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Samsung PN50C550G1F Plasma HDTV Review

50 in.

The Samsung PN50C550 is a 50-inch, 1080p plasma with a very attractive price.

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Black Level

The Samsung PN50C550 managed a very good black level score, which is one of the factors that plasma shoppers keep a close eye on. The 0.06 cd/m2^ performance was not quite as low as a similar Panasonic, but it's certainly good enough for us. More on how we test black level.

Black Level Chart

Peak Brightness

The Samsung PN50C550 managed a decent peak brightness, at least for a plasma TV. As you can see in the chart below, the LG, Panasonic, and Samsung are all plasma TVs, and the Samsung is the brightest by far. Of course, an LCD like the Sony 52EX700, clobbers them all. More on how we test peak brightness.

Peak Brightness Chart

Contrast

The ability to produce both a good black level and peak brightness means a satisfactory contrast ratio of 2917:1. That's not quite what the similar Panasonic could do, and a far cry from the Sony EX700, but much better than the LG 50PG30. More on how we test contrast.

Contrast Chart

Tunnel Contrast

The Samsung PN50C550, like many plasma TVs, had a hard time maintaining a consistent black level as the amount of black on the screen decreases. A huge splotch of black is going to appear much darker than small patch surrounded by white. This is not something that most LCDs have a hard time with. More on how we test tunnel contrast.

Tunnel Contrast Chart

White Falloff

The Samsung PN50C550 experienced some very serious problems with maintaining a consistent white level as the amount of white on the screen increased. On most plasmas, a small bit of white will appear much brighter than a large patch of white, ostensibly to reduce overheating. (White is brighter, requiring more energy output, and therefore heat. Plasma displays overexcite gas trapped between two panels of glass, so too much bright white would either melt the TV or create a black hole. Science does not yet know.) More on how we test white falloff.

White Falloff Chart

Uniformity

The Samsung PN50C550 has a big problem with screen burn-in. Any image left on the screen for more than a minute will be visible for at least a couple minutes. Leave an image overnight, and the burn-in lasts for hours. The TV has a built-in tool to prevent burn-in, but it involves huge panels of white and black swooping across the screen. And it's only activated when it detects absolutely no activity.

This could prove to be a risky purchase for video gamers who will play for hours or days with certain graphic elements (think gauges and other icons) in fixed positions on the screen. When it comes time to break and watch Batman for a few hours, you're still going to be looking at the ghosts of those images. More on how we test white falloff.

Greyscale Gamma

The Samsung PN50C550 transitions pretty well from black to white, for the most part. Look at the chart below. First look at the smoothness of the line. There are definitely hiccups in the shadow details, located in the lower left portion of the line.Crooks in the line indicate areas where you can expect to see color banding. But as it moves right, into the midtones, the line smooths out. There's also the slope of the curve to consider. Overall, the curve of 2.32 is very good. An ideal curve is between 2.1 and 2.2. However, the curve tapers off in the upper-right portion, meaning it has a harder time finding details in the highlights. More on how we test greyscale gamma.

Greyscale Gamma Chart
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. Remote Control
  9. Connectivity
  10. Audio & Menus
  11. Multimedia & Internet
  12. Power Consumption
  13. Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 Comparison
  14. LG 50PQ30 Comparison
  15. Sony Bravia KDL-52EX700 Comparison
  16. Conclusion
  17. Series Comparison
  18. Photo Gallery
  19. Ratings & Specs
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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