Samsung UN55D8000 Review
Model: Samsung UN55D8000
Description: 55" 1080p LED Backlit LCD Television with 3D (super thin)
Included: Table Top Stand, QWERTY remote, 2 Pair 3D Glasses
Reviewer: Robert Wiley and Jack Burden
Date: Late Summer 2011
HD Picture Quality: 9/10
The UND8000 exhibits some tendencies to over saturation of colors, but at the same time it gives exceptional bright light throughput that brings the picture to life. The picture depth is incredible and aside from some plasma competition, it's the best we've tested in this area. Contrast, sharp, clean edges, and rich color and light combine to give the depth effect. Of course, this also works out great when viewing 3D images as mentioned below.
A 2D shot of the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit video shows excellent detail in the hair of one of the models
The "soap opera" effect which the Auto Motion Plus feature can produce by eliminating too much natural background blur can be easily controlled. We've found a setting we feel very comfortable in recommending to avoid this potential problem. First, in the Picture Options Menu turn off the Digital Noise Reduction and MPEG Movie Filter features. These features come preset to On with all picture modes. They cause too many motion artifacts and pixelation to recommend. Keep scrolling down to the Auto Motion Plus feature click on and set to Custom. Change the Judder Reduction choice to level 2 (from 5) and you're all set. The TV displayed excellent processing in our HQV processor testing run after making these changes. You still get great judder reduction during fast motion without incurring an unnatural picture.
There are some slight color uniformity issues as with all LED backlit LCD TVs, but in the UND8000 they aren't too distracting. Color information is not as rich as it is with the best plasma TVs on the market, the trade off being exceptional brightness and light throughput, which can appeal to those with lots of ambient sunlight coming in to the room.
The Ultra Clear Panel filter works very well to absorb ambient light, preventing too much glare.
Standard Definition Picture Quality: 9/10
Standard definition performance is as important today as ever with all the streaming video being ported in less than top HD quality. The UND8000 does one of the finest jobs we've seen in a while with lowly resolution signals. At times, it's difficult to tell you are not watching in HD.
A shot from the 480i version of A Fist Full of Dollars shows great up conversion picture quality and detail by the UND8000.
3D TV Viewing: We viewed several 3D sources and did not note any flickering or flashing from the glasses (crosstalk). There was also no blurring in the bottom corners of images as with last years models. 3D viewing is intended to involve the viewer more in the picture and with this active 3D TV we can definitely confirm the attributes of 3D depth perception. The only negatives noted were some glare from the insides of the lenses when ambient room light was present and some tiredness in the eyes when viewing the 3D footage for periods of time.
A shot from the 3D Blu Ray of 2011's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit video.
3D TV Glasses: Samsung includes two pair of 3D glasses in the box of this TV. The model is one of Samsung's newest (SSG-3300GR). Unlike some, these glasses are rechargeable using the included USB connection cables. The glasses are light and comfortable but as mentioned above do produce some glare off the sides of the lenses. Costs for extra sets will run you approximately $79.
3D Glasses charging via USB cable connected to the TV.
Contrast/Black Level: Not only does the UND8000 have inky, deep blacks it has one of the highest contrast ratios we've ever tested - above 6500:1 with a hockey puck light meter reader and over 35,000:1 with a more expensive version. Torch mode produces whites of over 100 footlamberts while even dialed back to a Backlight setting of 12 produces 60 to 65 - well above where we normally calibrate.
Backlight Notes: The backlight on the UND8000 is extremely powerful. We recommend dialing it back to a setting of 12 for most programming. For a very brightly lit room you may want to increase it. Increasing the backlight setting also brings into play screen uniformity issues - especially from side viewing angles. The left and right edges of the picture can appear lighter than the center. Toning down the backlight eliminates most of this issue. What I like about the UND8000 is that you have the choice to use the super powerful backlight or tone it down depending on room light. Once following our calibrated picture settings or using the Movie picture mode - this is the only adjustment you should have to make. This is a flexibility that you will not have with the top plasma TVs.
Dark Shadow Detail: Another area of improvement the UND8000 excels in dark shadow detail due to excellent light throughput.
Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: Off angle viewing contrast degrades at about 30 degrees. The picture becomes noticeably more hazy and black levels and saturation are reduced. Thankfully, the reduction is not as severe as some.
