Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television

A well-rounded Samsung plasma television with great picture quality

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Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850)
  • Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850)
  • Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850)
  • Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850)
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Great contrast, super-thin design, great motion handling, decent power consumption for a plasma

Cons

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

Samsung's Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television is a brilliant product. Almost-peerless picture quality, a great design and a range of integrated features make it yet another new Samsung TV we heartily recommend. You do pay for the privilege, but that's really the only downside.

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The Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850) is a fantastic 50in plasma television. Along with the usual range of in-built multimedia features, plenty of inputs and great design, Samsung’s latest premium plasma television is up there with market leaders in terms of picture quality.

Like the Series 7 (UA46B7100) LED television we looked at recently and loved, the Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television has an ultra-thin body and a great looking stand. It has a black-and-silver design that is slightly more conservative than its frocked-up, LED-based sibling.

The body of the television is 29.5mm thick at its chunkiest point, making it a great contender for wall-mounting. It is 1238mm in length and 814mm tall including the stand. We always think big-screen televisions with thin bodies look very impressive. All this is a result of the same plasma technology improvements that are responsible for sizeable increases in energy efficiency — a typical power consumption of 240W is 50 per cent less than models from 2007 such as the 42in Samsung PS42Q91HD.

The usual host of video and audio inputs are integrated into the rear and side of the Series 8 (PS50B850). Four HDMI inputs and two full speed USB2.0 ports occupy the side while a VGA socket, three 3.5mm sockets and a proprietary connector take up the downward-facing panel. The 3.5mm sockets are not all for audio, with one serving as a port for component video. The proprietary connector, oddly enough, only serves to receive composite video signals. The questionable merit of cramming a component video signal into a single thin cable aside, this means that you will have to have the adapters on hand to plug in an analog video device such as a VCR or older camcorders.

Samsung’s Media@2.0 suite makes a welcome appearance, with a content library of everything from photos to cooking tips built in to the television’s memory. Some of the recipes look enticing, too; we’re keen to try out the chocolate soufflé. More important is the inclusion of Wireless DLNA and an Ethernet port for the Internet@TV experience, which brings various widgets and RSS feeds to the Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television. These won’t change your life, but they mean you have something to do during advertising breaks — never a bad thing.

Picture quality from the Samsung Series 8 (PS50B850) is excellent. We would say it’s easily up there with the best LED, LCD and plasma televisions on the market (though which one is best is questionable). We tested this Samsung set up against Pioneer’s equally impressive (but more conventionally designed) Kuro PDP-LX509A and found picture quality to be very similar.

Black levels, as always, are a standout. This television has an amazing range of contrast (at a quoted 3,000,000:1, dynamic) which means it’s able to deliver equal amounts of detail in inky black and bright white areas of the screen simultaneously. Detail is consistently well displayed in any segment of the screen; fine skin details such as pores and stubble are easily distinguished in our Transformers and King Kong test HD-DVDs which we played using a Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite and its HD-DVD add-on .

The screen is bright enough to be viewed in direct sunlight. A comprehensive image adjustment menu allows plenty of tweaks and changes to be made to get the picture perfect. A 600Hz sub-field drive allows the Series 8 (PS50B850) to resolve image changes in 0.001 milliseconds. Put simply, this almost-instantaneous response means there are no instances of motion blur, tearing or jittering to worry about.

All up, Samsung’s Series 8 (PS50B850) plasma television is a brilliant product. It’s expensive, but that’s the price you pay for this product’s excellent design, image quality and integrated features.

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

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