Samsung Series 8+ (F8500) plasma TV
Like watching movies? You’ll love Samsung’s Series 8+ plasma
- Great brightness levels (for a plasma)
- Excellent contrast, detail, colour accuracy
- Samsung’s class-leading Smart TV tech
- Relatively high power consumption
- Panasonic’s plasmas are cheaper
If you can afford the $20 a year in extra power, Samsung’s top plasma TV is by far the best choice for watching high quality video. We think it’s equal to Panasonic’s best plasmas for black level and overall contrast, with an extra boost in available brightness that makes it usable in even a reasonably bright room.
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
For the last few years, Samsung has surged ahead as the go-to company for thin, stylish, powerful LED TVs. Each model refresh has made everything thinner, faster, and more visually impressive. You’d be forgiven for not realising that Samsung actually also makes plasma TVs, and this year they’re something to behold.
The Series 8+ is the better of Samsung’s two available plasmas — the other is the Series 5. We think the Series 8+ is actually a better TV in almost every way than the already-excellent Series 8 LED. The Samsung Series 8+ is also available as a 60-inch model, which is somewhat more attractively priced — where the 64-inch is $3,999, the 60-inch drops the price to $3,199.
Samsung Series 8+ (F8500): Design, features, and setup
The imposingly large 64-inch Series 8+ has to be the most attractive and modern plasma TV that we’ve laid eyes on. Sure, Pioneer’s KURO was an alluring monolithic slab of glossy black plastic, but its thick bezel and thick chassis is starting to look increasingly outdated.
The Series 8+, in comparison, is only 55.4mm thick at its widest point, with a bezel that’s barely an inch thick. The brushed gunmetal finish looks extremely good, providing a contrasting edge against the brightness of the plasma screen, without being overly gaudy or chromed-up.
The bezel is thicker at the base of the screen, where the F8500 meets its single-piece stand. Like the F8000 LED TV, the Series 8+’s stand is quite bulky, measuring a full 320mm from front to back, and extending the entire length of the TV. Samsung’s ‘Metal Flow’ stand is definitely sturdy, holding the screen well in place, but if you’ve got an especially thin entertainment unit, you might find that the stand takes up more room than you’d expect.
The F8500 has what is becoming a pretty standard set of connectivity features — there’s four HDMI ports, one which supports MHL, one which supports Active Return Channel for connecting a home theatre receiver. These main inputs are joined by break-out connectors for composite and component video, wired LAN and Wi-Fi networking, digital audio output, and three USB ports, one of which is able to supply full power to a portable hard drive.
Setting up the Series 8+ is a simple enough process, once you’ve gone through the arduous process of connecting the stand — a total of twelve screws, and four pieces (including the TV) to connect to each other. The TV’s initial setup is quite simple, asking you a series of questions about your location and digital TV connection, and the whole process is complete in under five minutes.
Samsung Series 8+ (F8500): Smart Hub
Samsung’s Smart Hub this year is both more refined and more powerful than last year’s, with the move to a basic grid layout for the app drawer and the various Smart feature screens making everything easy to find. The only problem is actually knowing it’s there — Samsung has packed so many features into the Smart Hub that it’s hard to feel like you’re making effective use of them all.
The S-Recommendation system, which tracks your viewing habits and recommends you new shows to watch, as well as reminders of what’s coming up, works well if you put the effort into picking out your favourite programs every evening. It’s a helping hand that initially requires a helping hand — you need to take the time to teach it what you like, then it goes from somewhat useful to indispensable.
The Samsung F8500 will play any downloaded video, audio or picture file that you want it to, whether it’s stored on your home network or connected directly to one of the TV’s USB ports on a portable hard drive or flash drive. The Series 8+ has an ace up its sleeve in its ability to properly decode and play back video in the new HEVC format, which is twice as detailed as current formats. We didn’t have any long or particularly high quality HEVC clips to play back on the F8500, but we did confirm its support of the codec with some shorter, downloaded test clips.
Voice and gesture control is again a huge step forward from last year’s models, but doesn’t work perfectly — sorry, but you shouldn’t throw away the remote control just yet. It’s convenient to perform simple tasks like changing channel and volume and input when you can’t find the remote, and for navigating through the Smart Hub screen, but for anything more complex it becomes a slight hindrance.
It’s also nice, for future-proofing’s sake, to see that Samsung has included an Evolution Kit slot on the rear of the F8500, near the HDMI inputs. This means next year, should Samsung come out with an even faster and more powerful and more fully-featured Smart Hub or other ancillary program, you’ll be able to purchase an Evolution Kit and upgrade your TV. This year’s Evolution Kit for 2012 TVs is $299, so we’d expect the upgrade price to stay around that point.
We’d recommend you read both our review of the Samsung Series 8 LED TV and our guide to Samsung’s 2013 TVs for a more complete idea of what the Smart Hub looks like and can do for the Series 8+ plasma.
