Samsung PS51D6900 TV review
Typical price: £1300 (£914.80 from amazon)
Date of review: May 20 2011
Key features: active 3D TV (one pair of glasses included), Smart TV online access, Smart Hub interface, built-in Freeview HD tuner, white balance management system, DLNA PC compatibility, multimedia playback from USB, recording to USB HDD, integrated wi-fi
Screen size: 51in
Connections: RF input, four v1.4 HDMIs, two USB 2.0 inputs, one RGB Scart, Ethernet, D-Sub PC port, Optical digital audio output, headphone jack
Native resolution: 1920×1080
Screen technology: plasma
Claimed contrast ratio/max brightness: ‘High’/not available
Dimensions (on stand): 1195.9(w) x 783(h) x 305(d)mm
Weight: 27kg net
More information: www.samsung.co.uk
Reasons to care
Plasma technology is generally better with active shutter 3D than LCD, so it will be interesting to see how Samsung’s first 2011 3D plasma TV holds up against its glamorous 2011 3D LCD models. The set also enjoys Samsung’s new Smart TV online features and Smart Hub online interface, and it’s mighty cheap for a 50in – sorry, 51in! – 3D plasma TV.
Form – The PS51D6900 doesn’t sashay down the TV catwalk as seductively as Samsung’s groundbreaking UE55D8000. Its bezel is wider, and its butt is deeper. But it still looks very attractive thanks to the polished smoothness of its deep grey/light black bezel and its little transparent outer trim.
Build quality – Considering how affordable it is, the PS51D6900 is unexpectedly well built, feeling heavy, solid, and devoid of plastic.
Ease of use
Operating manual – The paper manual with the PS51D6900 is rudimentary at best. But there’s an excellent reason for this, namely that Samsung has built onscreen instructions into the PS51D6900. Highlight a feature in the menus and a little box appears on the right explaining what the feature is for. Such interactivity is hugely welcome, especially when it’s as well implemented as it is here.
Remote control – Although it feels plasticky, the PS51D6900’s remote control is actually very effective. Its size feels ‘right’, its buttons are large and well laid out, and you can get to plenty of features quickly via dedicated buttons. The remote works well with the excellent Smart Hub interface too.
Onscreen menus – The Smart Hub interface we just mentioned is the highlight here, offering immediate access to a huge amount of content sources from a single ‘jump off’ screen. It gives you access via some pretty icons to all your AV inputs, all your USB sources, all your PC files, all your TV channels and all the apps and online video services associated with Samsung’s latest Smart TV. Brilliant.
The TV setup menus are clean and attractive too, despite containing reams of features.
There are a couple of annoyances, though. First, there are separate Advanced Settings and Picture Options submenus when it would have made more sense to put the features contained in these into just one menu. Second, for some reason Samsung has hidden the TV’s Game preset (which optimises performance for gaming) inside a General submenu in the System ‘folder’ rather than including it with the rest of the picture presets.
Headliners: The included active shutter glasses alert you to the fact that the PS51D6900 has integrated 3D playback. The set uses plasma technology rather than LCD, moreover, which will hopefully reduce 3D’s crosstalk ghosting noise (due to plasma’s faster screen response times).
Also catching our eye are the set’s extensive multimedia talents, including playback of photo, video and music files from USB; recording of the Freeview HD tuner to USB HDDs; access to dozens of gaming and infotainment apps; and various video streaming services.
There are plenty of picture adjustments too, and we guess the unique 51in screen size is notable, though you probably won’t really notice the difference from a normal 50in screen.
Connections: The PS51D6900’s connectivity is comprehensive. Four v1.4 (3D-capable) HDMIs should keep even ambitious AV households happy. The two USBs initially look a little limiting, until you realise that unlike most rivals this TV has built-in wi-fi built and so doesn’t need wi-fi adding via an optional extra USB dongle. There’s a D-Sub PC port too.
Key setup tools – The PS51D6900 goes well beyond the mere basics of picture calibration, thanks to such high-end fine-tuning systems as a 10-point white balance adjustment; a system for adjusting the plasma cell brightness (that exists alongside a normal ‘general purpose’ brightness adjuster); a degree of colour management; a dedicated flesh tone adjustment; a gamma shifter; and a host of processing tools for artificially boosting edge sharpness, black level, colours and so on. With this in mind, we’d recommend using a simple set up tool like the Digital Video Essentials – HD Basics calibration Blu-ray (£13.99 from Amazon) to help you optimise the TV’s pictures.
Personally we’d recommend caution when using the processing-based features, though, as they can make the picture look unnatural or uneven.
Online features – Samsung’s new Smart TV system is currently the largest online service around when it comes to the sheer number of apps and services available. Highlights are the BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, the AceTrax movie rental/purchase platform, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, an Internet radio tuner, and the recently added Samsung 3D portal.
This 3D portal is a great idea given that 3D content is pretty hard to come by, though at the time of writing there wasn’t a great deal on it: some kid’s programmes (including many sourced through Korea), a handful of documentaries, some fairly obscure music videos, and a few film trailers.
It has to be said that quite a few of the apps available are of limited use to say the least. But doubtless more useful content will be added over time.
Key omissions – We were surprised to find no Internet browser on the PS51D6900, nor can you use Skype on the set like you can on some other Samsung Smart TV models. There’s also no Freesat HD tuner like there is on Samsung’s D7000 and D8000 LCD and plasma series. The screen lacks an extra ‘real black filter’ for boosting contrast sported by models higher up Samsung’s new plasma range, and isn’t endorsed by either THX or the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).