Samsung PN51D6500 Review

Model: Samsung PN51D6500
Description: Full HD 1080p 51" diagonal Plasma TV
Date: Summer 2011

Picture Quality Rating (HD): 9/10

This TV is perfect for that dark living room environment or home theater due to its relatively low light output and brightness. Viewing and testing showed the deepest black levels to be very rich, even as peak white was less than average. Combined though contrast looks good and the TVs picture quality is fantastic with smooth motion, excellent realistic color rendition, inky blacks, and top quality dark shadow detail. In a very bright room with lots of sunlight, this may not be the best TV for you due to the lower brightness levels.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
A great shot in HD from the broadcast of the NBA Finals shows excellent facial detailed in a concerned Labron James

If you're a movie nut and want images to look like the cinema – this is the TV for you (as long as you do not care about 3D compatibility).

Out of the box the Relax picture mode yields a good color and contrast rendition, but use our calibrated picture settings on the next page to dial it in exactly.

Side Angle Viewing and Dark Shadow Detail: These are two picture attributes where the PND6500 kills it. Side angle viewing is perfect, though there is some slight glare from the glass screen. Detail in dark areas of the picture is superb even with lots of color and contrast in the scene. Blacks are disciplined and do not overwhelm an area of the image when not called on to do so.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
A Good HD shot from The Transporter shows realistic flesh tones and great detail.

3D Viewing Quality: Is awesome. We did not encounter any of the drawbacks from last year's Samsung 3D models such as flashing flicker from the glasses and blurring in the bottom right and left corners of the picture. Depth from the active shutter 3D glasses (SSG-3100GB) was involving and much more pronounced than the passive 3D TVs on the market. With this TV you get to view 3D in full 1080p to each eye. Eye fatigue seems much improved as well from last year. In the end, the 3D picture is enveloping and goes great with a surround sound home theater system.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
A shot from the 3D Blu Ray of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs shows exceptional color and depth.

Picture Quality Rating (Non-HD): 9/10

Processing quality is important for up conversion of lower end signals and the PN51D6500 performs very well in this area. It does a very nice job of smoothing any would-be artifacts from images. We believe this is a category that does not receive enough attention with the widespread adoption of Internet TV services which stream video in 720p or less resolution. Color are rich, and black levels and dark shadow detail remain superb. Side angle viewing is flawless even at extreme side views.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
A couple of good shots from The Office streamed in 720p or lower resolution shows good light output and handling of horizontal blinds in the background.

Features Rating: 9/10

Wireless Access: The PN51D6500's wireless access needs no Wifi dongle and works seamlessly. It's speedy too. Even when streaming movies we experienced no lag in programming.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
The "Your Video" Smart Hub option recommends movies and TV programming and rates the Top 20 Movies and TV shows.

Internet Connectivity, Smart Hub: Samsung's Smart Hub has a good selection of Internet TV Apps and Options. There are the usual must haves like Netflix, Vudu, Hulu Plus, USA Today, AP, Accuweather. There are also many free easily downloadable Apps such as NBA Game Time Light, MLB.TV, ESPN Score Center. Some of the Apps are more worthy than others. For example, the ESPN Score Center App shows box scores from MLB, Nascar, NHL, WNBA running down the left side of the screen. MLB.TV does the same. Neither has any video clip footage. If you want to access the games, you'll have to subscribe to the premium service. Many small Apps like Pac man, or ART, or Eye Exam or various workout video apps cost between .99 and 2.99 each. A couple of drawbacks to Smart Hub, 1) Typing in the search box is tedious. 2) We could not locate a Facebook or Twitter App. 3) You cannot access the picture menu to calibrate the picture. 4) There is no web browser for accessing the Internet. You cannot access the Internet via 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.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
Samsung's Internet Apps Games section includes more options than other manufacturers. Whether or not these games appeal to you is another matter. Texas Holdem is the most popular. Sodoku is next.

Google Maps is a particularly fun and pleasing addition to the Internet Apps included in the PND6500 called Smart TV or Smart Hub. The You Tube application defaults to full screen and HD if the video is HD which a very nice improvement.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review
Samsung's 2011 3D Glasses

3D TV Glasses: The Samsung 3D active shutter glasses are battery powered and much improved from last year in that they are very light and more comfortable. They also work better as there is no more flicker and flashing from the sides as the glasses struggle to sync with the TV. This is probably a result of better transmitters in the TV as well as the glasses.

Design and Appearance: The Samsung PN51D6500 looks much the same as the PND7000 series and the PNC8000 series from last year. It's a great looking TV with that classy 1" brushed metal framing bezel. The depth is only 1.4" and the back of the TV is solid metal as apposed to the plastic you get on the back of most LED-LCD TVs these days. 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 20 degrees side to side. Lastly, the neck is a clear acrylic. The whole package just looks exceptionally refined.

Samsung PN51D6500 Review

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The included remote is well laid out, simple, 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 D6500 series. We've mentioned the picture modes above in the HD picture section.

Audio Output Quality: Sound quality from the PND6500 is very good especially compared to the super thin LED-LCD TVs we have seen lately. The 10W X 10W speakers deliver lots more base and a fuller, richer sound – without the tinniness of super small speakers. 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. Music videos did not sound 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