Samsung PN51D7000 Review
Model: Samsung PN51D7000
Description: Full HD 1080p 51" Plasma TV 3D TV Compatible
Reviewer: Robert Wiley
Date: Summer 2011
Picture Quality Rating (HD): 9/10
A shot from the Blu Ray of the Transporter. The PND7000 shows exactly what we look for in this picture, great colors, dark shadow detail in the foreground and deep blacks in the background.
A great shot of the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals vs. Miami.
We thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the C7000 plasma series last year and we know that these TVs can deliver a great picture quality. The D7000 series also renders a superb picture, but slightly different than what we saw last year. First, let's start with the Picture Mode options which are fairly limited compared to many TVs we review. Preset Modes are Dynamic, Standard, Movie, and Relax. The Relax and Movie modes are pretty solid right out the box. We ISF calibrated the picture from the Movie Mode to D6500K and post those picture settings on the next page. We then measured peak brightness and peak black to determine a range of contrast and this is where we were first surprised. Contrast measures about half on the D7000 series than it did last year. We found the reason for the decrease to be less light output (brightness) rather than black performance. We attribute this decrease to one or both of the following explanations: 1) Plasma panel Image retention (not burn in) issues could have influenced Samsung to decrease light output and/or 2) Samsung had to reduce light output to meet internal or external energy consumption reduction requirements. Indeed as it relates to the second possible reason, there is a yellow sticker affixed to the TV that states an average annual $28 in power costs. OK, I can see a small reduction in light output to accommodate the first of these, but power costs? I think I prefer to pay an extra $1 per month or even $2 more per month to get a better contrast ratio. Haven't we gone overboard enough with this energy efficiency when it comes to TVs? We here at 3D-TVBuyingGuide.com are proponents of the best picture quality possible and not at the expense of the lowering the power bill by a buck a month to meet an external non-profit agencies requirements.
The D7000 didnt measure quite as high in contrast this year due to lower energy consumption. In this picture we test using an ANSI checkerboard pattern. (Right) The included energy consumption sticker alerting you of your yearly cost at 5 hours per day average
OK, that said, how is the picture quality? Excellent, just like last year. Colors are realistic and explosive, black levels are inky deep, dark shadow detail is excellent even with dark and light colors in the scene. The latter of these attributes is one of the traits that sets these plasma TVs apart from LED and LCD technologies. That and off center side angle viewing which is perfect on this plasma as it is with most. There is no false countouring or mapping of color information. The only weaknesses with the picture is judder jerkiness during slow panning side to side and peak light output. The first of these weaknesses is present in almost all TVs, the second causes us to recommend this TV for light controlled rooms.
We use an X-rite I1 pro meter reader using CalMan software to help with our calibrations. Shown here calibrating Blue.
Vibrant, colorful shots from the 3D Blu Ray of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
3D TV Viewing: 3D viewing is much improved from last year. The PN51D7000 is full HD active shutter 3D and comes with Samsung's 3D starter kit which includes 2 pairs of active shutter 3D glasses model SSD-3100GB and a Shrek 3D movie. The TV recognizes when the 3D glasses are synced and an alert pops up on the screen stating, "3D Glasses are now connected." Many of the issues we noted last year are gone. There was no blurring in the bottom left and right corners of the screen. There was no crosstalk and flashing from the glasses from ambient room light. Images looked great and the depth is excellent depending on the 3D movie. The PND7000 3D plasma technology does justice to 3D technology. It certainly involves you in the picture. We did note some eye fatigue after viewing for a while but not as much as last year.
Samsung's SSD-3100GB 3D glasses are light and comfortable.
3D TV Glasses: Much of the improvement in 3D glasses may be attributed to the new active shutter glasses. They are light, comfortable and much easier to wear. Last year we experienced lost of flashing from the glasses as they lose sync and regain it again. With the SSD-3100GB we did not experience that at all.
