Review: Samsung D8000 (plasma)

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Samsung D8000 (plasma) review

Samsung’s new plasma TVs are not just slimmer they are also packed with even more multimedia functionality and Smart TV features than ever before. D8000 is the high-end model with improved picture quality, silver design, 3D and internet Apps.

But can Samsung’s new high-end plasma TV compete with Panasonic VT30 and LG PZ950? And has Samsung managed to eliminate the retention problems that last year’s plasma model struggled with? FlatpanelsHD will find out in this D8000 review.

Samsung D8000 will be available in 51 and 64 inches called PN51D8000 and PN64D8000 in the US and PS51D8000 and PS64D8000 in Europe.

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Size:51" widescreen
Resolution:1920x1080
Response time:-
Contrast ratio:5,000,000:1
Brightness:-
Color support:16,7 million colors
Signal processing: 8 for each color
Viewing angles (H/V):Angle Free
Dot pitch:
Panel type:Plasma TV
Wall mounting:
Swivel stand:
Dimensions (HxWxD): 71.9cm x 119.6cm x 3.7cm (without stand)
Weight23.2 kg
Built-in speakers:
Input formats: 480p/i, 576p/i, 720p, 1080i & 1080p (50, 60 & 24p)
Inputs
VGA
DVI (but possible to convert through HDMI)
Audio (type) (Audio in/out)
SCART (1 input)
S-video
Composite
Component
HDMI (4 inputs, 1 HDMI 1.4)
Other
Outputs
Audio (type) (1 output, headphones)
SCART
S/PDIF (optical)
Other
Tuners
Analogue
DVB-T
DVB-T (MPEG4)
DVB-C
DVB-C (MPEG4)
DVB-S2
DVB-S2 (MPEG4)
Other

Price and retailer:

US retailerUK retailer


Our first impressions

In 2009 Samsung introduced their first slim plasma TV and the 2010 and 2011 models look largely identical. The D8000 model now has an aluminum look – made from plastic – and a transparent plastic line at the edge of the bezel.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


With the 2011 TV line-up Samsung has also adopted the four-legged animal-looking stand that was introduced on their LED models in 2010. It comes with a manual swivel function.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


All inputs are found on the back, facing either down or to the side.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


I heard mild buzzing from the back of the TV. I heard nothing form a 1-2 meters distance.

Test tools

Our TV signal is DVB-S (satellite) from Canal Digital and DVB-T (terrestrial). We also have an analogue TV connection. Testing is done with the DVE (digital video essentials) and Peter Finzel test DVD. Testing is also done with DVD, TV, Blu-Ray and Media center/PC.

We use our own monitorTest. The software supports some of the traditional test patterns used to evaluate displays as well as some new and unique test patterns developed by the people here on FlatpanelsHD.

Sony PlayStation 3 is our Blu-Ray player. We used the PlayStation 3 and a 3D Blu-ray player to test 3D movies and 3D games.

All contrast measurements are based on the ANSI methodology.

Functionality

The remote control is not different from last year’s edition and also looks identical to the one that comes bundled with the LED models. It is big and clumsy but it works.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


However, D8000 also supports Samsung’s Touch Remote.

Besides that Samsung’s D8000 plasma TVs is pretty much the same TV as their D8000 LED variant when it comes to multimedia functionality. It features the complete Smart TV platform with internet Apps, DLNA and networking features. It also supports smartphone controlling and USB recording (in Europe) as well as USB playback, social TV and a web browser.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


We have already looked at all this functionality in our D8000 LED review and therefore I will not repeat it here. If you want to learn more please read the Functionality section in the D8000 LED review here.

One new feature I want to mention is smartphone controlling. It basically means that you can use your iPhone or Android phone to control your TV if both devices are connected to the same home network.

Samsung D8000 review
Samsung D8000 review


From here you can control volume control, channel selection and all the typical remote control commands. But you can also control the Smart TV platform and utilize the on-screen keyboard on your smartphone to enter text into YouTube on Samsung D8000. It is a pretty smooth App but Samsung does not support wake-on-lan and therefore you cannot turn on the TV with your smartphone. So don’t throw out the bundled remote just yet.

Calibration settings
In the menus Samsung the following picture presets: Standard, Dynamic, Relax and Movie.

Samsung D8000 also has these picture setting options: cell light, contrast, brightness, sharpness, colour, tint, and sharpness.

NB: Please note that the US variant has an advanced calibration menu (CAL-DAY and CAL-NIGHT). This menu is not available on the European model, and therefore it won’t be included in this review.

In the advanced menus you can adjust: Black tone, dynamic contrast, gamma, color space, white balance (RGB gain and offset), 10p White Balance, flesh tone, edge enhancement, xvYCC, digital noise filter, mpeg noise filter, HDMI black level, and motion lighting.

