Samsung PN60E7000FF 3D Plasma HDTV Page 2
Samsung’s new active 3D glasses come packed with the nose pad and earpieces detached and the battery ready to install. These glasses are triggered from the set’s built-in Bluetooth transmitter, so they won’t break lock if you turn your head. Two pair are included with the set, and extra pairs are just $20—a new low price, in our experience, for active shutter glasses. These new, lower-priced glasses (SSG-4100GB) are said to be compatible with Samsung’s 2011 and 2012 D-, E-, and ES-series LED-backlit 3D LCD sets, as well as all 2011 and 2012 D-, E-, and ES-series plasmas.
The System/Eco Solution menu provides several features to minimize the possibility of burn-in, or to erase temporary burn-in should it occur. While there’s no reason to be paranoid about burn-in on today’s plasmas, it can still occur, and you should avoid prolonged display of still or partially still images. Additional care should be taken during the first 100 to 200 hours of use when the plasma phosphors are new and more sensitive.
Samsung’s Smart Hub—the company’s name for its Internet and app access connection feature, includes sites with which Samsung has partnered (for fast access), including Vudu, Hulu Plus, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, and more. There’s also a seemingly endless parade of apps you can download, some free, others not. You can use the LAN port for a wired connection to your home network. The set’s built-in receiver can link to a wireless router (not included) that supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g or n. Samsung recommends the n protocol. The speed in our studio is slower than average (despite ongoing attempts to improve it), so while I could connect to the Internet and check out a few sites, including some in 3D, our pokey download speed resulted in continuous buffer pauses, depending on the material.
The PN60E7000FF sailed through all of our standard high-definition video processing tests (see Video Test Bench), including the 2:2 HD and SD tests, which are common failure modes on many HDTVs we’ve tested.
Even before calibration, with Color Tone set to Warm2 and the Color Space set to Auto, the Samsung distinguished itself by performing far better in 2D, both by measurement and by eye, than most sets we’ve tested out of the box. After calibration, I had few complaints. The color was gorgeous. Kate & Leopold, most likely because of its fish-out-of-water, science-fiction (time travel) elements, is possibly my favorite movie in a genre I can take or leave—romantic comedy. Although its recent bargain- basement Blu-ray release isn’t the sharpest transfer in the shed, it’s hardly soft. With that small limitation in mind, the Samsung’s color and resolution were hard to fault. Fleshtones were spot on, and other colors popped in a natural way. The film’s color varies from a pronounced sepia shift in its 19th century scenes to more natural tones in the present. The set handled the transition clearly and without exaggerating or compromising either palette.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a beautiful transfer and a better photographed film (if natural detail and sharpness are your thing) than the franchise’s inferior sequels. The opening scenes aboard ship were as crisply detailed as you could want, pulling everything from the stubble on the sailors’ cheeks to the textures on the Royal Navy uniforms into sharp, but not artificially sharpened, relief.
The Samsung’s black level often dropped to an unmeasurable, total black on some full fade-outs. But with even a hint of brightness on the screen, such as the pause bug on a Blu-ray player, the black increases to a more typical level. It’s this dark-gray level, and not the full black on those fade-outs, that’s the actual floor for the set’s real-world black level—and the level shown in HT Labs Measures.
My current references for black level and shadow detail are episodes from SGU Stargate Universe, a very dark and sadly discontinued TV series viewed here from its season one Blu-ray, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. No current display I’ve tested can flawlessly represent the shades of full black to medium gray that dominate both of these productions. The best at it remains my last- generation Pioneer Kuro PRO-141FD (Home Theater, May 2009). The Samsung came in well below the Kuro here, but I don’t expect a Kuro at this price. A comparison to the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 reviewed in the last issue (Home Theater, July 2012) was interesting. Comparably adjusted, the Samsung actually looked darker on very dark scenes from Harry Potter, but it couldn’t quite match the Panasonic’s shadow detail on slightly brighter scenes. Overall, I’d call the Samsung’s black levels good—neither off-putting nor trendsetting.
Samsung’s blacks were impressively uniform, without the blotchy, gray-black clouding look all too common on those LED-edge-lit LCD designs. But it turned out that non-uniformity at the other end of the brightness spectrum was the Samsung’s Achilles’ heel. On a full-white field, I saw broad, uneven swaths of magenta tinting that nothing could eliminate. To be fair, this was relatively subtle and didn’t jump out at me immediately. It was also elusive enough to be invisible on most real-world program material. But then I played The Art of Flight, a gorgeous-looking (and -sounding) Blu-ray about snowboarders who challenge some of the most jaw-dropping snow-covered terrain on the planet—all the while convincing the viewer that they are insane. The brilliantly bright snowscapes on this disc had that same magenta tint. It wasn’t by any means obvious at first, but once I saw it, it was hard to ignore.
While the Samsung’s 3D performance out of the box was respectable, a full calibration produced bigger dividends than it had for 2D. The calibrated color was far from being as pristine as it was in 2D (as noted earlier, 3D is limited to two-point white balance controls), but the set’s subjective color in 3D was respectable and never looked obviously wrong.
Most 3D sets offer limited brightness, and the Samsung was no exception. Even in the Standard Picture mode, where the default 3D Cell Light setting is 20 (maximum) and the Contrast 100 (also max), the measured peak brightness was less than 15 percent of the brightness possible in an optimum, Movie mode, 2D setup. But it looked far brighter than it should, given this limitation. For that, we can credit the low gamma now widely used for 3D. This low gamma does not increase the peak brightness level, but by pumping up the mid-brightness region, it produces a visibly brighter picture. This is not technically accurate, but it works better than it should. The Samsung’s subjective 3D brightness level, even with its low-peak-white but tricked-out gamma, was impressive and satisfying. I never felt the urge to turn up the wick, even if that were possible (it wasn’t) in the Standard or Movie modes. Advancing the Dynamic Con- trast from my preferred Low setting to Medium also generated a bit more punch but appeared overly processed on some source material.
Overall, the Samsung’s 3D performance easily fell within the top tier of the HDTVs I’ve reviewed. The usual suspects prone to ghosting—the night forest scenes in Avatar, some parts of Despicable Me, and the early scenes in A Christmas Carol—did show a trace of this common 3D annoyance, but it was subtle enough to be either missed (if you aren’t looking for it) or ignored (if you are). The 3D was always satisfying, with bright colors (where present), sharp detail, and solid blacks. The Samsung’s 3D also held up at any practical off-axis location—a particular strength of plasma sets in 2D as well. And when I tilted my head at any physically com- fortable angle, I saw no ghosting or dimming.
If you watch a lot of material with bright, snow- and ice-dominated vistas, the Samsung’s sometimes magenta tint may occasionally bother you. But it’s by no means a deal breaker. In all other respects, the Samsung PN60E7000FF offers a lot for the money, including calibration adjustments that are unsurpassed in both flexibility and usability, Internet features that are equal to or better than those on any other set we’ve tested, and performance that’s as satisfying (although dimmer) in 3D as it is in 2D—not to mention those new, low-priced 3D glasses. If the PN60E7000FF is the size you want and fits your budget, it’s definitely worth a very close look.