Update Feb 3, 2012: In early January Samsung told me of a firmware update that addresses the brightness pops in both the D7000 and D8000 plasmas (I was also told that 2012 versions wouldn't suffer this issue), but since that time the company has not given me any additional information despite repeated inquiries. Meanwhile multiple CNET readers have told me how they have contacted Samsung customer service (in one case via chat), described the "pops" and been sent updated firmware on a USB stick (version 1024.8). The effectiveness of the new firmware varies according to reports … Read more
For the last couple of years it seems that our job as TV reviewers comes down to determining which TV is better: the best Panasonic plasma or the best Samsung plasma. In 2011, the vessel bearing the Samsung flag is the PND8000, and while Panasonic's VT30 still deserves the overall picture quality nod in our book, the Samsung is good enough to match the Panasonic's numeric Performance score of 9.
The PND8000's picture quality is superb, and we don't expect any other TV aside from the VT30 to surpass it this year--although the less expensive PND7000 series, which we have yet to review, might equal it. The kicker, and it's a big one, is that the 59-inch Samsung we reviewed actually costs less than the 55-inch Panasonic, while delivering a better design and even more features. Unless you're the pickiest of videophiles with the most unlimited of budgets, it's tough to justify the cost of the VT30 over the PND8000.