Samsung has also incorporated some Eco settings and a 3D menu.

Energy consumption

Compare power consumption measurements on different TVs and monitors with our interactive power consumption applet here.

Below I have measured energy consumption on the 51” Samsung D8000.

Standby0.1 W0.1 W
SD+HD169 W203 W
3D215 W215 W


After calibration I measured power consumption to 203 W, which is very common on a 50-inch plasma TVbut a bit higher than on Panasonic VT30.

Calibration on Samsung D8000

Below you can see an out-of-box measurement on Samsung D8000 in the Standard picture preset without Eco mode.

Samsung D8000 review


The graph says this:

The number on the left is the delta value. Delta is a difference between two factors; here it’s the difference between the measured color on the panel and the actual color that is our target.

  • A delta value lower that 2 results in a visible deviation from the actual color.
  • A delta value over 4 or 5 results in wrong colors.
  • A delta value between 1 and 2 results in precise but not perfect colors.
  • A delta value lower than one results in almost perfect colors. The target is 0.
  • Everything between 0 and 1 is barely visible to the human eye.

    As expected, the out-of-box settings are not very accurate. Colors are too intense and bluish. We measured gamma rising from 1.65 in the bright shades to 2.7 in the dark shades, which means that bright colors are oversaturated and dark colors are too dark (shadow detailing crushed).

    I changed to the Movie preset and took a new measurement.

    Samsung D8000 review


    The Movie preset is much better but still far from perfect. I measured color deviations, caused by gamma rising from 2.0 to 2.5. The color temperature was measured to 6554 Kelvin, which is very close to our 6500 Kelvin target.

    Also notice that brightness is now measured to 119 cd/m2 – a very high brightness level for a plasma TV, which also ensures proper viewing in brightly lit rooms.

    I now moved on to calibrate Samsung D8000. Here is my result.

    Samsung D8000 review


    After calibration I managed to get gamma very close to our 2.2 target, which also ensures more accurate color reproduction. After calibration I measured gamma rising from 2.17 to 2.30. The dark grey tones are a bit too dark but all in all I am satisfied with the result.

    Color temperature is also very close to 6500 Kelvin, which means that colors are neither too reddish nor bluish. Notice that brightness is 126 c/m2 after calibration – very impressive for a plasma TV.

    Below are my calibrated settings.


    Picture preset:Movie
    Cell light15
    Contrast86
    Brightness:53
    Sharpness:5
    Tint:G50/G50
    Black ToneOff
    Dynamic ContrastOff
    Gamma0
    Colour SpaceNative
    Flesh Tone0
    Edge enhancementOff
    Motion lightingOff
    xvYCCOff
    Color toneWarm2
    Digital Noise FilterOff
    MPEG Noise FilterOff
    Digital Noise FilterOff
    HDMI Black levelLow
    Film modeOff
    SizeScreen Fit
    R-Offset24
    G-Offset24
    B-Offset28
    R-Gain28
    G-Gain22
    B-Gain29


    The cell light setting has been increased to get a higher brightness level and to get a more accurate gamma curve. We have also changed contrast and brightness to improve gamma. We tried to play with the gamma setting and we are aware that some users receive the best result with gamma set to -1 but on our 51” D8000 TV we saw the most accurate gamma curve with gamma set to 0.

    Lastly, we changed the RGB gain and offset settings to improve color accuracy. D8000 also has a complete 10 point RGB calibration system but we did not take advantage of it. These setting options can improve color accuracy further but each unique D8000 TV needs different settings for optimal picture quality.

    Picture quality on Samsung D8000

    In this section I go through picture quality with the calibrated settings.

    Samsung D8000 is based on a plasma panel and therefore it also shows some reflections. However, Samsung’s anti-reflective filter – that also makes the TV darker from the top – is very effective.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    D8000 is not the best TV for viewing in brightly lit rooms and matte LCD panels are still my preferred choice in this regard but D8000 might just be the best performing plasma TV (on par or better than VT30) in a brightly lit living room. Partly because of the effective filter, partly because of the high brightness level. These factors make picture appear vivid and fairly intense even in bright environments.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    Color gradation is good and a notch better than on Panasonic VT30. D8000 has no problems in the bright end of our color gradient patterns but we did see some minor banding and dithering in the dark color shades. It is nothing serious and D8000 did pretty well in our tests. But there is definitely room for improvement. And dithering is still visible from a short distance.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    SD picture quality is beautiful and as said before; plasma TVs is our preferred choice for SD watching. Detailing is higher than on the LCD/LED models and motion resolution is also better. Samsung does a pretty good job in terms of SD and I am very convinced. However, I do not feel that D8000 is 100 % on par with Panasonic VT30 and I believe that D8000 needs to be considered on par with the slightly cheaper Panasonic GT30 range instead.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    HD picture quality is great – really beautiful. D8000 has very good motion handling and after calibration, colors are pretty accurate. However, I still prefer Panasonic and LG’s THX color presets over Samsung’s Movie preset. Detailing is extremely high with HD content and only in the dark areas of the picture we experienced a small decrease in detail level as well as noticeable dithering (impossible to see form a 2.5-3 meter distance).

