The Good Excellent black-level performance; accurate color overall; properly handles 1080p/24 sources; excellent bright-room image for a plasma; numerous picture controls and tweaks; sleek styling with inch-deep panel; superb streaming and widget content via well-integrated Apps platform; very good 3D picture quality.
The Bad Less energy-efficient than LCD models; duplication of Apps and widgets can be confusing; 1080p/24 mode causes loss in black level performance; optional dejudder processing introduces artifacts; does not include 3D glasses; terrible remote.
The Bottom Line Samsung's PNC8000 series plasma TV produces one of the highest-quality pictures we've tested this year in both 2D and 3D modes, yet costs less than its direct competition.
Ever since we tested the in June, we've been itching to compare it directly with Samsung's flagship 3D-compatible plasma HDTV for 2010. After finally getting the chance to review the Samsung PNC8000 series--the odds-on favorite, if there is one, to defeat the Panasonic--we can declare the verdict in this dogfight: Panasonic by a black nose.
The PNC8000 is an excellent performer, and deserves the silver medal among plasma TVs we've tested so far this year. In addition, we'd wager no other as-yet-announced TV will outperform either one in 2010. But the Samsung's crucial reproduction of black can't achieve the same inkiness as the Panasonic, so it falls short. It beats the VT25 to a greater or lesser extent in a few other areas, including overall color reproduction, bright-room performance, and video processing, but none of those margins of victory is convincing enough to close the gap. The Samsung costs less, however, and its style and feature set will certainly turn heads, although for this price we'd expect to get a pair of those 3D glasses thrown in, too. The VT25 might be the better performer, but the picture quality of the PNC8000 series will rightly claim its share of videophile devotees.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch Samsung PN50C8000, but this review also applies to the two larger screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
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