Samsung PN51E550 Review
51" 3D Plasma HDTV with Smart TV
By Robert Wiley
This is an active 3D value piece from Samsung with an excellent array of features. It does not get the full benefit of all of Samsung's picture quality features but the PN51E550 does have full 1080p resolution. The up conversion processing from standard definition sources is not as crisp as it is with some of the better processing chip set TV on the market, but it's OK. The Smart Hub feature with Internet options is a new feature to this TV as well. Overall, it's a value low priced play with some extras. It doesnt have the refined looks of the best 2012 TVs, but it would have looked darn good 2 years ago when all we saw was black shiny gloss plastic bezels. These lower end Samsung plasma TVs have gotten very good-looking.
The PN51E550 is absent the new All Black Pure Filter so it sacrifices a bit of contrast over the top tier Samsung plasmas but it still has Samsung's better picture quality technologies from last year which measured excellently well with us. What you get with the E550 is a good picture with a little more motion artifacting and graininess but at a value price for a 3D, 1080p plasma television from Samsung.
Black Level and Contrast
Even without the All Black Pure Filter the PN51E550 has good black levels and contrast. Dark shadow detail is a strong point on all Samsung plasmas, in dark scenes you will not miss small details due to over powered black levels like you will in many of today's LCD and LED televisions.
The colors on the 51E550 plasma look extremely realistic. In an age where many televisions are pushing color saturation over the edge, Samsung's plasma televisions continue to deliver warm and cool colors you see every day in life as well as excellent flesh tones that do not push red or blue.
The 51E550 has two pairs of Samsung's new and improved 3D glasses. The light weight glasses are far more comfortable and considerably less bulky than many active 3D glasses. The 3D performance on the PN51E550 is improved over previous years. There is plenty of depth in the highly detailed picture and there is less crosstalk an blurring when compared to older models.
The PN51E550 has a 1" black plastic bezel that is covered with a clear acrylic finish, it is a good look for a value priced model. At 2.75" deep it is not a slim as many of today's televisions but it is still considerably slimmer than older plasma models.
Internet Options and Connectivity
The Smart TV feature has been expanded for 2012, and the 51E550 has access to the complete Premium apps and apps store which has grown to over 1500 third party developed apps. Angry Birds and Discovery Channel are two new entries for 2012. There are apps ranging from social media to streaming video and even games you can play on your TV. Stream video from Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu, Vudu and more. Stay updated on the latest news, financial numbers, sports scores and the weather and new for 2012 on mid tier models: surf the web on the inlcluded full web browser.
The PN51E550 has built in WiFi so there is no need to run extra cable to get your plasma television on your home network.
Value and Comparison with Panasonic TC-P50UT50
The closest competitor of the PN51E550 is the Panasonic TC-P50UT50. Both TVs offer excellent value in the 50 inch size range. I like certain picture quality attributes of each manufacuturers picture better. I like the peak brightness of the Panasonic plasmas better, however the TC-P50UT50 does not have a Pro Settings menu, therefore it is impossible to properly ramp up the colors on the TV. I like the warmer picture on the 51E550 a bit better than the more artificial colors on the Panasonic. The Panasonic plasma TVs also have a stability issue that is not present with the Samsung. One other important note is that there is more control over the Samsung through 2 point white balance adjustments. Pro Setting 10 or 2 point white balance controls are not available on the UT50. Feature-wise they are about the same The E550 is selling for around $850 and includes 2 pair of 3D glasses, while the 50UT50 sells for $800 but includes no 3D glasses. At $50 a pop for the 3D glasses, that makes the Samsung the better deal. Lastly, the sound quality is better on the E550.
Picture Quality Rating: 8.8/10
Features Rating: 8.6/10
Value Rating: 9.5/10
Overall Rating: 9/10
- 1080p Full HD
- 3D Compatibility
- Smart TV
- Value Pricing
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert|