Samsung PN51E8000 Review

51" 3D Plasma TV with Smart TV and Smart Interaction

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“Loaded” is an inadequate word to describe to all the features this TV sports. It looks awesome, is super thin, has that fine matte black finish and all that Samsung can throw at the world from a TV perspective. The PN51E8000 is just awe inspiring with a full web browser and a new additional touchpad remote control. The new Social TV control brings up your social media settings on a side bar. It's a nice touch. It continues to have the much easier to use and well laid out menu from the 2011 TV offerings. We like it. It's easy and it works well. Of course the PN51E8000 has built in Wifi and all the Internet TV options from a complete Samsung suite.

Picture Quality: 9.1/10

The PN51E8000 retains the strong picture performance of prior Samsung plasma models and I would put it back in the area of 2010 when we gave the previous C8000 series a top score. Our complaint from 2011 was a dimmer/darker picture caused by a drop in power usage. This is somewhat addressed in the E8000 series though not completely. This top tier model features the new All Black Pure Filter which is new technology for 2012 that increases black levels by 10% over 2011 models. This TV is still best used in darker/controlled light environments and contrast levels cannot keep up with many of the new LED TVs due to peak white output on them.

Color

Samsung E8000 Series Plasma TV
A shot of the Heat in the NBA Playoffs shows great HD clarity

Color rendition has always been a strong point for Samsung plasma televisions and the E8000 continues that tradition. Colors are extremely realistic with none of the over saturated look you see in many modern LCD and LED televisions. In all of our recent Samsung plasma reviews we have commented on how much we liked the color performance and we continue to be impressed.

Black Level, Contrast

Samsung has focused a lot of attention in their top end E8000 models on black depth. The Real Black Pro Panel in this Plasma TV combines structural advancements to go even further into black levels making software improvements and "tightening" the ribbons between the RGB pixel cells. This gives the TV a better surface area for color over last years models which were already great in the color and black level categories. Plasma TVs will continue to rule in black levels for 2012.

3D Viewing

Samsung E8000 Series Plasma TV
A 2D shot of the 3D movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs shows how vibrant and colorful the E8000 is.

After putting on Samsung's new, lighter weight 3D glasses we tested the performance of the 2012 models with 3D content. Colors remained bright and will Full HD 3D there was plenty of detail in every scene. The depth of the picture is impressive as well with images sinking into and popping off the screen. There is also less (to zero) flicker with the Samsung Glasses than we have experienced with the Panasonic Plasma TVs this year. This TV is a top performer with 3D.

Features Rating: 9/10

Appearance

The 2012 Samsung plasmas retain mostly the same look as previous models except that instead of a 1" titanium color bezel the PN51E8000 has a matte black bezel that looks quite distinguished. Samsung is calling it Titan Black. There is a thin transparent crystal border as well and the entire screen depth is little more than 1 inch in depth on the sides and 1.9” overall - which is also quite slim for a plasma and rivals LED televisions. The same chrome stand that we dubbed “the quadrapod” comes with the TV. Some may not care for it, but at least it's not boring. Overall, this TV does not have the flashy looks of the newest LED TVs with no bezel, but is instead a more classy affair.

Smart TV

Samsung Smart TV

In 2012, Samsung is expanding its Smart TV line, offering plentiful features and multitasking capabilities—all from the family TV. Families can reconnect in today's busy world by leaving notes and memos to one another through their Samsung phone, TV, or computer. When the family is gathered together, they can enjoy not only movies but also picture albums displayed in a vivid slide show on the TV screen.

Samsung is bringing Smart TV to its plasma TV line with models like the PN51E8000. Not only does the Samsung Smart TV allow users to keep up with the latest movies and TV shows, but it also helps families track their fitness activities and weight loss programs. Through a mobile Fitness app, users can connect the TV to their Samsung smartphone and view their weekly weight loss through the TV's built-in camera. A Wi-Fi-supported, virtual scale helps them kept track of their fitness goals and boosts self-confidence. With so many options to enhance everyday life, Samsung Smart TVs will quickly become an all-purpose tool for users' various needs. HBO GO is also a new enhancement to the programming.

Fortunately, for speeds sake, Samsung has gone to cloud usage for much of their Smart TV, Smart Hub TV options.

Smart Interaction

New for 2012 on the E8000 is Smart Interaction, this new features centers around a small front-facing camera built into the top of the bezel. The camera is tied to face/hand/voice recognition that can configure certain option on the TV expressly by where the viewer is detected. It's a bling feature that delivers some excitement, but that we did not have time to get proficient with while testing the TV. It slowed us down too much to try to use the feature. The camera also allows for motion control of some TV functions and works with Skype for video calls and conferencing.

Dual Core Processor

The PN51E8000 also features a dual core processor that allows for multitasking on your TV. Split the screen and watch TV on one part while you surf the web on the full web browser included in the Smart TV suite.

QWERTY Remote Disappointment

The cool QWERTY remote from last years D8000 model was dropped in favor of a touch pad remote control that does little in my opinion to help with speed of programming – even on the built in web browser. The QWERTY remote makes using the TV's web browser and search functionality far easier than using the 5 way controller or numbers on a normal remote. The new touchpad remote is Blutooth enabled if your going to be walking around or dont want to have to point the remote at the TV.


Samsung's new Touch Pad Bluetooth voice recognition remote comes with the E8000 series but is of little extra value at this point, but kudos for trying something new Samsung.

Built In Web Browser and Wifi

The built in web browser works very well, and is easy to use on the Samsung E8000 series. If you will be using the built in web browser extensively, you might entertain the idea of going ahead and purchasing the optional $99 full QWERTY keyboard.

Value Rating: 8.6/10

This will depend more upon price when you are shopping than what we write here as the prices on this model seem to be fluctuating more than most. There is a $300 instant rebate (for one month) from some retailers (listed below) even though the initial price does not show it. So with that discount the price comes down to around $1350 or so and this TV is a great deal. At the $1650 price it's still pretty darn good considering the features and excellent dark room picture quality. If 3D content is important to you then this is a great model.

Overall Rating: 8.6/10

Quick Specs

  • 1080p Full HD
  • 3D Compatibility
  • Smart Hub
  • Full Web Browser

Dimensions

With stand: 47.0"Wide x 31.7"High x 12.2"Deep

Without stand: 47.0"Wide x 28.1"High x 1.9"Deep

Robert Wiley When it comes to visual display technology, few professionals have more experience and knowledge than Robert Wiley. Robert has been involved the industry since the late 90s and has watched the fixed-pixel TV market explode. Read more about Robert



 



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