Motion Lag: Turning off the AutoMotion Plus feature entirely will leave you with lots of judder jerky effects during motion. Our settings above for this feature produced a great result with our film detail car race sequence delivering a smooth fast motion effect.
False Contouring/ Mapping/Moire': The UND8000 proved stellar in this area, producing no mapping or moire' patterns.
Features Rating: 9.5/10
Inputs: A couple of years ago super thin TVs like this did not accommodate many inputs. The D8000 uses breakout cables for the component and composite inputs with very small jacks. It still manages 2 USB ports, and 3 HDMI inputs as well.
Appearance: The 55D8000 comes with a 4 leg chrome stand with 20 degree swivel. People seem to either like or dislike the stand with none in between. However, everyone likes the sleek picture frame appearance of the bezel which is a negligible .4" in width and almost unseen were it not for the silver metallic strip surrounding the screen. Depth is 1" and tapers in the back to give it an even slimmer appearance. The bolt holes for wall mounting are recessed in the back of the TV in such a way to allow for super tight wall mounting.
(Left) The Samsung logo light can be easily turned off. Quad leg stand and neck.
(Center) Back inputs shoot out the side and bolt holes are recessed for extremely tight wall mounting on the UND8000.
(Right) Bezel framing of the UND8000
Remote Control: The dual sided remote control is one of the standout features of the D8000 – giving the user a normal backlit functional remote on one side and a QWERTY keyboard for Internet and Smart Hub use on the other.The QWERTY side comes complete with a visible led screen and a 5 way control pad. It's reasonably easy to use the keyboard and is certainly much easier than a 5-way pad. Anyone that uses a smart phone consistently will have no problem. The coolest feature however, is the little touch pad in the center of the 5 way control to the right of the keypad. It's very small and easy to miss, but with this you can use a finger to navigate with a mouse which we found much faster than the 5-way control. To enable this feature use the 5-way control to scroll down to the directions on the bottom of the screen labeled, "Switch to the pointer."
Menu Function: The 2011 blue opaque menu from Samsung is extremely complete and easy to navigate with a handy tutorial about each feature out to the right when highlighted. It's faster and easier to use than past menus. We found the Movie mode the best among the preset picture mode options by a longshot. The others present a very color inflamed picture. There are loads of extra feature options under the Advanced Settings and Picture Options settings. We've mentioned recommendations above on several. Follow our calibrated picture settings for optimal performance in a low light environment.
The UND8000's overlaid menu is easy to navigate through
Audio Output: Sound quality is a huge improvement for Samsung in the UND8000 series. It's clear and punchy and has surprising bass as well. Frankly the speakers surpassed my expectations by a wide margin. At 40% capacity the speakers put forth enough volume to fill a large room. Most very thin LED-LCD TVs have relatively substandard sound quality due to a shortage of speaker housing, but this is not the case at all with the UND8000.
Features: Not surprisingly the UND8000 comes loaded with all Samsung's most up to date features like 3D compatibility, 240Hz processing, a full web browser, QWERTY keyboard remote, and two pairs of included 3D glasses. This model and the UNC9000 are currently Samsung's highest end line of LED-LCD TVs. One of the only drawbacks in this TV is that it could have a wider adjustment option in the 10 point white balance control.
Samsung's Smart Hub options menu
Internet Connectivity: The Samsung UND8000 includes built in Wifi so no need for an optional dongle. Samsung's Smart Hub is one the best Internet TV suites available, but for us the web browser is the key. We much prefer a TV with a full web browser which allows all the expanse of the Internet to a limited suite. Samsung's Smart TV or Smart Hub features the usual suspects Netflix, Vudu, Rovi, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Hulu Plus, and a ton of little Apps that cost between .99 and $2.99. Skype is available with an optional camera (CY-S7C1100-ZA) for $169.
The UND8000 has a full web browser and defaults to Bing
Media Play: Use this feature connected through USB to keep picture and video files.
Clear Voice, SRS and Movie sound options are listed above under Audio Output.
Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: 16:9, 4:3, Zoom 1 &2, Wide Fit, Screen Fit round out a complete set of options for viewing modes controlled by P. Size button on the remote.see Value Rating and Overall Score on Page 2