Most helpful critical review
188 of 242 people found the following review helpful
Impressive picture, but that's about it...
on September 6, 2013
I had my expectations on this TV pretty high. I've always bought Samsung TVs. I have 3 others, and this one I was buying to put in place of my LN52A750 (a fantastic TV, and still using today). I had my eye on all the Samsung TVs as the 2012 models were released. Those had mixed reviews, so waited another year. As soon as the 2013s were released, I had my eye on the 8000 series LED, and this one, the 8500 Plasma. Due to the size of my entertainment center, I was between either the 60" plasma or 65" LED. After months of reading reviews, looking at the TVs on showroom floors, and what not, I pulled the trigger on the PN60F8500. Boy was I excited! My thoughts and experience below-
The white glove service is the way to go, whether it's through Amazon or one of the other 3rd party retailers. I didn't want to have to hassle putting it on the stand and into the entertainment center myself. I prefer to hook up all the cables myself, but the rest, someone else can do. They'll even take away the box if you want, but I decided to hang on to it just in case I needed to return it.
Before turning it on, I had mixed feelings on the styling of the TV. I knew what it looked like beforehand of course, and even before the purchase I thought it looked a bit outdated. However, I decided to look past that, thinking that when I'm actually watching TV, I will only be concerned with the quality of the picture. I told my wife my thoughts on the styling about a week after we got the TV, and she said, "Yeah, I thought the same thing, but I didn't want to say anything." Haha. Anyway, this is obviously personal preference. Some people will love it, others will not care, and some won't like it. In the end, I still don't think a decision should be made off how it looks, rather the picture quality and viewing experience.
Out of the box, not changing any settings - the picture is excellent. However, there are some tweaks to the settings that are needed (see below). Off angle viewing to the sides is good. However, you don't want to be looking down at this TV (fortunately, for me, my setup has the TV somewhat above eye level when sitting, so I only noticed standing and near the TV). A downward angle creates a very dim picture. I'm guessing this has something to do with the anti-glare screen on the TV, which by the way is very good. I was concerned that there may be too much light in the room for a plasma, but didn't notice anymore glare than what was on the LN52A750 in the same space. The PN60F8500 might even have less. Overall, picture quality is why I bought this TV. The reviews had been great, and I can attest the picture is crisp, colors are vivid, blacks are very black, etc. Nobody has been lying when they say all those things. I made minimal changes to the picture settings, but there are 2 that I think are absolutely necessary:
-For me, the cell light was on around a 15 by default. The picture was much too dim, and I had to put the cell light all the way up to the max (20). I also enabled the sensor that detects light in the room and adjusts accordingly, thinking that 20 would probably be too bright in a dark room. I put the minimum cell light at 15. After the change, I was happy with how bright it was, regardless of the light conditions in the room.
-Turn off Motion Judder. This setting creates some weird movements. If you notice a person with slow then quick movements that seem unnatural occurring on the screen, it's likely because of this setting. Many reviews have already talked about this setting, and I too highly recommend that it is turned off. Many 1 star reviewers I think had this setting on. Anyway, if you turn it off, the motions are much better, more natural, and you'll enjoy it much more.
The Smart Touch Remote is the only remote that comes with the TV. There is a HUGE learning curve to use this remote. And to put this in perspective, I'm a guy in my late 20s who is very tech savvy, and is often treated as the IT Help Desk by my friends and family. So if I'm having issues with the remote, I'm fairly sure others will too. I'd suggest either buying another Samsung remote (the old school style with more actual buttons), or using a universal remote. Samsung includes an IR blaster to control a set-top box, but I did not use it.
This feature was nearly useless for me. The response time was slow. It would pick up sound randomly, thinking I was trying to talk with the TV because you can say something like, "Hello TV," to activate the voice control. When it waits for commands, the TV sound goes off. So that happening randomly because it picks up a conversation in the room was a bit annoying. When I actually did want to use the voice control, it wasn't very good at understanding the commands. I have a Samsung GS3, and my wife has the GS4. Both phones have great voice control. So I'm not sure why this TV can't be as good. Seems like they would have used the same voice recognition technology. Anyway, I ended up just having to turn off the TV voice control entirely.
