Samsung PN50B550 Plasma 1080p HDTV - Subjective and Objective Tests

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

Testing:

Testing is always the hardest part about a TV review.  Image quality can be such a subjective experience and I usually like to operate with cold hard facts in hand. Most of these tests are subjective however there are a few quantitative tests mixed in.  Just like with our LCD reviews, we have incorporated a bit of hardware that allows us to test contrast ratio, color accuracy and lighting uniformity.  If you want more details on how we test LCD panels and TV, please check our article here.

Spyder 3

First up we used the Spyder 3 Colorimeter to measure color accuracy when plugged into a PC.  I used this system to play back some Blu-Ray and HD-DVD movies as well as gaming, web-surfing and more.  Initially, the color seemed a little bright and over saturated and the colorimeter tells the story better than I can.


 Target
Target
Uncalibrated
Uncalibrated
   
 Correction
Correction
 Calibrated
Calibrated

 

As you can see in the images above, the color was very "boosted" by factory default and required a pretty impressive color calibration in order to bring the TV into a proper calibrated state.  Oddly enough, once viewing the TV for a couple of weeks uncalibrated, once it was calibrated the color looked much more subdued and dull.  That is why some TVs in the store look much better than the others beside them - some are boosted to look brighter and more colorful, when actually the color is unrealistic.  To the average consumer however, the brighter one is usually the one they take home.

When it comes to lighting uniformity, we use a luminance meter in a darkened room and take measurements at the LCDs default settings.  Usually brightness is set to 50%, and for contrast ratio tests, we use  the maximum contrast ratio available.  Take a look at how evenly (or unevenly) the backlight is on this TV.

 LCD - Chart
2D Brightness

 

LCD - 3D
3D Brightness

While it may not look like very good lighting uniformity, the reality is that there are a couple of spots that are 17% dimmer than the brightest spot.  This cannot be observed with the naked eye though and that is why we measure with our meter.  We want to see how even it really is.  The 17% variation is perhaps one of the best results we've seen with a large TV and this is actually very good.

When we checked the contrast ratio, we tested several different scenarios such as dynamic contrast, bright backlight, low backlight and settled on a standard "normal" setting on the TV. The Dynamic Contrast ratio was used and tested and the results appeared to be better, but testing becomes sketchier with Dynamic Contrast enabled - at any setting.  The reality is that when you display solid color measuring screens (white & black), the Dynamic Contrast kicks in and tones down the solid colors.  When both are displayed on the screen at the same time, the results are more impressive.  The reality is that we saw contrast ratios float around 2000:1, and that is far short of the 2 Million to 1 Samsung claims, but it is the best showing so far.  Black levels measured in at 0.7 lux and this is tremendous.