Samsung PN64F5500 64-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV
Samsung has simplified its plasma TV lineup for 2013, separating its flagship model from the rest of its offerings. However, considering the fact that Samsung remains one of the two top plasma TV competitors in the market, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Whereas the top-of-the-line PNF8500 appeals to nitpicky videophiles, the PN64F5500 is a solid midrange offering that offers a unique mix of screen size, picture quality, useful features, and a liberal interpretation of "value".
Performance-wise, the PN64F5500 does not disappoint. As you'd expect from a newer Samsung plasma TV, this model generates deep black levels and features the ability to render accurate colors. However, there is one telltale sign it’s not Samsung's top end product. Whereas the PNF8500 can offer eye-searing levels of brightness (especially for a plasma TV), the PNF5500 highlights one of the traditional weaknesses of plasma TV technology: lackluster bright room performance. Ambient light tends to wash out the picture, so we recommend controlling the lighting of the intended viewing area.
Recent Samsung TVs have specialized in the features department and the PN64F5500 is more of the same. Compared to the step-down PNF5300, this model offers niceties such as 3D capability, dual-core processor, and a full Smart TV suite. 3D on this set performs admirably, with little crosstalk or artifacts to detract from the experience. Samsung also includes two pairs of active 3D glasses while extra pairs are very affordable at $20 each. These glasses also comply with the Real3D "universal standard", which means they will work with all other 3D-compatible sets that boast the same.
Smart TV adds extra utility to the PN64F5500, and can replace a set-top streaming box in most instances. It offers a comprehensive list of sources to stream from, including Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Vudu, HBO Go, CinemaNow, YouTube, and even sports-oriented channels such as MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter. The dual-core processor enables snappy navigation, especially when using the built-in social media interfaces (Facebook, Twitter, and Picasa) or the web browser.
Wired connectivity is adequate. The inputs include 3 HDMI ports, 2 USB ports, and a hybrid component/composite video input. None of the HDMI inputs are MHL-compatible, but an Ethernet port is available for wired network connectivity. The PN64F5500 shares the same basic look Samsung has applied to its TVs for several years at this point, with slim bezels, thin cabinet, and the spider stand that has become instantly recognizable as a Samsung feature.
The PN64F5500 presents superb picture quality that stacks up favorably against the competition. The 3D compatibility and the versatile SmartTV suite add usable features, and the bargain price for the screen size makes this TV a steal.