on July 27, 2013
I did lots and lots of research before I settled on this TV. I am not the type of person who buy a TV only to find issues with it then do the old swapperoo with another one only to find another thing I dislike about it. I bought this only after very extensive research and due diligence.
What I look for in a good TV: great picture quality, great side viewing quality, accurate colors, bright and punchy whites, high contrast, black blacks, great SmartTV features, Netflix, media streaming, good enough input lag to play games, and as future proof as possible.
It looks like I'm asking a lot right? There couldn't possibly be a TV that fit all these criteria could there? Fortunately for me, there is!
When it comes to great picture quality and side viewing, LCD/LED TV's are quickly eliminated. Winner Plasma. That was quick! I absolutely hated the faded contrast from side viewing, uneven brightness, and graish blacks on the LCD/LED TVs. The problem with most Plasmas are that they look faded during the day. Some of the top modern plasmas have done fairly well in that area.
I narrowed my TV's down to the Samsung F8500 and the VT60/ZT60. I did comparisons of the TV's at a brick and mortar store and found that I'm drawn more toward the F8500 with each comparison. Every single reviewer out there claims "black blacks" as if that is the epitome of great picture quality. Do I buy a TV to stare at a black screen? I tried as hard as I could, but I just could not see the differences between the blacks of the ZT60 and the F8500 in a normal lit area. I'm sure in absolute darkness, I can probably see a difference. However, this TV will be my main TV in my living room with windows all around and 4 recess lights above it. I do not have a "man cave" like some lucky few out there.
Next comes the comparison of the whites and color production. In a normal viewing environment, there's no contest in my eyes. The almost LED-like brightness of the F8500 trumps the VT60/ZT60. The contrast, the pop, and the blinding whites (for a plasma) makes the picture jump out. The problem with most plasma is that the picture is usually washed out during the day. The F8500 seems to have solved this problem. The goal of many plasma makers were always to go as black as possible, but no one ever thought about going the other way--make whites as white as possible. Why is darkness more important than brightness? Why is a .002% difference in black level make one TV superior to the other when the other TV has 30% better whites and deeper contrasts? Am I going crazy here? I don't understand why the "experts" think that makes one TV "better" than the other as if black blacks is the single defining criteria for picture quality.
The SmartTV features of the F8500 seems to be better than the Panasonic as well. The F8500 has a built-in camera which allows for the use of Skype and gesture (something I don't use and think it's a gimmick). However, being able to video call on your TV is a pretty cool added feature. The camera on the Panasonic is an extra added cost. The F8500 offers HVEC (.265) which future proof it. This may not be important now as .265 is not wide spread, but once it's adopted, better quality streaming will be available through Netflix, Youtube, and home streaming. It's good to know that this future technology is available right now on the TV you purchase. The TV may produce great picture quality, but if you have a low quality stream, then the picture quality will be bad. Garbage in, garbage out.
The one thing that this has going against it is the input lag. This is the pitfall of the excellent Samsung video processing algorithm. I believe the VT and ZT has a slightly better input lag of 47ms. On PC mode, the F8500 averages around 53ms. This is not great, but it's absolutely playable and I don't notice much of a difference when I game. Another thing to consider is that when playing over the network, the 60ms lag for the screen is far faster than the 120-400ms ping lag for your packets going over the network. How often have you played a game and you swear up and down you shot the guy but missed and ended up dead? That's network lag spike. The biggest killer of your K/D ratio (besides your skill of course) is the spike in the network and not your TV. I think input lag is overblown unless you're playing over a LAN. In that case, a nice 24" LED monitor would be your best bet, not this beast of a plasma that you use for movies and sports.
- I don't like the remote and the sensitively of the touch pad. Often times I scroll down, and the thing goes left. What-The-F. I'm purchasing the keyboard for this TV to eliminate messing with the remote more than I have to.
- Speakers. Not a con for me as I don't use it. If I can afford to pay for this TV, I can afford an AVR with nice speakers or at least a decent soundbar.
