Samsung PS50C6900 Plasma 3D TV Review

You could be forgiven for forgetting, but the LCD innovators at Samsung do produce Plasma HDTVs, too. We’ve been asking the company if we can take a look at one of their 3D-capable PDPs – such as the Samsung PS50C6900 – for some time now, but Samsung’s publicity focus is on their LED LCD sets. As a result, we’ve been unable to secure a Samsung plasma TV review sample for many months.

So, the recent delivery of a Samsung PS50C6900 Plasma 3D TV came as a wonderful surprise. These HDTV displays seem to be somewhat difficult to find – in fact, unboxing this 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma set is the first glimpse we’ve had of a Samsung Plasma television since the CES trade show in January! Samsung’s 2009 Plasmas came infuriatingly close to brilliance, but had some nasty motion processing issues with 50hz content. Since we in Europe are saddled with 50hz TV broadcasts (and likely will be for some time to come), this made it difficult to enthusiastically recommend these HDTVs – even if they did provide great value for money for Blu-ray and gaming use.

Hopeful that Samsung (who have recently released their new Galaxy SIII with HD screen – please visit Dial-a-phone for more info and deals) can deliver the goods this year, we enthusiastically unboxed and investigated the PS50C6900 to see what it could do. Our findings follow.

Note: The specific model we tested was Samsung PS50C6900YKXXU, the 3-pin-plug United Kingdom version. High-street retailers like John Lewis, Comet and Currys, and etailers like Amazon and Dixons may use slightly different model numbers such as Samsung PS50C6900Y, Samsung PS50C6900YK, Samsung PS50C6900YKX or Samsung PS50C6900YKXXU to sell the same plasma 3D TV.

Design

The Samsung PS50C6900′s design is elegant, sleek, and in this writer’s opinion, beautifully styled. The display is almost as thin as the “super slim” LED LCD sets that Samsung is so aggressively promoting, with the 50″ full HD panel being framed by a matte grey border, which features a subtle “brushed steel” design. This, in turn, is framed by a transparent acrylic edge, which features rounded corners. It by no means looks like a budget HDTV display.

Samsung PS50C6900 plasma 3D TV

Better yet, the Samsung PS50C6900 does not feature any of the overused and impractical gloss black styling that plagues most current consumer HDTVs. Thanks to the matte finish, the Samsung PS50C6900 looks sleek and professional, and will do many years into the future – something which can’t be said for the scratch-prone gloss black finishes which have sadly become so popular.

The stand supplied with the Samsung PS50C6900 is styled in silver, also with a “brushed steel” finish. While a darker stand might have better complemented the plasma screen itself, the silver look is inoffensive and still looks good. We did find that fitting the plasma panel to the stand was more difficult than Panasonic’s comparable process: the design of the stand meant that we had to turn the Plasma display upside down and attach the stand to it, rather than simply lowering the Samsung PS50C6900 downwards and screwing it in place.

Additionally, once we had finished this process, we weren’t overly enthusiastic about the sturdiness of the stand. Even with the Samsung PS50C6900 screwed in tightly, it did wobble a tiny bit if we gave it a slight shake. While this didn’t concern us greatly (we’re sure Samsung have tested the safety of the product thoroughly themselves), you can only be too careful with a 25kg, 50-inch piece of glass.

Note: By default the Samsung PS50C6900 3D TV doesn’t ship with any 3D glasses, but some stores may offer them in a bundle or through redemption.

Connections

When it comes to connectivity, the Samsung PS50C6900 has a lot in common with the company’s ultra-slim LED LCD sets. It’s possible to plug up to 4 HDMI devices directly into the PS50C6900 without adapters (the same goes for the aerial input, the PC “VGA” input, the network connector, headphone socket, and Optical audio output), but the large analogue video connections of the past require break-out adapter cables, which come supplied with the TV. A fully-equipped Samsung PS50C6900 can support one Component video device, one SCART-based device (for example, an older satellite or cable box), and also an RCA Composite video/stereo audio pair, using this method.

Rear connections on Samsung PS50C6900
Rear: 4 x HDMI, 2 x USB, Component, VGA, 1x Scart, aerial, ethernet & audio outs

Operation

The PS50C6900 shares the same menu design that Samsung has been using for a good amount of time now. It responds quickly to user input, features easily readable text, and is overall very convenient to use.

We had a look through the menus and were happy to see a full range of picture setup controls. In addition to the controls you’d expect, Samsung’s Plasma displays feature a [Cell Light] slider, which affects the overall light output from the screen. Reducing this control dims the brightest whites the plasma is capable of producing, but unlike an LCD’s comparable [Backlight] control, it does not make blacks blacker by a noticeable extent. Therefore, there’s really no point in lowering the [Cell Light] control, unless you’re in a very dark environment where a dimmer picture would be preferable. We also didn’t see much point in raising it since contrast gains were minimal, and the Samsung PS50C6900 was already pumping out more than enough light for our environment (it defaults to “15″ and goes as high as “20″). We would hazard a guess and say that at higher levels, the plasma TV will be more susceptible to temporary image retention, but this is difficult to test objectively.

[Picture] menu [White Balance] menu
[Picture] menus

The Samsung PS50C6900 also features a basic [Gamma] control (which raises or lowers the HDTV’s Gamma curve, but doesn’t allow for any more fine-tuning), the company’s highly capable Colour Management controls, and 10-point Greyscale control. This level of adjustability means that if the Samsung PS50C6900 doesn’t perform well in its out-of-the-box state, it should be possible to adjust out any colour errors.

There is also a [Motion Judder Canceller] which uses motion analysis to generate fake “inbetween” frames to produce video-like movement from a 24fps film source. You’ll often hear this referred to online as “the soap opera effect”, since it makes high budget films look slightly cheap. We leave these controls off to see the original film as intended.

2D Calibration

Note: Our Samsung PS50C6900 review sample was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software.

2D Mode Greyscale

After turning the Samsung PS50C6900 on, we took it out of its unappealing and unnaturally blue-coloured “Standard” preset. “Standard” would be better named “NON-Standard”, because with its exaggerated, emboldened colours and blue-tinted whites, it doesn’t match any film or TV mastering standards (at least not in the Western hemisphere).

Changing to “Movie” mode brought about a big improvement, but we’re used to looking at calibrated HDTV displays, so familiar tones did appear slightly sickly to our eyes. We then discovered that on the Samsung PS50C6900, the [Colour Space] and [White Balance] settings interact with each other to some extent, meaning that careful calibration will entail back-and-forth checks between the two.

The first main adjustment we made was to the [Brightness] (Black Level) setting. Samsung ships this with much too low a setting, which destroys shadow detail. We had to raise it from its default position of 50 to 57, in order to reveal the correct amount of black. (On Samsung LCD TVs, “50″ is usually the ideal setting for Brightness, suggesting that this is what Samsung have optimised the default settings for). For the tech-inclined readers, “25″ was the first digital video level that appeared above black by default, whereas a correctly set up TV will show anything above “16″ as above black.

We spent a good few hours calibrating Greyscale, Gamma, and Colour on the Samsung PS50C6900 – and then almost tore our hair out in frustration when we realised that this is one of the Samsung flat-screen HDTVs which applies temporal smoothing (selective motion blur) to the incoming video – even when the [Noise Filter] controls are switched “Off”. This meant that we had to switch over to “Game Mode” to avoid this annoyance, which involved re-calibrating.

