Samsung PS51E8000 Plasma 3D TV Review

2D Calibration

Note: Our Samsung PS51E8000 review sample was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software.

Greyscale

The “Movie” mode is the most accurate preset mode on the E8000, so we selected this. We did have to reduce Sharpness from the default “20″ to “0″ for HD content (to avoid ringing artefacts), and enter the [Screen Adjustment] menu to select “Screen Fit” when we had a 1080-line signal input (to get the best quality image without cropped edges). To our eyes, picture quality was good with these basic corrections made, but compared to a calibrated HDTV, the perceived depth of the image suffered due to a red tint.

Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

Measuring grey test patterns revealed that our “red tint” observation had a bearing in scientific reality, and also told us that brighter shades were taking on a blueish tint (which is harder for the eye to spot). What’s more, dark areas were also tinged blue. This isn’t terrible by any means, but it’s a little bit messy, and isn’t as good as the out-of-the-box quality on Panasonic’s THX-certified GT50 and VT50 series.

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

Since this is Samsung’s most expensive range of plasma TVs, we’d hope that E8000s will make their way into home cinema environments where they’re more likely to receive the full calibration treatment. It’s definitely worth doing so: after a few hours of adjustments, we had greyscale measuring perfectly. We made a huge improvement to the overall picture neutrality by using the standard 2-point [White Balance] screen to offset errors we measured with the Klein K-10 meter, and then used the 10-point white balance screen to make more localised corrections. As with Panasonic’s plasmas, some small deviations from perfectly neutral grey still appeared in practice, but we don’t imagine this will have too much of a negative effect on content.

On the American equivalent model, the PN51E8000, it’s possible for calibrators to unlock two extra picture modes in the TV’s menu: CAL-DAY and CAL-NIGHT, which can be used for storing day and night settings. On the US model, this is accomplished by entering the service menu and entering the “Expert” submenu. Although “Expert” is visible in the service menu on our European review unit, nothing would allow us to actually access the option (it was greyed out). Hopefully Samsung can unlock this feature in the next firmware revision.

Gamma

We also achieved flat 2.4 gamma tracking by a) calibrating greyscale (above), b) shifting [Gamma] to “-1″, and c) flattening out the remaining peaks and dips using the 10-point greyscale control. The result is very natural images that don’t have clipped, nor excessively visible/boosted shadow details.

Pre-calibrated Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode Post-calibrated Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
Pre-calibration gamma tracking (2.2) Post-calibration gamma tracking (2.4)

Pre-calibrated gamma came in at a reasonably flat 2.2, which is the recommended gamma setting for use in everyday environments with a bit of ambient light present. The hook downwards on the right side of the chart is caused by the slightly aggressive plasma ABL (automatic brightness limiting).

Colour

Pre-calibrated colours were actually a little UNDER-saturated, which is rare for an out-of-the-box preset. In other words, the greens were a little too yellowish, and the reds were a little too orangey. Strangely, the luminance level of red was much too high in the out-of-the-box mode, causing this colour to appear lacking in depth and punch:

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

All of these problems were correctable with Samsung’s colour management menu:

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

No manufacturer has (yet?) added multi-point colour adjustments (although we expect that feature to appear on off-board external video processors sooner rather than later). Fortunately, few flat-screen displays feature grave inaccuracies here, and the Samsung PS51E8000 is no exception. On the HDTVs we’ve measured so far, Panasonic has been taking the crown in this department, but we ran one of their plasmas beside the PS51E8000 and saw nearly no differences in colour reproduction the whole time. Although some colours saturate a little too slowly, they are always on hue.

3D Calibration

We enabled the tri-dimensional mode, and first did basic setup. For some reason, the Samsung E8000 ships with the [Black Tone] feature on “Dark” in the 3D Movie mode, which has the same effect as setting the [Brightness] control too low (it tosses away shadow details). Given that shadow details are hard enough to see through the darkness of the glasses, we’re not sure why Samsung would set the 3DTV up to throw away even more, but it’s easily correctable. Contrast is also set too high (at the maximum setting), which doesn’t crush out white details, but does tint them red.

3D Mode Greyscale

3D Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
3D Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

Through one of the sets of supplied glasses, it was actually the “Warm1″ preset which gave the best quality. Although too red tinted, “Warm2″ was even more so.

3D Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Movie] mode
3D Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Movie] mode

Attempting to calibrate Samsung 3D plasmas only tends to bring average improvements, so we don’t recommend anyone goes out of their way to do it. Yes, it improved the image quality, but the standard is still far behind the rich 2D images.

3D Mode Colour

The PS51E8000 features a separate colour management memory for the extra-dimensional display mode, meaning that full adjustments can be made to this aspect of performance:

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 Excellent
Calibrated black level (black screen) N/A, screen shuts off
Calibrated black level (ANSI checkerboard) 0.055 cd/m2 (24p and 50hz content), 0.05 cd/m2 (60hz content)
Black level retention Subtle “floating blacks”
Primary chromaticity Excellent
Scaling Excellent
Video mode deinterlacing Very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Failed 2-2 PAL film mode test, passed all NTSC
Viewing angle Excellent, but screen filter lessens vertical viewing angle
Motion resolution 900
Digital noise reduction Undefeatable noise reduction blurs fine motion details
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, chroma horizontally blurred
Image retention Very little, clears quickly
Posterization Mild, more visible with non-60hz output modes
Phosphor trails Very mild
1080p/24 capability No judder
Input lag 31ms compared to lag-free CRT
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) Yes, with “PC” input label and 60hz input

Power Consumption

Default [Standard] mode (2D) 276 watts
Default [Standard] mode (3D) 313 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (2D) 291 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 264 watts
Standby 1 watt

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