Samsung PN50A760 50-Inch HDTV
At a Glance
The Samsung PN50A760 offers top-notch image quality, plus the best extras and great sound.
Samsung's PN50A760 ($2500, as of November 4, 2008) combines cool multimedia capabilities and great image quality. In our lab tests, this plasma HDTV crushed the competition. It is the only model in its size category to earn a rating of Very Good for image quality.
One juror noted some pixelation in several of the tests, but even so she declared this Samsung the "best out of all tested," and noted that some images looked crisp and sharp. Another juror commended the set's excellent color balance. I admired its handling of fast motion in our NASCAR test. It had a notably wide viewing angle, too.
In my hands-on tests, the PN50A760 provided excellent virtual surround sound, close to what you'd experience with a dedicated speaker system. A movie soundtrack's sudden organ blast had a powerful, in-the-gut heft.
The PN50A760 is as well designed as the 46-inch Samsung LN46A650 is. Back connectors face out and are easy to reach from the side of the unit. A setup wizard helps you optimize the set for home use in your home (as opposed to in a store). The TV's menus are thoroughly readable, and the Input menu gives priority to attached devices that are actually turned on, so you don't have to scroll past a bunch of irrelevant options to select the device you want to use.
The PN50A760 has a host of slick multimedia capabilities, too. Press the remote's Content button to get a full screen of options, including scenic photos, recipes, exercises, and children's activities--all built into the TV's flash memory (and not updatable). You can plug a USB drive into the side-mounted USB port to view your own photos or to play audio files. Or you can plug an ethernet cable into the PN50A760 and view media from a PC set up as a DLNA server (the TV comes with appropriate software for this).
The remote is almost identical to the excellent one that comes with the Samsung LN46A650. Backlighting makes it easy to use in the dark; it is programmable; and it has a convenient jog wheel in place of the usual arrows. Regrettably, Samsung neglected to provide a picture-in-picture button, despite the TV's picture-in-picture feature.
Whereas the PN50A760's remote lacks an aspect ratio button (called P.Size on the LN46A650 remote), however, this model offers the aforementioned Content button. You can still adjust the aspect ratio from the Tools menu; it's just not as easy to access.
At $2500, the Samsung PN50A760 is pricey, albeit no more expensive than two less impressive 52-inch models--the LG Electronics 52LG70 and the Westinghouse Digital TX-52F480S. And with the Samsung, you get what you pay for in image quality and extra features.