Why is this smoothing so bad? Because it has the effect of nearly, or completely removing any sort of film grain texture that is critical to the high quality presentation of film material. As well as being aesthetically wrong, this sort of processing strips definition and life out of the picture on screen. While this sort of noise/grain reduction would be appropriate for poorly lit video material, it has no place for professional 35mm films (and even 16mm films, for that matter). We did complain directly to Samsung before about this issue, which appeared to result in a firmware update which lessened the processing, but did not remove it.

Fortunately, there is a fix at hand: [Game Mode]. Enabling [Game Mode] on the Samsung PS50C6900 not only removes subtle colour bleed (Chroma Blur), reduces input lag (more on this later), but also kills the motion-blurring smoothing feature. What’s not to like? Well, as a trade-off for these two advantages, you sadly lose access to the [10p White Balance] feature, but given that this is the only way to see material as-intended, we feel this is a worthwhile sacrifice. All the same, it’s a real pity, because the Greyscale tracking quality of the Samsung PS50C6900 was one of the best we’d ever seen from a Plasma TV when we had access to the 10-point feature, and was comparable even to Pioneer’s efforts on the legendary Kuro plasmas. If you’d like to see what could have been, we’ve uploaded the results of the calibration that we inevitably abandoned here.

Switching over to [Game Mode] locks you into the “Standard” picture preset, which defaults to a blue-tinted “Cool” Greyscale mode. Fortunately, “Warm” can be selected to return a more natural tint to the picture. What follows are the measurements from “Game” mode with the “Warm” preset selected:

Pre-calibration CCT
Pre-calibration CCT in [Game] mode
Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

As the chart suggests, the resulting picture quality this preset mode gave was overly reddish. Considering that we look at perfectly calibrated scenes on a day by day basis, it really is quite difficult to say how visible this error will be to most casual viewers – we’ll take a guess and say “not hugely”.

Seeing as the only way to use [10p White Balance] is to take irritating smoothing as part of the deal, we did the best we could to improve Greyscale quality with only the 2-point [White Balance] control. We tried calibrating at 20 and 80 IRE, as well as 10 and 90 IRE, with the former strategy bringing the best result:

Post-calibration CCT in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration CCT in [Game] mode
Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Game] mode

Unfortunately, without the [10p White Balance] control, we couldn’t neutralise the overly blue 10% stimulus measurement, which hung around in the picture and gave things a slightly “frosty” look. We found this very much to be the lesser of two evils, however, and the overall Greyscale tracking quality was still suitably accurate, meaning that part of the battle for high quality pictures had already been won. At the same time, we can’t understand why Samsung can’t just make its Noise Reduction control optional, rather than forcing us into “Game Mode” for untampered video display.

2D Mode Gamma

Gamma tracking on the Samsung PS50C6900 was better than we expected. Typically, we expect Plasma televisions to exhibit slightly crooked and unpredictable Gamma tracking, meaning that the amount of lightness put out by the screen at each brightness level is slightly off (for example, overly dark shadowed areas and dimmed whites are examples of off-kilter gamma tracking). The most obvious manifestation of Plasma displays’ volatile Gamma tracking is with entirely bright screens, where even a small change in the video can result in the overall screen brightness visibly changing.

Gamma curve in [Movie] mode Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
Post-Calibration Gamma curve Post-calibration Gamma tracking

Although careful adjustment of the 10p White Balance control also allowed for better Gamma tracking, we again had to forego this thanks to Samsung’s unwanted and otherwise undefeatable smoothing process (how about a control to turn that off, Samsung?) Fortunately, the results we got with “Game Mode” enabled were not significantly worse and, in fact, are highly serviceable in their own right.

2D Mode Colour

''Auto'' Colour Space ''Auto'' Colour Decoding
“Auto” Colour Space “Auto” Colour Decoding

The Samsung PS50C6900 has several different [Colour Space] options, none of which produce an ideal result without further calibration work. Users who won’t be having their Samsung PS50C6900 calibrated are better off using the “Auto” setting – this results in slight under-saturation and hue errors, but also some highly inaccurate colour decoding. Yellow, Cyan, and most noticeably, Green, all appeared much too bright. Although we make a point of mentioning that Plasma TV displays in particular must have individual calibration attention (that is to say, users can’t simply copy “Best Settings” from the internet), the out-of-the-box performance here is so inaccurate that we will be sharing our calibrated settings at the end of this review, so that owners of uncalibrated PS50C6900s can at least see some improvement.

Post-calibration CIE chart in [Movie] mode Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration Chromaticity Post-calibration Colour Decoding

Fortunately, Samsung’s colour management controls allow for a complete turn-around in the Samsung PS50C6900′s colour quality, and are fully active even in “Game Mode”. Although their colour management menu operates in RGB space (and will require a little bit of familiarisation for those used to working with the more common menus which allow for direct control over Hue/Saturation/Luminance), it is possible to use it to minimise all errors. The results can be seen above: all colours can be adjusted to either perfection, or near-perfection (Red and Magenta both remain just a touch undersaturated). Colour Decoding errors can be completely obliterated.

The end result is rich, vibrant, natural colour. We strongly recommend that any Samsung PS50C6900 owners have their HDTV sets professionally calibrated: it is the biggest post-calibration improvement we’ve seen from an HDTV lately.

3D Calibration

3D Mode Greyscale

As usual, we started by measuring the Samsung PS50C6900′s 3D Mode without any 3D glasses attached to our calibration meter. We do this so we can get an idea of how well the plasma 3D TV can produce linear Greyscale tracking at the higher refresh rate required for stereoscopic 3D.

We did so with great interest, because the only 3D Plasma TV displays we’ve reviewed so far have been from Panasonic. We were curious to see if another Plasma manufacturer had any alternate strategies for 3D imaging. It turns out that the results are much the same: just like Panasonic’s sets, Samsung’s also had trouble producing linear Greyscale tracking in 3D, especially in darker areas of the picture. The [10p White Balance] control is disabled in 3D mode, too, meaning that we couldn’t use this to flatten things out. Simply put, this non-linear, slightly crooked Greyscale tracking means that pictures will take on colour tints and look less natural.

Armed with this knowledge, we attached the Samsung SSG-2100AB 3D glasses to the front of our calibration meter, put the PS50C6900 into 3D Mode, selected the “Movie” picture preset, and took some measurements:

3D Pre-calibration CCT
3D Pre-calibration CCT in [Movie] mode
3D Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
3D Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

The measurements we took through the 3D glasses closely reflected the “bare” measurements, only with the obvious change in colour cast (the glasses themselves have a blue-ish tinge when turned on). Unfortunately, the same massive colour bias in shadowed areas remained.

We spent many hours trying to improve this result, but frankly, we think there is little point in attempting 3D calibration of the Samsung PS50C6900 given how uneven its Greyscale tracking is. The improvement we made was minor at best, trading an overly blue image for an overly red one, instead.

Our biggest challenge during 3D calibration was trying to correct the blue-tinted 10% stimulus measurement. Raising the Red control would coat the plasma screen in red PWM noise. This happens on Panasonic’s plasma 3D TVs, too, but Panasonic’s 3D glasses appear to block a sub-field from the viewers’ eyes, meaning that if your calibration on those 3DTVs results in noisy shadows, this probably won’t be visible to the viewer once they’re wearing the glasses. We tried keeping Red locked in place while adjusting Green and Blue proportionally, but ultimately we were left with beetroot-coloured shadows, and like Panasonic’s 3D plasmas, spikes elsewhere in the chart.

