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Samsung improves PNE7000 plasma black levels by 10 percent

The Samsung PNE7000 series, Samsung's second-best plasma TV for 2012, will offer deeper blacks than its Editors' Choice Award-winning predecessor.

Samsung didn't send us an image of a PNE7000 model by press time, so here's a 2011 PND7000 TV, which should look very similar. Sarah Tew/CNET

LAS VEGAS--In 2011 we awarded our Editors' Choice among plasma TVs to the Samsung PND7000 for its combination of outstanding picture quality and comparatively good value. Its 2012 successor, the PNE7000, will supposedly be even better.

Samsung says it has improved black-level performance--a key ingredient of a good picture--by 10 percent for 2012. The PNE7000 will share this better black level with the step-up PNE8000 and step-down PNE6500 series (about which we were given no other information) 2012 plasmas. Considering that the 2011 models also had the best color accuracy I'd tested on any TV, the PNE7000 is already a strong contender for best picture quality of 2012.

A Samsung rep speculated that the TV would share the fix for the "brightness pops" found on the PND8000, but couldn't tell us for sure by press time. Details were also vague on other aspects of picture quality, such as whether the 1080p/24-compatible Cinema Smooth mode will still cause worse black levels, and what other picture-quality-related differences exist between the PNE8000, PNE7000, and PNE6500 plasmas.

We do know that all three will have Samsung's Smart Hub Internet suite and two pairs of active 3D glasses. The rep mentioned that the PNE7000 will most likely lack the Smart Interaction and touch pad remote of the PNE8000, but couldn't confirm those differences for sure. We'll fill in those blanks as we discover more.

Pricing and availability were not announced, although I expect these and other Samsung plasmas to arrive as early as March 2012.

Samsung PNE7000 series features (confirmed only; other features TBD):

  • Plasma TV
  • Comes with two pairs of 3D glasses
  • Smart Hub connected TV suite

Samsung PNE7000 series models:

  • Samsung PN51E7000: 51-inch, date available TBD, $TBD
  • Samsung PN59E7000: 59-inch, date available TBD, $TBD
  • Samsung PN64E7000: 64-inch, date available TBD, $TBD