Last Updated: June 25, 2013
2009 Best Plasma TV - Part 3
Which is better - The B860 or the V10?
Samsung Series 8 vs. Panasonic V10
As already indicated in the first and second part of this B860 Samsung Series 8 versus Panasonic V10 discussion, both plasma HDTVs excel in picture performance, come with an enhanced feature set, and equally important at this price bracket, have an extremely stylish look.
Definitely, these are among the best plasma TVs, plasma technology has ever delivered. However, nothing is perfect and both TVs have their own strengths and weaknesses. So the issue is... Which is better - Samsung Series 8 or Panasonic V10?
To help us answer this question, we confront our analysis with both what other expert reviews are saying about these products, as well with as what customers are saying in online forums and major retail stores.
Editor's Note Feb. 5, 2010: According to a thread on the AVS Forum site, some Panasonic plasma TV owners have experienced a sudden unexplained lowering in the black level performance of their Panasonic plasma TVs. Click here for more information.
Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TC-P55ST60
...first TV to ever gain a 5-Star rating
If the ST50 from 2012 did prove to be the HDTV to deliver the best value for your money, this new 2013 TV from Panasonic is even better - delivering a picture you would generally expect from a more expensive flagship model. Though its 3D picture is not among the best, the ST60 is capable of amazing picture quality at a price that is well within reach of the average budget.
So which deserves the 'Best Plasma TV' title... Samsung or Panasonic?
There is no doubt that both Series 8 Samsung B860 and Panasonic V10 plasma HDTVs are capable of a superb picture and surely represent a great option for videophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike.
In this respect, picking the one for the 'best plasma TV' title is definitely extremely difficult, in particular, because in one way or another, each of these sets takes the upper hand. And as if to make the whole selection process more difficult, differences between the two in the various aspects of picture performance are often just a hair apart and mostly noticeable in a side-by-side comparison. To further complicate matters, both the Samsung and the Panasonic share just about the same price for the same size.
To conclude this Samsung versus Panasonic discussion, we look at the performance of the Samsung B860 and Panasonic V10 plasma TVs with the scope of determining where each of these extremely compelling plasma HDTV options fit best. You may also join in our '2009 Best Plasma TV' discussion by filling the form below and submit your option to appear on our site. Should you prefer, you may also submit a short review of your 2009 Samsung or Panasonic plasma TV to help others in their selection process.
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Performance Analysis: Samsung vs. Panasonic
Black level performance, shadow detail, and color accuracy
Black level: Both Samsung and Panasonic HDTVs are capable of delivering a deep level of black. Yet with the V10, Panasonic has once again confirmed its supremacy in black level performance. The shade of black on V10 HDTVs is unsurpassed by any 2009 HDTV. Shadow detail on the Panasonic is also excellent. In this respect, expert reviews appearing on Cnet and HDguru agree that the V10 is definitely the best plasma TV for 2009. Why?
A deep shade of black is extremely important as it helps render scenes better at all brightness levels while making colors look richer and more saturated. This is the primary reason why both Panasonic and Samsung plasma TVs are capable of excellent overall picture performance. You see, both are capable of a nice, deep shade of black.
There is some difference though between the two... While Samsung Series 8 plasma TVs are definitely also capable of deep blacks, yet Samsung black level performance is not exactly in line with that of the Panasonic V10.
Shadow detail: Shadow detail is another important picture parameter in which Panasonic V10 excels - with excellent shadow performance even in the darker parts of the image. As confirmed by a Cnet review of the Panasonic V10, this is mostly thanks to Panasonic stable gamma that remains accurate along the full light range. The Samsung B860 gamma is also accurate at close to 2.2, but it does not remain completely linear as one approaches the lower end of the scale.
Color accuracy: Both sets are capable of excellent color performance with colors that are well saturated. But whereas Panasonic V10 delivers better blacks, Series 8 Samsung plasma TVs deliver better overall color accuracy. This has been typical along the full 2009 lineups by both TV makers. Samsung colors are almost spot-on to the HD standard. Color decoding on the Samsung B860 HDTVs is also excellent with colors that look more natural than on corresponding Panasonic plasma TVs.
It is not that color on the Panasonic is not good. In its review, HDguru states that the primary colors on the V10 closely reproduce the HD standard. At the same time, we cannot but remark that from the color co-ordinates measured by HDguru, it is clear that the primary color of green on the V10 is not completely accurate.