We present the results of our 3D calibration simply as proof that we tried, but don’t recommend that anyone goes to the effort of actually doing it, given that the end result is still nothing to get enthusiastic about. Granted, the overall colour temperature is better, but the uncorrectable beetroot-tinted 10% area makes it difficult to claim that it’s a huge improvement.

3D Post-calibration CCT in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration CCT in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Movie] mode
3D Gamma curve in [Movie] mode 3D Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
3D Gamma curve in [Movie] mode 3D Corresponding gamma tracking

3D Mode Colour

Unfortunately, the Samsung PS50C6900 expects the user to share the same [Colour Space] settings for both 2D and 3D content. This is troublesome, because as most people will have noticed for themselves, the 3D active shutter glasses do impose a colour cast on the image.

Panasonic’s 3D TV offerings are the same, but they feature two configurable “Professional” picture modes, each with its own (more limited) colour management menu, meaning that we can repurpose these into entirely separate 2D and 3D picture modes. Samsung only has one set of Colour controls per-input, meaning that if we wanted to calibrate the 3D display to the HDTV Rec.709 colour spec, we’d have to keep a second BD Player to hand just for 3D, and also assign it its own input. Impractical? We think so, so instead we’ve published the results of the “Auto” mode, which is the next best thing.

3D Post-calibration CIE chart in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
3D Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixels None
Screen uniformity Perfect (except areas of image retention)
Overscanning on HDMI 0% with [Picture Size] set to “Just Scan
Blacker than black Passed
Calibrated black level (black screen) 0.12 cd/m2 (24p/50hz), 0.07 cd/m2 (60hz)
Calibrated black level (ANSI checkerboard) 0.15 cd/m2 (24p/50hz), 0.09 cd/m2 (60hz)
Black level retention Occasional subtle “floating blacks”
Primary chromaticity Excellent after calibration
Scaling Excellent; smooth
Video mode deinterlacing Excellent, very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Excellent, passed 2:2 PAL and most NTSC cadences!
Viewing angle Excellent (> 150°)
Motion resolution 900
Digital noise reduction Undefeatable noise smoothing, “Game Mode” required to avoid
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Image retention Common, noticeable
Posterization Occasional, mild, but not coloured
Phosphor trails Yes, mild yellow-green trails
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (Blu-ray) Full Luma, blurred Chroma, except in “Game” mode
1080p/24 capability Correct playback in “Cinema Smooth” mode
Input lag 18ms (2D Game Mode), 41ms (3D Game Mode)
Full 4:4:4 reproduction Yes, with input labelled “PC”

Power Consumption

Default [Standard] mode (2D) 236 watts
Default [Standard] mode (3D) 306 watts
Calibrated [Standard] Game mode (2D) 220 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 234 watts
Standby 1 watt

Picture Performance

Black Level

Given that the lure of deep, inky blacks used to be one of the main reasons to consider a Plasma TV over LCD, the Samsung PS50C6900′s black levels were somewhat disappointing. Interestingly, they differ depending on the plasma panel’s refresh rate, making them related to the type of video signal being sent to the TV. They are consistently poorer than what’s seen on Samsung LCD sets.

The Samsung PS50C6900 is at its best when it’s refreshing at 60hz, which it does by default when you input a 24hz (Blu-ray Disc) source, and obviously with American-centric 60hz video sources like modern games consoles or US-region DVDs. In this case, it manages to reach down to 0.07 cd/m2, which is marginally brighter than some mid-range Sony LCD sets. The trouble with 60hz is that film material will play back with a rhythmic judder to movement (also known as “3:2 judder” or “telecine judder”). This may be tolerable for some, especially given the benefit of superior black levels, or a huge annoyance to others.

If you’d rather have smooth, cinema-like motion instead, you can enable the [Cinema Smooth] mode, in which case the TV’s darkest black rises to 0.12 cd/m2 (that’s nearly double the figure measured with 60hz input mathematically, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it leaps out as being “twice as bright” to the eye). For European PAL-centric 50hz sources, the same underwhelming black level was measured. In case you’re wondering, “Game Mode” did not affect black level measurements.

This is a bit of a downer, but frankly, the Samsung PS50C6900 has enough favourable image attributes to stop it from being a killer issue. Let’s not forget that it has the significant Plasma advantage of producing the same contrast quality regardless of where the viewer is situated (its picture doesn’t wash out when viewed from the sides, like an LCD-based screen).

We also tested the Samsung PS50C6900 with our “floating blacks” revealing scene, from the Blu-ray Disc release of Se7en. It didn’t reveal the issue here, but we did see the blacks rise in exactly the same fashion as on Panasonic’s plasma displays with other content. Regardless, we feel that on both sets, it isn’t a huge issue, and once again have to remind readers that this is much less noticeable than the “auto-dimming” that Samsung’s LED-based LCD screens partake in.

Motion Resolution

To cut right to the chase, the motion clarity of the Samsung PS50C6900 is superior to Panasonic’s PDP efforts this year. On the FPD Benchmark Software test disc, the Samsung PS50C6900 reproduces 900 lines of resolution, compared to the 1080 of Panasonic’s 3D-enabled screens. However, unlike the recently reviewed Panasonic TX-P42GT20 and VT20 displays, Samsung manages to do so without any fuzzy “double images” around moving objects. On the Samsung plasma 3D TV, the entire screen is covered with a light coating of noise, whereas on the Panasonics, the noise would only appear in areas where motion was expected on the next video frame. Samsung’s approach is generally superior, since there are no double images.

We also had a look at the newly redesigned Xbox 360 dashboard, and confirmed the same effect: while Panasonic’s plasmas had a slightly cleaner overall image but displayed some fuzziness during motion, Samsung’s contained an equal amount of noise throughout, meaning that there were no stand-out motion artefacting issues.

When discussing Plasma-specific motion issues, we should also mention Posterization. For the uninitiated, this unwanted motion artefact has been widely discussed in relation to Panasonic’s Plasma televisions, and appears as ridged bands of darker tone surrounding areas of movement. These ridged bands sometimes take on a purple or green tinge on Panasonic’s displays. Samsung’s display is much less affected by this issue, and when posterization does appear on the 50PSC6900, it is monochromatic: there are no purple/green tints.

3D Material

The PS50C6900′s 3D performance was unquestionably better than the 3D LED LCD sets that Samsung are aggressively pushing, but is a step behind Panasonic’s top-end TX-P50VT20 (although the said Panasonic 3D TV costs roughly twice the price of this Samsung, so that’s understandable). We’ve discussed the Samsung PS50C6900′s trouble with Greyscale tracking in 3D during the calibration section, but just to re-cap, there will be some sort of colour cast to images at all times when watching in 3D. Calibrating is somewhat futile because of the huge colour cast that will persist in shadowed areas.

We had a good look at Sony’s Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs in 3D, which is a well-styled, genuinely funny and unashamedly cartoon-like animated 3D family film (it’s somewhat derivative, sure, but the same can be said of most animated movies these days). For all these reasons, it is a welcome relief after the months of Monsters Versus Aliens we’ve become accustomed to. Crosstalk in 3D was present almost constantly, but it was at least nowhere near the amount seen on the LCD 3D TVs, which have so much of it that the 3D effect becomes severely compromised. With the Samsung PS50C6900, there was still a great sense of depth, just with some glowing around white objects on screen.

