Samsung PN64E8000 64in. Plasma Smart TV

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Product: Samsung PN64E8000GF 64in. Plasma 8000 Series Smart TV
Provided By: Samsung Canada
Price: $2899 MSRP at time of publication

Introduction:

It has been quite a while since we have looked at a TV, but today we are taking a look at the Samsung PN64E8000 series TV.  This isn't Samsung's thinnest TV, but it is probably one of their most feature-rich TVs and one that will have a future life through upgrades.  The PN64E8000 TV features Plasma technology, is 3D-capable and has a long list of features including a voice-controlled remote, integrated camera, lots of apps and more.  This thing is a beast and we intend to test it from all angles today in our review.

At 64 inches, this is the largest TV that I've had the pleasure of spending some quality time with.  Thankfully, the release of Halo 4 coincided with this TV review so I was able to play a lot of Microsoft's latest blockbuster on this TV.  I did try it in both 3D and 2D modes as well - but now I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

First Impressions:

This TV arrived in a non-descript box with a bunch of the features and specifications printed on the outside.  It is a standard brown box without anything really all that exciting printed on it.  With that in mind, we quickly stripped off the box and proceeded to setup the TV to make it ready for viewing media and playing games.

64in. Profile

 

Now you can get a better idea of what this TV is about.  The 8000-Series is one of the high-end SmartTV lines from Samsung and while the front looks plain, there is certainly more to this TV than originally meets the eye.

While it doesn't have a cool slide-out panel like the 9000 series TV, it does come equipped with some pretty interesting extras.

Bundled Goodies:

Most of the time, a TV bundle includes a remote; and maybe an HDMI cable if you're really lucky.  The PN64E8000 comes with a bunch of extra goodies that make the large price tag a bit easier to swallow.  This bundle actually adds some value to the entire package.

Pair Of Remotes

IR Blaster
IR Blaster

3D Glasses

3D Glasses

 

The bundle includes a couple of remote controls - one with an interesting voice and touch interface as well as the traditional remote.  Also included is an "IR Blaster" that allows the one remote to control other non-Samsung devices - even with voice control.  This TV supports 3D content as well as up-converting 2D content to 3D, and Samsung has thrown in a couple of pairs of 3D glasses to boot.  These glasses take batteries which will add to the overall cost of ownership, but as you can see they are fairly flimsy and you probably won't wear them much anyway.

 

Remotes Up Close:

The two remotes that are included are quite interesting.  The first remote is the standard Samsung number that includes all the main buttons you'll need to quickly and easily perform all the major TV functions.  It has buttons for almost everything - and while this is a good idea, it may take you a while to hunt a particular feature button down if you're not familiar with Samsung remotes.

Main Remote

The second remote is the "Smart Touch" remote that includes only a few buttons - such as power, volume, channel, menu, return, microphone and SmartHub.  The microphone allows you to quickly access the voice control options on the TV.  We'll get into those more in a little bit.  The entire upper charcoal area of the remote is like a touch-pad on your laptop.  You can scroll menus, make selections and more by swiping your fingers over this area.  If moving your fingers is simply too much effort, press the microphone button to initiate the speech features of your TV to make things even easier.

Smart Touch Remote
Smart Touch Remote

 

On the next page, we'll take a closer look at the unit and cover the features before we post up the specs and get into testing.


Closer Look:

This TV isn't that thin - and in fact, I was a bit surprised at how thick it actually was. After spending time with the 9000-Series a while back, it seems like everything should be thinner and sleeker.  The truth is the 9000-Series will not work with Plasma technology.  

Rear Ports

The back of the TV houses all of the connections and there is quite a decent sized area that is dedicated to hold the three USB ports, three HDMI ports, optical audio out, component video, LAN and tuner.  All of these add up to give you a nice selection of connection options.  I did notice one thing missing on this TV however; a VGA connection.  This 15-pin connection wasn't even missed until I went to plug it into my laptop for a presentation and then realized that it wasn't possible.

