For years I had put off building my planned plasma bedroom theater setup. Having owned only LCD's prior and being into calibration I yearned for better black levels. I followed the panasonic plasma line closely and a VT65 was in my sights. Before I knew it they were no longer a viable option and my attention shifted to the remaining plasma manufacturers: Samsung and LG. The LG idea was quickly thrown out because of the well established poor black levels (for plasma). Samsung was the last viable option. With a sub $1000 budget, their mid grade F5300 plasma line fit the bill perfectly. With three options, 51 ($550), 60 ($800), or 64 inch ($1400), the obvious choice became clear. The 60 inch was perfect for me, size and price wise. When it went on sale at sears for $700 it became a no brainer.
I had two concerns going in: Pentile sub-pixel arrangement and magenta tint.
Upon returning home from picking up the TV the fist thing I did was pop in the AVS 709 calibration disc and from the very first screen it was immediately apparent: My set had the magenta tint issue in the bottom 10%ish of the screen... Uhg!. After a basic contrast/brightness calibration I put on some content to see how noticeable it was during regular viewing. To my dissappointment it was extremely noticable on far more scenes than expected. Watching "Top Guns" on Amazon Instant Video - the landscape (dry clay like desert) would be pinkish at the bottom and fade to the correct color. Watching "John Adams" crossed arms at the bottom of the screen had the pink hue ... grey jackets had a pink hue had the bottom. Any time I watch 16:9 full screen content my eyes are constantly shifting to the bottom.
I was largely unsuccessful in getting it to show up in photos:
Pentile Pixel Arrangement:
Going in I had no idea how to visualize what this causes. This is my first plasma, which acts very much different than the LCD's I have experience with. Regardless, the additional green pixels and spacing was very apparent when looking up close. It was also very apparent with text, causing jaggies/etc (because of the additional pixel spacing?). What about when I back up to 6ft+ (the point at which many people say it is invisible)? It mostly goes away, but I feel like there is a lack of clarity (at all viewing distances) with things like text... and it's hard to imagine it's not translating over to everything (to some degree). It seems like, in some particular spots with some scenes, the pentile pixel arrangement causes some sort of artifact. It could be dithering and my lack of experience with plasma, but when I move close to the problem area the pentile arrangement is obvious in that area. Overall, my feeling on the pentile display, and I could be wrong, is that it probably makes some difference (at all viewing distances) but it is fairly minimal.
(photos taken with Nikon D50 DSLR, 60mm Macro Lens, and white balanced using a white balance card in RAW)
(closeup of the orange "I" in ITU-R, highlighting the Pentile pixel arrangement)
My previous sets, for reference, are a 2010 LG CCFL LCD and a 2014 E series 39" FALD Vizio.
What I like about the set:
-Excellent calibration controls (greyscale/cms)
-Colors are pretty accurate, stock
-Contrast is excellent
-Price! ($700 for a very nice 60" set)
-Plenty bright for my low light bedroom
What I don't like about the set:
-Poor quality control (magenta tint)
The "disappointing blacks" may seem confusing. And honestly, if I did not have my 2014 FALD Vizio, I probably would have been very happy with the blacks. Throughout recent months I've been telling my wife, as we watch movies on the CCFL LG LCD, "See how those blacks have a greyish blue sheen to them, horrible! When we get the plasma the blacks will be deep black and you wont have that sensation in dark scenes". I've found that, when watching in very low light, we still have that greyish/black sensation. That surprised me. My wife was also underwhelmed. I realize this is not a cream of the crop plasma but I was expecting better, as the F8500 is considered a reference panel and it's black levels are regularly described as just "slightly better" vs the F5300. I'm considering dragging over my 39 inch FALD Vizio LCD to put next to the plasma, in the dark, and A/B compare black levels. It could be an incorrect perception but I feel like the vizio may hold it's own, or win the comparison.
Luckily, after performing a more thorough 10pt greyscale and gamma calibration (trying out bt1884 currently, I think it may be crushing blacks too much for my liking) the magenta tint lightened up considerably. It's still there and noticeable on some scenes, you just have to really look for it now. Better but still unacceptable in my view.
Overall I love the set aside from the magenta tint issue. For that reason it will probably be going back to sears. As of right now my plan is to try a warehouse version (f5350) in hopes the magenta tint issue will not be present.