Samsung Series 8+ (F8500): Performance and picture quality
At this point in time, we’re seeing the best ever performance out of edge- and back-lit Full HD LED TVs. Samsung’s own Series 8 LED looks great, as does the top LG LA8500. Sony’s BRAVIA W900A has some impressive lighting tech that should be hard to beat.
But at the moment, nothing we’ve seen or reviewed in 2013 holds a candle to Samsung’s Series 8+. Like the 2012 Panasonic ST50A and VT50A, the F8500 Series 8+ is one of the best televisions we’ve seen.
We watched a swathe of video content on the F8500: free-to-air digital TV through the internal tuner, compressed 480p, 720p and 1080p video files from a connected USB hard drive and network streaming, a few Blu-ray movies, and streaming video from various on-demand sources like ABC iView and Foxtel On Demand.
The Series 8+, just like the ST50A, comes extremely close to replicating the deep, inky blacks of the Pioneer KURO LX609A that we’ve never been quite able to replicate. We’d put the F8500 on the same level as Panasonic’s best plasmas, which is an incredible achievement for Samsung considering it invests all of its marketing budget, if not its research dollars as well, into LED and LCD technology.
With Blu-ray video, the Samsung Series 8+ absolutely shines. We watched The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, TRON: Legacy and The Hobbit, as well as Avatar and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs in 3D. All of these titles look fantastic — the screen is able to accurately represent every little bit of detail hidden in each frame, with the faux-film grain in Batman Begins looking appropriately gritty without any of the crunchy straight-edged artifacts that cheaper Full HD panels can display.
The Dark Knight’s mix of bright and dark segments in its opening sequence does a great job of simultaneously showing off the high maximum brightness and the deep black level that the Series 8+ can display. We watched almost all of the Series 8+’s test video in the Movie preset, which has the most accurate colour but trades off a small amount of maximum light output — we didn’t miss it. The F8500 is so bright for a plasma that even lowering overall brightness keeps it well within an acceptable range for viewing in a well-lit room.
Samsung’s 3D glasses have been refined since previous years, getting a lot smaller and lighter and less obtrusive. Being a plasma TV they’re still active shutter glasses, which don’t perform well under fluorescent light, and you’ll have to change the battery every now and then, but if you’re watching the occasional 3D movie in a dim or dark room you’ll have no problems with them at all.
The F8500 has a frame rate smoothing feature that does a great job of cleaning up any unwanted judder in video content. If you’re watching free-to-air TV, it’s a great feature and we think it works extremely well in this kind of scenario. It’s less useful for Blu-ray movies where you want that 24 frames-per-second effect — which the Series 8+ natively supports.
One thing we should draw attention to is the relative power consumption of the Samsung F8500. It’s quite the energy hog when you compare it to any LED TV on the market — where a 65-inch edge-lit LED TV has a six-star energy rating, and will consume around 360kWh per year, the 64-inch PS64F8500 has a one-star energy rating and will consume a whopping 1038kWh per year. In real-world terms, you’re going to be adding about $20-40 per year onto your energy bill with this TV versus an LED TV. We think it’s worth it, but it’s a decision you’ll have to take into account.
Samsung Series 8+ (F8500): Conclusion
Samsung’s Series 8+ plasma TV is a stunning piece of technology. It looks good, has a huge range of built-in features, and the picture it produces is among the best we’ve seen.
Our only qualm with it is the amount of power it consumes when you’re enjoying it. In a world where everything is getting more energy efficient, it’s a guilty pleasure — but one that we’re more than happy to indulge in.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Acer Swift 7
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Surface Pro 4
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Hisense displays successors to amazing Series 7 ULED - Series 8 and 9
- Sony shows off its new OLED and LCD TVs, video projector, and Bluetooth speakers
- Sony’s Bravia XBR-A1E OLED could be the first flat-screen TV with sound that doesn’t suck
- Say goodbye to Apple's third-generation Apple TV
- Japan gears up for 8K TV broadcasting
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTSenior Infrastructure Business AnalystVIC
- CCAutomation Developer - LinuxNSW
- CCUX DesignerVIC
- FTJunior Applications SupportACT
- FTSenior Software Engineer x 2 - Positive Vetting, NV2 or NV1 required!!!!SA
- TPAPS6 Java DeveloperACT
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCApplication PackagerNSW
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- CCNetwork EngineersACT
- TPSolution Architect - Real-Time Tracking SystemVIC
- CCDeployment GraduatesSA
- TPAnalyst Programmer (.Net)SA
- FTFull Stack DeveloperQLD
- TPSenior Agile Business AnalystVIC
- CCBusiness Analyst- Data GovernanceNSW
- FTWeb BA LeadQLD
- CCSenior Business Analyst (BPMN or UML & Agile)QLD
- CCApplication Support Specialist- Bathurst or Port MacquarieNSW
- FT.Net Solutions DeveloperSA
- FTIT ManagerVIC
- CCSAP FICO ConsultantWA
- FTNV1 Cleared Software Engineer (Mid level) - Defence Projects - North Ryde areaNSW
- CCExecutive SupportWA