- The finicky ARC port. I think this is due to the HDMI implementation rather than the TV itself. They need to let people configure how this works. I'm not sure who is to blame, the AVR or the TV. I basically use HDMI 3 (ARC) to output video from my AVR to my TV. However, when I turn on the Smart apps and Netflix, ARC should turn on and have the sound come out of the AVR automatically. It works, except whenever I turn on the TV, it automatically set my AVR to TV/CD instead of leaving it alone. I have to manually switch the input back to Cable/SAT. So in order to remedy this, I have to buy THREE new 15 foot HDMI cables (I run the cables through the wall). One goes in HDMI1 for output from AVR, one goes in HDMI 3 for return audio to AVR for TV apps, and then one goes from PS3 to HDMI 2 for PC mode (sound will go back out through HDMI3).
All in all, I cannot wipe the smile of my face every time I watch a movie on this TV. The video processing is astounding. Moving up from an older LN52A750, the picture quality is far more natural with much higher quality coming out of the same Netflix stream and satellite signal. Had the input lag made gaming unbearable, I would've knocked a star off this TV. However, since it doesn't bother me, this is absolutely a five star TV. In terms of features, picture quality, brightness, contrast, and blacks, there isn't a TV out there that's close.
Update 7/28: revised input lag from 60ms to 53ms for F8500 and 40 to 47ms for ZT60 as tested by CNET.
Update 8/19/13: The TV has performed flawlessly. I watch NFL football and the TV looks great during the day which is the majority of my viewing (50% sports, 30% movies, 20% gaming). This is the perfect TV for sports watching as black level doesn't even come into the equation. I also watch Oblivion at night and the black level is excellent (lots of dark scenes). The quality is superb.
Image Retention: There was IR when I watched NFL network initially. The IR (bar at bottom) disappeared within 5 sec after I changed the channel. That was the only time I saw IR. After 30 days of using the TV, I no longer see IR. I can only assume that this plasma is good at limiting IR after the initial break in period.
Video games: The difference between 30ms and 53ms is 2/100 of a second. It's up to you if it affects you. To me, it's negligible.
Noise: No plasma high pitch sound that I can hear.
Tip: I deleted the STB from the TV set up. It's useless and causes the "STB is not powered on message." The guide from the TV is useless because (1) it always start at channel 2, and (2) it doesn't have all the channel information. If you delete the STB, the SmartTV button takes you immediately to apps instead of the guide which is functionality useless and redundant. Since the TV takes 8 sec to power on, putting in a 10 sec delay from the Harmony remote will allow you to use activity to always put the TV and receiver to the correct input, thus overriding the finicky CEC control.
Also, if you use an AVR, set the sound delay to 100ms normally. The sound is synched properly if you use the TV speakers.
Update 11/20/13: I got a PS4 connected with PC mode and games play perfectly fine. Resogun is a reflex game and I haven't had any lag deaths so I believe this lag hype is overblown. Also, since I have to connect the PS4 to the TV and have the sound return via ARC, it downmixes to stereo even with 5.1 sound! It's a legality issue that does not allow the TV to pass through 5.1 sound via ARC. I will admit defeat and will turn off ARC and use an optical cable instead in order to get Digital 5.1 sound from Netflix and PS4 passthrough back to my AVR. ARC is effectively useless for those with a AVR set up. This will also free up the annoying automatic input change. I recommend just not using ARC altogether as it's broken. This is not a Samsung issue but an ARC issue and affects all manufacturer.
Also, Netflix recently updated its Netflix app for many set top boxes. The app on this TV is not updated yet, but the TV should support it as Smart Apps are all upgradeable. I will update this review when Samsung updates the Netflix app. Update: Sure enough, the app is now updated. This TV so far is future proof!
If you want to go directly to the Smart Apps screen when you hit the Smart Hub button instead of the useless upcoming shows screen, you can do so by going back to the Set Up menu. Menu -> System -> Set Up. Go to the end where you are asked to enter your TV provider and Zip code. Enter your zip code then Select "My Provider's not here" instead of your normal broadcast location. This will eliminate the shows guide when you hit SmartHub and take you directly to your Smart apps!
