"Great Performer fot the money"4.5 starson by TheInnerSeeker
Pros: Color Accuracy, Complete User Menu with Color Management System, Internet ready, Very decent black level, Styling & Swivel
Cons: Slight directional buzzing but lessens over time
Summary: Last year I targeted the Panasonic 54V10 and waited for the price to drop, only to read of the rising black level issue affecting the series when I was ready to buy. The news was depressing and made me scramble for other options. I hadn't considered Samsung previously, largely due to the buzzing issue. But the more I researched, the more I realized what a great bargain could be had for a good bit less money than for a smaller set with afflicted Panny black levels. I narrowed it down to 2 Samsung sets, the 58B860 or 58B650. Upon viewing at various retailers, the black levels on the super slim B860 were more than low enough for me and had the advantage of also having great color accuracy when compared directly to the competition. I was shocked how badly the Panny THX mode looked in terms of color and how the set had overall greenish tinting to low blacks. It would need a lot of adjusting right out of the box. The B860 on the other hand was just about perfect and had very nice blacks with the exact same feed. It even looked better than the Pio 101fd sitting 2 sets down. Of course none of the sets I evaluated were calibrated or likely even close to being properly adjusted even through the User Menu. But the differences were still notable. Further research including some here at CNet showed that the B650, while a supposedly lesser series, had even lower blacks than the B860, though the difference would probably be hard to distinguish in normal viewing. The price difference between the B860 and the B650 at the time of my purchase was also considerable, no matter where I looked to buy. So that made the final decision for me much easier.
With this set we have gained 4" more than I was considering for my space and am very glad for it. Even my wife thinks it is just right for our room and our various seating distances which range from 7.5' to 14'. SD looks surprisingly good with this screen size even though most of our viewing is HD. Because of this, DVDs are displayed with excellent results and of course BluRay is phenomenal. Minimum Luminance Level (MLL) with this set comes in around .012 after following a standard warm-up protocol and during a normal 2 hour movie, any black ratio bars will drop to the .008 range. Not exactly Pioneer Kuro by any means or even a pre-rise Panny but not bad at all.
The color accuracy of this set is off the charts and while Movie Mode and Warm 2 are usually preferred for the most accurate calibration, I find that Warm 1 is best for me with TV viewing. I don't mind a bluer bias which Warm 1 has and it is fairly easy to adjust it down and still have flesh tones looking proper. It also allows for a brighter screen which I prefer with TV due to the constantly varying content from channel to channel. For DVD or BluRay though I tend to stick with Warm 2, although adding in some level of Dynamic Contrast can make a remarkable difference with some transfers and make them pop off the screen to an even greater degree. Overall, the set performs superbly, passes every test screen I can throw at it, and renders stunning PQ.
I purchased a cheaper Rosewill wireless adapter rather than the Samsung Link Stick to get the set on my home network and it works perfectly. I have DSL and do not have an N router so I have not tried streaming any video but I have both read and heard from owners that it works rather well with a good broadband connection. I look forward to using the Internet capabilities more in the future.
The set has many options and comes with a good many surprises, including some superb art images of Impressionist paintings. These are not only gorgeous eye candy but serve very well as break-in material for the set. Running this slideshow overnight will likely be all one would need for such an operation. Some plasmas such as Samsungs have a greater tendency towards Image retention early on and will benefit from a decent break-in of 100-200 hours or so before any serious gaming or disc watching with ratio bars onscreen. But then many owners skip this process altogether. YMMV.
ln closing, I will say the 58B650 is a great set which should serve us well for many years. At the price I paid for it on closeout ($1725 delivered), it was an absolute steal. And having chosen this set and lived with it for a few months now, I can honestly say I have no regrets.