Auxilary Inputs Extra Inputs

Features:

The following information has all been pulled from the Samsung product page and posted here for your convenience.  If you need more information, please head on over to the product page and get all the details.  We've posted only a few here for your convenience.

Take Control of Your TV in New Ways with Smart Interaction.
The built-in microphone on the Smart Touch Remote Control, gesture controls, face recognition, and the Smart View Mobile App all provide unique ways to interact with your TV.
 
Voice Control
Tell your TV what you want. Say a command to easily navigate through menus.
 
Gesture Control
Your hand is now the remote. Use your hand to control TV functions.
 
Face Recognition
Auto login and more. Automatically logs you into your apps account.
 
Smart Content
Connect to Smart Content and Find More to Watch
Cutting-edge TV Apps and new Signature Services, plus web browsing, enhance the TV experience.
 
New Signature Services
Stay connected to more entertaining experiences for everyone: Family, Fitness and Kids.
 
Web Browser & Search
Discover even more possibilities with full web browser, plus "search" for content across all connected services.
 
Samsung TV Apps
Watch, play and explore with a wide variety of Samsung Apps built for your TV.
 
Smart Hub
Connect to new content, apps and much more. 
 
Evolution Kit
Soon you will be able to update your Smart TV every year with the latest technology. Samsung’s Smart Evolution Kit* completely reengineers your Smart Evolution enabled TV without having to replace the whole set. With increased processor speed, more functions and additional content, your TV will never be the same again.
 
Faster Speed - The powerful built-in processor will help boost performance to speed acccess to content and Smart TV features, as well as enhanced multitasking.
 
More Content - The Evolution Kit will expand the breadth and depth of your content choices. Tap into a broader range of new content without having to buy a new TV.
 
More Features - With the Evolution Kit, you will be able to enjoy Samsung's latest interactive features, so you can stay up-to-date with our latest technology while enjoying a better viewing experience.
 
Skype™
Skype™ on your TV lets you make video calls from the comfort of your living room. Using the TV's remote control, you can create free Skype accounts, log into existing accounts and navigate via a simple Skype interface made for the big screen. Do a better job staying in touch with friends and family almost anywhere in the world. Calls to other Skype users are often free. Skype camera kit sold separately.
Cam
 
Dual Core
Samsung's Dual Core's processing speeds allow you to perform multiple tasks at the same time, such as using an app while downloading another one. It also enables faster web browsing while playing apps or TV programs that you've recently opened through the Recent History feature.
 
Captivating 2D & 3D in Full HD 1080p
Whether you’re watching in 2D or 3D, Samsung Full HD 1080p displays picture quality that’s crisp, clear, and breathtakingly life-like. It’s as close as you can get to the real thing. Put on the 3D glasses to immerse yourself in the picture — Samsung only uses Active shutter technology, which provides the experience of 3D in Full HD 1080p (when coupled with a 3D source such as a Samsung 3D Blu-ray player or a Full HD broadcast from satellite or cable providers). You can also convert 2D viewing to 3D, so you can watch sports, TV shows, and all your favorite programming in immersive 3D.
 
Cinema Smooth
Movies are shot at 24 fps (frames per second) - Cinema Smooth is a refined playback process of 24p movies from Blu-ray and Satellite TV sources that accurately converts and displays content originally shot on film at 24fps as compared to the 30fps of DVD and Blu-ray disc. This allows for smoother motion scenes when watching sources shot at the standard movie rate of 24fps.
 
Wide Color Enhancer Plus
Wide Color Enhancer Plus allows you to see picture color the way the director originally intended. Witness the entire RGB spectrum brought to life on your screen to bring you exceptionally vibrant, yet natural-looking images faithful to the director's original intent.
 
600Hz Subfield Motion
Our plasma TVs make fast-moving action look more life-like and natural. Motion is never choppy or distorted. By flashing a single image up to 600 times a second, the 600Hz Subfield Motion technology displays movement that is smoother and more fluid. Contours are crisper and scrolling text is sharper. Your favorite action movies and sporting events are always super clear, and filled with rich, vivid detail.
 