I just recently upgraded my receiver to a 2013 Yamaha, ARC works perfectly now! I no longer have to use the optical cable to get around the stupidity of CEC. I was able to set the TV to anynet+ and the receiver to never auto switch inputs. No more fighting the technology! The optical cable is finally going away, another relic of the past put to pasture.
on October 17, 2014
When most people are shopping for a TV this days, they usually have little to no interest in plasma, that's because when you go to a store most of them look thick, terribly washed out in a bright room and also they run very hot. This added to the general lack of knowledge of most salesmen, who don't really know what they're selling due to ignorance and also persistence of marketing for LED and 4K makes people end expending tons of money in a product completely unpar with is actual quality.
If you're looking to buy a tele this size and price, this is DEFINITELY the one to get.
Plasma it's a technology that has existed for quite a long time, so it has had the chance to mature and radically improve, leaving previous mistakes behind. That's why the pictures this beauty can produce are simply superb, blacks are incredibly deep and whites are the purest of any plasma tv, ever. Some people will argue, why would I care about that? I won't be watching B&W shows! But the better a tv's contrast ratio is, the better clarity and overall color pop.
Off axis viewing is spectacular and it's bright room performance is top notch, delivering brightness as equal or better than some LED sets.
This quality will change the way you see television, seriously.
Honestly, it does warm up when in use and it's energy efficiency in standby is not great, those are the only things I can complain of an otherwise outstanding product, minor issues that don't really affect it's usability.
Even though it is succeptible to image retention when displaying letterboxed content as I've noticed in this 6 months of use, everything goes out pretty quickly, so I haven't really cared that much, it's that good.
As people start to care less about plasma display and instead focused their hype on LED
LCD's , and 4K the few manufacturers that were still betting for this old-school tech have finally left it behind, which has allowed the pricing to decline like crazy (Seriously, I got mine for around $2150) just waiting for supplies to end forever, which is pretty sad by the way; that's why if you are into this beauty you MUST buy it while you can, because it is going to dissapear, and soon.
This is not your average television by any mean. It's the statement of what plasma technolgy was able to achieve after many years of existence, a true pinnacle of enginnering. A product that will be remembered by videophiles and experts for many, many years to come because of what it will become: a legendary product, one of the best televisions ever made.
Seriously, buy it if you can. You'll really love it.
on March 28, 2013
Update 05-09-2014: Well, I just wanted to provide an update since it has been well over a year now. This TV still functions flawlessly and the PQ is as good as ever. Not one hardware issue. A couple of the firmware updates over this past year really made it that much better.
Update 04-24-2013: I was finally brave enough to use my Xbox and PS3. Out of the 2, I think the PS3 looked better, but that is subjective. Both looked good and I did not notice any lag. I did COD BO2 on the Xbox and Oblivion on the PS3. I play my Xbox exclusively on a 24 monitor, so of course it should look better on the F8500. The potential for burn-in though still has me concerned. I most likely will never game much or at all on it.
So to all of the crusaders out there, this is a great TV. Is it the best? I cannot answer that since I only own this one. At a minimum, it is definitely pretty good.
Update 04-15-2013: I would really like to know how they reduce reflection on the screen like they do. I was sitting in the LR with the TV off. If was in the middle of the day and I had the bay window curtains and blinds wide open. I could see reflections in the TV, but they looked really soft. Blurry like. The images further away were even less visible. I mention this because I did watch a full BR with the same lighting conditions. While I did, I barely saw any reflections in the glass and for what I could see, I really had to stare at it to see.
With many hours now, the light pops still happen at cell brightness 16 and 17. I was obviously hoping that would go away. I have settled using a cell brightness of 14 for now, so not a huge deal. I like a cell brightness of 20, but during night viewing, that almost blinds me. No firmware updates available since the one I did when I received the 8500.
Watching the Masters this weekend was a delight. The 8500 handled it well and everything looks beautiful. Hopefully that means football will look good on it when the season comes. Next weekend, I am going to get more brave and try a hour or two of Black Ops 2 via the XBox.
