Test Report: Samsung PN60E8000 3D Plasma HDTV
There are two stories to tell about Samsung’s new E8000 line of plasma TVs. The first, and likely the more compelling one for S+V readers, is that the E8000 continues Samsung’s streak of putting out plasmas that meet videophile standards for color accuracy, contrast, and shadow detail. The second is that the E8000 is one of the company’s flagship “Smart TV” lines. This basically means that every Smart feature you can think of has been tossed in, including voice and gesture control, face recognition, Web browser, interactive fitness training — the list goes on.
As you can imagine, a downside to those Smart features is that using them can be complicated, even overwhelming. But if you really want a set with all the fixings, here’s what else the E8000 series packs: built-in Wi-Fi (along with the ability to serve as an access point for other Wi-Fi-connected devices), a built-in Webcam/Skype camera, and a Smart Evolution slot to accommodate future system upgrades.
The PN60E8000 looks exactly like several other TVs I’ve had in to test recently. That is to say, it’s got a thin cabinet (less than 2 inches deep) and an appealingly slim, black-toned bezel. There are no buttons or other control features to detract from the set’s smooth facade; Samsung instead inserted a joystick-type control on the lower left edge.
You won’t be needing that joystick as long as you know where you left the remote, and Samsung gives you a few options here. Along with a standard full-function (and backlit!) clicker, there’s a small Smart Touch remote with a touch-sensitive trackpad for Web browsing/Smart Hub app navigation that features a built-in mike to help with voice control. Samsung also throws in a Bluetooth-controlled IR blaster that can automatically change channels on your cable/satellite DVR via voice commands.
Setup for me started with Smart TV. After enabling voice and gesture control, I moved on to the environment test for each. But even with lights on and the blinds open in my room, it took several attempts before I passed the gesture control test. As for voice control, I eventually passed that one after numerous attempts, too. (In many cases, issuing successful voice commands would involve grabbing the Smart Touch remote with its built-in mike.)
Picture setup proved easier. The TV’s Movie mode was mostly accurate right out of the box, requiring only a minor amount of tweaking to get colors near-perfect. An Advanced Settings menu provides both 2- and 10-point White Balance adjustments; using these, I was able to mostly even out the grayscale, though darker images did lean slightly blue afterward. The Color Space menu also offers a Custom option with a full range of adjustments to tweak primary and secondary colors. Measurement equipment in hand, I used these to improve upon the already pretty accurate color points.