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The Sony LCD Bravia is not better than the Samsung PN63B550 63” Plasma television
Written: Oct 22, 2009
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
The Samsung PN63B550 63” is a remarkable television that has caused me to rethink plasma technology. Gone are the days of worrying about refresh rates and whether I can afford a big screen monitor. Here to stay is the technology that allows me to watch movies like the Matrix and The Dark Knight in stunning 1080P picture quality. We are confronted with a dizzying array of options at electronics retail outlets but nothing has even approached the quality of the Samsung PN63B550 for its price point.
As a close follower of the high definition television market, I knew that this was the perfect time for a purchase. The recession was hurting the sales of these high end consumer devices and prices were falling ahead of the slow fall season. Sony missed the mark in 2009 by continuing to offer 52” LCD televisions, like the KDL-52V5100 and KDL-52XBR9, as their mainstream consumer flagship line. They tried to convince us that the faster 120hz refresh rates were better than the competition was also the reason for their higher prices. Yet, after seeing their entire line up in person running in 1080p, I just was not impressed. Their LCD panels, like the 240hz KDL-52Z5100, still had jitter issues and the lack of larger displays to pick from upset me.
Samsung broke away from the pack in 2009 with their Plasma television line. They included subfield refresh rates of 600hz and integrated this technology into a 63” television that can only be summed up as WOW. I was amazed to see that the Samsung plasma could almost match the brightness of a Sony LCD with the latest BRAVIA engine. Adding insult to the injury of Sony’s reputation, the Samsung Plasma was thousands of dollars less in price.
While shopping for the past few months for the perfect football television, I stumbled across the Food Network. Forget about car chases or football games, if you really want to test the quality of an 1080p display watch a cook sauté a pan of butter! The bubbling action actually brought nearly every Sony LCD to a confusing array of blocks. The Samsung PN63B550 held its own with no digital artifacts and faithfully making me hungry for more.
My final decision was based on the results a friend had with his Samsung PN58A760 58” Plasma television. He like the plasma because had a very small back side. Yet, when he turned it on the Samsung PN58A760 television made a high pitched buzzing sound. We concluded this was from the compact high frequency electronics behind the screen. I do not like my television making buzzing sounds so I bought my Samsung 63” instead.
Shipping And Handling Of The Samsung 63 Inch Plasma Television
Can you trust an online retailer to safely ship a fragile and heavy product? Plasma televisions greater than 50” are extremely fragile due to their high size to weight ratio. The PN63B550 measures 60.5” wide x 39” high x 3” deep without the stand.
My television was ordered from Amazon because of the positive experiences I have had with their customer service over the past five years. Amazon also offered me a competitive price followed up with free shipping and handling which made them hard to turn down. I ordered my Samsung plasma on 9/14/2009 at around 8 am. Shortly, my email box was flooded with an invoice which was then followed by shipping confirmation six hours later. I was notified that my package had an expected delivery date of 9/21/2009. A long weekend passed and then at 8 am on 9/21/2009, my office phone rang and a shipping representative was asking me when I wanted my package. I asked for a 9/22/2009 at 11 am delivery and he replied that he would be within 15 minutes. As promised the carrier arrived at 11:15 am the next day. He was driving a pickup truck with a large trailer that had the Samsung Plasma securely placed inside. I helped him bring the television in and turned it on with no problems. I signed the ticket and he was on his way.
The television is comfortable sitting on an attractive base stand that came with it. I will wait until later to mount it to my wall.
Picture Quality Of The Samsung PN63B550 63” 1080P Plasma Television
Compared to any other LCD, LED or Rear Projection television, the contrast ratio is quite visibly the deepest of the whole market. You will experience black colors that are as dark as the black plastic frame that surrounds the Samsung 63” plasma.
Samsung incorporated SRS TruSurround HD with two 15Watt speakers into this plasma television. I was impressed with the strong mid to high frequency output and rarely turn the sound up past 45. Conversely, you are going to find the sound output of this television to be rather poor in the low range of the audio spectra. You should not expect any more from a television that is so slim and has no real room for bass to travel. Instead, I strongly recommend purchasing a supplementary surround sound system like the Bose 3·2·1 GS II Theater System.
