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Thin Samsung plasma comes with nice picture, higher price

With picture quality that matches its less expensive brother but not the best of the stiff competition, the main appeal of the Samsung PNB850/860 series is based on its sleek, ultrathin panel.

Sleek style defines the Samsung PNB850/860 plasma. Sarah Tew/CNET

In the battle between plasma and LCD, the former generally comes out ahead in most areas of our picture quality tests, while the latter has dominated the less important, but somehow costlier, dimension of depth.

LCDs such as the Samsung and Sony edge-lit models and the Hitachi UT37X902 cost a hefty premium for manufacturers knocking an inch or two from the standard panel's thickness. Now plasma makers want in on that premium, and the PNB850 and PNB860 series represent Samsung's less-depth-for-more-money gambit.

Like the company's thicker, less expensive PNB650 series, the PNB850/860 series offers excellent picture quality with accurate color, deep black levels--albeit not as deep as the best plasmas and LCDs--and solid video processing. In fact, we awarded the two Samsung plasmas the same Performance score, although the PNB850/860 gets the nod in design. However, if you can stomach the higher price and like the thin profile, the PNB850/860 makes a compelling option.

Read the full review of the Samsung PNB850/860 series.