Surprisingly, I found this feature to work fairly well. However, I didn't find many opportunities to use it and ended up turning it off. So I'll just leave it at that.
The camera is a cool add-on if you want to Skype. There are some other apps that use the camera as well, but I didn't use them. The camera can be hidden just by pushing it in to the tv, and easily pops out. However, this has to be done by hand. There is not button or auto setting to have the camera pop up when needed, which would be nice. It's a little creepy having a camera always looking at you. A problem I had with the camera is the angle of it. There is a small roller on top of the camera that can adjust the camera angle up or down slightly. However, the adjustment is minimal, and even adjusted all the way down, you could just see the top of heads sitting on the couch. For others, this may not be an issue, just depends on your setup. In the end, I had the camera hidden most of the time. Also if you do not have the camera out, the TV will prompt you that motion control will not be available unless you turn off motion control. A little annoying to get the pop up every time I turn on the TV or use the Smart Hub, so I ended up turning off the motion control.
There are multiple screens within the Smart Hub. I found them to be useless except the Apps. If you have Netflix, Amazon Prime or some other streaming service that is compatible, this is an excellent, very convenient way to stream. I had previously used a PS3 for these tasks, but greatly prefer the Smart Hub apps over the PS3. In general the interface is the same if you're already familiar with the PS3, and I would guess it would look about the same if you had a Roku, Xbox, or Apple TV or some other streaming device. I use a wired internet connection to the TV, so not sure if the same experience applies to WiFi, but I did not have issues with buffering. In addition to Netflix and Amazon Prime, I also used MLB.tv and Spotify. Both good, but did have a little trouble with the initial setup of my Spotify account and playlists. Eventually, it worked. One other thing to note is that by default the Smart Hub will load when you turn on the TV. My personal preference was to disable that setting, and just have it turn on to the video source I was last using (usually HDMI 1).
I have DirecTV and had initially planned on using RVU on this TV instead of a box. I have the new Genie setup which supports it, and thought this might be a little bit better. If you aren't familiar with RVU, it allows you to watch your programming without having a box. It just goes directly into the TV. I don't quite understand the setup. If I understand correctly, it uses the ethernet port. In theory it sounded great, but by using RVU, you are at the mercy of the Samsung remote. You cannot use a DirecTV remote if you are using RVU. I already discussed my thoughts on the remote, but the big problem I had was that Samsung doesn't allow the full functionality of the DirecTV remote. You either have to use the Samsung Guide, which isn't as good as DirecTV's, or you have to swipe and click through multiple pages to get to DirecTV's guide. Other features to control fast forward, rewind, pause, setting a recording, etc are all much more difficult. Features like bringing up the scoreguide, starting a program from the beginning, etc. are cumbersome. In the end, I just ended up getting another DirecTV box so I could use a DirecTV remote. I'm not sure if a universal remote would fix these problems with RVU control or not. I think the issue really lies with the interface of Samsung and it's compatibility with DirecTV function. I think that a universal remote using RVU would still limit you to the commands that a Samsung remote would send to the TV. So in my experience, I'll stick with the DirecTV box to keep my features.
You might be thinking, "Why are you hooking up a Chromecast to a TV with so many apps and other features, including Allshare?" Well, I liked the idea of looking at a YouTube video on my computer and then just asking it to play on my TV with a click of a button instead of having to search for it again. Plus, my experience with Allshare on non-Samsung products has not been great. I was hoping Chromecast would be better at sharing tabs, but see my Chromecast review for that. Anyway, Chromecast would not work on the PN60F8500. When first powered on, it would say something like "Starting your Chromecast..." Then, go black. Then, it would give me the Samsung "No Signal" floating message. I tried it in every HDMI port, with wall power, and using USB power. Made sure all the firmware and software was updated on the TV and Chromecast. No luck. Tried calling Google support and Samsung Support. After all kinds of troubleshooting, nobody had an answer, and the last Samsung support person (escalated), pretty much gave up and said it was probably a compatibility issue. Well I'm not sure why it would work on 3 other Samsung TVs, including another 2013 model (UN40F5500), and 2 that are much older TVs, but not work on the newest, top of the line model. Blaming this one on the TV, and not Google since the device works elsewhere. However, it's not a deal breaker, especially since the Chromecast is $35 and the TV is $2,400. Just would have been nice if it worked like it does on my other TVs. Plus, it makes me wonder if there are other things I'll want to plug in to the TV later and whether or not they would work too.