Update 04-01-2013: Well, it is still beautiful. If you got the money and you want to try Plasma, this one is definitely on the short list. I have watched various content in every possible lighting scenario so far and everything is clear and as bright as I would hope it to be. Even content most would consider poor or from a poor source still looks better than on any other TV I have ever owned.
I am not fond of needing to worry about IR and burn-in, but for the beautiful PQ, I will learn to live with needing to do that. The smart apps do give issues now and then. I still think it is an update needed. In the long run, I doubt I use the smart apps since just about everything else I own has the same apps already.
We watched a few movies now in 3D. I am not a huge fan of 3D, but I can say that the movies i did watch on this TV were really good. I mean really good. Avatar was gorgeous.
The price to pay for really good PQ as this TV provides is that it changes what you see. Many times for the better, but sometimes not such as some movies you can so easily now see what is fake and what is real.
The only strange thing the TV is doing to me is every time I turn it on and select the source, in a couple of minutes, the screen goes completely black and then comes back. Sometimes it will display the info screen as if I just changed the input, which I did not. Hopefully just a firmware issue. It only does it once after turning it on and never again until the next time.
My first plasma. In the past, every time I would see a plasma TV in the store, I was never impressed. Hard to see in most cases and almost always more money.
As I was looking for a new TV this year, I saw that the new plasma TVs were just getting released. I admit that the marketing made me look twice, especially when it mentioned much better brightness. While waiting for any to come into stock, I started reading about as much as I could on plasma TVs in general and for this exact model. I liked it enough to give it a try. At least Amazon has a decent return policy in case this was a horrible decision.
The TV itself looks very nice. I rent, so I cannot mount on the wall. The stand is nice and different then others. I do not really care though. As long as it makes the TV stable.
The picture is beautiful via DirecTV hookups. Most channels and even older content look pretty good. Viewing a BRD is even better. The black levels are out of this world. Hardly any, if any, artifacts or distortions of any kind in the picture. The TV does get rather bright and you can see the picture just fine in daylight. I have it in a room with a bay window and so far, I can see okay.
There is a slight buzz that you can hear when you get close or with some content when further away. I have to mute the sound though to hear it. From what I read, this is common with plasma TVs with some much louder than others. With nothing that I can compare with, this noise has not been noticed by me until I purposefully listened for it.
There is also some flickering with certain cell brightness settings for me, namely value 16 and 17. Any other setting so far is fine. Not enough to dock anything yet, but I am keeping an eye on this.
The remote is different with few physical buttons, but I find it not too hard getting used to sliding the thumb around to move the cursor. Definitely slows you down though. The Smart Apps on the TV are like most competitor apps. Nothing too special, but not bad. I did play the Amazon app last night and it does not work properly. Anything I stream with it causes the video to blink on and off (completely black for a second then back on). It only does this in this app, so surely just an app issue.
I have a lot of things to try yet and many adjustments to make to perfect the picture, but so far I am excited and loving the PQ. Much better than anything I have ever owned yet. I never thought I would own a plasma, but I do believe this one may be it for me.
on July 2, 2014
This is probably the best TV set ever made to date in terms of picture quality, which quite frankly is all I really care about a TV doing anyway. It blows everything else being made right now completely out of the water in terms of color saturation, refresh rate, black reproduction, and viewing angle range.
I found it very easy to hook up and get it going out of the box without reading any manuals. The ONE insane thing about this TV is that, out of the box, the picture is excruciatingly bad, looking like everything it shows has been dipped in mud. I was so disappointed I was ready to box it up and ship it back. However, I went to the picture menu and changed the picture from Standard mode to Dynamic mode and the picture immediately lit up like a Christmas tree. Turns out Samsung has "Ecomode" turned on by default in Standard mode, and switching to Dynamic modes automatically turns "Ecomode" off by default, so the real culprit out of the box is "Ecomode", which everyone knows by now means pretty much "not worth a hill of beans mode" no matter whether you're buying a TV, a light bulb or bug spray.
It's completely insane for Samsung to ship these high-end TVs deliberately crippled out of the box. It's pretty much like buying a Ferrari that is shipped from the factory with a 20mph governor welded to the floor under the accelerator.
