This article first appeared in HWM October 2012.
Dubbed as "Titan Black", the E8000’s elegant bezel comes in a smoky-gray finish, and is topped off with a silver Samsung logo. Samsung’s flagship plasma TV is fitted with the Quad-Stand pedestal as seen in previous models, instead of the more recent Arc-Flow stand flaunted by its ES8000 LED sibling.
This display swivels, although interestingly, it does not carry any hardware buttons. Instead, a mini "joystick" is included below the panel to navigate the TV’s interface. But with two remotes included - a standard wand and a Smart Touch remote - it’s quite unlikely users would have to depend on this navigational stick.
Moving on, the fifth-generation Series 8 is the only plasma model to enjoy Samsung’s "Smart Interaction" privileges, and that includes voice activation, motion controls, and facial recognition. To facilitate these functions, the set is equipped with a built-in microphone, as well as a rotatable camera to ensure privacy when needed.
On that note, Samsung’s "Smart Interaction" features worked pretty well too. The only stipulations are that the room must be sufficiently lit for the camera to register hand movements; the environment has to be relatively quiet as well, or else the microphone might have difficulty decoding voice commands.
Samsung’s Smart Hub platform is now available in a high-definition spread. Although its layout looks largely the same, there are a few notable additions to its content, including VOD (video-on-demand) services like Singtel’s mio TV Play and Viki Premiere. Starting from S$2.99 per title, SingTel’s application enables users to rent mainstream movies on a 48-hour basis with a variety of SD, HD, and 3D formats available.
The integrated web browser is HTML5 compatible, and fires up in a flash. It also supports features such as ad-blocking, pop-up blocking, and private browsing modes. Our only grouse is that text entry is a painful process, whether with the primary or secondary controller.
There are only four picture modes on hand - Dynamic, Standard, Relax (the dimmest), and Movie. Nonetheless, enthusiasts will relish some of the advanced settings available, such as 10p White Balance for further RGB adjustments. As for its performance, the E8000 delivers deep, but not terribly dark blacks. Apart from this, it aced most of our visual benchmarks and video tests.
Tested on the "warmer" Movie mode, the Series 8 exhibited a reasonably decent noise filter with little traces of image retention on its panel. Not to mention it has a dependable video engine with excellent diagonal interpolation and adequate motion processing with SD and HD content. Its 3D prowess was equally good, where crosstalk was absent for the most part, plus wonderful stereoscopic depth to behold.
Panasonic might still be able to play their "deepest blacks" trump card for now, but it’ll pay to take heed of the South Korean’s latest plasma contender which is really big on its Smart TV features as well as 2D and 3D performance.