The Samsung Series 8 59 inch (PS59D8000) comes with not one, but two remote controls. In addition to a bog-standard TV remote, you also get Samsung's new Qwerty TV Remote (although not in the box; you have to send away for it).
The Samsung Qwerty TV Remote boasts more than 60 buttons on one side, including a Samsung Smart Hub icon which lets you gain access to Facebook, Pandora, Skype, and Web video services on your TV. Meanwhile, the opposite side resembles a regular remote, offering you the best of both worlds.
Samsung new Qwerty TV Remote.
We think the Qwerty remote is essential to the user experience; especially if you plan to get the most out of the TV's Internet functionality. Inputting text with the regular remote is a real chore - even for simple tasks like typing a password.
The full QWERTY keyboard allows for text input and navigation when using a Samsung SMART TV. It is primarily designed for web use, such as entering Web addresses and writing Tweets or Facebook messages.
Sound and image performance
This is where the Samsung Series 8 59 inch (PS59D8000) plasma really shines.
Over the past few years, Samsung has built a reputation for producing some of the best blacks in the business, and the Series 8 is no exception. The 59in panel features Samsung's new Real Black Filter that purportedly delivers a 20 million-to-one dynamic contrast ratio.
The Samsung Series 8 59 inch (PS59D8000) Plasma uses a 600Hz sub-field drive to ensure images remain smooth while in motion. (Note: this shouldn't be confused with the 200Hz refresh rates offered by LCD panels, which use different technology).
To test the TV's image performance, we connected it to a Sony PlayStation 3 and watched the 3D Blu-ray edition of Tangled. We also previewed YouTube, some standard-def DVDs and a handful of PS3 video games.
In every example, the Samsung Series 8 59 inch (PS59D8000) did not fail to impress. 1080p 2D video playback was faultless - everything from image clarity to viewing angles was impossible to fault.
The Samsung Series 8 benefits from wide viewing angles: handy if you have couches on opposite sides of the room.
3D playback was also solid, though you'll need to stock up on 3D Active Glasses if you want to enjoy this content with your family. (One pair is included in the sales package, with additional pairs costing $149.95 a pop.)
YouTube playback quality was also good; we happily watched a handful of HD clips in full screen mode without feeling the urge to revert to a smaller window. This is courtesy of a noise reduction filter that also helps to clean up fuzzy DVDs. While the results obviously won't match a BD disc, it does make substandard video content perfectly watchable.
Meanwhile, the TV's inbuilt audio is surprisingly solid - especially for such a slim panel. If you're springing for a $3499 TV, you're probably going to want a proper sound system to go with it, but it's nice to know that the onboard speakers are able to hold their own.
The Samsung Series 8 59 inch (PS59D8000) is a feature-packed plasma TV that ushers in a new era of online applications and user interactivity. Even if you're happy to just keep watching Blu-ray movies and free-to-air television, this is still a superb TV thanks to its excellent image quality.