The Samsung PNF8500 is a landmark plasma TV. Picture quality is stunning -- separated from the best-performing plasma TVs by the tiniest of margins. More important, that picture quality is just as good in well-lit spaces, something that no plasma TV past or present can claim. The feature lineup is beyond comprehensive. While the PNF8500 is expensive for a plasma set, it's competitive with like-sized flagship LED sets, most of which can't approach this level of picture perfection. Available models include the 64-inch Samsung PN64F8500 (Est. $3,400), the 60-inch Samsung PN60F8500 (Est. $2,800) and the 51-inch Samsung PN51F8500 (Est. $1,900).
A shining beacon. Experts say that the Samsung PNF8500 is the first plasma TV to look as good under bright lights as it does in a dark room. Incredible brightness for a plasma set and effective screen filtering are why. Overall picture quality is excellent, with terrific colors and blacks that are lighter than the very best plasma TVs available now -- or ever -- by only the tiniest of margins.
Extraordinary extras. No TV set manufacturer packs more features into its high-end TVs than Samsung, and the PNF8500 is a prime example of that. Streaming features are extensive and usable, thanks to a sophisticated Smart Hub interface that organizes content from online and cable sources in a way that makes everything easier to access -- it will even recommend programming for you based on your viewing habits. There's voice and Samsung-exclusive gesture control, though experts say the latter is more gimmick than useful. Smart Evolution Kit compatibility means that you can add features to your set as they are released in future years. Average-performing active shutter 3D is on board, and four pairs of glasses are in the box.
Solid strength. The design of the Samsung PNF8500 draws admiring comments from most reviewers. CNET's David Katzmaier seems particularly smitten with the stand, saying that it's a shame that many of those who buy the set will likely wall mount it. One caveat is that the curving stand, which bulges out at the center of the screen and tapers back at either edge, runs the full width of the set, so you'll need a table that's at least that wide to support the TV safely. Reviewed.com Televisions notes that this isn't one of those impossibly thin LED TVs, but that it feels "solid, clean and strong." The touchpad remote will take a little getting used to; some wonder if it's worth the effort, but others, including Katzmaier, say that it's the best remote ever included with a TV. The connectivity suite is pretty much standard for a top-shelf HDTV, including four HDMI inputs. On the analog side, component and composite video share a single port.
Expensive for a plasma TV. The Samsung PNF8500 is one of the most expensive plasma TVs available this year. However, critics say that you get what you pay for. Picture quality is better than like-priced, like-sized LED sets. The set is also slightly less expensive than Panasonic's TC-PZT60 series, such as the Panasonic Viera TC-P60ZT60 (Est. $3,000). The Panasonic plasma TV offers black levels that are near reference level -- but only slightly better than what's seen on the PNF8500 -- and the Samsung set does a little better job of maintaining its picture quality in bright rooms. Also, no plasma TV offers more features than the PNF8500.
CNET's David Katzmaier says that in terms of picture quality, "The F8500 deserves a spot in the upper echelon of TVs you can buy, and in a bright room it's the best plasma I've ever seen." The features list is called "mind-boggling."
Review: Samsung PNF8500 Review: Power-Packed Plasma Shines Brighter, David Katzmaier, June 4, 2013
2. Reviewed.com Televisions
Lee Neikirk calls the Samsung PNF8500 "One of the best televisions we've ever reviewed," and grants it an Editors' Choice award. He concedes that the set is expensive, but says that it's worth its cost: "There is only quality here," he writes.
Review: Samsung PN60F8500 Plasma TV Review, Lee Neikirk, April 12, 2013
3. Sound & Vision Magazine
Norton takes some issues with the 3D performance of the Samsung PN60F8500. But when it comes to watching 2D fare, he says that "the set was a joy to watch, with rich color, superb resolution, and subjectively fine black levels and overall image saturation on all but the most torturously challenging, dark, low-contrast scenes." It earns a Top Pick award.
Review: Samsung PN60F8500 3D Plasma HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, June 14, 2013
Chalk up an Editors' Choice award for the Samsung PN60F8500 at PCMag.com. Delaney hates the touchpad remote, but loves almost everything about the plasma TV. "The Samsung PNF8500 series is a top-shelf plasma HDTV line that delivers outstanding color quality, solid 2D and 3D imagery, and very dark blacks," he writes.
Review: Samsung PN60F8500, John R. Delaney, July 9, 2013
The Samsung PNF8500 series earns another rave review at Europe's FlatPanelsHD.com, and a Highly Recommended award. Larsen gives the picture-quality edge, by a small margin, to the Panasonic TC-PVT60 he tests, but adds that "all in all, Samsung F8500 is a great plasma TV and one of the best TVs on the market right now."
Review: Samsung F8500 (Plasma) Review, Rasmus Larsen, July 31, 2013
The Samsung PN60F8500 earns another highly positive review here. Following extensive testing, Merson declares it "the best Samsung HDTV we've ever reviewed. It receives a perfect 5-heart rating.
Review: Samsung PN60F8500 HDTV Review, Gary Merson, June 7, 2013
Reviews are beginning to accumulate for the Samsung PNF8500 at Amazon.com (user reports for all screen sizes in this series are lumped together here), and most owners seem exceptionally pleased. A very few reports of defective sets or buzzing (a common plasma complaint) that bothered owners excessively are the only black marks, and the set enjoys a rating of 4.5 stars overall.
Review: Samsung PN60F8500 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2013