Samsung Series 8 64-inch plasma TV review

4.5 out of 5
£2999

For

Great picture, smart TV function, design

Against

Motion control, voice control

After the initial eye-blasting that a gigantic 64-inch television brings you, it is quite difficult to actually sit down and take stock of just how this Samsung plasma performs.

With an asking price of £2999 this is a set that really needs to impress. It is also up against some pretty tough plasma competition, so how does it fare?

Design

We love the way that Samsung televisions look and the E8000 is definitely no exception. Sure, it might not have the near bezel-free style of Samsung’s LED offerings, but it is certainly no slouch in the looks department either. The set uses a slightly offset grey colour around the actual panel, which we think looks great. It is a lot more understated than some of Samsung’s other televisions and matches up nicely with the slightly more tame colours you get from a plasma.

For such a behemoth of a TV, measurements are important, as is weight. This we discovered when trying to carry it to the top of a three-floor appartment. The set is 97.9 x 148 x 35.1 cm in size and weighs a whopping 38.3Kg - we really would advise getting this thing professionally installed. 

On the back there are three HDMI connections and one scart, a pair of USB ports, a component video socket, optical and a CI slot. Lots then. We would have like to see a few more HDMI ports on a TV this size and perhaps a few on either side, should you have a lot you want to connect up, but it’s a minor niggle. It's also fair to assume that a lot of people will be installing this as a home cinema TV, and using an AV receiver to manage all their other devices and send a single HDMI feed over. 

The silver effect stand is incredibly solid and sturdy and it looks good too, while keeping the set stable. It does take a bit of setting up out of the box, but nothing too demanding. Just make sure you have someone strong around when the TV arrives!

Picture

Now to the nub of the whole thing: the picture. At nigh-on £3000 you want this set to be the best looking thing on the planet, and to all intents and purposes it is. The 600Hz panel, 3D HyperReal Engine and the subfield motion tech all combine to make one seriously sweet picture.

With some content the E8000 looks just like any other high to mid-range set. It's where there is a lot of subtlety in picture that it really shines. The colours are truly sublime, and watching HD content is just a joy. Give it an image with lots of dynamic range and plenty of colour to play with and you end up with a natural, clean and crisp picture.

We know some like things to be ultra-vivid and for those people we suggest an LED, but for natural colour and great detail and contrast, the E8000 is as good as it gets for us. 3D is certainly good and the included slimline Samsung glasses are also great.

Blu-ray playback is absolutely stunning, with this set making some of your favourite films truly shine. The likes of Apocalypse Now and Blade Runner for example, with their subtle film tones, are perfectly suited to this television.

Don't forget that at 64-inches this is a big television set. You're going to need quite a serious living room in order to achieve optimal viewing distances. For HD content you want to be around 8.5 ft from the television, for SD around 17.5 ft. 

Operation and extras

Being a Smart TV and all, the E8000 does things that are well, smart. This means stuff like Netflix and BBC iPlayer are built in, as apps, as well as the likes of Samsung’s camera application and Twitter.

Normally we aren’t really big fans of Smart TV content, the tech just feeling too much in its infancy to offer any sort of smooth experience. Samsung does do it best right now though and the E8000 is snappy and responsive when navigating smart content.

In the box with the E8000 was Samsung’s voice-controlled universal remote. This we aren’t such a big fan of for a few reasons. It certainly looks great, the problem is it just doesn't do a great job as a TV remote. The black area at the top of the remote is like a touch pad, except it's too small to use properly, making negotiating menus a bit of a nightmare. 

Also built into the remote is a microphone, so you can use the voice control part of the television. This is also a bit of an irritation as it is limited in functionality. Why, for example, can you set the volume only to a maximum of 20 using voice, when the TV goes all the way up to 100?

Other than these fairly minor issues, the E8000 works really well. The whole set zips along and you get none of the lag that some other television UIs suffer from. In fact the only major issue we have is with the motion control, which will set itself off during random moments should someone stand up and move about the room. This can be seriously irritating during a movie-watching session. 

Verdict

So a great plasma TV then. No surprise really, given the cost, but what we expect most of you want to know is just how it stacks up against the similar competition. Panasonic retains the crown here, with picture quality just pipping the Samsung to the post.

Still, if it is an all-round smart TV experience you are after, with brilliant picture quality to boot, the E8000 is as good as it gets. We can’t fault Samsung for its efforts with smart functionality and sure it might have its faults, but what is there is better than most. Back this up with the clean and natural picture you get from the set and you have quite a persuasive package.