In addition, color accuracy is not just a matter of accurate primary colors only. There also comes into play the accuracy of the secondary colors and the set color decoding. In this respect, Cnet indicates that the color of cyan on the V10 is a bit too blue. The result is that the V10 tends to produce a white that is not exactly pure white. Color decoding on the V10 also over push red in dark areas - necessitating backing off the color slider slightly to remedy.
Instead, the color of black on both sets remain true even in very dark areas, without that blue tint so common with many flat-panel HDTVs.
When it comes to color saturation, Panasonic takes the upper hand. It is the deeper shade of black on the V10 that helps the Panasonic render colors with a bit more of pop than on the Samsung.
However... The differences highlighted above between the two are minimal and would emerge only in side-by-side comparisons. In this respect, expert reviews agree that once calibrated, these HDTVs exhibit relatively accurate color, accurate grayscale, and accurate gamma that is almost spot on to the 2.2 standard.
Best out-of-the-box picture settings for both the Panasonic V10 and the Samsung B860 is the Warm 2 color temperature setting, with the Panasonic in THX or Custom mode and Samsung in Movie picture mode.
Both Samsung and Panasonic are good performers, but with a few differences. Samsung 'Ultra-FilterBright' anti-glare technology does better in preserving blacks and color saturation under bright lighting than Panasonic AR screen.
Instead, Panasonic AR filter on the V10 does a better job in attenuating reflections off the screen of bright objects in the room than Samsung FilterBright technology.
Overall however, Samsung ultra-filter screen technology does better in a bright room environment.
On the other hand, like Series 6 plasma TVs, Samsung Series 8 panel do exhibit a slight tendency to image retention, something which the Panasonic do not. Some customers seem to have been extremely preoccupied with this issue; but we believe that this should clear off after the first 200 hours or so of use as further explained in our Samsung B860 plasma TV feature description.
Directly associate with screen performance is off-angle viewing. In general plasma do not suffer from deterioration in image quality with wide angle viewing. Both sets provide a far more accurate image with a far wider viewing angle than any LCD.
However plasma shiny panels tend to reflect more of brightly lit objects in the room with wider viewing angles. This makes Panasonic just a bit better with wide angle viewing - due to its ability to better attenuate reflections. But reflections will still turn out to be annoying with both sets unless used under controlled lighting.
Video processing is clean, free from noise and video artifacts on both the V10 and the B860. However, Samsung Series 8 HDTVs do slightly better overall mainly due to the rather less than ideal performance of the Panasonic when it comes to standard definition material - with a lot of jaggies along diagonals. This is an issue that emerges often when it comes to Panasonic HDTVs in both expert and consumer reviews.
Otherwise, both are capable performers. Both sets can de-interlace 1080i film- and video-based material correctly - achieving full 1080 lines in still resolution tests.
When it comes to motion resolution, both Samsung and Panasonic are great performers with Panasonic doing just a bit better under a test environment. Both Cnet and HDguru agree that Panasonic V10 plasma HDTVs are capable of achieving the full 1080 lines supported by the 1080i/p HD standard in motion resolution tests. Instead, Cnet reports that Samsung delivered close to 900 line. However, we have to add that at these levels of motion resolution performance, it would not be possible to perceive any difference between the two with broadcast content.
Finally, both Samsung and Panasonic can handle 24p material properly. Panasonic 96Hz refresh rate and Samsung Cinema Smooth function deliver smooth film action while still preserving the natural 24-frame cadence - without the jerky motion associated with 2:3 pulldown otherwise necessary when displaying 24 frames-per-second movie content over a 60Hz frame rate TV.
Concluding Remarks ...and discussion
If all that matters is picture performance, the Panasonic V10 series represents the best plasma TV on the market. It delivers just a bit better than the Series 8 Samsung plasma HDTV, thanks to its exceptionally deep black levels and equally important, an accurate gamma that stays stable along the full range of light levels.
The latter is an important picture parameter that is mainly responsible for the Panasonic excellent shadow detail.
Panasonic 50-inch TC-P50V10 - rated by many as the best plasma TV for 2009
Even Samsung B860 blacks are nice and deep and gamma is quite accurate. But here, Samsung is not exactly on par with the Panasonic, and the differences - though subtle - would surely become apparent in side-by-side comparisons
But then Samsung excel in color accuracy - doing better than Panasonic - and its solid video processing is capable of handling both HD and SD content equally well. Some may argue that Panasonic delivers the full 1080 lines of motion resolution as against the somewhat less of the Samsung. But rest assured that at this level of performance, you would not see the difference between the two unless you use the appropriate test patterns.
