Samsung 8500 - Motion Handling
Another major area of improvement in the 8500 versus previous Samsung plasma generations is its motion handling. In both 2D and 3D mode, we really enjoyed how little resolution loss and judder we spotted, even during fast camera pans. The only rider to this is you arguably need to use at least the lowest level of Samsung's motion processing tools to get a really smooth 3D performance, but this processing can occasionally generate a few momentary side effects, such as shimmering around large moving objects, or the occasional panning twitch.
It's worth stressing here, though, that possibly because this set sees Samsung shifting over to a quad-core processing system, the motion processing on show with this flagship plasma set is far more clean and watchable than any previous Samsung engine.
Samsung 8500 - Colours
The Samsung 8500 even excels with its colour response. Initially tones look a bit over-aggressive, thanks to Samsung's typically over-bright, over-contrasty picture presets. But the set has more than enough picture adjustment tools - including full colour and gamma management suites - to let you to get colours looking exactly as your own tastes, or your preferred industry video standard, dictates.
Click to enlarge
Samsung 8500 - 3D
While 2D pictures look spectacular on the Samsung 8500, it's arguably 3D that benefits most from Samsung's new-found plasma prowess. It's far brighter than your average plasma screen and this works wonders when it comes to combating the inevitable brightness reduction you get when you don a pair of active 3D shutter glasses.
As well as helping 3D images look more vibrant, colourful and punchy than they ever have before on a plasma TV, the extra dynamic range of the Samsung 8500's 3D picture really helps when it comes to the TV portraying a deep, consistent and convincing sense of space, as it becomes easier to see the subtle background 'markers' that images use to help delineate their 3D space.
Motion looks far better in 3D than it ever has before on a Samsung plasma TV, and detail levels are immense, reminding you in no uncertain terms of active 3D's resolution advantage - especially when it comes to delivering 3D on a TV as big as 64-inch.
Samsung 8500 - Picture Technology
We couldn't help but wonder after experiencing the Samsung 8500's picture glories just how Samsung had managed to bring its plasma performance on so far from its 2012 range. So we pestered the brand into providing us with a little insight. Arguably the most significant innovation has seen Samsung make the panel's discharge space bigger, which immediately improves the screen's luminance output. This first step has then been bolstered by the use of a new, more efficient discharge gas and a shift to the efficiency of Magnesium Oxide for the panel's key conduction materials.
As for improving the Samsung 8500 black level performance at the same time as drastically improving brightness, the main advances are a better Real Black Pro Filter (which soaks up more ambient light), speedier processing that enables the panel to hit its maximum brightness levels faster, and a new discharge waveform for boosting contrast.
Samsung 8500 - Picture Quality and Conclusions
Samsung 8500 - A Few Minor Flaws
Despite being a glorious home cinema TV we'd install in our own movie rooms in a heartbeat, the Samsung 8500 isn't wholly flawless. The push for extra brightness, for starters, has caused a couple of minor distractions. The worst of these is some greenish dither noise when the image is both dark and full of subtle detail - though this noise reduces considerably if you're sat a sensible distance from the screen, and are running the panel less aggressively (as in, with reduced contrast and brightness) than Samsung's default picture settings seem to want you to.
The other issue we presume is associated with the 8500's phenomenal brightness is a minor image retention issue, whereby some very bright, richly coloured elements of the picture can leave ghostly echoes of themselves behind for a few frames after they are supposed to have disappeared. Past plasma experience would suggest, though, that this issue should fade away once you've used the panel for 100 hours or more.
The next issue crops up during 3D viewing. Amid all the Samsung 8500's irresistible 3D glories you can occasionally see a little crosstalk ghosting noise over contrasting objects in the mid to far distance.
The final niggle is that some dark scenes reveal some minor, sporadic brightness fluctuations, presumably caused by the TV varying its subfield driving slightly to eke out every last drop of contrast from the panel. While admirable in its intent and for most of the time laudable in its results, we'd still have liked to have at least the option to turn this gentle 'dynamic contrast' feature off.
While we're duty bound to report these flaws, though, our overall experience of the 8500's pictures really was overwhelmingly positive.
As, we're pleased to report, was our experience of its audio. For while that hefty frame might not make the Samsung 8500 necessarily the most fashionable TV in town, it provides a brilliantly robust home for a set of speakers capable of delivering a sound stage potent and large enough to keep even 64-inch pictures company without sounding muddy, distorted or thin even under pretty severe duress.
There should be no doubt that Samsung's revolutionary work in delivering a plasma TV that combines groundbreaking brightness with truly inky black levels deserves to win the heart of many serious AV fans - especially those whose rooms tend to have a bit of ambient light to contend with. The decision by a team of highly skilled AV professionals to choose this TV over both current plasma offerings and Sony's new 4K TV is justified. This is the best TV being sold in Australia today and plasma is still the best TV display technology.
Scores In Detail
2D Picture Quality 5/5
3D Picture Quality 4.5/5
Sound Quality 4.5/5
Our Score 5/5