Real Black Pro Panel
An advancement within the panel structure of the plasma and a software improvement that depicts blacker blacks, bolder color, higher contrast and exceptional picture quality. This technological improvement provides the most cinematic viewing experience available.
 
AllShare™ Play
Enjoy your favorite digital content from any of your DLNA-connected Samsung Devices. Whether it’s your music library on your PC, videos on your Smart TV, or photos on your Smart phone — AllShare™ Play lets you wirelessly access and share that content between your Samsung devices regardless of where you are. And there’s no need for any cables or connecting devices. AllShare Play is also equipped with Cloud technology, so you can upload your favorite content to a central web storage account and access it wherever you are.
 
Stand
 
Built-in WiFi
With built-in Wi-Fi, no additional wires are needed to connect with an existing wireless router in your home network and start accessing Samsung Apps or other Smart TV features.
 
Anynet + (HDMI-CEC)
With Samsung's Anynet+ you'll enjoy one-touch control for all your Samsung HDMI-connected compatible devices like your Samsung TV, Blu-ray Disc player, AV Receiver and Home Theater.
 
ConnectShare Movie
ConnectShare Movie lets you watch videos, play music or view photos from a USB connection without needing to use a PC or special equipment. Simply plug your USB device or drive directly into your Samsung TV's USB port and watch on the big screen with friends and family.
 
Smart Touch Remote Control
A remote control designed specifically to complementyour Smart TV. The Smart Touch Remote Control offers features that enhance navigation through your entertainment, settings and Smart TV features. With a microphone, touchpad, and buttons matched to key navigation functions, it's a unique and intuitive tool to get the most out of your Smart TV.

 

On the next page, we 'll take a look at the specifications before we jump into testing.


Specifications:

Once again, the following information has all been pulled from the Samsung product page and posted here for your convenience.  If you need more information, please head on over to the product page and get all the details.

Specs

Specs

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On the next page we'll cover some of the basic features and functions of the remote control before we head into the TV testing.

 


TV Menus:

While the TV certainly works out of the box, you can hop into the Picture, Audio and Sources menus to tweak things to your liking.  I really like the Anynet+ and HDMI-CEC features that automatically switch to the appropriate device when it is powered on.  This makes things easier and requires one less step when switching from the X360 to a Blu-Ray movie.  As you can see, there are several DLNA devices connected.

Out of the box, the TV is set to Dynamic Mode and this actually tones down the brightness and offers a very vivid picture.  Samsung hasn't boosted the color and saturation of this device through the roof in order to make it appear eye-catching and if you wanted it brighter and more vivid, there is room for that.  Still, out of the box settings worked just fine.

The Smart Hub is where a lot of good stuff happens and where you can quickly access things like YouTube, Samsung Apps and a lot more.

 

There are a few menu tools that help you get tighter control over your TV.  There is also a built in webcam that allows you to use the TV for Skype among other things - including gesture control.  Think of this as Kinect for your TV.

The Voice Control part of this TV is pretty interesting.  It works quite well, but it's not flawless.  I was pretty impressed with the overall speed and accuracy when in the Voice Control menu.  There was times however when the voice menu was activated when I was playing Halo 4 - without pressing any buttons.  This was odd.

 

Overall, this TV was fast, responsive and simple to use.  On the next page we'll analyze the TV objectively as we test out this unit.


A Word About Testing:

In everything we try to be fair, accurate and as objective as possible when it comes to testing hardware.  In the past, LCD reviews were done completely subjectively, but we have purchased some equipment that takes some of this out of the equation.  Take a look at our LCD Testing methodology over here to get a better idea of how we test LCDs.

Color Accuracy:

We started things off by breaking out the LCD Spyder and finding out how well this unit is set up and how well it produces accurate color.  We did this using the HDMI/DVI connection.

