Samsung sets the benchmark for entry level flat panel TVs with the PN43D440 and PN43D450 Plasma TVs.
First let me begin by telling you there is no difference between the D440 and D450 models they are identical TVs. Why the different model numbers? TV manufacturers often make “Special Edition” TVs for different retailers, sometimes these special or exclusive TVs have an extra HDMI input or other cosmetic feature however that’s not the case with the D440 and D450 models.
The Samsung PN43D440 is sold at Costco, Sams Club and Frys while the PN43D450 is sold at Best Buy, Futureshop, Visions and other electronic retailers.
The Samsung PN43D440/450 is a 43”, 720P, Plasma Flat Panel TV with Samsung’s +1 slim bezel design, 600Hz Subfield Motion, USB connectivity and two HDMI inputs. Many buyers will quickly dismiss the D440/450 TV because it’s only 720P and Plasma but they might be making a big mistake and missing one of the best flat panel TV values on the market today.
720P vs 1080P:
TV buyers often get caught up in the 1080P vs 720P debate which is unfortunate because with the exception of blu-ray discs most HD content delivered to televisions via digital cable, satellite and streaming methods is 480-720P with some programs being delivered in 1080i. Very little broadcast HDTV programming is delivered in full 1080P. Further when viewing moving video on sub 50” flat panels the human eye simply can’t tell the difference between 720P and 1080P when viewing at a distance of 8 feet or more. Lastly a little known fact is that 95% of all the HDTV’s at your local sports bar and electronics retail store are displaying 720P programming and NOT 1080P. Why? well first off it is far more economical and more reliable to distribute 720P programming to multiple TV’s than it is to distribute 1080P. Secondly retailers don’t want to display 1080P programming on all the TVs in their stores because they don’t want to set the level of customers expectations too high only to have them disappointed when they get home and start viewing Standard Definition (SD) programming or regular DVD programming on their brand new HDTV only to find out it doesn’t look as good at home as it did in the store. For this reason only a couple of TVs at your local retail store are connected to blu-ray players, playing 1080P content, the rest of the TVs are all displaying 720P or lower resolution. It should also be noted that if you do not have a blu-ray player and are not renting or buying blu-ray discs then the highest resolution you can expect from any HDTV display is 480-720P.
The Samsung PN43D440/450 TV is a stunningly good looking TV. The chassis is gloss black and based on Samsung’s +1 thin bezel design which minimizes the outer frame and maximizes the picture display. In addition +1 design elements minimize the overall weight and thickness of the cabinet making the D440/450 only 2.2 inches thick and 35.3 pounds without the base. Although the D440/450 is a plasma panel it’s cabinet chassis looks thinner than traditional plasmas and more like an LED display. Soft touch buttons are built into the front of the bezel and located on the bottom left hand side of the bezel.
While the chassis of the D440/450 looks stylish and elegant the picture quality of this TV is equally impressive. The depth of field, color accuracy, black level performance and color saturation is astonishing on an entry level plasma TV at this price. The picture quality of the D440/450 is simply the best we’ve seen of any entry level 42” Plasma or LCD TV but what was more surprising is that the picture performance is almost on the same level as Samsung’s D6500 and the black levels are at least as deep as those on LG’s THX Certified PX950 Plasma. Not a single LCD television in this class at any price can hold a candle to the black level performance of this set.
WOW! is the first impression that comes to mind when viewing the richness of color and life like image quality on this set. Although the D440/450 is only a 2D set, the picture detail and depth of field make some images look almost 3D.
Plasma TVs usually blow LCD and LED TVs out of the water when it comes to heavy action movies, games and sports and the D440/450 is no different. Samsung’s “600Hz subfield motion” technology renders even the fastest moving scenes with the utmost precision and clarity and literally trounces 120/240/480HZ LED and LCD sets. Football, Hockey, Nascar, Action Movies, Video Games all look great on this TV and there is absolutely no motion blur or artifacting what so ever, even at a distance of 5 feet from the screen. Even the fastest LCD we’ve seen at 240Hz has some motion blur when viewing fast action scenes at a similar distance but not with plasma.
Plasma technology offers the largest field of view and no color shift and the D440/450 is no exception. We found the colors to remain true and accurate when viewing off axis both vertically and horizontally and with a maximum angle of view 160-170 degrees.
Right out of the box the picture on this TV looks really good. The grayscale is a little warm as is the color saturation but that can be expected from a plasma panel while LCD and LED backlit sets tend be cooler in color and more bluish at factor settings.
