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Samsung PS50Q97HD review: Samsung PS50Q97HD

The 50-inch Samsung PS50Q97HD is a massive HD Ready TV that will be a huge feature in any living room. Its quick refresh time makes it ideal for viewing sport and for gaming, and its Freeview picture is excellent for its size

Ian Morris

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4 min read

If you like your TV big, then you'll be thrilled by the 50-inch Q97 from Samsung. It's a monster of a television -- big enough to make even the largest living room look like a pokey bed-sit in Acton.

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7.5

Samsung PS50Q97HD

The Good

Size; three HDMI sockets; Freeview and HD quality.

The Bad

Picture noise; only HDMI 1.3; not 1080p.

The Bottom Line

Samsung's PS50Q97HD is a good buy if you want the maximum visual impact for your money. The picture isn't perfect, but it does redeem itself with better than average Freeview performance

We've enjoyed Samsung's large screen LCDs in the past, so how does this monster plasma measure up?

Design
The Q97 is a pretty handsome television. It's hard to make something this large look pleasant, especially when you are talking about traditionally dark foreboding things like televisions. The Samsung manages to get some style points for its piano-black finish and funky rounded styling.

The TV doesn't have many interruptions to its smooth case. There's a power button in the middle of the TV, below the screen, but that's the only thing that breaks up the lines.

Beneath the power switch is a tasteful blue light that has three modes: you can either have it on all the time, off all the time or on when the TV is in standby mode. Once you've got over the novelty of this light, we'd recommend that you turn it off. As pretty as it is, there doesn't seem much point in paying for it to be on when the TV is supposed to be off, and when the TV is on it's a little distracting.

There isn't a huge amount to say about the remote control -- it's standard for Samsung and is average looking. It is light and fairly comfortable to hold, but it's still a little sluggish to respond to commands, and the buttons are not very tactile.

To the rear, you'll find a couple of HDMI ports, and at the side is a bonus, third HDMI input, which we are always pleased to see. If you are interested in the full list of inputs, take a look at our specifications page, where we list all the relevant connections.

Features
The Q97 has Samsung's usual selection of picture modes. You can adjust the settings to create the best picture for your particular taste. There are also pre-defined settings, labelled Dynamic, standard and movie.


On the side you'll find composite and S-Video connections, plus a bonus HDMI input

Samsung UK is labelling its plasma televisions as 'ideal for sport' because it claims that the quick refresh time of plasma displays makes them ideal for fast moving action. This does make sense, and coupled with a high-definition sports package from Sky, this TV would be a dream come true for a football fan.

There's also a dedicated gaming mode, for getting the most out of your Xbox 360 or PS3. Again, much like the TV's suitability for sport, the fast refresh rate makes for a good gaming experience.


Performance
Easily the best thing about this television is that it works some magic on Freeview. On such a large screen we would expect digital TV to look decidedly rubbish, but that's not the case with this screen.

While the images were nowhere near HD quality, they were far from shabby, looking crisp with plenty of detail. Watching the Chelsea Flower Show coverage on BBC One proved that the TV does a pretty good job with colour reproduction, too.

High definition was even better, with nice, sharp images and natural-looking motion. The TV's built-in movie mode does a good job of smoothing out the jerkiness associated with film, but it does so in such a way that the look of the film isn't altered too much -- a nice overall balance.


On the rear are two HDMI ports, however unfortunately they're only HDMI 1.3

The picture isn't without fault, though -- we noticed that there was a lot of dot noise, which are tiny speckles over the picture. When there is black on screen they are especially noticeable. This problem did spoil the overall quality slightly, although it was only really obvious close up. From greater distances it reduces the black level slightly, but not to disastrous levels.

Sound quality was pretty good. During the scene in Serenity where we first see the ship being piloted, we could pick out the speech that happens off camera. This is a good sign as on some flat-panel televisions this is drowned out by sound effects.

There are several sound modes, so there is likely to be a setting that allows you to get the best out of the programme you are watching. There are also manual controls too, which should enable you to get a sound balance that suits you.

Conclusion
If you're looking for a massive TV, this is a good option at a sensible price. We've seen better pictures on plasmas from Pioneer and Panasonic, but they cost a lot more.

The impact of such a large screen outweighs many of the problems, but we'd still prefer it if Samsung reduced the screen noise -- it does diminish the overall picture quality.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield

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