Uncalibrated
Uncalibrated

Correction
Correction

Calibrated
Calibrated

As you can see above, the default color profile wandered a bit from "accurate".  Once the test is done, you can choose before and after comparisons, and there was a noticeable difference.  The calibrated settings were slightly "warmer".  The biggest thing that had to be done to properly calibrate this display was to turn down the brightness to 49%.  This met the required 200 Candela brightness requirement.

 

Contrast Ration & Uniformity:

With the display now showing "perfect", we proceeded to take our contrast readings.  With the display calibrated we set out to find the "real" contrast ratio of the PNE648000.  The real contrast ratio of this TV is 718:1 as the black spot is very black indeed.

The contrast ratio of this TV is pretty decent, and even with Dynamic Contrast enabled we are seeing some pretty high ratios when displaying full black, then full white screen on the TV.  I realize that the maximum luminance could have been a lot higher, but when we test LCDs we make sure that they are calibrated properly and then give you the results that you will see when using them - not the maximum "theoretical" numbers.

We use our luminance meter in a dark environment to measure brightness uniformity.  To measure brightness, we use a bright white screen and measure across the screen in a grid to get our readings.  The brightest spot is considered to be 100% and the blackest point (with a black screen) is considered to be reference 0%.  The other values are obtained by calculating the difference between the two.  The screen is often brightest near the center.

3D Chart
3D View

2D Lighting Uniformity
2D Lighting Uniformity

As you can see the backlight drops off in certain areas of the display, but remains fairly consistent with less than 11% variation across the 64-inch panel.  This is extremely good - even if it isn't as bright as LED TVs. 

 

Conclusion:

If you've listened to Weekly Tech Update, you already know what I personally think of 3D TV.  I think that 3D is over-rated.  We did play around with the 3D up-converting feature as well as by playing original 3D content - and it's still pretty much the same as it's always been - promising, but more of a gimmick than something really useful.  While I do appreciate the effect and that the effect is actually very good, the problem currently lies in implementation.  It requires active glasses in order to make it work best with full resolution.  Glasses have come down in price - as Samsung includes two sets with this TV, but they feel cheap and don't have any charging capabilities.  I'm sure they would be used, but once the batteries ran dead, most people would probably forget about them instead of replacing the $2.00 battery.

That being said, I can't let personal preference and bias affect my overall view of the PN64E8000 TV.  The reality is that this TV is very functional and has a lot of features and internet related content that works well - even if you don't have it hooked up to a cable or satellite.  The SmartHub is well done and with a decent internet connection (either through built-in wireless or the Ethernet connection) there is a lot to do.  If you run out of things to do, the Samsung Apps can give you more ways to enjoy your TV.

If you don't have broadband internet or a robust home network, many of this TVs features will be lost on you.  Hulu, Yahoo Widgets, YouTube, Samsung Apps and more all require a decent internet connection to fully appreciate what the 8000 Series can do for you.  

Voice Control and Gestures are a nice touch and while they are a bit of a gimmick to control your TV, it does make the second remote actually useful.  The IR Blaster helps as well to unify the viewing and control experience in your living room.  I do wish that I could keep this unit at my home, or in my office to keep on enjoying games, media and movies.  It really is a decent product - even though the Plasma display isn't near as bright as an LED-lit LCD TV.

Pros:

  • Smart Touch Remote
  • Gestures
  • Skype-capable camera
  • Up-converts 2D to 3D well
  • Full network media support
  • Apps, Widgets and Smart Hub with Family Story and Kids sections
  • Very good image quality 
  • Fast, non-laggy menus
  • Two remotes

 

Cons:

  • No VGA connection
  • 3D Glasses are really cheap
  • Plasma brightness feels a little weak

 

Silver

I'd like to thank Samsung for sending us this TV for the review.  It was interesting and fun to talk to my TV - and not actually be crazy.  It will be hard going back to a smaller screen for my Xbox gaming.  If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the forum at the link below.