Additionally, unlike Panasonic’s 42″ 3D sets (the TX-P42GT20 and TX-P42VT20), the Samsung PS50C6900 joins Panasonic’s 50-incher in reproducing all 1080 lines of a 3D Blu-ray Disc source. There’s no flickering and no jaggies in fine areas, like there is on the smaller Panasonic 3DTV displays. Our test patterns also confirmed that all of the detail from the source was rearching the 3D plasma screen.

Unfortunately, the PS50C6900 joins Samsung’s 3D LCD sets in forcing all 3D material through a 60hz processing path. The 3D mode on the Samsung PS50C6900 is 60hz-centric, meaning that 50hz (European) TV broadcasts will be rendered with motion judder. 24p movies also have a tiny amount of judder (the “Cinema Smooth” option isn’t available in 3D), but it is much more subtle.

The Samsung PS50C6900 also shares the same 3D scaling issue as the company’s UE46C8000 LED LCD and LE40C750 LCD sets we reviewed this year. This is an issue for any type of 3D content that isn’t in the “Full 3D HD” (3D Blu-ray) format. In particular, scaling is required to adapt Side-by-Side broadcasts – like those on Sky satellite TV – to a full-width 3D picture, and on Samsung 3D televisions, the result is a loss of fine details. Frankly, we’re baffled as to why this is – from what we’ve seen so far, no other TV manufacturer’s implementation of Side-by-Side 3D has this problem, and we’re not sure why such a simple horizontal stretch should result in this sort of artefacting.

Standard Definition

Samsung’s HDTV displays have excelled with standard-def material for some time now, and the PS50C6900 is no exception. Video deinterlacing of 480i, 576i and 1080i SD and HD formats was excellent, with almost no jaggedness making it onto the screen.

Standard Definition

The look of Samsung’s scaling engine (which performs the actual resizing of SD signals to the HD panel resolution) may be something of an acquired taste, since its edge-adaptive nature means that it ends up producing a more natural picture, rather than a pin-sharp one. For example, other scalers will produce an incredibly sharp picture with some aliasing (jaggedness) present, whereas Samsung’s tends to smooth over such imperfections and present a smoother, more believable image instead. Neither is necessarily better than the other, and personally, we like the look of both.

Film mode detection is also present and working correctly. The Samsung PS50C6900 properly detected PAL 2:2 film material, and presented it with full vertical detail and no jaggedness. The SD handling on this HDTV is really just about as good as it could be.

And finally, after last year’s disappointment, we were delighted to see that the Samsung PS50C6900 does not feature any unwanted motion interpolation (unless requested with the [Motion Judder Canceller]) with 50hz content. The 2009 models featured motion artefacting with 50hz input material, so we are very happy to see clean 50hz reproduction this year.

High Definition

We had a good look at some of the best examples of actual HD content (Aliens is our favourite live-action Blu-ray Disc at the moment), and also scrutinised test patterns to make sure there were no issues with 2D HD material. As we discussed in the Calibration section, the Samsung PS50C6900 smudges film grain in its default setup, and we had to resort to “Game Mode” to avoid this undesirable processing.

This was well worth it. Prior to using “Game Mode”, the film appeared softer and less, well, filmic. The stubble on Burke’s face turned into a grey smudge upon movement. In some shots, Ripley’s skin texture became baby-smooth whenever she moved. And, due to the motion vector calculation inherent to the process, particles of grain that had not been scrubbed away by the unwanted processing stuck to the edges of actors as they moved, following them like flies.

After calibrating in “Game Mode”, the picture came alive and filmic without any unwanted tampering. The blue-tinted shadows caused by the slightly degraded Greyscale tracking (see the Calibration section) did have an effect on the picture, but it wasn’t blatant nor horribly damaging. Skin tones looked natural and warm when intended by the colourists and lighting technicians, and stylised and tinted when not. After the previous disappointment, we were content that the Samsung PS50C6900 was not tampering with the image.

It was a relief to see that “Game Mode” did not feature any unwanted image quality problems, seeing as it’s not really intended to be used as the main viewing mode. On many HDTVs, “Game” functions tend to introduce motion judder into 24p movies, but not here. Just as with the standard “Movie” mode (which suffers from the unwanted grain reduction), the Game mode can have “Cinema Smooth” enabled from the [Film Mode] menu. This refreshes the Plasma panel at a multiple of the 24fps film frame rate and achieves naturally smooth, filmic presentation without resorting to any unwanted motion interpolation (completely avoiding any “soap opera effect”). However, as noted earlier, “Cinema Smooth” does show a poorer black level.

Test patterns revealed that on the Samsung PS50C6900, high frequencies (the smallest, sharpest details in the HD picture) were rock solid and present on-screen without any distortion. On some other Plasma displays (the Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090, for instance), these finest details occasionally appear slightly fuzzy. Being able to reproduce high frequencies like this isn’t a hugely visible benefit for most video content, but it does mean that film grain patterns will appear solid and stable instead of fuzzy. (So long as you’re using “Game Mode”, of course).

Console Gaming

Gaming on the Samsung PS50C6900 was, at first, painful – in its default configuration, we had to fight with the controller to aim and control our character in Halo: Reach (input lag measured around 100ms). Fortunately, enabling “Game Mode” cut input lag down to a considerably better figure, with it measuring around 18ms (averaged). Is there anything on this HD TV that “Game Mode” doesn’t fix?

Another point of note that affects almost all users of the Samsung PS50C6900, but especially video gamers, is image retention. Like all of the Samsung (and LG) Plasma displays we’ve reviewed, users of the PS50C6900 will become acquainted with this irritating phenomenon very, very quickly. A static graphic only has to be on screen for a couple of minutes for it to leave a shadowed after-image later. The good news is that the retention clears up almost as quickly as it appears in the first place, and should only really prove troublesome after viewing, rather than during. For example, watching a movie with 2.35:1 letterbox bars will leave patches above and below the screen, but you’ll only notice these after you’ve finished watching the film. Samsung does provide a readily accessible scrolling gradient pattern which can be enabled, and clears up retention quickly.

Not only do Samsung have a “Game” mode, but if you label an input as “PC”, you can bypass even more processing. This brings back [10p White Balance] but means you lose access to the [Colour Space] (colour management system) menu. As another benefit, chroma resolution improves too, with the Samsung PS50C6900 being able to reproduce full-bandwidth (4:4:4) colour from a PC source. Input lag stays the same in this mode.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – if the PS50C6900 is anything to go by, Samsung’s 2010 Plasmas are fairly likeable HDTV displays. Who knew?

Admittedly, the Samsung PS50C6900 could be described as a mixed bag. Its black levels with 24p and 50hz content (that is, a good chunk of what European audiences will be watching) are far removed from the best on the market, and it also suffers from image retention. Additionally, moreso than competing HDTVs from LG and Panasonic, it needs calibration work to result in excellent picture quality, and partakes in revisionist film grain reduction unless you trick it into not doing so.

And yet, in spite of all of this, the Samsung PS50C6900 can be configured to show a very appealing, accurate picture, at a great price. It manages near-perfect colour accuracy, great motion clarity, potentially passable 3D, and crucially, very good value for money (although do factor in calibration at around £200 when considering the price). Its gaming performance is also excellent. Black level, after all, isn’t everything, and there were fewer instances where we found dark scenes lacking in punch than we thought there would be.

