While Panasonic ran away with the spoon this year and delivered some of the best plasmas we've ever seen, Samsung has still been a solid contender. Both the Samsung E8000 and E6500 were excellent televisions, coming a close second as a brand to the Panasonic ST50 and VT50.
Samsung says it has improved black-level performance by 10 percent for 2012, and our testing bears this improvement out. As a result, the PNE7000 should share this better black level with the step-up PNE8000 and step-down PNE6500 series. Both of these are very good TVs, and so if you buy the E7000 you can expect deep black levels and natural colors. While we didn't review the E7000, based on our discussions with Samsung it sits just above the E6500 in terms of image processing -- yet all three series should otherwise have identical picture quality.
The E7000 does miss out on the advanced features of the E8000 as it doesn't include the camera, so it takes a pass on Smart Interaction and onboard Skype. However, the E7000's upgrades over the E6500 include a dual-core processor for smoother smart TV usage and better picture processing, and compatibility with the Smart Evolution kit. This upgrade enables users to give their TV the newest hardware and software but Samsung has yet to announce any prices or details for the kit -- perhaps at CES 2013?
The Samsung is available in three sizes, and all should perform similarly. Using Amazon as a guide, the 51-inch is currently $1,000 and offers the best value. The 60-inch is twice the price at $2,000 while the slightly larger 64-inch is $2,700. In comparison, the 51-inch E6500 is actually more expensive at about $1,200 currently, so we'd suggest going for the E7000 at this size instead.