One of the many complaints I saw on the 2012 plasmas was buzzing, and was a big reason I waited for the 2013s. I talked with friends with plasmas made from various other manufactures, and asked if their plasmas had a faint/loud buzz to it. Had a mixed bag of answers. I also read many reviews for the 2013 Samsung plasmas that said they didn't hear any buzz. Tried listening for the buzz in stores, but didn't (and didn't really expect to given the noise level in stores). So rolled the dice and hoped my TV wouldn't buzz. Within hours of having my TV on for the first time, I noticed it. It was soft enough that with sound on at normal levels, you wouldn't hear it. If the TV was off, it wouldn't buzz. It was just if the volume was muted, or very soft, it was noticeable. For myself, I have many reasons I mute the TV, and every time the buzz plagued my ears. I thought maybe it would just be me, slightly amplifying it in my head because of my fear from reading so many bad reviews about buzzing. So I didn't say anything to anyone, and just waited to see if anyone would say something. Sure enough, first time the TV was muted, my wife asked me if the sound was normal. A couple days later, she commented again how much she hated the buzzing. My thoughts were confirmed. I talked with Samsung about it, they said some buzzing is normal, but when I told them I could hear it sitting 8-10 feet away, they too admitted it's louder than it should be. They said there were some picture settings that sometimes affect the buzzing - brightness and contrast. I didn't want to hurt the picture quality, but for troubleshooting purposes, I adjusted the setting up and down as requested, and still buzzed. They said it could be a loose cable. I unplugged everything except the power cable, still buzzed. They asked if I was at high altitude. Dallas, TX being at 430' I said no, but apparently high altitude can cause the TV to buzz. If you always have the sound on at normal levels, you probably won't be bothered by the buzz. And if that's you, then ignore the buzzing comments. If you occasionally have the TV on, but muted like me, I'd be hesitant. The buzzing is one reason, I'll probably stick to LEDs from now on.
I'm not sure if it was normal or not, but walking past the TV, I always noticed a strong heat coming off the front of the TV. Just making note of that...
There were a few random things that happened with the TV, and I'm not sure what caused them. I couldn't duplicate it, but still something to note in case it happens to anyone else:
-One time the TV made a few loud tonal sounds, as if it was having a hard time processing the audio (which by the way I have output through optical). It lasted no more than 5 seconds, but several different tones, and then the TV just turned off on its own. I turned it back on soon after, and everything seemed to be okay. It only happened once.
-Randomly, a quick flash would appear, almost like part of the picture from a frame was missing. It would only be in one part of the screen, the rest of the frame would be fine, and it was so quick it was almost like a blink. I think this might have only happened while watching Netflix, but could not pinpoint it to that, and might have happened elsewhere. If it was Netflix, then maybe there was an issue receiving or processing over the connection (but it didn't buffer, so not sure about that). There's also the possibility that something was wrong with the TV in general.
After 2 weeks, I felt I had enough time to figure out if I should keep the TV or send it back. I decided to return it, and Amazon was very helpful. The return service even took the TV off the stand, and re-boxed it. In general, the picture quality was very good. The added bells and whistles were not needed except the Smart Hub Apps. The buzzing, heat, and random issues listed above ultimately made me doubt the purchase. After spending $2,400 on the TV, I wanted to be sure I loved the TV, and not just live with it. I'm still a Samsung fan, and will be replacing it with UN65F8000 very soon. Hopefully, better luck there. It won't fix the problem of the remote or some of the added features (voice control, RVU, etc), but that's okay. I just won't use the Samsung Remote or the quirky features. If it doesn't buzz, picture quality is good, doesn't have random issues, doesn't overheat, and maybe even compatible with Chromecast, I think I'll be happy. The extra 5 inches doesn't sound so bad either. We'll see...