Samsung PN51F5300 Review (PN51F5300AFXZA)
51 Inch 1080p Plasma TV
The PN51F5300 is the smallest plasma in the F5300 series. It also occupies the low end spot in the plasma lineup from Samsung. Just about all of the features from the F5500 series and F8500 series plasmas have been left out. This keeps the price down to make it one of the best value models for the year. Picture quality is still strong in this one thanks to the always reliable plasma display. Those looking for a budget plasma without the bells and whistles will find a winner in this one.
Picture Quality Rating: 8.8/10
The Samsung PN51F5300 aims to be a value oriented plasma TV that provides excellent picture quality. Samsung plasma TVs have one of my favorite picture renditions among all TVs today. The color space is one aspect I like even more than any Panasonic plasma once calibrations are dialed in. It's important to note that this one has a few picture quality differences than the top tier F8500 plasma. Screen reflections and picture brightness are the two downsides in picture quality on the 51F5300. There is not as much light flow-through as the top models on the market. The screen also doesn't get as bright, which is a typical problem with plasma displays. Those two things combined make it a tough sell for a bright room. In a controlled lighting environment, the F5300's full HD picture quality is excellent.
Plasma TVs are known for their fantastic color rendition. That stands true for the F5300, even if it is a budget plasma. Contrast and picture depth are also displayed with gusto in this image
Black Levels and Contrast
Contrast is another strong point on Samsung's bottom of the line plasma. For a budget priced model the contrast performance on the F5300 is very impressive. Plasma TVs are always going to have the advantage when it comes to black levels over LCD/LED TVs. The PN51F5300 is no different. This one takes notes from the top tier F8500 series and the F5500 series plasmas in the lineup to provides deep blacks and lots of detail in dark scenes. Those two reasons alone are why many people still want plasma TVs. The blacks on the F5300 are not nearly as inky as the F8500, but strong nonetheless. For a value model, it is hard to be disappointed with this plasma.
Samsung's plasma televisions deliver colors that are accurate and true to life and the F5300 carries through on this positive strength. It is important to calibrate the settings correctly to get the optimum picture performance out of this TV. A Warm1 Color Tone setting really helps to balance colors as Standard is too cool and Warm2 introduces a great deal of green coloration.
Eco Sensor – Dims the Picture too Much- Important to turn off
The Eco Sensor is a effort to control the energy usage of the 51F5300. What it really does is control the Cell Light setting in order to keep the brightness down depending on the room light. The result is a picture far too dim to really enjoy. If the picture ever dims unexpectedly, this should be the first setting to turn off in order to address the problem. It can be found here in the menus: System > General > Eco Solution > Eco Sensor
Plasma TVs are usually recommended as gaming TVs, but Samsung's plasmas has a hard time with input lag. Even with the Game Mode enabled, our tests showed input lag at anywhere between 70 and 100ms on the PN51F5300. That measurement that much different with the Game Mode off. It didn't make playing Okami HD on the Playstation 3 unbearable, but I definitely notice the lag. Gamers who mainly play First Person Shooters like Battlefield 3 or the Call of Duty series will notice lag even more. The Game Mode can be found here in the menus: System > General > Game Mode.
Features Rating: 7.7/10
Design and Appearance
You can see there is nothing flashy about this budget plasma from Samsung. The quadra pod plastic glossy stand is a nice touch and the frame don't add a lot to the presence of the TV, but that leaves the focus directed toward picture quality
Everything, except the coloration, is identical appearance-wise to the F5500. The PN51F5300 receives a deep brown color for the frame and stand. It is very subtle, but provides a switch from the standard black that most TVs receive. It's decorated with the familiar Samsung quadra-pod stand that is seen on most of their mid-level TVs. It's not as flashy as the chrome of the F5500 and nowhere near the futuristic design of the F8500, but it's modest design works well. The TV has a thin profile of 2.2 inches in depth.
Inputs – Weak
The 51F5300 is a little lacking in this department with only 2 HDMI ports and 1 USB port. Two HDMI ports may lead to constantly switching which devices are plugged into the TV. That can be really hard to do if the TV is wall mounted.
Samsung's plasma TVs this year have been hurting when it comes to sound quality. Volume certainly isn't an issue, as the TVs are plenty loud and can fill a room with sound. The two 10 watt speakers end up sounding hollow and empty and voice gets overwhelmed by background noise and music. The F5300 will really benefit from a home theater setup or a sound bar. We give the sound quality a 6 out of 10.
Lately, we have heard reports that some of the C-series and D-series (circa 2010, 2011) Samsung plasma TVs have had widespread problems with coloration (esp. pink or purple) against a white background. Since the longevity rating on these plasmas is 60,000 to 100,000 hours to half life, problems after 2 years would make those life span claims irrelevant.
No 3D, No Smart TV
Value Rating: 9.2/10
The Samsung PN51F5300 is a great value at the suggested retail price of $650. This price puts it in direct competition with LG's 50PN6500 that has the same feature set. The Panasonic TC-P50S60 is only slightly more expensive, but it has some internet connectivity to round out the feature set a little better. The F5300 has an extra inch of screen space compared to both of those options.
Overall Rating: 8.4/10