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The Panasonic VT50 and the Samsung E8000 are the flagship plasma TVs for their respective brands. Both TVs offer internet connectivity via a smart TV platform, 3D, and a sleek presentation. These flagships also have great picture quality and both produce accurate colors. So what separates these two TVs?
Panasonic and Samsung went all out with these TVs, even throwing in smart remotes that are supposed to make navigating the internet easier. Panasonic included their Viera Touch Pad Controller, which has a circular touch pad that makes browsing a webpage much easier. Samsung also has a touch-friendly remote. The top-half is a touch pad while the bottom-half has a brushed metal finish with some additional buttons. As far as utility goes, Panasonic's remote is more accurate with touch commands.
Samsung has a unique feature on the E8000: voice recognition. No, this isn't Siri or even S-Voice, but the E8000 is capable of some impressive parlor tricks. Politely addressing the TV ("Hi, TV!") and ordering it to either power on or off will usually have the desired effect. Also, while perusing the internet, you can use the microphone (built into the remote) for a surprisingly accurate voice-to-text feature.
When it comes to internet functionality, the Samsung E8000 wins hands-down. Samsung's smart TV platform is top-notch and features a robust interface and plenty of apps to choose from. The Panasonic VT50 features Viera Connect, which is Panasonic's smart TV platform. While not terrible, Viera Connect lacks the app support that Samsung's platform has.
Both the Panasonic VT50 and the Samsung E8000 feature good 3D, but we have to give the edge to Samsung. These TVs produced an excellent 3D experience and mostly avoided the dreaded issue of image ghosting, but Samsung's TV was slightly better in this category.
Another area that Samsung was superior in was the realm of 3D glasses. Panasonic has improved their glasses over previous years, but not by much – they are still bulky and look awkward, not to mention these glasses are not included with the TV and cost about $80. Samsung includes two pairs of their 3D glasses, which are lightweight and comfortable for viewing 3D over an extended period.
Speaking of price, the VT50 and the E8000 are comparable. The 65-inch model of the Panasonic VT50 has an MSRP of $3699 while the 64-inch model of the Samsung E8000 retails for $3949. If you add in the cost of two pairs of 3D glasses with the Panasonic VT50, these two TVs are almost identical in price.
Samsung's E8000 edges out the Panasonic VT50 in most areas, although this is no discredit to Panasonic – the VT50 is an excellent TV. If you are going to splurge on a brand new plasma TV with all of the trimmings, then the Samsung E8000 delivers the most bang for the buck.