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THE LAST PLASMA, EVER

This is the last plasma. The last new plasma you’ll ever read about. Last. The technology that ushered in the era of the flat panel TV. Became, in many minds, actually synonymous with “flat TV.”

Panasonic left the plasma business a year ago, Samsung and LG left this year. All that’s left is LCD, and a pittance of OLED.

Being a budget model, it’s no swan song (that’s the ZT60, or arguably the F8500). It only comes in one size (64-inches), but by the nature of what it represents, it’s worth a review. And here it is.

The 64H5000 is gloriously free of nonsense, like Smart TV features and 3D. Most people don’t care about 3D anymore, and any media streamer is going to be better than any Smart TV.

That H5000 isn’t lacking for picture quality adjustments, however. In addition to the normal “picture enhancers” we always turn off (and are mostly off in Movie mode), there’s 2- and 10-step grayscale adjustments and a color management system that generally works (more on this later). Even so, for the most part the H5000 is pretty accurate out of the box. So calibration isn’t strictly necessary.

The remote is a basic affair, lacking the motion/sound/mindreading nonsense of most high-end TV remotes in 2014. It’s backlit and has decent-sized buttons. A good, simple remote.

Inputs are all on the back, and mostly face the left side (as viewed from the front). There are two HDMI inputs, one USB, and a component/composite shared input.

The EPA says the H5000 will cost roughly $22 a year to run, which is lower than other 64-inch TVs.

Pentile

The main reason the H5000 is so inexpensive (for its size), is it uses a “pentile” pixel arrangement. Put simply, this means it has fewer red and blue sub-pixels than a “regular” 1080p TV.

Sitting about 8 feet away, the only time I noticed any hint of this was certain thin solid colors on a black background. They had a bit more… let’s call it crennelation, than I’d expect with a non-pentile display. I noticed a similar artifact with one of the Sharp Quattron TVs I reviewed.

Is PenTile a big deal? Nope. The overall image (as we’ll discuss) is so good, I think this is a non-issue. Is it likely the F8500, with it’s traditional sub-pixel layout (and full chroma resolution) seem a little more detailed? Maybe, but it’s going to be pretty slight.

Picture Performance

Overall, the picture quality of the H5000 is excellent. A rich, contrasty, accurate, detailed image. Why did this technology disappear again? It’s not quite as excellent as the much more expensive F8500, but why would it be, since it’s a fraction of the price.

Color is quite accurate out of the box as well. The color management system isn’t quite as simple to use as some, but it does a reasonable job of letting a calibrator dial in the colors a bit more. Once I got the levels under the visible threshold, I stopped tweaking. There’s a fair amount of interaction in the controls, so adjusting luminance also moves hue and/or color. If you want to spend a few hours dialing them in by increments, you might be able to get them a little closer.

Conclusion

The $1,300.00 64H5000 is a great TV, the last of its breed. It puts out a fantastic image, and is a great price too. We are sad to see plasma go, but at least it leaves with its head held high, a classy exit of low price and high performance, its strengths for years.

We award the Samsung PN64H5000 four stars.

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