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Samsung PND7000 review:

Samsung PND7000

Samsung's picture settings are the best in the business.

HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 1
Composite video input(s) 1 VGA-style PC input(s) 1
USB port 3 Ethernet (LAN) port Yes

Like other thin TVs, the D7000 is light on analog connections and those it does have require breakout cables (included). We'd like to see a headphone jack, but the third USB port might make up for the lack if you're using the Wi-Fi dongle and you like to stream media via USB.

The slim rear panel sprouts 4 HDMI and 3 USB ports, but only 1 analog video input.

Overall, the initial picture quality of the Samsung PND7000 was basically the same as that of the PND8000, and both received a 9 in this category. The two are tied for third-best TV of all time after the Pioneer Kuro and the Panasonic VT30. The PND7000 can produce extremely deep blacks, although it failed to resolve full shadow detail--and properly reproduce 1080p/24--when calibrated for those deep blacks. Color after calibration was superb, bright-room and 3D picture quality were excellent, and of course it trounced any LCD in terms of uniformity and off-angle viewing.

The 59-inch version we tested was even a hair quieter (with less audible buzzing) than last year's 50-inch PN50C8000, which itself was quiet enough that we doubt any viewer would find it irksome.

The Movie picture preset was again the PND7000's most accurate, although it measured relatively red with a too-dark gamma and crushed shadow detail. As with the PND8000, with Samsung's excellent user-menu controls we were able to achieve an extremely accurate calibration, although for whatever reason color wasn't quite as accurate as we saw on the D8000 (green and cyan color points were off a bit and the CMS seemed to behave with less precision and range than on the D8000; grayscale was a tad less linear albeit still superb). On the other hand, we measured a slightly better overall black level on the D7000. Perhaps these differences were due to the respective ages of the panels at the time of calibration (about 150 hours for the D8000 and 380 for the D7000), normal variation among different samples (both were purchased at retail, not supplied by Samsung), or nuances during the different calibrations, but regardless, they were minor.

Our image quality tests were conducted with the help of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" on Blu-ray and the lineup of comparable TVs below.

Updated September 1, 2011: At the time of this review, the Samsung PN59D7000 had about 380 hours on it. Since then it has been aged as part of CNET's long-term testing. The aging process has caused changes in black level and color, but none of them is major enough to affect our initial review, and all can be fixed in calibration. Three other plasmas used in the comparison below were also aged significantly; the hour counts below have not been updated since the original review. The comparisons that follow are also the same as in the original review, with one exception: we have removed a paragraph that described the PN59D8000 as having significantly lighter (worse) black levels after aging. For a full explanation, check out CNET's long-term plasma TV tests.

Comparison models (details)
Samsung PN59D8000 59-inch plasma (940 hours)
Panasonic TC-P55VT30 55-inch plasma (992 hours)
LG 50PZ950 50-inch plasma (24 hours)
Panasonic TC-P50GT30 50-inch plasma (1391 hours)
Sony XBR-55HX929 55-inch LED with full-array local dimming
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: The Samsung PND7000 was superb at producing a deep shade of black, falling short only of the VT30 (0.0052 Fl), the Kuro, and the Sony among the models in our lineup. Close comparisons of dark areas, like the letterbox bars and blackest shadows from the meeting of the evildoers in chapter 2, revealed that the D7000 looked basically the same as the GT30 (0.0057). The LG was the lightest of the bunch by far.

Like the D8000, the D7000 crushed shadow detail worse than the others. As Snape ascends the stairs, for example (4:29), the folds of his black robe, the door in the foreground, and the drapes behind appeared less defined than on the other TV sets. In comparison, the VT30 again appeared a bit too bright, but we still preferred the look of its shadows to those of the Samsungs. The two Samsungs looked very similar in this regard (although the D7000 appeared just the slightest bit more realistic in shadows, due to its darker blacks) so we can rule out the D8000's "LCE" as a possible culprit; perhaps a different calibration could solve the problem, albeit at the expense of some black level, gamma, or grayscale accuracy.

We also kept an eye out for "floating blacks"--an artifact in which the level of black changes abruptly enough to notice along with the brightness of the rest of the picture--but we didn't see it. (Update November 7, 2011: Further testing revealed fluctuations in black level on other select material; click here for details). The D7000 does "turn off" and display a completely black image when the picture content goes dark for long enough, but this never happened during normal-length fade-outs in Movie mode in our experience.

