Samsung FP-T5884 Plasma TV Setup & Tests
The first time you turn on the FP-T5881, its Plug & Play feature guides you through the initial setup. First, you're asked to choose either Home or Shop. Choose Home—Shop is the showroom torch mode. The usual channel-search operation follows, which is relevant only if you use an antenna or a direct connection to your cable feed without a set-top box.
There are three Picture Mode options—Dynamic, Standard, and Movie—and the picture controls in all three modes can be adjusted from their default settings. I used the Movie mode, changing the settings as indicated by Digital Video Essentials and other test DVDs.
You can dial in different settings for each input, including different White Balance adjustments, if necessary. Interestingly, I found that I could not improve on the stock Warm2 color-temperature preset, so I left the White Balance controls at their default values. I have no way of knowing that every sample of the set will be this well-calibrated out of the box. An aftermarket calibration by a trained and properly equipped specialist is still the best way to insure that you'll be able to duplicate the results reported here.
Initially, I was unable to get the HDMI connection to work with some combinations of disc players and HDMI cables, though I was ultimately able cure the problem through a process of elimination. Some HDMI cables that have worked perfectly with other products delivered no picture at all or resulted in flickering on the Samsung. I experienced similar connection issues with the LN-T5281F LCD TV, which leads me to suspect that Samsung's HDMI receiver chip is weaker than average. As a result, some combinations of cable, source, and switcher (which I didn't use in this review) might cause this sort of trouble.
The FP-T5884 excelled in a number of areas as indicated by a variety of test patterns from discs and my AccuPel signal generator as well as real program material specifically chosen to show up any shortcomings in a display. Its motion was smooth and free of the lag and smear endemic to most LCD or LCoS displays, even those with sophisticated motion-compensation features.
The resolution ranged from very good to excellent via HDMI, but it was merely fair via component. The Just Scan Screen Size setting produced the best resolution and the least overscan, but it is not available at all resolutions, nor is it appropriate for all source material. The peak contrast was acceptable but only about average for a plasma and far from the best I've seen—and measured—on a flat-panel display.
The video processing turned in a mixed result. The set would not accept a 480i HDMI input, so to test the set's ability to convert 480i to 1080p, I used a component connection. The processor handled 3:2 pulldown properly as long as the Film Mode was set to Film. It also sailed through the mixed video-scroll-over-film-background test and the difficult shots in chapters 12 and 13 of Gladiator and the opening scenes of Star Trek: Insurrection. But it stumbled on the three-bar jaggies test, the waving-flag test, and the 2:2 cadence test (with Film mode either Off or On) on the standard-definition HQV Benchmark test disc. The set properly deinterlaced 1080i to 1080p, but it did not recognize 3:2 pulldown on film-based material.
You'll find additional information on the Samsung's resolution, color, contrast, and overscan, plus the settings I used for most of the review, in the Measurements section.