The 50in Samsung PS50C7000 3D plasma TV has excellent picture quality and is well designed and constructed, and it offers a swathe of interactive internet features.
Best of all, the Samsung PS50C7000 is cheaper than the Samsung Series 7 LED television; it's relatively affordable considering its feature set.
Samsung PS50C7000: Design, set up and connectivity
The Samsung PS50C7000 is at the forefront of a new wave of plasma television design, joining the LG 50PK750 and Panasonic TH-P54Z1A in offering a chassis that's nearly as thin as an LED television. Sure, it's not as svelte as the Samsung Series 9 LED or the Sony XEL-1 OLED, but it's also a hell of a lot cheaper.
The bezel is finished in a very modern combination of translucent plastic and brushed dark aluminium, while the stand uses a cylindrical plastic column and a rectangular brushed metal base. Connecting the two is a relatively simple process if you've got an assistant — two sets of screws and a hook-in system hold the set securely, but the set up process can be a bit dicey if you don't have someone to position the panel against the stand while you're inserting screws. The stand also swivels with a 40 degree range of motion, which is a welcome inclusion.
More than enough audio/video connectors are built in to the Samsung PS50C7000's rear and side panels. Four HDMI 1.4 connectors support 3D and audio return (for relaying audio to a receiver through an 'input' HDMI cable, instead of requiring an additional digital audio output), while component and composite connectors are supported via bundled break-out cables. You also get Ethernet, DVI, VGA and a few extra audio inputs and outputs.
Controlling the whole show is the same excellent brushed aluminium remote control that came with the Samsung Series 7 LED television. The same iPhone-style internet application interface seen on the Series 7 LED is used on the PS50C7000 — you can download a wide range of programs like Facebook, Twitter and Google Maps and run them on-screen. There's not much in the way of video-on-demand apart from YouTube, but the apps are a novelty and might be useful for a bored viewer.
Samsung PS50C7000: 2D and 3D picture quality
It's no secret that we prefer plasma over LED when it comes to outright picture quality, and the Samsung Series 7 (PS50C7000) just reinforces that. One area where the Samsung Series 7 (PS50C7000) plasma excels is when viewing content at extreme off-axis angles — it simply doesn't wash out at all when viewed on a horizontal angle. Vertical viewing, at least in the range of viewing you'd expect with the panel mounted on a wall or on a low entertainment unit, is similarly excellent.
Black levels are almost the only complaint we have about the Samsung Series 7 (PS50C7000)'s picture quality. They're good, but not great — in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight Blu-ray we noticed a few gradient details missing in darker areas of the screen. Even in the default Cinema mode the sharpness and vibrancy of the plasma panel are excellent, with on-screen video having a smooth and well-saturated tone.
We opted to turn off motion and judder compensation; although these features generally lend a smoother feel to video, we preferred the Samsung Series 7 (PS50C7000)'s output of The Dark Knight and Watchmen with them disabled. As you'd expect, the Samsung Series 7 (PS50C7000) supports 24p Film Mode playback for a proper cinematic frame rate.
2D playback is great, and 3D video is slightly better than the implementation we saw on the Samsung Series 7 LED television. There's less edge-blurring cross-talk (although a small amount is still visible), and the created sense of depth is impressive. For our thoughts on Samsung's current 3D implementation, check out the Series 7 LED review — all our comments hold true for the plasma as well. Just like on the LED model, Samsung also includes a 2D-to-3D mode that stretches the usefulness of the feature — you can watch the news and Two and a Half Men in 3D.
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