Review: Samsung Smart TV
The limited TV internet connectivity we saw last year hardly compares to the range and depth of the Smart TV offering from Samsung.
The Samsung PDP8000 has a silver metal finish and is quite thin (37.5mm) for a plasma this size.
The 59-inch panel is supported for a four-pronged stand and the thin bezel has a transparent edge which is part of Samsung’s crystal design.
Included with the PDP8000 is not one but two remotes. The first is a regular remote but the second is actually two sided.
One side is a similar layout to the normal remote with numbers, directional keys and volume and program up and down controls.
But on the other side is a full qwerty keyboard, directional keys, command keys even a small LCD display.
The display comes in handy when typing out messages and web addresses so the user doesn’t have to take their eye off the keyboard to see if they’ve made a mistake.
One complaint we had with the two-sided remote was that sometimes it was not responsive unless it was aimed directly at the sensor on the bottom left corner of the panel.
Users who own Samsung Android smartphones will also be able to download an app to turn the device into a remote control.
Samsung’s full high definition picture on this plasma panel is excellent.
The Samsung panels use a proprietary Cinema Smooth technology, Clear Image Panel and Real Black Filter to produce a clear picture and reduce reflection even in bright rooms and no matter what angle you are to the screen.
It also uses Micro Dimming which can localise the strength of the backlighting to further enhance the contrast and black levels.
And combined with the fact this is plasma technology, viewers are assured of the deepest blacks Samsung has produced on a flatscreen.
3D is also a feature of the PDP8000. The good news is that all the features that combine to create an impressive 2D picture are still on the job when displaying 3D as well.
The panel can also convert 2D to 3D on the fly whether you’re watching TV, playing a game or watching a movie.
And while it’s not as definitive as native 3D it still adds enough depth to make a significant difference to the viewing experience.
The 3D glasses are a lot lighter and smaller than last year’s model with the electronics built into the part of the eyewear that sits behind your ears rather than across your nose.
Here is where viewers will find the real wow factor of the PDP8000.
The panel has built-in wireless to connect to your network or an Ethernet port if there happens to be a broadband cable handy.
There is a dedicated command key on the remote which takes viewers directly to the Smart Hub.
This is like Mission Control for your TV and gives access to things like the connected sources, your favourite channels and the electronic program guide.
It is also the dashboard to find content, apps and to access the web.
It’s quite easy to navigate to these different and all the while the channel we have been watching is still running in the top left corner.
When you first link to the Smart Hub users can set up their Smart TV account ID and password.
Once this account is established, users can then into log into other services which require log ins and passwords like Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Like we can find on our smartphone the Samsung PDP8000 Smart TV can also access and download apps to the device.
And like the ones for your mobile there are number of different categories to choose from including news and social networking apps to sports, games and puzzles.
If there’s nothing to watch on TV users can check their Facebook page or send a tweet. We quite enjoyed completing Sudoku puzzles on the large 59-inch screen.
You can also check the latest news headlines or check out the highlights on the NRL and AFL game analyzers.
There’s also Skype which allows users to make video calls with the addition of the separate camera accessory designed for the panel.
This feature of the Smart Hub alone can keep users occupied for hours.
Viewing content, whether it’s your own or streamed from the internet, is a snap with the PDP8000 Smart TV.
Your Video is a nice feature which recommends movies based on your previous selections.
So when you’re ready to rent a movie from Bigpond Movies within the Smart Hub there is a list of possible choices to peruse with information on the cast, director and storyline.
Even your own content is viewable on the panel no matter where it is on your network using a feature called All Share.
The built-in DLNA (digital living network alliance) compatibility can wirelessly access content like videos, music and pictures on similarly compatible devices like smartphones, network external hard drives and desktop and laptop computers.
Recording content directly from the TV is also possible when you connect a USB memory or hard drive to one of the two available ports.
Other movies, pictures and music stored on a USB can also be watched in the panel.
Finding content on the Samsung Smart TV is made easier with the Search All feature which looks on the TV or on the web for exactly what you’re looking for.
You haven’t seen a website until you’ve seen it on a 59-inch screen. It makes even the largest monitors connected to our computers looks like miniatures.
It is a very comfortable way to surf the net and, using the qwerty keyboard on the two sided remote, it was easy to type in web addresses.
And like a regular browser it was running Flash and was also possible to set bookmarks and go back through your browsing history.
No more rushing back to the computer to look up something on the web – now it’s right in front of you.
This is one of our favourite features and combines two loves – watching TV and talking about them in real time on social networks.
With the Samsung Smart TV you don’t have to worry about having a laptop or tablet balanced in your lap in front of the television.
The qwerty keyboard remote allows viewers to easily type out a comment to post to Twitter, Facebook or Google Talk.
Down one side of the screen is the text area of the social network you’re plugged into while the TV program is still running underneath.
Facebook and Twitter are also viewable as standalone apps.
The release of Samsung’s Smart TV heralds the start of a new phase in the competitive television market.
The PDP8000 is a great value product that ticks all the boxes in terms of features, viewing experience, picture quality, connectivity and design.
It dramatically demonstrates that once you head down the Smart TV path there is no turning back.
Samsung PDP8000 59-inch plasma Smart TV
Four and a half stars (out of five)