From a pure industrial design standpoint, Samsung's PN50C8000 impressed us right away with its exceedingly thin, 1.4-inch panel depth, brushed titanium surfacing, clear neck, and slick, snazzy remote. The display’s clear outer frame with integrated see-through buttons only raised the wow factor higher, and we had high hopes for this classy-looking display. The Samsung provides four HDMI inputs, two USB inputs and an Ethernet port, as well as bespoke online apps via Samsung Apps, the company’s IPTV service. Like the Panasonic, you get Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, and Twitter apps, but the PN50C8000 adds Blockbuster, Hulu, ESPN, and Facebook as well.
During our side-by-side comparisons of still photos, it was immediately apparent that the Samsung produced oversaturated colors, as compared to Panasonic's Viera TC-P50VT25. continually erring toward warmer color temperatures. Faces were pinker, scenes were warmer, and bright colors popped with intensity. Unfortunately, still images also suffered a loss of detail compared to the Panasonic. In one photograph of a night-time scene, significant amounts of fine detailing in shadows and highlights were simply missing in the Samsung picture.
Samsung’s PN50C800 looks oh-so-stylish, but looks aren’t everything.
Granted, none of these issues were readily apparent during movie watching—the Samsung held steady during V for Vendetta, producing sufficient detail and realistic colors, but poorer blacks. Nonetheless, viewing still images is a great way to evoke a TV’s most subtle reproduction flaws, and in this regard, the Samsung came in second. Likewise, during our battery of DisplayMate tests, the Samsung consistently struggled with screens designed to evoke problems in a display’s ability to resolve clean, razor-sharp lines. Simply put, compared to the Panasonic, the Samsung looked a bit fuzzy in these test screens.
The Samsung also suffered from a bit of high-contrast streaking, but perhaps the most disappointing moment was during the Screen Uniformity Test when we realized we could see a faint burn-in of the DisplayMate menu that was previously open on the desktop. This also happened after we performed the Scaled Fonts test: We could see faint burn-in of the letters that had previously been displayed on screen. Flipping through other DisplayMate screens got rid of the effect, but still left us a bit concerned.
And then the momentary burn-in came back, this time while navigating through various Samsung Apps. But, thankfully, that’s all the burn-in we saw, with none occurring during movie viewing or game playing. As for 3D reproduction (Samsung uses active shutter technology), the PN50C8000 was serviceable but not perfect. We saw a bit of cross-talk in Monsters vs Aliens, and while colors appeared even, poor black levels resulted in grainy-looking dark scenes.
The bottom line: The PN50C8000 has a great industrial design, and we appreciate its extra Internet content apps, but in terms of raw screen quality, it falls short of the Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25.