Samsung's PN50A760 HDTV combines cool multimedia capabilities and great image quality. In our lab tests, this Samsung plasma HDTV was the only model in its size category to earn a rating of Very Good for image quality.
One juror noted some pixelation in several tests, but even so she declared this model the "best out of all tested," with some very crisp and sharp images. Another juror commended the set's color balance. I admired its handling of fast motion in our NASCAR-clip test, and its wide viewing angle.
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 sound track's sudden organ blast had a powerful, in-the-gut heft.
The PN50A760 is well designed. A setup wizard helps you optimize the set for 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, as well. 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 (but not updatable). You can plug a USB drive into the set's side-mounted USB port to view your own photographs or to play audio files. Alternatively, 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).
Backlighting makes the excellent, programmable remote easy to use in the dark. It has a convenient jog wheel in place of the usual arrows, but Samsung left out a picture-in-picture button, despite the TV's picture-in-picture function.
At $2500, the Samsung PN50A760 is pricey. Still, you get what you pay for in image quality and extra features.
For more HDTV coverage, see "Top 46- and 47-Inch HDTVs" and "The Top 42-Inch HDTVs."