Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Samsung PN50C7000 50-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Black) for Too low to display

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I have been researching plasma televisions for the last few months in preparation for my first large TV purchase. It was a painstaking process that eventually lead me to purchase the Panasonic G25. Because I lived with that TV for about three weeks and have enjoyed the C7000 for the same amount of time, I am poised to compare the two.

What first must be addressed is why I chose to return the G25. Two words: floating blacks. This is not to be confused with the phenomenon of rising blacks, where over time the ability of the panel to produce deep, dark blacks is diminished (although this afflicts 2010 models, it occurs at a more gradual rate). "Floating blacks" occurs when images on screen change in brightness and the blacks rise and fall as a result. This represents a significant problem because it is reactionary: when a bright image appears, the blacks do not rise immediately so the effect becomes very obvious and irritating. Floating blacks have been reported by many, while others swear they either do not exist or are indiscernible. I found the behavior to be pervasive for all material and absolutely unbearable. This is unfortunate, because the G25 was fantastic in every other regard: nearly perfect colors out of the box in THX mode, rich blacks with great shadow detail and not a hint of image retention or burn in. In all of the aforementioned categories, the G25 outperformed the C7000 and makes me wish Panasonic would have their niggles sorted.

Onward to the C7000.

Overall, I am very pleased with the television. Aesthetically, it is an extremely striking piece of kit. The base is a beautiful piece of brushed aluminum (well, it's probably steel, but the finish is brushed), the bezel also sports a brushed finish, which in my opinion is far superior to the glossy bezel of most sets, and the glass-like base support and surround add the finishing touch to a special looking television.

The picture quality of this television is great, to be sure. I find the out-of-the-box colors to be fairly inaccurate and they will be further from true without a professional calibration than the Panasonic. Black levels are good, although not as a rich as the G25 (pre-rise anyway, that could change after a year or two). The screen is a bit brighter than the G25 with more color pop and I have had no issues with motion. The G25 was noticeably grainier, a possible issue if one's normal viewing distance is closer than average (say, closer than 8 feet). The standard menu allows for far more customization than the Panasonic and there is no need for a non-professional to ever enter the service menu. The internet widgets are exponentially superior to those offered by Panasonic, but I have so many streamers, media devices etc. that the included Samsung apps are rarely used.

There are a couple of things that irk me with the Samsung, none necessarily significant. Image retention is far more prominent on this set than the Panasonic or my parents' five-year-old Phillips. A static image left on screen for just a few minutes will result in image retention (and I do have the pixel orbiter set to engage after just one minute). Luckily, it will disappear within minutes after switching to any content that will get those pixels moving and none of the retention has resulted in burn-in. I do play games and still detect no burn-in whatsoever. Also, I did notice a bit of line bleed that I never experienced with the G25, but that seemed to be an isolated incident as I have not observed it again.

That segues nicely to my next point of complaint: game mode. The input lag on this set makes games unplayable in any mode BUT game mode. This in itself is not an issue, because with game mode engaged, any remaining lag is imperceptible. The problem stems from a poorly designed menu. To activate game mode, you must enter the menu, scroll down to services, then click the general setting menu, and then choose on or off. If input lag is going to suck so much in all other modes, this needs to be a single button-click on the remote. Moreover, you can't disengage game mode by simply switching picture modes. Instead, you must again navigate the same asinine menu tree. Irritating and unnecessary, but at least input lag is perfectly acceptable once in game mode.

What many buyers considering this set are probably concerned with is 3D capability. It is by far the least expensive 3D television currently available and (especially with the present inclusion of a BR player/starter kit combo) is an unbeatable value. 3D on this set is nearly as good as the big boys (read: VT25) with little crosstalk or ghosting. 3D content is sparse at the moment and will continue to be for the foreseeable future (partly because of the exclusive packaging bull malarkey perpetuated by Samsung and the studios themselves; talk about shooting yourself in the foot). As such, the 2D-3D conversion algorithm is a nice addition and can deliver surprisingly impressive results. It works well for some content and is insufferable with others, so you will have to experiment and see what works for you. Some games and animated content seem to respond particularly well. I recently experimented with native 3D content via the PS3 and was surprised with the results. Stardust HD and Motorstorm both exceeded my expectations, especially considering they were not initially created with 3D as an objective. WipeOut, while not nearly as striking (and a medicore game at best), still enjoyed the added benefit of depth afforded by 3D and still yields an appreciable effect. I should also add that I have experienced no issues whatsoever concerning communication or syncing between the glasses and the television. Additionally, the glasses are fairly comfortable and having to change a battery every 50 hours is actually preferable in the long run, as opposed to losing the charge with internal units, necessitating a trip to the factory (or refuse bin).

A tangential but important note: when the 7000 line of Samsung plasmas was first released, a picture-processing mode called Motion Judder Canceller was engaged and undefeatable. What this processing actually does is irrelevant: it should be avoided like the plague. If you choose this set, make sure it has firmware 1026 or later installed or download it immediately if not. For giggles, I converted my C7000 into a C8000 in the service menu, which activates the option to enable or disable MJC (I do not recommend this as there is no need). I enabled it and within seconds wanted to gouge my eyes out, it really is that bad. Make sure MJC is off, forever. And ever.