The Samsung PS50C6900 faces tough competition from Panasonic’s TX-P50G20, which has fallen to basically the same price over the months. In most areas, the Panasonic is a better Plasma TV, with much better out-of-the-box performance and deeper blacks – but it’s 2D only. Therefore, the people we recommend the PS50C6900 to are those who need a budget 3D display, and also those who are put off by Panasonic’s slightly noisier method of rendering motion. Those who care about aesthetics will also probably agree with us that Samsung’s flat-panel display is considerably more attractive than even Panasonic’s best styling efforts, which have a very practical, industrial feel to them.

We wish Samsung would stop treating its PDP line like an ugly stepchild, because we’d hazard a guess and say that more time spent rectifying the small issues present here would result in an even more recommendable product. For now, this flawed but capable Samsung PS50C6900 achieves “Recommended” status thanks to its excellent (calibrated) colour quality, its attempt at 3D, and its price. It has flaws, no question – but maybe the 2011 Samsung plasma lineup will be better yet. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to test one earlier than the end of 2011!

Recommended

Calibrated Settings

The post-calibration settings for our Samsung PS50C6900 review unit has been published on our Facebook page.

73 comments

  1. Thanks for the review, David. Decisions, decisions! Based on your review, I think I will hold out for a 46 or 50 inch G20, which remain stubbornly expensive for now. Might end up settling for an S20 if the price gap fails to narrow in the next few months, or an S30/G30 next year.

  2. did you use warm1 or warm2 for your gamemode preset?

  3. Warm2.

  4. Thanks for this review, i find it strange that image retention is so bad….i have bought samsung 58c6505 plasma and it is as resistant as my old panasonic g10. could it be that 3d makes it more sensitive to image retention? Can you test also this samsung?

  5. Shame you didnt get the PS50C7000 to review, it has better blacks then the 6900. Interesting what you said about the game mode, your the only review to pick up on this

  6. How did you measure chromacity and RGB balance in 3D? If you used TV’s 2D-to-3D conversion and regular 2D test patterns, the results are incorrect. The results are also incorrect if you created a disc with test patterns in Side-by-Side format and forced the TV into SbS 3D mode manually. And finally, there’s reason to believe that colorimeters and light meters all give false readings when measurements are taken through active shutter glasses.

  7. Hi Petri
    They were done with a side-by-side disc. Can you explain what would make the results incorrect? Are you saying the side-by-side mode has different colour than the Frame Sequential 3D? The results measured through the glasses certainly matched what was seen by eye.

    Regarding measuring through glasses: can you elaborate? The Klein K-10 has an in-built flicker filter which means that it gives consistent and stable readings, despite the flicker of the shutter glasses. Klein themselves recommend the K-10 for DLP-based products (with colour wheel flickering) for that reason. If you could give me any links on those issues, I’m as usual, all ears. Thanks!

  8. Hi David,
    I thought sprinkling some absolutes around might get your attention :)

    OK, I went a bit far there, granted. I have a K-10 as well as a pile of other colorimeters, spectrometers and light meters here, and my comment was based on measurements & tests I’ve done with 3D video projectors. Without a proper Frame Packed test pattern disc my theories are just theories, but I have reasons to believe we shouldn’t measure 3D performance with SbS content. Unless we’re going to view mainly SbS content, of course.

    Firstly, SbS and 3D(FP) content are not processed the same way. That alone might cause some differences in color performance. Secondly, testing crosstalk performance of ASGlasses with SbS and proper 3D(FP) content produced wildly different results. Glasses from manufacturer A performed much better than brand B with SbS content, but B showed clearly less crosstalk when testing with 3D(FP) content. I think that speaks strongly in favor of displays’ (projectors in this case) performance altering based on what kind of 3D they’re being fed. This is certainly far from concrete proof, but I think it warrants further study.

    Measuring through glasses. I’ve measured projectors through glasses with the K-10, and there has been some inconsistency along with a number of rather curious results that do not match with that I’m seeing by eye. Flicker filter works nicely with DLP, no question there, but I don’t fully trust the K-10 through ASGlasses just yet. Light meters appear to be very untrustworthy, giving foot-lambert and lux readings that feel radically false. This probably has something to do with sampling frequency and averaging, but I lack the hardware needed for more detailed investigation.

  9. Oh, trust me, I’d use full-blown frame-packed 3D if possible, but it’s prohibitively expensive and I don’t think there would be any point. Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory have an MVC encoder (maybe we could ask to borrow it ;) ) and joking aside, the other possibilities are Cinemacraft ($$$) and Dostudio’s (less $$$ but still expensive for this purpose) MVC encoders. It’s still pricey.

    It’s interesting that you measured differences with projectors; I can’t think what the reason could be for the colour/greyscale performance of SbS content to vary when compared to Frame-packed 3D, since both are being output at the same panel refresh rate. Like you say, it’s possible that something could go wrong (hey, it’s video, anything can go wrong), but I think it’s unlikely here given that SbS-> display is little more than a scaler operation. Once the SbS content is processed, it’s output in the same way that real frame-packed 3D is. Were you measuring off the screen or from the projector’s lens?

    By the way, how do the 3D projectors fare with Greyscale tracking? I assume they don’t have any of the same problems that the PDPs do?

  10. SAMSUNG PS50C680 <- how does this model compare?
    Is this a current model? and is it likely to have problems with 50hz video processing or this noise filtering you mention??

  11. You mention “a firmware update which lessened the processing, but did not remove it”: Which firmware version did you use before and after? Is the one from Samsung delivered to you an released one?
    Thx a lot, really appreciate your reviews!

  12. Samsung shipped the TV to us with v001016. When I found the film grain smoothing, I upgraded to 003003.

    @Darren: That appears to be a retailer-specific TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was very similar to the C6900 but with different styling.

  13. In the settings posted, game mode is set to ΟΝ,and the picture SETTING is MOVIE.In my ps63c7000 in game mode you gan only use STANDARD preset…..is there something i missed ? Thanks, for your great work.

  14. David, Great review.

    Could you please detail how I can spot this processing issue, as I have c7000 model and would like to check it out.

    A couple of different examples would help, since I can’t spot any obvious problems with mine at the moment.

    I’m on a really old 1013 firmware and haven’t had any issues with it, hence never bothered to upgrade the firmware, as it probably breaks more than it fixes.

    Shame you didn’t get a c7000 to test.

    Thanks

  15. @Kyriakos: whoops, that is a typo! The setting is “STANDARD” with game mode on, for the reason you say.

    @Amj: what BD discs do you have?

  16. Thanks,i thought so.My ps63c7000 has considerably less IR (i have no problem at all) than a ps50c6900 model,l i happend to see in a friendly house.But if i am not mistaken mine had more “noise” (whith the same old firmware).

  17. Thanks,i thought so.My ps63c7000 has considerably (i have no problem at all) IR comperad to a friend”s ps50c6900 but i believe there iw a little bit of “noise” in the picture.

  18. David,
    Not many BD’s i’m afraid, mostly dvds, but can always rent one I suppose.
    I’ve got: Apocalypto, Fifth Element (remastered), Casino Royal, Xmen and Sin City.
    Thanks.

