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Samsung PS51D945 review

Old-school 'dumb' TV with no smart functionality, but still a top bargain Tested at £576

Our Verdict

Flawed, but not critically, this is an astonishingly affordable big screen

For

  • Good images with standard-def
  • largely good with Blu-ray
  • terrific value

Against

  • Not Full HD
  • motion issues
  • no smart features
  • disappointing 3D

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Flawed, but not critically, this is an astonishingly affordable big screen

Pros

  • + Good images with standard-def
  • + largely good with Blu-ray
  • + terrific value

Cons

  • - Not Full HD
  • - motion issues
  • - no smart features
  • - disappointing 3D

A 51in television for less than £600: Samsung’s PS51D945 plasma seems an improbable bargain. Its price is so low, indeed, that it serves to plant a seed of doubt in your mind. Surely a TV this big and this cheap can’t be any good?

You’d be surprised. Of course, the PS51D945 is a compromise: it’s limited in a variety of ways. All the same, when displaying Freeview HD, DVD or a decent Blu-ray, the picture quality is mostly good and, in some regards, excellent.

Given that it’s also attractively styled, well built and very, very big, it’s easy to see its appeal to some buyers.

So, those limitations. First, this is an HD Ready panel, not Full HD: its 1365 x 768 resolution is incapable of displaying every pixel on a 1080p signal. And yet, for standard-definition Freeview and DVD pictures, that’s simply not an issue; it’s not a factor with the 720p resolution of most PS3 games, either.

With those sources, the Samsung’s vibrant colours and largely crisp edges combine to create eminently watchable high-definition images.

Surprisingly good HD images
In theory, the Samsung’s reduced pixel count could be more of a worry for Blu-ray fans; but it doesn’t work out that way in practice. That’s partially because downscaling is less taxing on a TV’s image processor than upscaling.

Feed the PS51D945 a 1080p picture and its pictures are very enjoyable. Indeed, black depths in Thor are up to par with the best-performing LED-backlit sets in this test, as befits the set’s plasma technology.

That same tech, however, when coupled to the lower resolution, also contributes to the slightly noisier feel to backgrounds and edges, plus the occasional judder with long, steady pans.

Noisy 3D, no streaming
In that sense, this TV is revealed for what it is: a slightly old-fashioned set competing against newer, more efficient contemporaries.

And that extends to its 3D presentation – noisy, cluttered by crosstalk and lacking in overall resolution – and to the set’s streaming services – of which there are none.

This is a TV from a bygone age, when televisions were dumb receivers, not smart hubs. The sound, too, is underwhelming.

Despite the various limitations, this huge television really is an improbable bargain. Accept it for what it is, and you’ll likely be delighted with what it has to offer.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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