But I digress. I left the TV in Dynamic picture mode, but it was still necessary to adjust the default settings for brightness, contrast and color to get an optimal picture because they were set so oddly by default. Myself and an artist friend futzed with these until we agreed we couldn't get the picture any better. BTW, I recommend staying away from changing the default settings for cell light, sharpness, and Tint.
However, as far as the Smart TV features go, almost nothing is ready for prime time. There's a jumble of 3rd party vendor "apps" tossed in, with no consistency at all in terms of function, pairing method, or GUI. Far better to just forget the "apps" and stick with your roku box. The "apps" are such a poor showing I don't know why Samsung even bothered. They'd have been far better served to just build a roku (or roku-like) app into the TV and forget about the rest. Even the built-in browser is a pale-imitation of the real thing.
As far as I can tell, the PC/TV mirroring/pairing options are not ready for prime time either, requiring the purchase of proprietary hardware and/or running everything through Samsung's cloud/file sharing service which requires special software to be installed on each PC and a Samsung login account. I've concluded the best bet is just to buy a long HDMI cable to connect your PC to the TV and be done with it. A roku box will already do most of what you need anyway, and a direct PC/TV cable should do the rest.
I did connect up an MK270 Logitech USB wireless combo to the TV and the mouse provides a great interface for working the Menu, Tools, and basic Samsung Smart Hub functions, but both keyboard and mouse are basically useless for working the 3rd party "apps", thereby making the operation of those "apps" as painful as trying to build an automobile from a pile of parts with just one screwdriver and one wrench.
I spent quite a bit of time turning off many annoying features that were on by default such as motion control, voice control, and the Smart TV hub coming on initially by default at power on. Also, the TV did an excruciatingly incomplete and slow job of trying to control my DirecTV DVR via the IR repeater. I finally just unplugged the IR repeater all together, and now control the power on/off for the TV/DVR combo with the DVR remote control, and power off just the TV when with the TV control remote when I want to leave the DVD paused but turn the TV off.
Because I have an old Yamaha RX-V1 AV receiver which doesn't do HDMI, I hooked all my HDMI inputs into the TV and use it as the video switch and run TOS links from my source equipment directly to the RX-V1 for sound. It's not really all that inconvenient since I mostly use the DirecTV DVR and occasionally use the Roku box. I also did connect the TOS output from the TV to the RX-V1 and that works fine also, but the sound is not as good as the direct TOS-to-RX-V1 links. But that connection does provide sound to the RX-V1 for the internal "apps" and any HDMI-connected PCs.
Basically, I've turned my Smart TV into a dumb TV monitor that produces the best picture in the world, which is what I wanted all along anyway. The "Smart" part is such a half-baked effort it's just not all that useful compared to using a PC or a tablet.
Bottom line, this is practically the best TV in the world for picture quality and all the rest is just basically hooey as far as I'm concerned.
on January 14, 2015
This is by far the best TV I have ever owned. I used to have a Sony Bravia 120Hz 40" LCD and it was excellent. But it was time for an upgrade in size and picture quality.
I had originally purchased the Samsung LED UN55H7150 (55"), which was an amazing TV. But still I felt that the picture quality could be better. After passing through the unaffordable $10,000 OLED TV I got thinking, whatever happened to plasma? I then found out about the Samsung 8500.
I tried to find one everywhere but it was sold out and the reviews were solid to back it up. I eventually found it on Amazon for a $2,000 discount clearance item and purchased it right away. Item had some damage, but Amazon refunded a few hundred to make up for the damage and all has been good since.
I will be returning the LED and keeping the plasma (compared them side by side). The most comparable picture would be OLED TVs, however that's a bit out of range.
I use this TV mainly for Xbox One, movies and sports.