Picture Quality Rating (Non-HD): 9/10
Up conversion of lower end signals is very impressive on the PN51D7000. This is important due to the way we increasingly watch TV these days – through Internet TV programming like Netflix, Hulu and Vudu. These services do not always transmit their signals in HD and even when it is, it's usually a ramped down 720p HD rather than 1080p. Many times you are watching something akin to 480i or 480p resolution. So a good quality up conversion in a TV is essential and to get this you will likely need to go to a more high end solution like the D7000. Color information was very good despite the fact that you cannot adjust picture settings from the Smart Hub Internet options. The tools key will get you into the Sound Mode options but that's it. Nevertheless, in the end we were happy with the color, black levels, and especially the dark shadow detail on this TV.
A Standard Definition shot from Kill Bill shows how the Deep Black Filter takes in ambient room light and still delivers a great picture.
Black Level/Contrast: The PND7000 series plasma line contains Samsung's newest Black Drive Filter Blacks which allows ambient light to sink deeper into the screen while the TV outputs a higher contrast. We can attest that the reflection and glare from the screen really is minimized by this feature. Black levels appear inky and are a strong suit of this TV. The black bars top and bottom during movies appear inky black. Post calibration checkerboard pattern contrast measured a respectable 877:1 – less than last year for the aforementioned reasons. Detail in dark areas of the picture were clearly visible.
False Contouring/ Mapping: The picture from the PND7000 is distinctly high end and exhibits none of these weaknesses such as mapping colors together to form a pattern.
Features Rating: 9.5
Wireless Access: The PND7000's wireless access needs no Wifi dongle and works seamlessly. There was no difference in quality or speed when we tested the in built wireless capability against a hard wired Ethernet cable.
The "Your Video" Smart Hub option recommends movies and TV programming mainly through Vudu Movies which cost $3.99 each. It has sections for Top 20 Movies, New Releases, Top 20 TV shows, and a From Friends section.
Internet Connectivity Smart Hub: Samsung's Smart Hub has probably the best selection of Internet TV Apps and Options on the market. There are the usual must haves like Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, ESPN, USA Today, AP, Accuweather. Some of the Apps are more worthy than others. The MLB.tv App shows todays game times and scores, and standings but no video clips or reruns. If you want to access the games, you'll have to subscribe to the premium service. Many small Apps like Pac man or various workout video apps cost between .99 and 2.99 each. One drawback of Samsung's Smart Hub is that you cannot access the picture menu to calibrate the picture. You must just watch it as it comes in – not that performance is poor, it isnt at all, but it's always nice to be able to calibrate the settings. Google Maps is a fun feature.
Design and Appearance: The Samsung PN51D7000 looks much the same as the PND8000 series from last year except with a thinner framing bezel. It's a great looking set. The thin 1" brushed charcoal metallic finish lends a very expensive look and the depth of the TV is the same at just 1.4". There is a thick glass edging all the way around the TV. The screen when off is a deep rich charcoal color. The TV comes with a solidly built heavy table top which swivels 21 degrees side to side. Lastly, the neck is a clear acrylic piece that makes the TV look as if it's floating in air.
Inputs: Though there are 4 HDMI, 2 USB, a PC input, there is only one shared input for component and composite through an included breakout cable. Inputs are located within a cavity and pointing out the side of the TV to allow for tight wall mounting.
Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The included remote is backlit and easy to use. There is a special key for the Smart Hub features. Using the return button when searching through Internet Apps options saves lots of time. The new menu for 2011 is excellent. It's simple design is much faster and easier to use than last year's as there is a tutorial description for each function out to the right. Menu options are complete without going overboard. There is no dejudder control function on the D7000 series. We've mentioned the picture modes above in the HD picture section.
Audio Output Quality: Audio output was impressive from the 10W X 10W speakers. Compared to most super thin TVs these days, sound from the PND7000's speakers is much fuller with more base and better quality. There was plenty of volume to fill a large room at the 50% level. There are impressively 5 Sound Mode options whereas most TVs only have two. We have preferred the Clear Voice option in the past so give that one a try. The Standard mode is also good. Music was not great but we felt the sound quality was well balanced.
Extra Features: Samsung's Allshare is included on this model and allows DLNA-enabled devices to connect to the TV for accessing photos, movies, music. The Connectshare feature is also included and allows easy hookup for video with Samsung Cameras or Camcorders.see Value Rating and Overall Score on Page 2