Samsung PS51E490 review

A cheap but still desirable 51-inch plasma TV

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While there's nothing especially brilliant about the Samsung PS51E490's operating system, nor is there anything significantly wrong with it.

The on-screen menus don't enjoy the Smart Hub menu that works so well on Samsung's smart TVs, but the menus still look clean and legible, and are reasonably sensibly organised (with a couple of exceptions that we'll get to in a moment).

The remote control is a bit plasticky and feels old-fashioned with its layout in terms of the weighting it gives to some of its functionality, but it's reasonably responsive and easy to learn your way around.

The two big gripes we have with the Samsung PS51E490's operating system are the way Samsung bizarrely puts the TV's important Game preset in a submenu of the System menu rather than with the TV's other picture presets, and the unnecessary and arbitrary splitting of the most useful picture settings across two menus, rather than putting them all together.

Sound quality

Samsung PS51E490 review

The relatively bulky body wrapped around the Samsung PS51E490's screen might not be especially trendy by today's super-slim standards, but it does seem to help the TV produce a better sound performance than most budget flatscreen TVs.

Voices sound convincing and well-rounded, there's a surprisingly respectable amount of bass at the lower end of the audio spectrum, and the mid-range is open enough to expand at least a little when required by an action scene.

A bit more treble detail would have been nice, but at least the TV's focus on the mid and lower end of the audio spectrum means that the audio doesn't often slip into the harshness common with budget flatscreen televisions.


Samsung PS51E490 review

You won't be surprised to hear that it's here where the Samsung PS51E490 makes its biggest mark. Spending just £799.99 / US$799.99 (around AU$1,157) on a 51-inch TV would seem a pretty sweet deal even if that 51-inch TV wasn't that great.

So it becomes a bargain of almost absurd proportions when you consider that the Samsung PS51E490 delivers some more than respectable 2D and 3D picture quality, two pairs of free 3D glasses and even some useful multimedia talents.

The sacrifice of any sort of online support to hit a price might be a compromise too far for some people, but for many others the size and quality of its pictures will be reward enough for so little outlay.