Samsung PS64D8000 Plasma 3D TV Review

2D Calibration

Note: Our Samsung PS64D8000 review sample was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software.

2D Mode Greyscale

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

After selecting the “Movie” mode (which, on Samsung HDTVs, and indeed on most others, gives the most accurate “out-of-the-box” picture quality), we really couldn’t see much wrong with the PS64D8000′s images. (Actually, there was something, but that was related to colour, which we’ll discuss in a second). Measurements revealed some slight excesses of red and blue at different brightness levels, but we don’t think many users would complain about the image quality in this state. Test patterns revealed that [Brightness] was a touch too high out of the box, and that the [Contrast] control was also set too high, discolouring brighter shades and skewing them towards red. We brought this down to 90 from the default 95 position.

Interestingly, Samsung’s web site mentions that this HDTV features a “Movie Mode [which] matches cinema projector quality for enhanced viewing”, which to our eyes looks like an acknowledgement of the desire for accurate picture quality, and a partial solution to the THX-branded modes on other Plasma TVs.

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

The Samsung PS64D8000 features a 10-point White Balance control, so we were able to achieve visibly perfect Greyscale tracking. Good Greyscale tracking is one of the key factors in realistic images, because if you have an HDTV that, for example, produces greys with too much red or too much blue in them, then this colour tint will be added to all the other colours you see on-screen, too.

In previous reviews, we didn’t use the 10-point control, because we resorted to using the TV in “Game Mode”, to avoid a noise reduction feature which couldn’t be side-stepped by any other means. Fortunately, Samsung has given the user full control over the noise reduction setting with the latest firmware update, so we no longer have to resort to the Game Mode. The result? Greyscale that’s visibly perfect with just right mix of red, green and blue at each brightness level.

We love Samsung’s implementation of the 10-point white balance menu, because it uses the 2-point system as a starting point. We calibrate Greyscale the traditional way, by adjusting the standard controls in the [White Balance] menu first of all. This gets us 90% of the way there, and we can then make a few more specific adjustments in the 10-point menu to finish the job. Some other manufacturers make you start from scratch with the 10-point control, meaning that you inevitably have to copy similar settings into all 10 positions.

Gamma curve in [Movie] mode Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
Gamma curve in [Movie] mode Corresponding gamma tracking

As usual, we were able to use the 10-point white balance menu to flatten out gamma tracking. We actually did this at the expense of some slight greyscale accuracy (we could have made the 10% stimulus measurement you see above perfect, for example, but chose to go with a slight deficiency of green, to achieve better gamma tracking here). These measurements were performed with the standard sized windows on the AVSHD test disc, and experience tells us that the measurements, and calibration, would be different based on the test pattern size used, due to the Plasma’s Automatic Brightness Limiting (ABL). The easiest way to see ABL is to display a bright white full screen image, and then bring up the TV’s on screen menu – you’ll notice that the image in the background gets brighter as less of the screen becomes white. ABL on Samsung’s Plasmas is quite visible, in fact, when we displayed full screen measurement patterns, we could see that it kicks in (to a small extent) even when the display is fed a full image of 50% grey.

Accurate gamma tracking means a smooth, even transition from the darkest black up to the brightest white in a video image. It’s one of the factors that contribute greatly to believable images.

2D Mode Colour

Out-of-the-box colour was a different story compared to the good greyscale tracking. For some reason, Samsung’s highest-end Plasmas this year have had slightly strange-looking colour before calibration. Most notably, the colour of red was under-saturated and too bright, which meant that skin-tones had a more yellow cast to them than would be ideal. Fortunately, simply changing the [Colour Space] from the default “Auto” to “Native” cleaned this up considerably (the “Native” mode results in slightly over-saturated colours, which to our eyes look more natural than the under-saturated defaults).

We achieved colour perfection while calibrating using the “Custom” option, and using the 75% test patterns from the AVSHD calibration disc. Most notably, compared to the default mode, we corrected the saturation of red, and compared to the “Native” mode, the biggest improvement was in the hues of cyan and yellow, and the saturation of green.

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)

Both of the default modes have some luminance errors, but these are fully correctable in the “Custom” mode.

3D Calibration

3D Mode Greyscale

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

For 3D pre-calibration measurements, we used the active-shutter glasses that Samsung supplied in the box of the PS64D8000FUXXU review sample. The image coming out of the Plasma itself had a fairly natural colour to it, and the glasses had a heavy blue tint to them. Unsurprisingly, the measurements – and the 3D image that our eyes were eventually shown – reflected this.

Sadly, most DIY home calibration enthusiasts won’t be able to calibrate their 3DTV in 3D mode, due to the high cost of non-contact calibration meters. Likewise, we don’t think many professional calibrators are offering this service yet (although this will hopefully change).

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

Since we’re in the fortunate position of owning the necessary equipment (and patience!), we calibrated the 3D mode of the PS64D8000 to see how far we could push it. Samsung’s 3D TV models do not allow the user to access the 10-point white balance mode when the display is operating in 3D, so we had to use the basic 2-point adjustment for 3D. This was very tricky indeed, and we almost gave up on the idea of achieving semi-flat greyscale tracking. Our only advice is: stick with it! On our third attempt, we achieved the above result, which is accurate enough not to present any obvious problems during real-world use. Another tip: if a calibration centred around mainly adjusting one control doesn’t work for you, try leaving it locked in place and adjusting the two others.

3D Mode Colour

Samsung’s 3D TVs also don’t save the [Colour Space] mode per dimension, but rather, per-input. As such, we couldn’t make finely targeted 3D colour adjustments, but the remaining errors are small. (We just left the PS64D8000FUXXU in the “Custom” colour space mode, which used our 2D calibrated settings, and we think you’ll agree that the measured results aren’t anything to sniff at).

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
Overscanning on HDMI 0% with “Just Scan” selected
Blacker than black Passed
Calibrated black level (black screen) 0.04 (24p), 0.04 (50hz), 0.025 (60hz) cd/m2
Calibrated black level (ANSI checkerboard) 0.046 (24p), 0.048 (50hz), 0.028 (60hz) cd/m2
Black level retention No instability noted, white level retention is more of an issue due to ABL
Primary chromaticity Perfect
Scaling Excellent
Video mode deinterlacing Very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Failed 2-2 PAL film mode test
Viewing angle Perfect horizontally; screen filter lessens vertical viewing angle
Motion resolution 900
Digital noise reduction Present, optional, not forced
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, Full Chroma
Image retention Very little
Posterization Very small “hardened” edges during fast motion
Phosphor trails Very mild
1080p/24 capability No judder in 2D or 3D
Input lag 31ms compared to lag-free CRT
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) Yes, with “PC” input label

Power Consumption

Default [Normal] mode (2D) 387 watts
Default [Normal] mode (3D) 460 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (2D) 355 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 409 watts
Standby 1 watt

Measurements taken with full 50% grey screen. In case you’re wondering, a full 100% white screen in 3D mode (representing the Samsung PS64D8000′s peak power consumption) weighed in at around 490 watts.

Strangely, although the calibrated picture modes reduced power consumption, the on-screen image did not appear any less bright.

Back to: PS64D8000 Review