Having settled on the 51" size, I knew I was pretty much captive to buying a Plasma. My brother had recently purchased a Samsung 55" LED/LCD (UND6000) at Sears and I was very impressed with the color, especially while watching The Preakness horse race, so I decided to focus on the quality of Samsung, and what I believe some most competitive pricing on their part.
Inititally, I was attracted to the Samsung 51" D7000 plasma at my local Fry's Electronics at a price of $1499. The color was bright, without being unrealistic and I really liked the stylish (darker) graphite frame. Sure, the Panasonic's seem to be the "darlings" of Mr. Katzmaier and the "Gold Standard" for Plasmas, but the frames on the Panasonic are downright revolting and give their TV's a 90's look to them. Yes, I did watch a BluRay concert on one of the top of the line Panasonic VT's and it certainly was amazing. However, they are also incredibly EXPENSIVE with virtually no wiggle room for discounts!
I continued to do my homework and was also drawn to the Samsung 51" D8000 Series. However, at the time it was still several hundred dollars more than the D7000 that I liked so much. True, its specs indicate that there is a big difference in contrast ratio between the two sets ( 25 million vs 15 million to 1 ), but I got the feeling that I was splitting hairs given that the color and inky blacks of the D7000 were really really good!
It wasn't more than a couple of weeks later that I noticed that Fry's had lowered their price on the 51" D8000 series to just $1599. Suffice to say, I found the $100 difference to be negligible for the added contrast ratio and the ability to access the web via a full web-browswer. Best Buy price-matched and I wound-up qualifying for their 36 month no interest financing plan. I took out a 4-year warranty for $299 and I completed my purchase.
The first thing that I noticed when I got home and turned on the TV was just how GOOD the AUDIO was. I had read numerous complaints of large flat-screen TV's succumbing to poor sound, but this was certainly not the case when I tuned into an HDNET channel that was featuring the jazzy blues of Wynton Marsalis, Wille Nelson, and Nora Jones. I was really blown away by just how good the sound was. And to a previous reviewer's complaint about a "slow" volume control, I have not found that to be true at all.
Although I have not taken the time to set-up my 3D player and do some 3D viewing with the Free Glasses and BluRay DVD Starter Kit that was included FREE ( $15.00) with my purchase at Best Buy, nor have I taken the time to stream any online content, or surf the web using my Samsung PN51-D8000 . . . I can say that I have watched a lot of standard and HDTV and been thoroughly pleased with my purchase. I'm a big sports fan and have really enjoyed watching various motorsports racing on my Samsung, including an Indy Car race from Toronto this past weekend that really playede into the fast paced action that Plasma's do so well with. I've also been following the Tour de France and the color is simply incredible! From the colorfull rider's decked out in their jersey's and gear to the beautiful French countryside (complete with 12th century castles with moats) . . . the Samsung's ability to reproduce accurate color and deep blacks and lifelike grays is simply outstanding!
At the end of the day, for $1599 this Plasma HDTV is a "no-brainer".
You won't be disappointed!
Pros Great TV if that is all you are expecting. Viewing angles, color, contrast, etc. are all excellent. Just don't expect much extra value when paying for the "smart" features.
Cons TV has to be logged into the router every time it is turned on. Netflix glitches and stutters. Surfing the web is tiresome. 3D glasses give some people headaches. Smart features aside, the one complaint is an electrical background noise.
Summary As a basic TV that only has picture and sound, this is an awesome TV. If you expect much more from the Smart Hub, forget it. For example, my Wii streams Netflix flawlessly, but the same content via my smart TV will stutter and glitch. It updates itself and deletes and re-installs apps without any user permission. Although the double sided remote is impressive, it still lacks the control that makes surfing the web on your TV a breeze. I have reset and updated my system many times, and it seems to see my router and be logged in, but no matter what I do, it still wants to be logged in manually every time it is turned on. In summary, it is a damn good basic TV. Unfortunately, Samsung tried to squeeze in so many bells and whistles that it just is not very user friendly. The smart features are merely trinkets that are fun to play with when they work (Pandora is great), but needs much development before any TV will be an 'all-in-one' entertainment machine.
Pros The colors really stand out and the image is highly adjustable.
3D looks pretty, though much can still be done to improve dynamic 3D reproduction.
Cons Doesn't reproduce 24p cadence properly (which in my eyes is a big bummer).
Can't just turn screen off.
Summary I went from a Panasonic TC P50G20 to the Samsung PN51D8000 for two main reasons.
The first being that the Panasonic did not properly handle 1080p/24. Based on the reviews for last years model, I expected this years Samsung D8000 series to do so. HA! that'll teach me to be in such a hurry and pre-order a new HDTV.
It is an overall improvement when all is considered over my old Panasonic model...However, I'm somewhat disappointed in its performance.
Pros Full web broswer, built-in wireless, elegant look, swivel, 2 pair of 3D glasses included, excellent picture, affordable
Cons Web browser a little clunky
Summary This is basically the best value you are going to find on the marketplace. Was leaning toward the high-end Panasonic, which might be tad better, but you can save hundreds of dollars gettingt his set. Paid $1799 at Best Buy and got two pair of 3D glasses (plus 5 DVDs). And the picture is stunning, really. Apart from the big price differential between this set and the Panasonic was that this has a full-blown web browser, which gives you a little more flexibility with certain apps. All in all, I'd be shocked if this set is not widely acclaimed as the best value for the money, by far. Might not be the best set out there, but it's really up there. And with the price, it's a really great deal. We love it.