The Samsung Series 8 is a 59in Full HD plasma television with extensive IPTV and 3D capabilities. It slots in-between the Samsung Series 8 52 inch (PS51D8000) and Samsung Series 8 64 inch (PS64D8000) in the company's 2011 plasma lineup.
Product highlights include built-in WiFi, an inbuilt Web browser with quick social networking access, two USB ports with extensive multimedia support, 2D-to-3D conversion, a wide range of exclusive Samsung TV apps and SRS Theatre surround sound.
But the real star of the show is its image quality; which looks superb. It also has one of the most arresting designs on the market.
Design & Connectivity
The Samsung Series 8 (PS59D8000) is one of 2011's best looking TVs to date. The button-free bezel is finished in glass and silver metal which helps it to stand out from the crowd. At just 37mm thick, it is surprisingly slim for a plasma TV (Samsung boasts it is half the width of 'conventional' plasma panels).
This is a significant plus if you're planning to wall-mount your television. That said, it weighs over 30kg without the stand, so an extra pair of hands is still recommended when it comes to setting this thing up.
The Samsung Series 8 is one of the better looking TVs on the market.
The stand is of similar high quality, comprising four silver legs that match the aesthetic of the TV. It's a somewhat unconventional look, but elegant nonetheless.
If we were to make one criticism, it's that the TV's slim design and barely-there borders create an optical illusion that makes it look smaller than it actually is - but this is a very tiny quibble, to be sure. All in all, we think the Samsung Series 8 plasma looks every bit as good as a premium-level TV should. (Gone are the days when a HDTV's quality was conveyed solely through the logo.)
The Samsung Series 8 (PS59D8000) comes with four HDMI ports, which is pretty standard for a large screen TV. Personally, we think it's time vendors upped the ante in this department: it’s surprisingly easy to fill four ports in today's HD-friendly world (especially if you like to keep one spare for camcorders/cameras). On the plus side, all four HDMI ports are 1.4-compliant, which means they'll work with compatible 3D hardware.
In a growing industry trend, Samsung has elected to remove composite and component video ports from the Series 8 panel. Instead, a plug-in adaptor is included. This can be a bit of a pain to connect, but worked fine once we managed to get it inserted. If you have a collection of old video game consoles or are still using a DVD player, the lack of inbuilt analogue outputs is something to be mindful of. For everyone else, this omission is unlikely to be missed.
Samsung Series 8 composite/component AV adapter.
Other connectivity options include VGA, the aforementoned USB ports (x2) and inbuilt Wi-Fi.The latter is essential to take advantage of Samsung's extensive IPTV offerings; thankfully, connecting to your home network is a synch, with a menu wizard guiding novice users through each step of the process.
Samsung Smart Hub
The Samsung Smart Hub is an IPTV-based menu interface that represents a gateway to the product's online tools, applications and services.
Boasting Flash-supported web browsing, Twitter, Facebook and Google Talk functionality, access to BigPond TV and Movie rentals, plus a growing range of Samsung Apps, the Series 8 attempts to make the television experience as interactive as possible.
Samsung offers a range of exclusive apps for the Series 8 plasma that cover sports, entertainment, information, games and social networking. Local apps include BigPond Game Analyser, BigPond Movies, BigPond TV, a suite of NineMSN apps and ABC iView.
Samsung 'Smart Hub' interface.
This month, Samsung will also be launching a 3D video on demand service for its 3D TV range, including the Series 8 plasma. There will be over 30 3D clips available to view from June 30, ranging from luxury sports car showcases to dinosaur documentaries. This is a huge boon to 3D fans, as the amount of content for 3D TVs is currently quite lacking - especially if you don't own a 3D Blu-ray player.
Upon first glance, the Samsung Smart Hub can seem pretty overwhelming; there are icons, windows and doodads all over the screen vying for the user's attention. However, we think most people will quickly get to grips with the interface, which adopts an attractive, visual-based approach. Anyone familar with the Apple iPhone or Android tablets should be comfortably at home with the interface (although there is no touch screen functionalty, in case you were wondering).
Naturally, the speed of the various online functions will be reliant on your broadband service. In a nice touch, the Series 8 will automatically tweak the video quality of BigPond movies, depending on the bandwidth available.
OVER PAGE: Remote, performance and conclusion...