These observations were made (and our calibration was performed) with Film Mode on the PND7000 set to Off, not CinemaSmooth. That's because CS caused a loss in black level, from 0.0061 to 0.0098 by our measure. The picture also dimmed slightly, although of course a tweak to calibration (perhaps at the further expense of black level) could remedy that. See the video processing section for more details.

Color accuracy: Again the two Samsungs were extremely similar in this department, although judging from our measurements the D8000 is slightly superior. When we compared them during program material, however, they were nearly impossible to tell apart--and again better than any of the other sets.

Skin tones looked superb in the living-room gathering in chapter 3, for example, where the faces of Harry's friends looked a bit more natural than on the very slightly greener VT30 and the bluer Sony XBR. The green of the grass and the blue of the sky in the field (1:13:10) also looked quite accurate and better than on either Panasonic, although the D8000 did show slightly lusher greens and a paler sky that we assume are more accurate given its better color points.

Near-black on the D7000 was the most accurate in the lineup according to our measurements, although in practice it was difficult to distinguish between the Samsungs and the VT30.

Video processing: While the PND7000 can handle 1080p/24 sources with proper cadence thanks to its CinemaSmooth mode (hence the "Pass" we give it below), we didn't take advantage of that feature. That's because engaging CinemaSmooth caused black levels to worsen as noted above. We asked a Samsung rep about this black-level rise and he mentioned that it was due to the need to cycle the phosphors more quickly to achieve the 96Hz refresh rate required.

In our test clip of the flyover of the Intrepid from "I Am Legend," the difference between CinemaSmooth and Off was subtle but obvious. In the former mode the movement of objects in the frame has a regular cadence, smooth but not too smooth, that we associate with film. In the latter the cadence stuttered slightly with a sort of hitching motion characteristic of 2:3 pull-down. Such differences won't be as apparent in most scenes, but sticklers who want to see the true motion of film at all times will engage CS to the detriment of black levels on this TV. The Panasonic plasmas handle film cadence without black-level loss, although each also necessitates a minor trade-off to achieve it.

As with previous Samsungs, the default Auto2 Film Mode setting for 1080i sources didn't result in proper deinterlacing; we had to switch to Auto 1 to get the PND7000 to pass that test.

Bright lighting: The D7000 performed well under the lights for a plasma TV. It was a bit less reflective than the VT30, doing a better job of dimming ambient highlights when we turned on the lights. While it wasn't quite as good at preserving black levels under bright lights, it was still very good in that area (and better than any of the other plasmas in the room). We ended up slightly preferring the bright-room picture of the Samsung, but the two were very close.

Meanwhile the LG plasma showed brighter reflections yet preserved black levels worse than any of the TVs in our lineup, while the Sony XBR LCD showed slightly brighter reflections than the Samsung (yet not as bright as the VT30) and kept black levels deepest of all.

PC: The PND7000 handled a full-resolution PC signal at 1,920x1,080 pixels, but we noticed some softness and interference in high-frequency test patterns and text. Still, its VGA performance was among the best we've seen from a plasma TV.

3D: We did not test the 3D performance of the Samsung PN59D7000 for this review because we expect it to be identical to that of the PN59D8000 we tested earlier. Please see the 3D performance section of that review for details.

Power consumption: Like its D8000 brother, and all plasmas for that matter, the D7000 is a power hog. Its post-calibration watts per square inch match the 55-inch Panasonic VT30, although by that measure the D7000 does improve upon the 2010 Samsung PN50C8000. The relatively miserly Panasonic ST30 is the best of the plasma bunch, and as usual you'll get significantly better power savings from LED.

The default Standard mode of the D7000 isn't nearly as dim as that of the VT30, which is why the VT30's default (133 watts) uses so much less power. Both TVs qualify for the current iteration of Energy Star, for what it's worth, but we doubt the D7000 will qualify for Energy Star 5.3 when it goes into effect this September.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0061 Good
Avg. gamma 2.1739 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.317/0.3292 Good
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3144/0.3308 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3128/0.3296 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6261 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6503 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 0.1489 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 0.4783 Good
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 0.227 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2106/0.3267 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.3185/0.1463 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.421/0.5098 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 800 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 800 Average
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 Good

Juice box
Samsung PN59D7000 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power save
Picture on (watts) 218.14 345.48 122.31
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.15 0.23 0.08
Standby (watts) 0.1322 0.1322 0.1322
Cost per year $47.92 $75.84 $26.92
Score (considering size) Good
Score (overall) Poor

Samsung PN59D7000 CNET review calibration results

(Read more about how we test TVs.)

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