Picture Mode: Relax
Cell Light: 10
Color Tone: Warm 1
Digital Clean View: Auto
MPEG Noise Filter: Auto
HDMI Black Level: Low
Film Mode: Off
Motion Judder Canceller: Standard
Black Optimizer: Auto
*See photos for a side by side comparison of the "True blacks" and color*
on December 10, 2014
This is a the best TV unless you are ready to spend a fortune on premature OLED technology. I would have given it 5 stars, if it supported multi-channel audio pass-through and didn't have that annoying buzzing noise (its inherent to the plasma technology but this one is really noticeable in quite scenes)
Update 1 - The optical out put does support 5.1 channel audio, I was able to get it from HBO GO app, however from other apps like Netflix or other sources you only get stereo out even though the video information on Netflix says 5.1 audio. It would be great if they fixed the app. I have a Sony BD player that has Netflix and is able to output 5.1 audio, I have to turn it on, just for that.
Update 2 - Finally can't deal with the buzzing noise anymore. Good that I bought it from Amazon, they have wonderful return policy. Will wait for OLEDs. Really don't want to buy an LCD :(, unless thats the last option.
on January 16, 2015
I have to admit I never got the whole Plasma is the best technology mantra. Every time I went to Best Buy and viewed all of the sets side by side, the Plasma picture always looked dimmer and softer then the LCD/LED models. About five years ago I set aside my bias and purchased a Pioneer Kuro. It was in my home for about 3 months and I gave it every chance but still the picture just looked softer then the LCD to my eyes. This despite the fact that most professional reviewers at the time were singing it's praises. I ended up selling the Kuro and purchased a Sony XBR which I was very happy with and still own. Flash forward to 2014. I was back in the market looking to upgrade my Sony and narrowed my choices down to the Sony XBR900B and the Samsung U9000, both priced around four thousand for the 65 inch models. As part of my research I studied the results of the video shootout held each year at Value Electronics in Scarsdale NY, where I bought my Kuro. It had the F8500 as a tie winner for 2014 with the state of the art LG OLED. The F8500 won the previous year also. So with this in the back of my mind I came upon a sale for the 51 inch version of the F8500 for $999. I decided to give it a try with the rationale that I could sell my other 2nd TV, a 46 inch Samsung for $400 and for an extra $600 I would get a size upgrade at least. Anyway, once I got the set and turned it on, I thought I had made a mistake. The picture looked awful. Then I started playing with the settings and things started looking interesting. In fact, they started looking spectacular. Drop your jaw spectacular. The adjusted picture was just as sharp and bright as any LCD/LED I have ever seen, but dark scenes just blew the LCD out of the water. What really did it for me though was the fact this is one of the only Plasma models that has a motion dejudder adjustment. This makes movies and television look like live soap opera plays, but the kicker is that on this Plasma it looks to my eyes much more natural looking then I have seen on any LCD. Anyway, I like this set so much that I decided to get the larger model which is very hard to find right now. The price for both the 51 and 60 is more then a thousand less then what I was going to pay for either the Sony or Samsung 4k models so I have to say I am pretty happy. By the way, it seems the 51 inch model may be the easiest to obtain as i write this. What you need to know is that if you place the 51 inch model in a small room and sit about 7 feet away, this set looks huge. I know it looks tiny in a big showroom, but trust me, it looks huge in a small room. Buy it while you still can. One more note I originally tried to purchase the 60 inch version on Best Buy online. My order was processed, I was given a delivery date, and my credit card was charged. I then got an email about a day before scheduled delivery telling me the set was out of stock. When I called to complain I was told the warehouse does not set aside your set when an order is placed online so they may be taking orders for sets they cannot guarantee delivery on. For this reason I would strongly recommend Amazon over Best Buy. Much better run organization.
on December 21, 2014
If the 8500 series plasma wasn't already the best display on the market besides LG's OLED, dropping the price to under a grand for the 51" inch makes it a no-brainer. Instead of losing my mind trying dozens of amateur calibration settings across the internet, I chose to simply put it in movie mode, use the Disney WOW blu-ray for color, contrast, and brightness adjustments, then turn the other gee-whiz picture controls off. Holy moly! I'm coming from a 2006 720p Panasonic plasma. This TV blows it away! I've seen both the Pioneer Kuro 9th Gen and Panny ZT series and while I'm told they are marginally better, this TV makes me not care one bit. I'm not wanting for anything. In fact, the lack of brightness on those now extinct "reference panels" would probably bother me. How does Samsung get such bright punchy colors AND inky blacks with fine shadow detail? I only wish I could have gone with a larger screen size, but I was constrained by my room. 3D is extraordinary. It makes movie theater 3D seem like a waste of money. I'm not using the fancy pants remote or most of the Smart features, but Netflix does seem to boot much faster through the TV than on my blu-ray player. A bonus is that I also got the Samsung F7500 3D blu-ray player and working in tandem via Samsung's Anynet feature keeps source switching intuitive and quick.
