Samsung PS51D6900 3D Plasma TV Review

Test Results

Dead pixels One black pixel in middle-left
Screen uniformity Perfect
Overscanning on HDMI 0% with aspect ratio set to “Screen Fit”
Blacker than black Passed
Calibrated black level in cd/m2 (black screen) 0.05 (24p Cinema Smooth); 0.03 (60hz); 0.056 (50hz)
Calibrated black level in cd/m2 (ANSI) 0.05 (24p Cinema Smooth); 0.04 (60hz); 0.057 (50hz)
Black level retention No instability noted
Primary chromaticities Very Good
Scaling Poor (576i), Average (576p)
Video mode deinterlacing Very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Passed 2-2 PAL and 3-2 NTSC tests
Viewing angle Perfect (Plasma)
Motion resolution 900
Digital noise reduction Present, semi-optional (bug with filter resetting, see notes)
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, Chroma horizontally blurred
Image retention Yes, but fades quickly
Posterization Very small “hardened” edges during fast motion
Phosphor trails Very mild
1080p/24 capability No judder in 2D or 3D
Input lag 16ms on HDMI1 input set to “PC”, 31ms otherwise
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) Yes, on HDMI1 input set to “PC” or “DVI PC” only

Power Consumption

Default [Normal] mode (2D) 194 watts
Default [Normal] mode (3D) 270 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (2D) 287 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 245 watts
Standby 1 watt

Measurements taken with full 50% grey screen. Power consumption will be higher with brighter content, and lower with darker content.

Black Level

They’re not at Panasonic’s class-leading levels (yet?), but Samsung Plasma panels now feature black level performance which doesn’t really leave us wanting too much more. Would we like them to go darker? Yes, of course, but even although they’re in a second-best position, the value for money being offered by the Korean TV manufacturer is enough for us to accept slightly less inky blacks.

As with all of Samsung’s Plasmas, the darkness of the blacks on the PS51D6900 is dictated by the output refresh rate of the screen – meaning that it’s tied to the frame rate of the video you’re watching. With 60hz (American-centric) material (which includes modern games consoles, American DVDs, and some worldwide Blu-ray material), the black level is 0.03 cd/m2, a highly satisfactory shade of black which is the same as some entry-level Panasonic Plasmas. This raises to a less impressive but still acceptable 0.05 cd/m2 with 24fps Blu-ray material when the TV is set to the “Cinema Smooth” mode (which reproduces 24fps material without judder), although the user also has the option of turning off “Cinema Smooth”, which causes the TV to convert 24hz content to 60hz. This introduces motion judder, but nets you the deeper blacks. For 50hz, the measured blacks were only slightly higher than the 24hz Cinema Smooth mode.

Motion Resolution

We gauged the Samsung PS51D6900 as resolving 900 lines on our scrolling resolution test chart, which is a figure on par with last year’s Panasonic Plasma displays, and is high enough to result in a spectacularly blur-free image. Although it’s tempting to boil things down to simple numbers, it’s only part of the story, as usual. Samsung’s recent Plasma televisions have had fewer motion artefacts than Panasonic’s offerings, and although we’ll happily watch either, the Korean conglomerate’s Plasma HDTVs certainly exhibit less dynamic false contouring (an effect where smooth gradations turn into striped bands during movement) than the Japanese manufacturer’s. We were happy with the motion clarity and freedom from motion artefacts exhibited with test patterns, real-world content, and the test sequences from the FPD Benchmark Software disc.

3D Material

The Samsung PS51D6900 features the same high level of tri-dimensional performance as the earlier-reviewed PS51D550. Once again, it aced all of our 3D motion tests, with no judder appearing in 24hz, 50hz, or 60hz modes. In other words, no matter what you watch on the PS-51D6900, you can be guaranteed that the 3DTV won’t be adding any of its own judder into the image.

Like every 2011 Samsung 3D Plasma we’ve tested, it also reproduces all 1080 lines of a Full HD 3D image, without any dropped details or skipped pixels (this is an area where we hope to see Panasonic’s 3D Plasmas catch up).

There was little crosstalk on show, with the ghostly 3D-hindering artefacts only appearing around the most high-contrast areas (white text on black backgrounds, etc). As usual for active-shutter 3DTVs, the image is noticeably darker (although not overly so) in 3D mode, and as usual for 3D Plasmas, the image becomes coarser, with a higher amount of dithering noise. We do look forward to the day when extra-dimensional images look as silky and appealing as 2D ones.

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