Flesh tones at the factory default setting seemed to be almost spot on while a quick tweaking of the color, brightness and “Cell Light” adjustments brought the gray scale and color saturation to be close to neutral. We didn’t have time to fully color calibrate the TV for this review but the picture performance even with the minor quick adjustments we made was impressive.
While there is more and more HDTV content everyday chances are you’re still going to watch standard definition programming sometimes and once again when it comes to SD programming Plasma is King and the D440/450 does not disappoint. SD programming is smoother on plasma than either LCD or LED. LCD/LED TVs tend to pixelate resulting in images with jagged edges and noise. Samsung’s noise reduction and edge enhancement technology automatically engage with SD programming and provide a very pleasant CRT like image far superior to LCD and LED.
Other Bells and Whistles:
The TV is capable of storing the picture and audio settings preference for each source input (cablebox, dvd, game console etc…) This is great since audio or video quality varies sometimes between difference components and sources.Cons:
While we are truly impressed with the performance of the PN42D440/450 there are a couple things that a concern.
Glare: Generally Speaking Plasma TVs have more glare than LCD or LED TVs and that’s certainly true for the PH43D440/450. Like all plasma TVs the high gloss screen on the front of the D440/450 is very reflective and picks up and reflects any ambient light source in the room. For this reason we recommend this TV be used in rooms with minimal ambient light. This TV is great for the bedroom (usually watching in the dark at night), basement, den or office. If you’re room has a lot of windows or ambient light from fluorescent lighting fixtures or pot lights an LCD or LED flat panel with matte screen may be a better choice, just make sure the LCD or LED TV you pick has a matte screen because many new LCD and LED TVs are being manufactured with glossy screens nowadays.
Input Labels: This feature is standard on almost all Flat Panel TV’s these days yet for some reason Samsung decided not to include it on their entry models.
Speakers: Most internal speakers on today’s Flat Panel TVs are small, hidden and down firing which is not conducive to good sound. The speakers on the D440/450 will provide adequate sound for small to medium sized rooms but we definitely recommend connecting any flat panel TV to an AV receiver and external speakers for better sound or surround sound.
No VGA PC Input: Most laptops and computers these days have HDMI outputs however if you are planning on connecting a computer to this monitor you should be aware that this TV does not have a dedicated VGA input which means you will either have to connect by HDMI or Component Video which may require an adapter or different video card for your laptop or PC.
No Smart TV: The D440/450 are Samsung’s base models and as such they do not have direct internet connectivity for so called Smart TV functionality. While these sets do not have Smart TV options it should be noted that most TVs in this class do not offer this feature either. If you are interested in Smart TV apps and features you can still access these by connecting a blu-ray DVD player with Smart TV connectivity which will allow you to access Smart TV on the D440/450. If you want built in Smart TV connectivity the the D440/450 is not for you and consider looking at D6500, D7000 or D8000 models instead.
Handshake and Syncing: We don’t know why but for some reason Samsung TVs as a whole are slower to initially handshake or sync with HDMI than either LG or Sharp models. When changing changes from different formats 480p, 720p or 1080p it is not uncommon for the display to go blank or blue for a short period of time until the internal video processor handshakes and syncs the monitor resolution to the programming source. This has always been a problem with Samsung and for some reason other manufacturers can perform the handshake and sync noticeably quicker.
No 3D: Once again the D440-450 are entry level flat panel sets and thus do not offer 3D imagery. If you are interested in a 3D flat panel the D490. D550 and up models have 3D panels at a higher price.
Image Burn In: For normal TV viewing image burn in is generally not an issue with plasma TV however, if you are planning on using this set for digital signage, a computer monitor or heavy video gaming and LCD or LED TV would be a better choice for your application.
Overall we are very impressed and highly recommend the Samsung PN43D440/450 43” Plasma TV as an entry level flat panel. Obviously if you can afford a higher priced TV there are other options out there for you and we would recommend you consider them however if you are looking for a second TV for the bedroom, den, lake cottage, etc. the Samsung PN43D440/450 is a great choice. The picture quality and performance of this TV rival all competitors in this class and even many higher and more costly models. This TV and it’s larger 51” brother are now our base standard TVs for commercial installations. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t need Smart TV features, 3D TV features or 1080P the PN43D440/450 is most impressive and an excellent value for your dollar. For the money you won’t find a better looking TV at this price point.