Like a fine wine, a business class flight and an original mono copy of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts' Club Band (in mint condition, naturally) 50in plasma screens have always had an air of exclusivity, forcing us poor folk to press our noses against the shop window like Dickensian urchins. Well, you can now pull away your hooter from the glass, as Samsung's offering is defiantly breaking rank.

The PS50P96FD aims to take 50in LCD TVs on at their own game, rocking up at a relatively affordable £1,900 (and even less online). So, what's been lost in this price cull?

Precious little it seems at first glance: this 50-incher looks as pretty as most from the Samsung stable, as well as dishing up some tasty connectivity.

In at the deep end

Three HDMI inputs top the connectivity bill, supported by a component video input, a PC port, and a digital optical audio output. What's more, the HDMIs are the latest v1.3 affairs, meaning that they're compatible with auto lip-synch and Deep Colour features that v1.3 brings to the high definition party. They also point in the direction of some very cool high definition pictures indeed.

As you'd expect from a Full HD plasma, the PS50P96FD can accept 1080p/24fps feeds output by most Blu-ray players, and can show 1080-line sources with no overscanning, meaning that pictures can be reproduced on a pixel-by-pixel basis. Neat.

Tucked away inside the TV's front glass, meanwhile, is Ultra FilterBright technology, for soaking up the onscreen reflections that can be caused by having light in your viewing room. It's partly thanks to this clever tech that Samsung is able to claim an impressive 15,000:1 contrast ratio for this 50in TV.

King of the PS50P96FD's suitably expansive features is Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) that should make a decent stab at spicing up colour response, fine detail levels, contrast range and noise suppression.

Exceptional pictures

Despite this TV's slender price tag (by 50in plasma standards), its Full HD resolution isn't just for show, thankfully. Let loose on our test movie of Earth, the 1920 x 1080 resolution breathes new life into the already stunning images of the animal kingdom. Exceptional levels of clarity, texture and detailing are on display – so much so, that you'll be cowering behind your sofa as the leopards spring into action.

Colours make their presence felt too. There's more subtlety in colour blends than you'd find in a mere HD Ready plasma screen – and definitely more than you'd find in the majority of 50in LCD screens.

Black levels also get a gold star: they are reproduced with dazzling authenticity, with practically no sign of grey mist or green undertones over darker colours.

Criticisms? Well, reds can look a bit orangey at times, and motion can blur more than we'd expect from a plasma screen. Audio doesn't exactly pack the wallop that the impressive pictures demand, either.

Luxurious plasma

Yeah, we agree that these are trivial criticisms. If you've just under £2,000 burning a hole in your pocket – and a big enough living room – you could do much worse than grabbing this slice of luxury for the masses while you can.