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Samsung PS51D8000 review: Samsung PS51D8000

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The Good Sharp HD pictures; impressive 3D performance; Warm and natural colour tones; Good sound quality; Great Internet features.

The Bad Black levels could be a tad deeper; 3D performance isn't as good as Panasonic's plasma models.

The Bottom Line Stylish looks, top-notch picture performance, great Internet features and strong handling of 3D material make the Samsung PS51D8000 a hugely impressive TV. If you're looking for a big screen with 3D-capable plasma, you'd be crazier than a box of frogs not to check it out.

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8.8 Overall

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Samsung's PS51D8000 has a non-standard screen size -- it goes one inch better than the competition's usual 50-inch offerings.

There's more to this plasma than just the smidgen of extra screen space as it also comes with Samsung's excellent Smart TV Internet platform, active 3D support and built-in Wi-Fi.

All this will set you back around £1,260 if bought online.

User interface

It may use plasma rather than LED technology, but this model has much the same user interface as that found on Samsung's current generation of LED screens. This is no bad thing because Samsung's interface is one of the best, if not the best, out there at the moment. Its menus look bright and cheery, thanks to their use of warm colours, friendly icons and neat transitions.

Hitting the menu button on the remote takes you to the main menu where you can tweak the picture, audio and network options. As you select each one, a graphic is displayed to the right explaining what it does, which is a useful touch.

Samsung PS51D8000 picture options
A graphic shows you how each option will affect the picture.

This TV has both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners onboard. They have subtly different electronic programme guides (EPGs), primarily due to the tight restrictions that Freesat places on how its EPG can be displayed.

The main difference is that the Freesat EPG lacks the video thumbnail window that appears in the top-left hand corner when you're using the Freeview EPG. However, both EPGs are first rate, as they've got a clean and welcoming design and are quick to use.

Digital media and Internet features

Samsung has been focusing hard on its Smart TV platform of late. This dedication to the cause certainly seems to be paying off. When you hit the Smart button on the remote you're presented with one of the broadest line-ups of Internet video services and apps on any telly.

Video on demand services include the BBC's iPlayer, YouTube, Vimeo and Dailymotion. There's a wealth of movie rental services too, including LoveFilm, Blinkbox, Acetrax and PictureBox.

Samsung PS51D8000 Smart TV
Samsung's Smart TV platform is packed with apps.

You'll find a number of simple games, information services like BBC News and fitness video apps such as ExerciseTV. The set has Skype support and naturally there's a range of social networking apps, including Facebook and Twitter.

We like the way that the social media apps have a dedicated buttons on the remote, allowing you to jump directly to them rather than having to rummage around in the menus.

This model has both Wi-Fi and Ethernet onboard and there are two USB ports. These can all be used for digital media playback. Format support is, on the whole, pretty good. For example, we tried it with a number of Xvid, DivX and MKV video files and it played them smoothly, both locally via USB and remotely from a PC or home network.

However, the set doesn't seem to support files with surround sound audio, so it probably won't serve as a full replacement for a media streamer for some people.

If you hook-up a hard drive or memory key to one of the USB ports you can also use the TV to record shows directly to disc. It's only possible to record what the TV is currently tuned to, so it's not as versatile as a full personal video recorder with twin tuners.

To initiate a recording, hit the record button to immediately start saving what you're watching to disc. Alternatively you can schedule recordings using the EPG, which is very straightforward to do. As it's recording the raw digital stream, the quality is every bit as good as the original broadcast.

Design and connections

Samsung has a knack of churning out TVs with attractive designs and this talent hasn't deserted it on the PS51D8000. This is a supremely slim model by plasma standards; the chassis measures just 37mm thick.

At 25mm, the bezel is also very narrow. The brushed metal effect on the front blends beautifully with the transparent edge that runs around the outer-edge of the set.

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