Video Operations Of The Samsung PN63B550 63” 1080P Plasma Television
1080P High definition means you can view movies like Midnight Meat Train in the original quality that the director filmed the movie in! The sharp images and superior clarity of the HDMI audio make me wish they had produced these televisions years ago! I truly was missing so many details in these old school horror movies!
600 Hz Sub field motion means that no scrambled high motion scenes can ever get the chance to render on your display. The product uses 10 full subfields in each frame so that scrolling text is sharper and juddering issues are finally a thing of history.
A Built-in digital tuner is included with the product so that you can watch HDTV from any cable or air provider. You will also find ATSC and Clear QAM support.
A Wide Color Enhancer saturates every pixel with 3D color stretching technology until it achieves the true color and luminescence of the original film. I find that this is the reason why the colors in the movie Idiocracy, starring Luke Wilson directed by Mike Judge, as so lifelike on this HDTV.
Finally, Mega Dynamic Contrast is listed as a feature of this television because the display has a 1,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio.
Interconnectivity Of The Samsung PN63B550 63” 1080P Plasma Television
The Samsung 63” Plasma has two connection panels; one on the bottom left side of the screen and one large bundle on the bottom left of the rear of the plasma. You will find the following connections on the television: 4 HDMI, 2 Component, 1 Composite, 1 USB, 1 PC Input (D-Sub), 1 Headphone
Using the 4 HDMI inputs on the television, I used a set of Kelty HDMI Cable-2 Meter (6.6 ft) cables to first connect the Sony DVP-NS700H DVD Player to get 1080P upscaling and watch the movie Who Killed The Electric Car? Remember, if you use HDMI, you also get better audio quality which should help when watching documentaries like this.
The next HDMI port was plugged with the HDMI Cable to a Samsung BD-3600 1080P Blue Ray player and the horror movie Midnight Meat Train was played.
To round out the surround capabilities, a Bose 3·2·1 GS II Theater System was connected with an Optical Digital Audio Cable. The Bose system quickly fixed the lack of low frequency sound that came from the stock speakers.
To test the RCA Video and Audio inputs was done by playing the VG Pocket VG-4003 using a Philips (PH62089), 6ft RCA Cable on the television was fun because the screen rendered the deep color rich games perfectly.
A 20 ft VGA cable was attached to the television and ran to my ASUS 1005HA EeePc netbook. I used the netbook to watch YouTube videos. The video quality at 1920x1080 was crisp and clear. The .001 response time was evident as I played some animation MP4 files that were stored on my Kingston micro 16Gb SDHC card.
I also tested a USB based disk drive in the side port of the television. I could view some digital pictures and play MP3’s but I was disappointed to find that it would not support video.
Using a Kill A Watt P4400 power consumption meter, I obtained the following wattage values.
Peak wattage was 628 watts with brightness level at 75.
Wattage was 540 watts with brightness level at 50.
Television turned off yielded just 4 watts.
Over the course of a 24 hour period where the Samsung 63” plasma was left on and off, a total of 2.4 Kwh were pulled.
Warranty And Samsung Support
First, if you order this television from Amazon, they will not let you get a bad unit because you have to turn it on before the shipper can leave your home. Second, Samsung is a well known brand that has an established product support line in most major cities. They are currently offering 12 months parts and 12 months labor warranty on this model of plasma.
The Samsung product website features a full, tabbed menu for you to read specifications, features, reviews, consumer Q&A and even downloads to get the most out of your new plasma television.
I am very happy with my purchase of the Samsung PN63B550 and would gladly do it all over again because of the quality of service I received from Amazon’s shipping department. If you want to have a television that will make you the envy of neighbors and family, this is the product for you. Of course, you do not have to tell them that you paid less for the Samsung 63” Plasma than the cost of a Sony KDL-65W5100 65” LCD either!
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Amount Paid (US$): 2450
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