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Samsung PN50C680

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

Bring 3-D home with Samsung’s 50-inch 1080p Plasma television. With 600Hz Subfield Motion the PN50C680 offers crisp, clean pictures that make action more natural and life-like on your TV. With a 2,000,000:1 ratio Samsung makes sure that the images are saturated with rich colors. The television is also energy compliant with better than four star energy saver components.

Features List:

– 50-inch Plasma screen

– 3D Technology

– Samsung 3D Active Glasses

– 1080p HD resolution

– 600Hz Subfield Motion

– 4.0 Energy Star rating

How large of a screen do I really need?

“Bigger is better” doesn’t make any more sense when choosing an HDTV for your living room than when choosing a couch for your living room. A lot of factors come into play. As a general rule, consider a TV 1.5 to 3.0 times the screen size. For instance, a 32-inch television might make sense for viewing distances as close as four feet away, and as far as eight feet away. Check out our guide to choosing the right size HDTV for more details, including a helpful chart.

What resolution do I need?

All consumer HDTVs break down into either 720p or 1080p resolution, which represents the number of horizontal lines in the display. More is obviously better here, but at small screen sizes – like 32 inches – many people find it hard to distinguish the benefit of 1080p resolution. As our guide to screen size points out, viewing distance can also play a factor: The closer you sit, the more you’ll appreciate higher resolution. In general, many people start to see an obvious difference between 1080p and 720p as screens sized 40 inches and up.

Also take into account that much of the content available today doesn’t take advantage of full 1080p resolution. Many shows still broadcast in 720p or 1080i. Technically only Blu-ray discs and digital, non-video sources (like a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or PC hooked up to the TV), really offer true 1080p content. This makes 1080p a no-brainer if you want to play Mass Effect 2 with the most detail and watch Star Trek on Blu-ray, but less essential if you just play to watch standard over-the-air broadcast material.

LCD or Plasma?

Debating between LCD or plasma can almost get as subjective as debating between chocolate and vanilla. But unlike the never-ending ice cream debate, there actually is a superior TV choice, depending on how you plan to use it.

Check out some of our previous guides on the subject to get a better look, but in short, plasmas use more electricity, come in bigger sizes, have deeper blacks, don’t suffer from motion blur, and offer an unlimited viewing angle that’s best for off-axis viewing. LCDs are more energy-efficient, have fewer problems with glare due to their matte screens, can hold an image for hours or days without suffering “burn-in,” and generally look brighter.

After deciding which format to go with, our LCD and Plasma HDTV buying guides can help you with more questions specific to your type of TV.

Do I need an ATSC tuner?

If you plan on watching, free, over-the-air programming, then yes. As of 2009, all over-the-air broadcasts use the ATSC standard. Pretty much all HDTVs manufactured over the past few years will include this feature.

Which other panel specs should I pay attention to?

In short: brightness, contrast, and refresh time.

Brightness is measured in Candelas per square meter, or cd/m2. A typical figure, for instance, might be 500 cd/m2. More is always better, especially if you plan to plant your TV in a bright room where the screen will have to overcome other light sources.

Contrast is measured as a ratio of the brightest white a TV can produce, over the darkest dark. For instance, Insignia’s NS-L42X-10A offers a 4,000:1 contrast ratio. More is also better, but beware of “dynamic contrast ratios,” which use unrealistic measurement conditions (the brightest white is measured with the backlight set to full, and the darkest dark with the backlight to minimum, even though those levels could never occur side by side on the same screen) to inflate the number to levels like 2,000,000:1.

Refresh time is measured in milliseconds, such as 5ms. Lower is always better, and will prevent the “ghosting” that can sometimes be seen in fast-motion video.