Until about five minutes ago, Panasonic was the undisputed leader of plasma after inheriting the mantle from the. While companies like LG and Samsung have always produced TVs based on the technology, they haven't been any threat to their almighty competitors. But fresh from testing Samsung's 59-inch D8000, we think that Panasonic's dominance is no longer assured.
This is the second year that Samsung has used brushed-metal finishes after last year's highly desirable. While the 9000 was completely coated in brushed stainless steel, the D8000 plasma uses a much more modest, though still striking, finish. In fact, you can only tell the brushed-metallic finish is plastic by touching it.
At a 59-inch diagonal, the TV is impressively large, though with its slightly thicker bezel it's not as entrancing as the "barely there". The TV retains the same octopus-footed stand as the D7000, but as the TV is a lot heavier at over 30kg, we found that we needed three people to help attach it.
The TV comes with two remote controls: a standard Samsung model and a reversible QWERTY design. The QWERTY remote consists of a conventional, backlit side, and the underside features a full keyboard with an unlit LCD keyboard. The directional pad on the QWERTY side is a little awkward, though, and we found that it's very easy to accidentally hit the Exit button.
The Samsung PS59D8000 is the company's 55-inch plasma flagship, and offers a rich number of features in addition to a whole lot of processing grunt. Being a plasma, it lacks a "600Hz sub-field drive. The TV boasts a Real Black Filter that its makers claim gives it a preposterously high 20 million-to-one dynamic contrast." to make images smoother, but it is able to process images at a high speed via a different system: a
Like most high flyers, the TV also supports 3D, and ships with a single set of lightweight shutter glasses (they are sold for AU$149 separately).
Over half of Samsung's 2011 televisions are. The big additions to last year's models, which already included video-on-demand and social media, are apps, integrated search and a web browser helped enormously by the QWERTY remote. All of the many functions are bundled into a new home screen called "Smart Hub", and most of the TV's functions can be accessed from there.
As a part of Smart TV, IPTV is a focus of the Samsung, with a handful of BigPond TV channels and BigPond movies-on-demand. At the moment, no free-to-air channels offer catch-up services via Samsung, though the ABC is reportedly in the. Telstra also includes its AFL and NRL Game Analysers, enabling sports fans to watch full games played in the past year or so; tennis is also on the way.
Like a number of recent televisions, the D8000 offers a cut-down USB Personal Video Recorder with a built-in Electronic Program Guide (EPG).
Connections are a highlight of this television, with an almost unheard of three USB ports, in addition to four 3D-ready HDMI slots. Also, you'll receive a combined component/composite adapter, but you'll need to push it in very firmly to get it to work. Finally, internet connectivity is provided courtesy of an Ethernet port and on-board Wi-Fi.