Published On: October 19, 2008

Samsung PN50A550 Plasma HDTV Reviewed

Published On: October 19, 2008
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Samsung PN50A550 Plasma HDTV Reviewed

This model "offers many on the advanced features found in the higher-end A650 Series, but at a more reasonable price," explains Adrienne Maxwell. The side panel features a USB port for JPEG and MP3 playback and has picture-in-picture functionality...

Samsung PN50A550 Plasma HDTV Reviewed

  • Adrienne Maxwell is the former Managing Editor of, Home Theater Magazine, and Adrienne has also written for Wirecutter, Home Entertainment Magazine,,, and other top specialty audio/video publications. She is an ISF Level II-certified video calibrator who specializes in reviews of flat-panel HDTVs, front video projectors, video screens, video servers, and video source devices, both disc- and streaming-based.


Samsung is one of only a handful of manufacturers that offers large-screen TVs in both the plasma and LCD categories.  A new addition for 2008, the PN50A550 offers many of the advanced features found in the higher-end A650 Series, but at a more reasonable price of $1,999.99.  This 50-inch plasma HDTV has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and a thorough connection panel that includes three HDMI, two component video and one PC input, plus a single RF input to access the internal ATSC, NTSC and Clear-QAM tuners.  The HDMI inputs accept 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one HDMI input is located on the side panel for easy access.  Also on the side panel is a USB port for JPEG and MP3 playback.  The TV lacks a full program guide for tuned channels, but picture-in-picture functionality is available.  This model does not sport the Touch of Color design aesthetic or the Ethernet port found in the step-up A650 line.

Additional Resources
• Read more plasma HDTV reviews from the staff.
• Find a Blu-ray player to get the most out of the PN50A550.

Samsung has included a generous collection of advanced picture controls, including a few settings that we have not seen on any other plasma.  The Cell Light function lets you increase pixel brightness to improve overall light output; this TV still can't get as bright as an LCD, but this control does provide more ability to tailor image brightness based on your viewing conditions.  There's also a Blue Only Mode that makes it easier to correctly adjust color and tint.  In addition to three picture modes and five color-temperature options, the PN50A550 offers gamma control, multiple color spaces (with the ability to fine-tune all six color points), precise white-balance adjustment and a flesh-tone control.  You can choose between six aspect ratios, including a Just Scan mode that displays 1080i/1080p signals with no overscan.  Samsung wisely offers several features to help prevent or counteract short-term image retention, a common plasma concern.
On the audio side, the menu includes five sound modes, with a custom mode through which you adjust the audio using a five-band equalizer, as well as SRS TruSurround XT and an Automatic Volume control to reduce level discrepancies.  Like many new Samsung models, this plasma also features three entertainment modes (sports, cinema, and game) that tailor both the video and audio settings to suit that type of entertainment.  These modes provide quick and easy set-up for those who want it, but you lose the ability to adjust most of the advanced controls that Samsung has so kindly provided.

Read about the high points and low points of the PN50A550 on Page 2.

Samsung-PN50A550-Plasma-hdtv.gifHigh Points
• Color and detail are the PN50A550's strong
suits.  Add in solid contrast and a clean image, and both HD and SD
sources can look very good.
• This TV has a wide viewing angle and does not suffer from motion blur with faster-moving images.
• You get a ton of advanced picture controls to fine-tune the picture to your liking.

Low Points

The PN50A550's black level is not as deep as the best plasmas and LCDs
on the market
, so the image lacks that extra bit of depth and dimension
you see in the best high-end displays.
• Even though the Cell Light
feature improves the panel's light output, plasma TVs still aren't as
bright as LCDs and therefore are not the best choices for really bright

Samsung's PN50A550 offers much of
the performance and many of the features you'll find in a higher-end
1080p display at a more reasonable price.  It's a very good all-around

Additional Resources
• Read more plasma HDTV reviews from the staff.
• Find a Blu-ray player to get the most out of the PN50A550.

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