LED-backlit LCDs are certainly winning the hype war at CES 2009, but home theater buffs know that plasma TVs often offer better performance for your dollar. Samsung's new top-of-the-line plasmas, the PNB850 series, feature a superslim, inch-thick design and offer the new Internet widgets available via the Internet@TV platform. Here are the important details.
Key features of the Samsung PNB850 series:
- Slim design, about an inch thick
- Ultra FilterBright Plus antiglare screen
- Real Movie (24 frames per second) mode
- Wide color Enhancer Pro
- Built-in Ethernet
- Wi-Fi-ready, with purchase of additional adapter
- Energy Star 3.0 compatible
Pricing and availability of the Samsung PNB850 series (estimated street prices):
50-inch 50PNB550($2,299; May) 58-inch 58PNB550($3,399; May)
While we usually see manufacturers print misleading, inflated contrast ratios, Samsung instead only claims "mega dynamic contrast ratio" for these plasmas. The Ultra FilterBright Plus screen is the latest iteration of Samsung's glare reduction coatings, with these sets adding black stripes into the panel to absorb more room light and create deeper blacks. We're anxious to see this in action, as screen glare is still often a problem with plasmas. Wide Color Enhancer Pro is a feature that supposedly matches a source's color space to the HD color space--we haven't seen a feature like this yet, so it will be interesting to test in the labs.
A built-in Ethernet connection enables access to Samsung's new Internet@TV platform, which lets users access Yahoo widgets capable of delivering content from services such as Flickr, Yahoo News, Yahoo Weather, USA Today, YouTube, Showtime, and others. The PNB850 series is also Wi-Fi-ready, but you'll need to purchase an additional adapter. Finally, the sets are compliant with the new Energy Star 3.0 specification, although it seems like almost all 2009 HDTVs are.