on November 2, 2014
While the screen is very good, the software is a convoluted mess based on antiquated expectations and technology. Cord-cutters and high-quality audio fans will find Samsung's Smart TV to be particularly dim and buggy.
There's a few major problems I've encountered:
1) Connection loss during start up. I only have one HDMI cable going into the HDTV. It comes from my Emotiva UMC-200 AV preamp. About 30% of the time I try to start the Samsung HDTV won't get HDMI signal from the receiver. Samsung insists this is a problem with all of my devices (except their HDTV) yet the fix is to unplug the HDMI and power cables from the HDTV for a few minutes. When I plug them back in, it works. Doing a factory reset also seems to work, but that means 30 minutes of resetting all of my preferences. I've also seen a bug it switches my Mac Mini & Chromecast to 720p overscan with a bad color signal. Samsung says Apple / Google is at fault there, but everything worked fine with my old Samsung HDTV.
2) Smart TV expects the HDTV be your main device hub. When I spoke with Samsung support about problem #1, they told me I shouldn't use my AV receiver as my device hub: that's what Smart TV is for. Except...
3) Samsung TV doesn't do audio Bitstream pass-through, it's limited to PCM, Dolby Digital, DTS, and DTS Neo 2:5. If you you follow Samsung's advice and use Smart TV as your hub, you'll have to give up movie quality DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD audio. Uhm, no =P
4) Finally, your Samsung TV insists on you using a TV antenna or cable box (Set Top Box). When you set up the HDTV for the first time, you're required to connect one of these - you can't skip this step. But what if you're a cord cutter and don't use them? You have to fake it by saying you have a STB, adding your local cable provider, and then cancelling during the "add channels" process.
I came close to returning this TV twice, but in the end I stuck with it. When it works it's fantastic. Not only is the 3D better than I've seen in theaters, it's also smart about screen color/quality settings when switching between 3D and regular video. I can bump up the cell light, brightness, and color for 3D, but keep it reasonable for normal video.
It takes a while to ferret out and turn off Samsung's weird settings (start-up logo, Smart TV as default, auto-dim, Eco-whatever, etc). Even if you skip the voice / gesture control set-up in the beginning, it looks like those are still ON by default, so don't forget to turn those off too. With a lot of patience (and hopefully a decent firmware update) you should be able to enjoy a brilliant screen and avoid the special needs Smart TV.
on December 12, 2014
Let me first say that Amazon is still getting a few of these in every once and a while. I've been checking multiple sites for weeks and I was very surprised to find Amazon had some available one morning at the 999 price. It was very early so keep your eye on the site in the early morning hours if your still looking for one.
Now, the TV itself. I've only had it for two days now but I'm very pleased and happy. I must be very fortunate as my unit has had none of the buzzing you hear so much about. Of course, I have mine hooked up through my rather large stereo system and the volume is never really super quiet but I've been trying to hear it and nothing! The picture is just amazing especially on HD content. At first I was a little disappointed but this was before I calibrated it. There are many sites and opinions on the calibration and I've tried 2 or 3. I think its just personal preference on many of them.
When I use the HD channels on my cable it is just awesome. I've never seen a better picture. I do have a rather dark living room but even with the lights on I don't really notice any of the reflection you read about. This is my first plasma and I'm so happy I purchased this one instead of going LCD. I also think the 5 year warranty available through Amazon is well worth the price. This will probably be the last plasmas available unfortunately
My previous TV was a simple 32" LCD flat-screen that is about 4 years old so this is a huge upgrade for me. I've been very pleased with this purchase and I think all the great reviews are true. If you can find one purchase it, you won't be disappointed!