  19. You won’t notice with DVD, since most DVDs are so badly compressed that any film grain is long gone anyway. Casino Royale would most likely show up the background smoothing, it is a very nice naturally filmic disc. Of course, if you’ve not seen it running on another display, you won’t have any comparison.

  20. @ David

    In regards to your calibration with this TV in cinema mode. I can understand the irritation with not being able to turn the temporal smoothing feature off but I have an idea that you could try? I used to have a LE40B650B Samsung lcd and it had really bad lag via standard hdmi input. If i went into edit source name (where you can name inputs PC, Game, DVD etc) and named the input HDMI/DVI input to PC “PC” it would change the screen to a totally unprocessed version with less lag, no sharpness enhancement, but it also gave complete access to the white balance settings and cms! I don’t have this TV but reading your review it would be worth someone trying this as it might allow you to get the calibration you desired first off without the smoothing? Good luck and hope this helps.

  21. Hey Paul – in the review (Console Gaming section), we investigated this option. Unfortunately, on this TV, this means you lose access to the colour management menu. And the uncalibrated colour errors are a much bigger problem than slightly uneven greyscale tracking. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  22. @ David

    I see you had already tried that method, sorry I did not read the console gaming section. It’s a real shame as the first calibration you managed looked fantastic on graphs.

    Slightly off topic but wanted to say thanks for recommending Illuminant AV for my Panny TX-P42G20B, I have arranged for a ISF calibration with Iain and am thourougly looking forward to the end results. You spoke with my brother Simon on the GT20 comments. You were right about the fact that copying settings will not work on this tv, a full proper calibration is the only way forward, thanks again.

    Paul

  23. Hi David

    Great review, Are you going to inform Samsung about your findings regarding the black level issue @ 24Hz?

    I told samsung about the black level issue with the cinema smooth enabled months ago but they continue bury their heads in the sand

    Stephen

  24. I’m sure they’re aware of it – it would explain why, by default, the TV refreshes at 60hz with 24p input.

  25. Thanks for the review David.

    I don’t have this particular Samsung model but just to let you know that my PS63C7000 (UK version) does not suffer from IR even on Dynamic mode and 2hrs of xbox360.

  26. Hi David, Great review just what i am looking for except…

    Can you answer me if 2d to 3d conversion is available via lets say a set top box such as sky,virgin ect.. and if so is the quality of general 2d to 3d conversion good?

    Thank you very much

    Jamie

  27. That’s odd, all of the 50″ Samsung PDPs I’ve reviewed have had really obvious image retention. But apparently the 60″ and larger versions don’t?

    @Jamie: 2D to 3D conversion is pointless really – it’s a selling feature and little more, I find.

  28. Hi David Mackenzie

    I’ve just read your review again and I must say you are the best product reviewer ever!!!
    You speak your mined. We need more reviewers like you.

    I take it you will not be getting a Xmas card from Samsung lol

    “We wish Samsung would stop treating its PDP line like an ugly stepchild, because we’d hazard a guess and say that more time spent rectifying the small issues present here would result in an even more recommendable product.”

    Stephen

  29. @ David Mackenzie

    Apprently the larger ones (60″) have a much better black level!

  30. Dear David,
    can you post your first calibration settings in non game mode, and the finall calibration settings in the game mode.

    C7000 has much better black level.

    Regards

  31. RE: BLACK LEVEL

    @ David and others

    may I suggest an explanation for the black level discrepancy between 24, 50, 60 Hz inputs…

    I believe the reason for different readings is the fact that plasmas refresh 50Hz input @100Hz to avoid wide area flicker…since refreshes overlap i.e phosphors do not have as much time to fade sufficiently, compared to plain 50hz or 60hz refreshes, you get added lightness from a previous refresh – thus the hightened levels, both @ peak brightness and lowest black…same goes for 24Hz mode if it gets refreshed @ lower than 60Hz, say 48 Hz…also, due to this, motion resolution with 50Hz sources is considerably lower on a plasma, but due to most tests being @60Hz, one is not able to test this unless one aquires a 50Hz motion resolution tests (I myself have used the FPD benchmark motion test and remuxed it to run @ 25fps instead of 30, just for fun)…I have measured the motion resolution (and motion blur) to be much better/lower with 60Hz version than with 50Hz…I am in luck that I do have a Europen Panasonic PV8 series where you can disable 100Hz double scan and, while whites do flicker as hell, the motion is even better than with 60Hz… please note that, when referring to 100hz, I definitely do not mean motion compensated frame interpolation algorythm – MCFI…

    I think you may have done something to your measuring procedure, i .e. upgraded it to include black level measurement @ 50Hz starting with this Samsung… I believe the same may be true for other plasmas that perhaps didn’t receive your new 50Hz treatment…:-)

    of course, if you indeed tested the black level @ 24Hz, 50 Hz and 60Hz on all plasmas before this one, then it indeed means that Samsung haven’t done anything to counter the phosphor overlap problems while others indeed have…

    are you in position maybe to test black levels on another plasma (say a panasonic) with 24, 50 and 60Hz source patterns?

    cheers

  32. Picture Settings
    Mode: FILM
    Light cells: 16
    Contrast: 88
    Brightness: 54
    Sharpness: 10
    Color: 47
    Tint: 50/50
    Advanced Settings
    Hue Black: Off
    Dynamic Contrast: Off
    Range: +1
    Advanced Schema: Off
    RGB Only Mode: Off
    Color Space: Custom
    R 55 1 3
    G 13 30 0
    B 2 0 68
    Y 80 45 0
    C 33 20 50
    M 46 0 50
    White Balance: RO-24-25 GO BO-22 RG-19 DD-25 BG-28
    10p White Balance:
    1: 1 1 1
    2: 0 0 2
    3: 2 3 3
    4: 0 1 2
    5: 0 3 -1
    6: 1 4 1
    7: 1 4 1
    8: 2 5 1
    9: 0 2 1
    10: 3 -2 -1
    Incarnate: 0
    Enhances image edges: 0

    Image Options
    Tone Color: Caldo2
    Size: Fit to screen
    digital noise filter: Off
    MPEG Noise filter: Off
    HDMI Black Level: Normal
    Motion Judder Canceller: Off
    Cinema Smooth: Off

  33. David this is the worst review ever.

    here are my settings for C7700 model in Italy all graphs look perfect this is better than pioneer kuro.
    why didn’t you actualy do the normal calibration, nobody on internet is talking about noise and motion blur and there are several quality reviews.
    If the problem persist normal viewer would never notice it, so you didn’t need to bother with game mod.

  34. @Kalos:
    yes, I have the means to do so. The Samsung was measured specifically because it produced a visible rise in brightness.

    @Giordano:
    thanks ;)
    The effects of temporal smoothing are more subtle with the new firmware, but they’re still easy to see for someone used to scrutinizing film scans. Samsung have confirmed it themselves.

    Many average (non-videophile) users certainly would not notice the problem. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. It’s a moot point though, since an “average user” would be happy with almost any HDTV on the market today. If you want to lower the criteria, everything on sale today is suitably good, but this review is written from my point of view. If other reviews didn’t notice the problem, I can’t really comment on that, but can only say that it has no bearing on what I’ll write.

    In any case, I fail to see how other reviews not noticing this processing (or not reporting it) puts this report in the wrong.

  35. @Giordana:

    So you want him to ignore a valid criticism of the TV, just because you think that people won’t care?