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    1080p24 content is handled correctly without judder. The Cinema Smooth option is now working the way we want it to, which means that the stutter issues that some people complained about with the 2009 and 2010 Samsung plasma TVs are no longer relevant.

    Response time on Samsung D8000 is very fast and we have praised Samsung for their impressive motion handling on their plasma TVs in the past. Phosphor trailing (typically green or yellow trailing around objects) is reduced to a minimum and it is probably the lowest level we have ever seen on a plasma TV – even lower than on Panasonic’s VT30 model.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    I did not notice dithering around moving objects on D8000 either. We saw motion dithering on VT30. Detailing in fast movie and game sequences is great on D8000 as well and D8000 gave us better color gradation in moving images than Panasonic’s VT30 model. That also means that we experienced no real problems with banding or dynamic false contouring (both issues can be provoked, however).

    Last year one of our main points of criticism was retention. The C8000 / C7000 model introduced 3D into Samsung’s range of plasma TVs but at the same time new and faster phosphor, more prone to retention was incorporated. Therefore we hoped to see Samsung address this issue with their 2011 models.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    Luckily, they have. Samsung is back to very mild retention and the level that we experienced on some of the pre-3D models. Retention on D8000 occurs but it is almost irrelevant, and even if you are a hardcore console gamer I feel confident that you will not be bothered.

    Input lag was measured to 28 ms in the Game mode.

    Below I have measured black level and contrast.

    Black level0.06 cd/m20.06 cd/m2
    Brightness69 cd/m2126 cd/m2
    Contrast ratio1150:12100:1
    Contrast ratio +/- 50


    After calibration measured black level to 0.06 cd/m2 which is on par with last year’s C8000 / C7000 model. So in terms of black depth Samsung has not really improved performance and Panasonic is still the leader in black depth on plasma TVs. However, D8000 reproduces lower black depth than LG PZ950.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    On the other hand we did not experience any black level fluctuations and only very minor black level changes with different input frequencies. If you recall our C8000 / C7000 review from 2010, you might also remember that we experienced issues with very poor black level performance in the Standard picture preset as well as poor black level performance with some input frequencies. This is not the case with Samsung D8000 and only in 3D we saw a reduction in black depth – which is very typical because of the higher light output.

    Shadow detailing on D8000 is good but not perfect. We never reached perfect gamma on D8000 in the dark grey tones after calibration and the 1-2 darkest grey tones are not distinguished from black. However, the result is pretty good and I am sure that you can squeeze the last grey steps out of D8000 if you take advantage of the full 10 point RGB calibration system.

    Below I have examined the Samsung D8000 a completely dark room to see if it has clouding, backlight bleeding or floating black issues.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    We experienced no floating black issues or any light homogeneity problems.

    3D picture quality on Samsung D8000

    For a general introduction to 3D see our Panasonic VT25 / VT20 review. In this test I want to examine 3D depth, 3D picture quality, 3D crosstalk and finally include a small comparison to some of the other 3DTVs on the market.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    We have already introduced Samsung’s new 3D glasses here at FlatpanelsHD and we have also seen them in the wild. But this is the first time we get to sit down with them in our own testing lab. And I have to say that Samsung has really taken a huge leap forward. The new 3D glasses are ultra-lightweight and much more elegant than any other active 3D glasses we have seen from Samsung and the other TV manufacturers.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    They are not 100 % as casual as polarized 3D glasses for passive 3D TVs but actually pretty close. They come with integrated batteries that are rechargeable through USB. In the box we also found a shielding top and some nose fitters. However, the 3D glasses are not bundled in the box. These 3D glasses are bought separately.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    Samsung had some fairly good 3D plasma TVs in 2010 - but some poor performing 3D LED/LCD models. However, we felt that Panasonic offered lower crosstalk and therefore better 3D pictures. So we obviously expected to see improvements on Samsung’s part.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    And crosstalk is very low on the new D8000. I only occasionally spotted crosstalk in a few of our test sequences but these sequences also revealed crosstalk on Panasonic’s TVs. D8000 has one of the lowest levels of crosstalk we have seen on a 3D TV, creating very immersive 3D movies and PS3 games with great 3D depth.

    Samsung D8000 also has a higher light output than Panasonic’s 3D plasma TV and even though it is not 100 % optimized for 3D viewing in brightly lit rooms – and 3D LED/LCD models do better in this regard – I would say that 3D viewing in a typical living room during daytime is actually possible.

