Samsung PS60E6500 Plasma 3D TV Review

2D Calibration

One of the first things we did was pull out our Klein K-10 meter and compare the peak brightness of the different modes. The “Movie” mode, which is usually our first port of call due to it being the most accurate out-of-the-box mode, comes with its [Cell Light] control set to 20, its highest setting. In this configuration, the Samsung PS60E6500 was putting out a peak white of 100 cd/m2 (measured with a standard window test pattern).

In comparison, the “Standard” mode can go as high as 172 cd/m2, and while we don’t recommend watching the E6500 like this, it does mean that that this mode has a wider range of applications for users who might want to watch in a brighter room. Don’t forget that this also increases power consumption, of course. Unfortunately, the “Standard” mode lacks access to the 10-point greyscale calibration control, and we also found that while it does feature access to the “Custom” colour management mode, only one set of settings for this feature can be saved per-input, rather than per picture mode. That means that calibrators who want to use the brighter “Standard” mode for daytime viewing, and the “Movie” mode for darker night viewing, will need to prioritise the accuracy of one of the modes.

However, we mention this only for completeness – we didn’t feel that the 100 cd/m2 peak light output of the “Movie” mode was lacking (although it’s slightly dimmer than the 120 cd/m2 target we usually aim for).

Note: Our Samsung PS60E6500 review sample was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software.

Greyscale

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

Prior to taking a meter to the screen, we could certainly detect a beige haze to the PS60E6500′s images. Of course, that’s because we look at accurate displays all day long. This is quite similar to how the Panasonic ST50 plasmas look before calibration.

Of course, this is the way that most users with any interest in image quality, but not enough money for calibration, will watch the plasma TV. Correcting these errors needs a calibration technician (or a patient DIY’er) and measuring equipment: copying other user’s calibrated settings from the internet typically won’t help, because each panel is different.

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

Unlike the comparably priced Panasonic ST50, the Samsung E6500 offers a 10-point Greyscale calibration option in its “Movie” mode (Panasonic’s midrange plasma offers only a 2-point control). That means that any remaining oddities in the greyscale tracking – such as the unusual excess of blue in dark areas we had prior to using it – can be levelled out with greater precision, resulting in higher picture quality with less tints.

So why is the above chart not a flat line? Why do any deviations remain if we have full control? Because we had to be careful with this control and only use it when really necessary. After calibrating the PS60E6500 to perfection using this tool, we found that it could introducing contouring/banding into actual video material, causing actors to look as if they had grey sweat-patches on their foreheads, for example. As a result, we re-did the calibration more cautiously to minimise this issue, which is why neither the greyscale or gamma measurements are entirely perfect. Frankly, this would be nearly impossible to detect with real content, and on-screen quality is much more important than pretty-looking charts.

During the calibration, we also discovered that Samsung’s plasma TVs have an advantage over Panasonic’s in terms of greyscale and gamma consistency. On Panasonic plasmas, we’ll typically calibrate the TV using window patterns (which show only the tone to be measured in the middle of the screen surrounded by black), and then remeasure with APL (average picture level) test patterns and see a slight tint creeping into the picture (usually an excess of red), and also different gamma. We did the same tests on the Samsung PS60E6500, and were happy to see almost no differences in greyscale or gamma tracking between the different test patterns. Although this behaviour hasn’t stopped us being incredibly enthusiastic about Panasonic’s plasma televisions (it’s not really visible in practice), the fact remains that Samsung’s E6500 is more consistent in this regard.

Gamma

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)

We aimed for a gamma of 2.4, which is the setting used during the production of film content in darkened studios, and accordingly is the recommended setting for reproducing it at home – in darker rooms. The default out-of-the-box setting measured at around 2.2, which is more appropriate for viewing in normal environments that have some ambient light present. We reduced [Gamma] to the “-2″ setting to achieve roughly 2.4, but didn’t use the 10-point control to flatten out gamma tracking, because this resulting in the aforementioned contouring errors if we pushed the controls too far.

Colour

Before calibrating, the hue and saturation of all six measured colour points was very accurate, although some luminance levels were too high, especially with reds and greens. Red was also a little orangey, which sometimes contributed to the slight “beige cast” we noticed pre-calibration.

Post-calibration CIE chart in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709

Samsung’s [Colour Space] menu worked wonders as usual, with the R/G/B controls for all six primary and secondary colour points working to correct inaccuracies, resulting in the perfect measurements you see above.

Attention calibrators: there is a menu bug. We found that selecting the “Custom” [Colour Space] option can result in poor colour accuracy if it isn’t selected with the correct remote button sequence. The [Colour Space] menu has three options, from top to bottom: Auto, Native, and Custom. To avoid serious desaturation errors (especially with green), press UP from the “Auto” position to skip to the bottom of the list (“Custom”). If you press the down key instead and go through “Native”, colour errors will result.

Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)

Samsung’s colour management system (CMS) allows the luminance of the colours to be adjusted, too, although the implementation in RGB space means that it takes some getting used to for anyone who’s never calibrated a Samsung HDTV before. Rest assured, it is possible, and takes only a bit of experimentation.

Colour saturation tracking
Post-calibration colour saturation tracking

Panasonic has been setting the standard for colour linearity recently, with the mid-range ST50, GT50 and VT50 plasmas keeping colour saturation and hue on-target from the weakest to the strongest saturation levels. The Samsung PS60E6500 isn’t as accurate, with green in particular veering a little off-standard in the middle saturation levels, and some mid-cyan saturation levels appearing undersaturated on screen. We found that this made very little difference in practice.

3D Calibration

3D Mode Greyscale

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

As measured through the active-shutter glasses, 3D mode was characterised by the same excess of blue in dark areas, and the same crossover of excessive red and green as we saw in 2D.

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

Calibration made an overall small improvement, but it was impossible to eradicate all of the tints, because there’s no 10-point white balance control on any of Samsung’s 3D TVs.

3D Mode Colour

There is no independent colour space memory for the 3D display mode, meaning that unless you can dedicate an HDMI input solely to tri-dimensional movies, then you can only make do with the unadjusted 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 One dead (black) subpixel in top-middle
Screen uniformity Some greyscale deviation visible on test patterns, none noted during content
Calibrated black level (black screen) N/A, screen shuts off
Calibrated black level (ANSI checkerboard) 0.02 cd/m2 in all refresh rates
Black level retention Subtle “floating blacks” (see notes)
Primary chromaticity Excellent (2D)
Scaling Excellent
Video mode deinterlacing Very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Passed 2-2 PAL and 3-2 NTSC tests
Viewing angle Excellent, but screen filter lessens vertical viewing angle
Motion resolution 900
Digital noise reduction Optional, not forced
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, nearly full Chroma (full in “Game Mode”)
Image retention Almost none! (see notes)
Posterization Mild, more visible with non-60hz output modes
Phosphor trails Very mild
1080p/24 capability No judder in 2D, skipped frames in 3D
Input lag 16ms compared to lag-free CRT
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) Yes, with “PC” input label and 60hz input

Power Consumption

Default [Normal] mode (2D) 316 watts
Default [Normal] mode (3D) 314 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (2D) 205 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 293 watts
Standby 1 watt

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