Pros: Excellent 3D Performance, Great Smart TV Experience, Accurate Voice Controls, Incredible Daylight Room Performance
Cons: Price, Unimpressive Motion Judder Performance, Unstable Wifi Connectivity, Some Annoying Default Settings
Out of the box, you get your standard set of manuals, cables, 4 pairs of flimsy yet functional 3d glasses. Four additional things stand out, though—the remote, IR blaster, stand, and bezel/screen.
The remote is the newer version of their trackpad/voice enabled remote, which simulates the pad found in most laptop computers. This pad takes one third of the real estate of the remote, resulting in a reduction of sorely missed buttons (like number pad). On the other hand, the trackpad responsiveness has greatly increased from prior models, and the included microphone picks up "natural" voice commands fairly accurately. Important to note is that Samsung offers a free "regular" (non-trackpad, but with number pad) remote through its website by just entering your serial number (a great alternative to using the unconventional remote). In my opinion, even thought the remote is a great improvement from previous trackpad remotes, I still often found myself gravitating to my Logitech universal remote. The remote only becomes my first choice when using the "Smart" features of the TV like Netflix, Hulu or web browser.
The addition of an IR blaster allows you to use the included remote to also control your cable/satellite box. The performance was excellent on my tests, and in combination with some of the voice-search features (like "what is on HBO" which resulted on a list of all the current HBO listings for my seven versions of HBO), make for an excellent, yet perhaps superfluous, experience.
The stand is something to behold. This TV departs from the traditional base-and-neck stand structure, and instead implements a sophisticated metal-leaf shaped frame that extends the whole length of the TV. It is definitely artsy and eye catching—but it's totally non functional. Let me explain. Many people place cable boxes, BD players and other devices on the same table where their TV is located. The traditional base design allows them to place reasonably thin devices below the TV (between the table surface and the height of TV bezel), but if you have a base that is the same width as the TV, you are denied this extra room, and are forced to find alternate placement for these devices. Needless to say, this does not become an issue if you plan on wall mounting the TV.
Finally, the TV has a nice gray metallic bezel, an indicator led on the bottom left hand side, and several inputs/outputs to suit your needs. (I will not go into details on this, since the Samsung website can detail all the inputs and outputs of the unit.) I just want to add the TV has two interesting features worth mentioning. On the top border of the TV, there is a hidden camera that pops up with a simple press on it. This camera is used for hand gestures and for Skype sessions. It is a great idea to let the consumer hide/deploy it at their convenience, since many users could care less about using their TV for Skype sessions, or to use their TV as a glorified unresponsive MS Kinect. The second feature is the Screen coating. In previous years I could notice a purple coating on the screen (supposedly to increase image quality), and this year is no different, yet it seems the coating is less prominent, making for a more natural looking TV.
Now as far as performance goes, let me get the audio out of the way first. The TV speakers are totally unimpressive. If you are going to buy this TV, I strongly suggest getting a receiver system or sound bar—otherwise, your viewing (hearing) experience will be substantially diminished.
In the Apps/Smart TV category this TV excels in every way. Samsung has always been the leader in app availability and interconnectivity with other devices (phones, cameras, etc..), and this TV is no exception. in fact, is one of the few TVs that has HBO Go available. You get a suite of standard apps like Netflix and Hulu, as well as less conventional apps like fitness channels, 3D content apps, etc. In addition, Samsung offers a plethora of other apps to use smartphones and tablets to interact with your TV.
Unfortunately, the WiFi connectivity is not the best. I did find my TV struggling to maintain a constant connection during the first few days of usage (and I have three routers, none of which worked well). Yet, I did notice that this improved after the latest firmware update, so I will leave my final conclusion for a later time.
Finally, on image quality, you get what I would call the best picture I have ever seen on a plasma. This does not mean that the quality is perfect, but still, I do feel that the competition needs to start to take notice of the quality levels this TV outputs. For starters, the Picture menu has a plethora of options to tweak and adjust the image to your heart's content. You get your standard tint, color, and so on as well as noise filters, judder reduction, etc. The features that stand out the most (and results in the outstanding capabilities of this TV) are the brightness and contrast.
The brightness level of this TV is so far ahead of any other plasma that it even rivals the level of some top-end LED screens. This is a game changer for me (and it should be for you as well). The dilemma of deciding between an LED or a plasma has been the debate of whether you want the darker black levels of a plasma or the brightness levels of an LED. By increasing the brightness of the plasma screen, Samsung has effectively addressed this dilemma by giving you the best of both worlds. The black levels on it are almost equal to the top of the line Panasonics (VT60 and ZT60 series), but the whites are so far superior that there is no comparison. The best way to test this is if you have ever watched a hockey match on a plasma, the ice rink is a creamy white color, instead of true white. Let me just say that the image on this plasma will yield a true white color (usually reserved for LEDs), while at the same time giving you the deep blacks of the crowd often enjoyed on plasma. Again, you can get better blacks out of Panasonic's VT60 and ZT60 series, but if you sacrifice a tiny percentage of that black level, you will gain so much more in the brightness and whites, that the decision is a no-brainer.
This contrast also translates into a richer and more lively 3D image. Older plasmas would cause my eyes to get tired, but this TV offers the best active glasses 3D experience I have ever seen (I suspect because of the contrast/brightness level). If you are a fan of 3D, this TV is sure to please.
But not all is perfect in the bright Land of Samsung. For starters, the motion-judder filter is great but not perfect. Turned off or in standard mode, the performance is perfect, but if you are like me (I love the "soap opera effect" of LEDs), then setting the Judder to smooth will yield that motion fluidity, but at the expense of some artifacts. These filters are trying to add artificial frames to the existing images, and the process has not been perfected. Yet, I still can't explain why in 2D the filter works so limitedly, while in 3D it works flawlessly. So if you are not a fan for the soap opera effect, this TV will be perfect, but if you seek the fluidity of an LED, get ready for a small disappointment. But then again, many plasmas do not offer even a basic judder filter option, so at least it's there.
Another annoying feature is that if your video source stops for a second, the screen will display a warning message that remains until you click to close it. This is not a horrible thing, but it may require more key strokes than desired if you are using a universal remote.
Anyway, I am extremely happy with the performance of the PN60F8500. It's the best picture quality I have seen on a plasma to date (both in 2D and 3D). The new brightness/contrast levels achieved by Samsung are sure to change the playing field for years to come. The plethora of apps, settings and features make it a versatile device to cover all your living rooms needs. Despite a few minor quirks (base, remote, judder filter), I strongly believe this could very well be the best plasma of 2013.