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Samsung PN51D450A2D Plasma HDTV Review

51 in.

An inappropriately low resolution for a TV its size, and it lacks much else to make up for this shortcoming.

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Blacks & Whites

Blacks & Whites Summary
Editorial Note: This is a review of the Samsung PN51D450. Test results are for this model, but should indicate the general performance of other sizes in the PNxxD450 series. The PNxxD450 series includes the following models: the PN43D450 and the PN51D450.  Read here for more details on series differences.
{{article.attachments['Samsung-PN51D450-vanity.jpg']}} • Outstanding black level • Great contrast ratio • Dramatic white falloff • Mediocre brightness • Testing done using DisplayMate Software
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Black Level*(10.61)*


The black level of the PN51D450 was surprisingly low, which nets it a great score here. Testing was frustrating to get this recording, as the black level often dipped below what our testing equipment could read, so after making sure that the screen simply didn't shut off when it showed a mostly-black screen, we re-tested and replicated the same result. Plasma screens typically do well in this area, but the PN51D450 excelled. (More on how we test Black Level.)

Black Level
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Compare the Samsung PN51D450 to other HDTVs
{{article.attachments['Samsung-PN50C550-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic-TC-P42X3-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Vizio-E321VL-vanity.jpg']}}
Samsung PN50C550 50 inches Panasonic TC-P42X3 42 inches Vizio E321VL 32 inches

 

Peak Brightness*(5.97)*


Like other plasmas, the PN51D450 tends to dim the screen when there's a lot of white screen area in order to prevent burn-in. Consequently, the peak brightness reading here isn't taken from a 100% white screen. Overall, the Samsung PN51D450 did a fair job for a plasma TV set, but be wary: while it did record a peak brightness of 152.67 cd/m2, 200 cd/m2 is usually the minimum brightness needed for viewing in a well-lit room, and like many other plasmas, the PN51D450 falls short of that.

This underperformance doesn't come as a big surprise simply because of the very nature of plasma screen technology, as these screens are far more prone to overheating when showing certain colors (like white) and permanently burning a certain image into the screen or even catching fire if there's a failure in the TV set. It can get annoying that the screen might not be as bright as you want it to be, but it's a safety and maintenance issue. (More on how we test Peak Brightness.)

Peak Brightness
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Contrast*(9.20)*


Due to the low black level and adequate peak brightness, the PN51D450 has a great contrast ratio of 5089:1, giving it a solid edge on the competition in this area. (More on how we test Contrast.)

Contrast
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Tunnel Contrast*(9.35)*


Like other plasmas, the PN51D450 has trouble maintaining a consistent black level depending on the percentage of white area on the screen. If you look at other reviews of plasma screens, you'll find that this is more or less a common problem among these screens, and as far as these screens go, we've seen worse performances. (More on how we test Tunnel Contrast.)

Tunnel Contrast
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White Falloff*(2.42)*


The PN51D450 really dropped the ball in white falloff, rapidly dimming whites the more area on the screen they occupy. This is common in plasma screens, but not usually this dramatic, even if we know why they do this.  (More on how we test White Falloff.)

White Falloff
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Uniformity*(9.0)*


Like many plasma screens, the PN51D450 has a fairly uniform screen, without many imperfections in either an all-white or all-black screen. Keep in mind, though, that over time it is possible that this can change based on screen burn-in. (More on how we test Uniformity.)

Greyscale Gamma*(9.87)*


Greyscale gamma is the metric by which we can gauge how well a TV transitions from black to white along several tiny increments along the greyscale. Looking at the chart below, you can see that the line is more or less smooth across the entire range of signal intensity, save for a hiccup at the beginning, which may or may not simply be an erratic result produced by our machine struggling with the low black level of the PN51D450. We typically look for jagged areas of the line that would indicate shade values that the TV couldn't produce, but they seem to be more or less absent here.

The second thing we look at to determine how well each TV does in terms of greyscale gamma is the slope of the line produced, and the PN51D450 did fairly well here too. Ideally, we would see the line's slope sitting in between 2.1 and 2.2, but the line produced by our measurements of the PN51D450's greyscale sits just outside this mark, at 2.09. This is very close to ideal, so the Samsung gets good marks here. (More on how we test Greyscale Gamma.)

Greyscale Gamma
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Other Models in the PNxxD450 Series
This is a review of the Samsung PN51D450. The other sizes of HDTVs in this series should be similar in terms of performance and usability. For details about any differences, click on the image to jump to the Series Comparison page.
{{article.attachments['Samsung-PN51D450-series43.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Samsung-PN51D450-series51.jpg']}}
Samsung PN43D450 43 inches Samsung PN51D450 51 inches
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Tour & Design
  3. Blacks & Whites
  4. Color Accuracy
  5. Motion
  6. Viewing Effects
  7. Calibration
  8. Connectivity
  9. Audio & Menus
  10. Multimedia & Internet
  11. Power Consumption
  12. Vs. Samsung PN50C550
  13. Vs. Panasonic TC-P42X3
  14. Vs. Vizio E321VL
  15. Conclusion
  16. Series Comparison
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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