Samsung PN50B550 Plasma 1080p HDTV - First Look, Setup and Installation

Article Index
Samsung PN50B550 Plasma 1080p HDTV
First Look, Setup and Installation
Subjective and Objective Tests
Viewing Angle, General Usage and More

First Look:

I'll be honest, the 50" Plasma from Samsung is nothing really ground-breaking in terms of looks.  It looks like most other Samsung TVs and my only concern is the stand that supports the TV by a acrylic pillar.  It does swivel though and that is a good thing if you have the TV set on a stand perpendicular to a wall and want to angle the TV for better viewing.  The back of the TV is quite well ventilated and contains a lot of ports that we'll look at in a minute.

 Unboxed
Unboxed
Rear View
Rear View

 

The ports are located on the rear of the unit as well as along the left side (when facing the TV).  They include almost everything you'll ever need - including 4x HDMI ports.  You can connect non-HDMI devices through the VGA connector or the 2x Component inputs on the rear.  One of these can double as a straight up composite input as well.  The PN50B550 is not merely a plasma monitor; it also has a TV tuner for those of you that are still trying to get analog signals into your TV.  On the side of the TV we find the fourth HDMI port, a USB port and a regular set of composite inputs.

 Rear Ports
Rear Ports
Side Ports
Side Ports

 

While we're on the subject of hooking things up and cables, I highly recommend that you check out monoprice.com if you haven't already.  Independent tests show that their HDMI cables - of any length - have identical quality to overpriced cables such as the monster, and it can save you $500 easily.  It is important to note that if you are hooking up a computer from a DVI port, you'll need to use HDMI 2, and the appropriate audio cables to make things work seamlessly.  Other than that, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

 

TV Menus:

Although the TV picture and audio seem to work very good out of the box, there are a lot of settings that allow you to tweak, mess, and possibly degrade your picture quality.  Samsung has included several pre-defined settings that control both audio and video settings.  For example, "Sports" mode boosts the saturation and brightness while "Cinema" drops the color to a more neutral tone and the brightness dims for a better viewing experience in a darkened room.

As the menu was pretty boring this time around, I didn't include pictures of them.  The only thing that really interested me was the Dynamic contrast ration level.  It appeared to make a bit of a difference, but we'll take more about that when we test this large TV.