The truth is that the differences between the two at all aspects of picture performance are minimal; in the end, both sets are capable of an excellent picture quality. And while picture performance is the most important deliverable of any TV, when the differences in performance between the available options are minimal, choosing one over another would often become more a matter of available features.
And in terms of overall features, we think that Samsung Series 8 delivers better. Except for its reduced analog video connectivity, the B860 certainly delivers better than Panasonic thanks to features like its basic but functional picture-in-picture and the menu on-screen help. We also like Samsung's way of making it possibly to install firmware updates direct via the set internet connection. Equally important is Samsung DLNA support. We believe that this is a worthy feature at a time when the big screen TV is becoming more of a central part in media integration in the home. Unfortunately, DLNA support is totally missing on the North American version of the Panasonic V10.
Even Samsung energy-saving options are better. And for those looking for the perfect picture, the extended suite of user-adjustable picture controls available on the Samsung would surely enable even the pickiest of users to adjust the best picture for their liking.
And this apart from its compelling ultra-slim design and its stylish clear support column, which we prefer over Panasonic one-sheet design. We believe Samsung's use of a neutral ToC on Series 8 plasma TVs and the sleek inch-thin profile appeal more to the wider audience.
Some may be put off by a buzzing noise issue on the Samsung B860 - as further reported by some users - in particular on the AVS forum. But we have also seen similar complains about minor buzzing on Panasonic V10 plasma TVs.
The truth is that as expressed elsewhere on our site, a soft buzzing noise is typical of all plasmas and is mainly caused by the electrical charges used to create the images on the screen. Buzzing can also result from the high frequency power drive coils in the switch-mode power supply (SMPS) board used to drive the panel.
How much you hear this buzzing noise depends on your ear sensitivity, brightness and contrast levels, and panel installation, but the level of buzzing is generally quite low and inaudible from normal viewing distance especially during daytime. You have to sit really close to the TV to hear it - too close for healthy viewing. In fact, all cases we are aware of where viewers complained of audible buzzing, the viewers were sitting too close for correct viewing.
Other performance and feature differences between the two are basically the same. For example, both are capable of correctly handling 1080p/24 content. Both provide extended IPTV features and both come with an easy-to-use on-screen menu. Even power consumption on both sets - once calibrated - is basically the same, and despite the much touting on low power consumption by both plasma TV makers, this is still much more than corresponding LCDs.
In the end...
This is a case where choosing the best plasma TV is far from easy. It is more than just a matter of picture quality. If it were so, one may very well save a couple of hundred dollars and opt for the less expensive brethren within the respective brand lineup. After all, picture quality on the less expensive Panasonic G10 and Samsung Series 6 is pretty much close to that of the higher-end series.
However, if you are after excellence in performance, enhanced features, and a super stylish design, then both Samsung Series 8 and Panasonic V10 represent a most suitable option. Many would prefer the Panasonic V10 because despite its less accurate color, its picture quality is superb. We prefer the Samsung B860 as we like the more accurate colors of the latter; besides, Samsung feature set suits us best and its ultra-sleek design is the most compelling we have ever come across.
Surely, these TVs do not come cheap, nor do they represent the perfect TV - both have their own weaknesses. But in their own way, both have succeeded to significantly raise the performance benchmark, irrespective of display technology.
Some may be tempted to take the easy way out in their HDTV selection and opt for brand preference. There is nothing wrong with such an approach but it is always worth investing some effort in your HDTV choice to better identify the best plasma TV option most suitable for your needs. At the end of the day, your TV will last quite a few years before you ever consider replacing it.
We just hope that through this write-up, we managed to bring out the main differences in features and performance between the B860 and the V10, to help make your choice for the best plasma TV a bit easier.
We are interested in your opinion, and many others are interested too!
All you have to do is to fill in the form below and submit your comments to be include on this page.
Editor's Note: Non-related submissions to this 'best plasma TV' issue under discussion in this article will not be posted on our site. Thank you.
What Others Have Said
Click below to read what others are saying about this Samsung vs. Panasonic issue.
Buzz is really drastically different between these two plasma TV sets Not rated yet
After several months with the Samsung B860, the buzz was intolerable. It was clearly audible from 12 feet away, and very directional. It would drive any …
Torn between Samsung Great Picture and Buzzing Not rated yet
Our Samsung buzzes excessively. Very annoying. Service man did 'repair' but still buzzes as bad as ever. Offered to exchange our Samsung for V10. Torn …
Samsung versus Panasonic Plasma TVs - More Readers' comments
back to... Part 1: Samsung B860
Part 2: Panasonic V10