    This makes you look like a bit of an idiot to be fair. What about people who DO notice these things? They will care. Why would you not want your reviewer to cover all angles of it and show any downfalls?

    People like you really do baffle me.

  36. Can anybody please tell me whether this Samsung Plasma is the same as the samsung ps50c7700?

    kind regards

  37. It’s my understanding that the 7000 series is very similar to the 6000s, only with a better ambient light filter.

  38. How can I enable the game mode?

    Regards

  39. Can you post your first calibration settings in non game mode?
    Many tanks

  40. Sorry nicolatc – I didn’t note them down, since we abandoned the calibration.
    They were more or less the same; the only part that differed was the Greyscale settings, since we could use the 10point system. But there is no point in sharing those settings (even if we did have them), because they are different for every individual Plasma panel.

  41. There must be a huge difference between the C6900 and C7000 because I have extensively tested and calibrated a 58C7000 and the picture performance is close to perfection. None of these smoothing artefacts you speak of, no floating blacks, reference colour and gamma accuracy (all graphs perfect) and good black levels (60hz = 0.03cd/m2, 50hz = 0.05cd/m2).

    I don’t doubt what you have found to be the case with the C6900 but I don’t think anyone should compare this model to the C7000. It might even be possible that different regions get different product too, for instance in the US it has been reported their C8000 has undefeatable over sharpening, whereas I didn’t find this to be the case at all (sharpness test patterns completely free of artefacts), and on your sample you had the opposite (temporal smoothing).

  42. I’d love to check out a C7000!

  43. Thanks for the info on SBS 3D scaling issue.

    I have noticed the same on a PS50C680 when scaling 1080p half SBS files via HDMI. The image loses fine detail as you described.

    However, playing the same MKV file using the TV’s built-in media player and then switching to SBS mode does seem yield the proper resolution.

  44. How do you get to the Motion Judder option on the TV? I want to turn it off BAD!

  45. @Yliu: that’s interesting – I’ll need to pass that info on. Thanks!
    @Phil: are you asking how to turn off the judder you get with Blu-ray movies? You need to go to “Film Mode” selection and choose “Cinema Smooth”. Then you get smooth, unadulterated 24p.

  46. Hi David,

    Thanks for your detailed review.

    I have a question regarding your advice to use ‘Game Mode’ as opposed to ‘Movie’ (in order to remove the negative impact of temporal smoothing).

    You mentioned the down side (to using ‘Game Mode’) was that unfortunately you lose access to the ‘10p White Balance’ feature. But you considered this a worthwhile sacrifice, given the overall improvement to picture quality.

    However, did your tests also indicate a rise in Black levels when ‘Game Mode’ was enabled?

    I ask this because ‘Game Mode’ fixes to ‘Standard’ picture mode and black levels have been measure at 0.18 cd/m2 black with a 60 Hz signal.

    Simply changing to ‘Movie’ (with the same settings) improves black levels to 0.06 cd/m2 (with 60 Hz), which is a significant improvement.

    Therefore my question is – Does enabling ‘Game Mode’ reduce Black Levels (due to the fact is uses ‘Standard’ mode) or are they maintained at the same level as ‘Movie’ mode?

    Many thanks in advance for your advice.

    Sam.

  47. Hi Sam
    The black levels in Game Mode were the same as in the normal mode. I tested for this. Once the settings in Game Mode/”Standard” are matched to what they were before enabling Game Mode, you should get the same black level.

  48. Hi David,

    Thanks for your reply.

    However, just to clarify what I meant was that using ‘Standard’ mode does not allow you to achieve the same Black levels as when you use ‘Movie’ mode.

    Using ‘Standard’ picture mode – Black levels have been measure at 0.18 cd/m2 (with a 60 Hz signal).

    Using exactly all the same calibrated settings, but simply changing to ‘Movie’ picture mode improves black levels to 0.06 cd/m2 (with 60 Hz signal) – which is a significant improvement.

    Therefore enabling ‘Game Mode’ locks to ‘Standard’ picture mode and consequently Black levels are potentially not as good compared with ‘Movie’ mode?

    Is this something you tested/noticed?

    Thanks again.

    Sam.

  49. That’s odd – do you have the exact same model to the one I reviewed – PS50C6900?
    I made sure to test for this and on my review sample (running the latest firmware as of the review date) the black level measured the same with or without Game Mode. The only black level discrepancy I noted was the 24/50hz vs 60hz one.

  50. I’ve got the PS50C7000 (so same model apart from the addition of the Real Black Filter).

    I agree the Black levels are the same with or without ‘Game Mode’ enabled.

    However, compared with ‘Movie Mode’ the Black levels are not as good. So this seems to be an unfortunate trade off.

    This is because enabling ‘Game Mode’ locks you to using the ‘Standard’ picture mode.

    As a result you cannot enable ‘Game Mode’ and also use it in conjunction with ‘Movie Mode’ – which has been measured to have better Black levels (compared to ‘Standard’ picture mode using the same calibrated settings).

    So I guess what I am trying to say is did you test/notice that ‘Movie Mode’ achieves better Black levels compared to ‘Standard Mode’ (which ‘Game Mode’ locks you to using when enabled)?

    Many thanks,

    Sam.

  51. I measured the black level in the calibrated “Movie” mode.
    Then I measured the black level in the calibrated “Standard”/Game Mode.
    They were both the same on the PS50C6900 so yes, I tested for this scenario. It’s interesting that you say the 7000 has this difference.

  52. After reading posts on a few forums, I can see that others have also reported that the PS50C7000 has better Black levels compared with PS50C6900.

    Seeing as you tests showed the same Black level when using both ‘Standard’/’Game Mode’ and ‘Movie Mode’ – I guess maybe we can conclude that using ‘Movie Mode’ on PS50C7000 produces the better Black levels that have been reported?

    Perhaps this also goes some way to explain the different Black levels measured (on the 7000) between ‘Standard’ and ‘Movie’ mode (using the same calibrated settings)?

    So that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma. Enable ‘Game Mode’ – in order to remove the negative impact of temporal smoothing. Or use ‘Movie Mode’ to achieve better Black levels.

    Considering you expertise – I would appreciate your opinion.

    Thanks for your time and responses.

    Sam

  53. If the black level gets better, I would probably go with that and tolerate the smoothing.

    I think the PS50C7000 has a better quality panel and screen coating too, which would both be factors.

  54. Thanks for your help and advice David.

    Sam.

  55. Made the mistake of upgrading from FW1016 to FW3005 and now getting lots more crosstalk on 3d movies (63c7000) – i would caution people on the old firmware prior to 3xxx against updating!

  56. Dear friends,

    In our market ( Turkey ), we neither have the C6900 nor the C7000 models, over here we have the series 4 PS50A470P1XXH model which is a 3D plasma.
    Does this model number mean anything to you ?

    I would very much appreciate your comments prior to buying decision.

    Many thanks,
    Kerem

  57. Hey David,
    I was wondering if you could please kindly tell us what settings we should use for the following, which are not mentioned on the picture that was posted on facebook

    ADVANCED SETTINGS
    Flesh Tone = ?
    Edge Enhancement = ?

    PICTURE OPTIONS
    Colour Tone = ?
    Digital Noise Filter = ?
    MPEG Noise Filter = ?
    Film Mode = ?

    Many thanks in advance for your advice

    Antonio

  58. Flesh Tone = default
    Edge Enhancement = off

    Colour Tone = Warm2 (default)
    Noise filters = OFF
    Film Mode = Auto2 (should have mentioned this!)

