What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 17 Jul 2008, 9:00am

Samsung PS50A556

Tested at £1350
80100
4

Not quite the bargain blockbuster we hoped for but still a tempting TV on a budget

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For

  • Rich, vibrant colours
  • good black levels
  • steal of a price

Against

  • Some blocking on tuner
  • not the subtlety of the best

Samsung is eager to tell us that the PS50A557, exclusive to Comet, and the PS50A558, sold by everyone else, are exactly the same TVs as this Currys' exclusive 556. Why this numberwang? Who knows, but we'll reiterate that our verdict applies only to the '556 until we see the others in the flesh.

This isn't the first 50in plasma TV from Samsung at a knockdown price – last year's Award winner was such a set, knocking the competition for six with a heady combination of high performance and low price tag.

And things start well. The set is a suave presence on its pedestal swivel stand. The remote control has had a redesign, given curves and a touch of colour in comparison with its predecessors, while the menus remain intuitive to use.

All specs are present and correct, with 1080p, Full HD resolution, three HDMI inputs – one on the side – and a digital Freeview tuner.

The TV picture is watchable enough, but, like most sets this size, it struggles to deliver detailed shots without hints of blocking and a touch of noise. The overall image has a decent level of insight and sharpness, though.

Sound is fair, but a little quiet
Sound is decent enough, though it could be clearer, and it's worth pointing out the speakers don't go that loud – we had the volume set fairly high.

On to 1080p HD video, courtesy of Ghost Rider, and that familiar Samsung plasma picture appears, with vivid, deep colours alongside solid, dark black levels.

Skin tones lack a little subtlety appearing a touch ruddy at times, but detail levels do their best to make up for it, not least in those impressive dark scenes.

The lack of subtlety with colours is more apparent with standard definition DVD content, and motion could be a little smoother, but the picture still has that colourful, luxurious feel and plenty of detail.

You may well be drawn to this set solely because of the tantalising price. Fortunately, while far from faultless, this plasma delivers in line with our performance-per-pound mantra.

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