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First Look: An expensive, but feature packed plasma from Samsung

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First Look: An expensive, but feature packed plasma from Samsung

3:58 /

The expensive Samsung PNE8000 series comes through with stellar picture quality, but its main appeal is to people who crave the latest gadgetry in their plasma TV.

How is it going. I'm David Katzmaier from CNET and I'm standing next to the Samsung PN60E8000. This is a 60-inch Plasma TV. This is Samsung's Best Television for 2012 that has more features, bells, whistle, do-thats and what have you then you could care to mention of course I'm gonna try in the following video. This video will apply to the 51 and 64 inch members of the series as well. Now, the real stand-out feature for this TV is Smart Interaction. It's unlike anything on any other TV. There's a built-in camera and microphone that enables the TV to interpret your gestures and voice commands. I went to this feature in-depth. So you can check out CNET for the full details but the sure story is that it doesn't really work all that well. Microsoft Connect for example is a lot better in interpreting gestures and voice and we really don't think it's all that useful unless you are, you know, gonna loose your remote control on a constant basis. Speaking of remotes, another big step-up feature is a touch remote. Samsung includes two clickers for this TV. One is standard multi-button remote and one a touch version that actually has a thumb pad sort of like a laptop computer. In practice, it wasn't as sensitive as a laptop and is actually a little bit more frustrating to use than a regular remote but it's pretty useful if you're gonna be, you know, navigating the web browser built-in to the TV. Of course if you're gonna be using the web browser significantly, I recommend you get the $99 optional keyboard which has a built-in touchpad. It actually works with Samsung's Android devices as well so that's a lot cooler and worked a lot better. Of course, I mentioned the built-in web browser. It's the best found on any SmartTV suite. Samsung's SmartTV Suite has more apps than any other TV manufacturer. In terms of major apps, they are missing Amazon Instant which is ind of a big knock that they more than make up for by having exclusive access to HBO Go which for HBO subscribers is one of the best TV apps you can get. Samsung also offers a few custom apps like Family Story which enables sharing among Samsung devices and a couple of other things including built-in Cloud storage. So you can actually upload things from the TV and vice versa into the Cloud. So all those are pretty unique and make for a very robust SmartTV Suite. One other feature Samsung throws in into this TV is it's IR Blaster that actually uses Bluetooth to send commands to a cable box or a Blu-ray player. That means you can use your gestures or voice to control those devices. Although the controller is really rudimentary and not really worth it. The Smart Touch remote also works with the IR Blaster to allow control with a sort of Harmony remote-esque set up but it's really not nearly as good a Harmony and in practice, we just recommend that you go ahead and get a standard third-party remote like those Harmony. Other stand-put features on this set include an excellent selection of picture adjustments, a 10 point grade scale and the best color management system in the business. So if you're gonna get the TV calibrated, it should turn out very nice. Speaking of picture quality, Samsung's E8000 is the best Plasma the company has ever made. Superb black levels, extremely deep. It also has that very accurate color that we like to see. Of course it has all the Plasma perks including excellent uniformity and outstanding performance. On the down side, the shadow detail wasn't quite as good as we've seen on some of the best TVs. The TV also has slightly worst ability to reject ambient light in some other TVs we've seen. That's compounded by the fact that the 60-incher didn't get as bright as we've seen on some other TVs of it's size but also the Samsung PNE800 has excellent picture quality in 2D. In 3D, it's picture is also very good. Actually, better than a competing Panasonic plasma we've tested recently. Samsung has thrown in two pairs of #D glasses there. Not all that comfortable but of course they are free and that's where they could be set for a lot of TV manufacturers. On the back, Samsung actually has one or fewer HDMI inputs with only three. That might be an issue with a lot of stuff connected to this TV. I like the design of this Samsung as much as any plasma I've ever seen except for the stand. I find the spider stand a little bit weird but of course to each his own. The minimal styling around the edge here is really nice. It's got a nice dark bevel, very thin and of course seeing from the side, it's also a good thing. You might mistake it for an LCD TV. And that's a not-so-quick look at Samsung's Best Plasma TV for 2012, the PNE8000. I'm David Katzmaier for CNET.

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