    Samsung D8000 review
    Samsung D8000 review


    However, D8000 has some issues with color accuracy in 3D more and we experienced much more accurate colors on Panasonic VT30 and LG PZ950. Both of these TVs feature a THX 3D mode but Samsung has not incorporated any THX certified color settings in D8000. Instead you have to rely on the Movie preset – or our calibrated settings – for the best color accuracy. However, because the 3D glasses apply a color tint to 3D images colors are less accurate than in 2D mode – and black depth is worse in 3D mode. Also, feel that D8000 had more motion stuttering when panning landscapes compared to Panasonic VT30.

    3D gaming on a PlayStation 3 was quite good but 3D gaming gave us a tad more crosstalk than 3D movies– no 3DTVs are completely crosstalk-free in gaming. However, I think that the 3D gaming experience on D8005 is one of the best I have seen from a 3DTV and close to that of Panasonic VT30. I saw immersive 3D depth and even fast first person shooters are perfectly enjoyable. My personal opinion is that 3D games are still a bit too jaggy and rough but that is actually a problem with the game development and the PS3’ somewhat ageing hardware. Therefore I also feel that the real bottleneck for 3D gaming is actually gaming consoles and not 3D TVs. Because even though PS3 and Xbox360 can do 3D (Xbox360 in half resolution) I believe that the real 3D gaming revolution will arrive with the next generation of gaming consoles.

    But besides that Samsung D8000 provides the viewer with a solid 3D experience, and with one of the lowest levels of crosstalk and a higher light output than most 3D plasma TVs, I believe that Samsung D8000 ranks in the absolute top of 3D TVs. It is still not 100 % on par with 3D performance on Panasonic VT30 but for 3D gaming and 3D movies I think D8000 is a great choice.

    PC and Media Center

    The TV supports 1:1 pixel mapping. In order to achieve 1:1 pixel mapping you need to select the aspect ratio called “Screen Fit" in the OSD.

    Viewing angles

    There is no need to talk much about viewing angles. Most new plasma TVs have no in-panel reflections and no significant color change from wide angles. Colors look vibrant and intense from pretty much any angle. The only change in color intensity that occurs on Samsung D8000 is from the top where colors tend to get darker because of the anti-reflective filter.

    Sound quality

    The speakers are not very convincing. Samsung has improved sound quality over last year’s TVs, which makes the speakers more suited for casual and daily viewing but nothing more.

    For movies, games and music I recommend separate speakers.

    Conclusion

    Samsung D8000 comes packed with multimedia functions such as USB recording (in Europe) and playback, DLNA, smartphone remote controlling and Samsung’s new Smart TV platform with internet Apps. The Smart TV platform is currently the best we have seen from a TV manufacturer. It is not perfect, not at all, but the selection of Apps and the home network features makes it a promising platform.

    Samsung has made significant picture quality improvements with their plasma TVs in the recent years. And therefore we were also eager to find out what D8000 had in store for us. We were not let own. D8000 is a great TV with very fast response time, the lowest level of phosphor trailing we have seen and beautiful HD detailing on static and moving content. The out-of-box colors are not very good and the Movie preset is not fantastic either but we managed to get fairly accurate and very nice colors after calibration.

    It is also a real improvement compared to last year’s C8000 / C7000 model. Retention has been reduced to an insignificant level and black depth does not change with different color presets and input signals. However, black depth is one area where Samsung is still chasing Panasonic, and both GT30 and VT30 gave us better and more intense black depth. 3D picture quality is great on the other hand. We experienced almost no crosstalk and 3D depth is close to that of Panasonic VT30. I also feel that we should highlight Samsung’s new 3D glasses that are extremely lightweight and comfortable.

    All in all Samsung D8000 is great plasma TV and I am sure that it will be a popular model. Samsung is still gaining on Panasonic’s plasma TVs but D8000 is still not in par with Panasonic VT30. Personally I see it rather as an alternative to Panasonic GT30. Nevertheless, I feel that Samsung D8000 is a highly recommendable TV with a very attractive price and therefore it is awarded with our Top Recommendations Award.


    Press the award logo to learn more.


    Price and retailer:

    US retailerUK retailer


    SD & HD picture qualityOut-of-box settings Living room
    Response time and very low phosphor trailingNot buzzing-freeHome Cinema
    No significant retentionMovie preset not as accurate as THX presetsGaming and 3D gaming
    3D picture qualityBlack depth not on par with Panasonic
    Multimedia and Smart TV functions
    Inputs facing down and to the side


    Subscribe to our Newsletter, RSS feed or twitter to receive notice when new reviews are online. We’ll soon publish our Philips 6606H and Panasonic DT30 reviews as well.

    Samsung D8000 debate

    For questions and comments please visits this thread in our forums: Samsung D8000 debate



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