  59. Thank you very much for your promptly reply, David

    I would like to point out a couple of things

    1) “Warm2″ is not the default setting when “Standard/Game mode” is selected. The default setting is “Normal” (which, as you mentioned in the article, gave that over bluish tone)

    2) For some reason, in Film Mode, I can only select “Off” or “Cinema Smooth”. The other 2 options (“Auto1″ and “Auto2″) are greyed out. Would you have an explanation for this? I am watching a Blu-Ray connected in HDMI.

    3) I have read again and again your article expecially this part “this is one of the Samsung flat-screen HDTVs which applies temporal smoothing (selective motion blur) to the incoming video – even when the [Noise Filter] controls are switched “Off”. This meant that we had to switch over to “Game Mode” to avoid this annoyance”
    After a lot of research on the Internet and forums I came to the conclusion that the effect that you were referring to, was due to a bug that affected all the models originally.
    This bug, as you can read on this link http://forums.cnet.com/7723-13973_102-398936.html , affected originally all the models, and the workaround to this was to toggle the game mode ON/OFF which would in turn disable all the extra video processing.
    This bug, as you can read on this link http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20013204-1.html , was subsequently fixed with a firmware update.

    My conclusion is that with the right firmware upgrade, your set should not be affected by this bug when you select “Movie” mode. This would then allow you to use the 10p White Balance that would in turn allow you to achieve a better Greyscale and Gamma calibration.

  60. Thank you very much for your promptly reply, David

    I would like to point out a couple of things

    1) “Warm2″ is not the default setting when “Standard/Game mode” is selected. The default setting is “Normal” (which, as you mentioned in the article, gave that over bluish tone)

    2) For some reason, in Film Mode, I can only select “Off” or “Cinema Smooth”. The other 2 options (“Auto1″ and “Auto2″) are greyed out. Would you have an explanation for this? I am watching a Blu-Ray connected in HDMI.

    3) I have read again and again your article expecially this part “this is one of the Samsung flat-screen HDTVs which applies temporal smoothing (selective motion blur) to the incoming video – even when the [Noise Filter] controls are switched “Off”. This meant that we had to switch over to “Game Mode” to avoid this annoyance”
    After a lot of research on the Internet and forums I came to the conclusion that the effect that you were referring to, was due to a bug that affected all the models originally.
    This bug, as you can read on this link http://forums.cnet.com/7723-13973_102-398936.html , affected originally all the models, and the workaround to this was to toggle the game mode ON/OFF which would in turn disable all the extra video processing.
    This bug, as you can read on this link http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20013204-1.html , was subsequently fixed with a firmware update.

    My conclusion is that with the right firmware upgrade, your set should not be affected by this bug when you select “Movie” mode. This would then allow you to use the 10p White Balance that would in turn allow you to achieve a better Greyscale and Gamma calibration.

    Thanks for your time and responses

    Antonio

  61. 1: yes, “Warm2″ needs to be selected.
    2: The Auto1/Auto2 options are for interlaced sources only.
    3: Those links describe motion interpolation, which is not the same thing as the temporal smoothing effect I described. During the review I applied the latest firmware, and some smoothing was still present. There is no perfect solution yet.

  62. Ok David, thanks once again for your vey clear reply.

    I would like to understand if my set ps50c6500 (australia) is also affected from the temporal smoothing you describe when Movie is selected.
    I must admit I don’t think I have an excellent eye for spotting this kind of things when analyzing a panel, so does any steps/procedure come to your mind that I could follow to notice the effect you are referring to?

    Thanks again, you’re truly inspiring

  63. Many thanks for your comments. The Australian version will almost certainly be doing the same thing. If you want to see the effects of it for yourself, the only way I can suggest doing so is to set up the Game/Standard mode to be a close match for the “Movie” Mode (copy the same settings into each). Then, find a Blu-ray Disc film with fine, detailed grain (there’s lots to choose from) and flip in and out of Game mode. You’ll likely see a difference, especially in darker scenes.

  64. Hi Everyone,

    I bought the Samsung PS50C7700 (Europe – Netherlands) yesterday and I haven’t really callibrated the tv yet (to prevent Image Retention).
    I must say that I’ve encountered some Image Retention already and the black levels aren’t really great (I don’t own measurement tools). Also I noticed some black level fluctuations during watching a movie! I suppose the PS50C7700 is at least the same tv as the PN50C7000 or maybe the C8000 (US models)??

    I’m really confused with al those different models and people who are claiming to have good black levels. Maybe I should upgrade the FW.

  65. I brought the 50 inch 6900 to replace my lcd sony bravia, WHAT A MISTAKE as the picture quality on this plasma is shockingly bad, sky HD before was pin sharp but now is grainy no matter what setting its on. Well the 4 standard settings Dynamic, relax, standard and movie are total rubbish, relax and standard are unwatchable as way too dark, i have tried tinkering with all different settings and to say im disappointed is a massive understatement. I truely think this tv is a pile of junk.

  66. hi
    is this model Samsung PS50C658 similar to your reviewed model?Its from the same series: 6000?
    thx and keep up the good job :D

  67. I’ve made a website about the annoying and unwanted smoothing of the video on Samsung’s tv’s:
    http://turn-smoothing-off.blogspot.com/

    There is a petition as well that you can sign. The purpose is to get a firmware fix from Samsung and an official reaction on the matter. So please help by signing the petition and spreak the word / site using sociale media etc. Thanks in advance.

  68. Well, as an update to my last post here: I upgraded the firmware of my PS50C7700 (FW 3003 to 3007). Now, I did a check on the firmware of the showmodel in the store where I’ve bought my tv, and there it has one of the first FW’s; 1016. I noticed that the black levels on the showmodel were much better compared to mine at home. So not only new firmwares add more crosstalk but also seems making black levels worse.

  69. As asked before can you explain how to turn on “Game mode”, there is no mention in the instruction booklet and it was very obvious on my prevoius Samsung, thankyou.

  70. Hi David & Everyone.

    After this review I brought this TV and I am really impressed with the picture qaulity. However, an issue I have and I hope it can be resolved is that if i am watching a football match for example for more than 5 minutes and then I change channel the sky logo and score info in the top right and left corners remains for about 20 minutes – its like a shaddow. Is this to do with my picture settings.

    By the way this is my 3rd TV of the same make as I made the shop (curry’s) replace 2 of them due to this issue

    Thanks in advance

  71. David Mackenzie

    Hi James
    This is image retention and Samsung’s Plasmas have suffered from it for a long time. We mention it in the review. Unfortunately there’s not a lot you can really do about it.

  72. Great review (as always) however why do LG get really bad marks for their black levels yet Samsung (in this example) don’t? The cheaper LG’s have similar black levels yet get knocked for poor blacks, seems Samsung do not.
    There seems to be too much said about the LG’s poor or weak blacks so even though a 0.12 CDm2 was classed as very poor on an LG review would you say Samsung are really better in this regard?
    btw I’m talking PDP

  73. Question for anyone out there with this TV. My Blue Ray surround sound is broken and I have a older surround in storage but it only has RCA not optical audio. Is there a way of connecting it to this TV so I have?

calibration

Professional TV Calibration Service

Own this (or any other) TV? Want to get the best picture quality? Book us in to calibrate your set. Affordable price... get a quote now.

Close