I suppose this review might come across as somewhat negative. I have decided to keep the Samsung and am happy to have returned the Panasonic, if that is any indication. I give a slight edge to the G25 in overall picture quality, so if you do not need/want 3D and do not observe floating blacks - or don't know what the heck I'm talking about (and believe me, ignorance is most definitely bliss here) - I would go for the Panasonic, primarily because it is surprisingly inexpensive for the picture it offers. Otherwise, the Samsung is a great set and impeccable value considering its feature set and stunning design. All of the 2010 plasma models have their foibles, it just so happens the C7000 offered the least of them in areas concerning me for the right price.

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"Samsung PN50C7000 50-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Black)" Feature

  • Clear Image Panel
  • Elegant Style with Slim Design
  • 3D Experience
  • 4 HDMI (v1.4)

"Samsung PN50C7000 50-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV (Black)" Overview

Get a true cinematic experience without going to the cinema with a Samsung plasma HDTV. This Samsung PN50C7000, with Mega Dynamic Contrast Ratio makes sure every frame is saturated with dense, rich color. Samsung is also ENERGY STAR compliant so you are assured that your 50 -inch plasma HDTV is helping the environment by using less enery while saving you money.

Customer Reviews

FanTastic !!! - J. Paquette - Mich
This TV is Fantastic !! 3D,Color and brightness are great and as good as my brother's Samsung LED with the added benefits of a Plasma TV. I am very happy with this product !! ALso, Amazon did a GREAT job on the shipping and customer care aspect of this purchase, as usual.....Jerry

I need more content! - Josh -
I need more content. On 8-25 CBS announced that they are going to produce the U.S Open in 3D. Direct TV will carry it. They are going to offer it to other cable and satelite outlets. I am blitzing broadcasters to pick up any 3d content they can.If you go to ESPNs 3d website you can sign a post to petition you local cable provider to get ESPN 3D. Most of the big guys have the plans in the works alreday. I will not feel good about it until I can the option to watch native 3d when I want.

The tv is pretty awsome. I can say, this is my first plazma and Im SO glad that I got this deal. The tv, 3d dvd and 4 pair of glasses. Wow. I has taken me about a week to get all the configs where I feel comfortable watching. I have had to rethink my black levels a bit. Im now trying to decide if my black levels are that deep or if they are crushed. Thats not a bad problem to have. The tv has a grey scale and color bars in the settings. I wish i could hook up a scope to set the video levels with out having to eye ball it.

Great TV but I got 2 issues so far.

First off If you plumb everything in HDMI and then fiber the audio using the tvs fiber output. It only passes 2 channels of digital audio. WHAT? Why would you do that? Just added a few more ones and zeros in to the stinkin decoder.! Later I even read in the manual that it only passes 2 channels out the optical out put. Boo.

Next Issue, I love the pip function of the tv. What Stinks is that you have to navigate halfway downt the settings menu to the general settings and then navigate all the way to the bottom of the PIP settings menu then turn it on or off. and you have to do the same thing to get out of the PIP. The PIP has some cool other functions I have not seen before but its a pain to get there. Guess I will just have to get good at it.

Great TV. I cant beleive I own one.!

update: it took me 10 days but i found a short cut to the PIP. its on the tools button on the remote. I still need more content. My neighbors came over and watched MVA. "Thats sick! Thats sick! I have never seen anything like it, not even at the theaters." I think thats a good review. One of the guys said that it reminded him of the first time he ever saw good HDTV years ago.

Nice plasma, but... - Stephen G. Ayres - Kentucky, USA
First, I'll say I'm very satisfied with the TV. Crystal clear HD and very good processing of non-HD signals. If I had it to do over again, I would purchase the same c7000 model instead of the c8000.

However, there are noteworthy items for those shopping:

Wireless Internet -
For easy-setup wireless Internet use, it requires a separately purchased USB adapter device with the correct plug type. Conveniently, Samsung makes one that you can buy for - . In my opinion, Samsung should have put in an internal wireless adapter. What a shame. Would have only cost about 75 cents.

To connect my TV to the wireless router, instead of a USB dongle, I used a TrendNet TEW-430APB configured as an Access Point Client which is plugged into the Samsung's Ethernet jack. The TrendNet unit is about and requires a little bit of networking knowledge to configure. This solution might be preferable if you think you will need additional Ethernet connections in the same area as the TV. Additional connections can be made available with the purchase of an Ethernet hub or switch (preferable).

Image Retention -
I expected a little of this. If you pause an image and leave it for a while, it WILL burn in but only temporarily. There is a scrolling-bar feature that exercises the pixels and removes the image. It will also go away on its own. Supposedly severe image retention stops happening as the display panel "cures".

Blurring around the edges -
This was a big disappointment for me initially but it has been fixed with sets that have firmware version 1026 and later. Older sets can be updated by doing a firmware update that is described in the downloads/support section of the c7000 page at Samsung's website.

This effect is called Motion Judder Cancellation (MJC) and it was very noticeable on images being panned in front of a moving background. If you have the effect (it looks like a watery halo around an object's edge) on your TV, it can be fixed by doing the simple firmware update. You will need a computer with Internet access and a USB thumb drive. In lieu of the firmware update, it can be turned off by turning ON Game Mode and then turning Game Mode OFF while using the particular affected input.

I did not buy this set for its 3D capabilities so I cannot comment on that. I wore glasses for the first 35 years of my life - post-LASIK, I'm not going to wear them to watch TV. :)

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