Samsung D8000 (UE-40D8000) 3D LED LCD TV
Almost no bezel and stunning design but is Mark impressed with the picture quality?
Samsung gave the world first sight of the D8000 at CES, Las Vegas, back in January and ever since its super-slim chassis and a bezel, so skinny it's almost not there, have been gathering admiring glances and creating lustful desires in men that really should know better. We are, after all, more interested as to what's going on inside the frame but there's no doubt the D8000 will cut a dash on the showroom floor and will gain sales from those who consider the TV to be a piece of furniture first and foremost.
To compliment the eye-catching looks Samsung - as with every manufacturer you care to mention - are going big on the concept of the 'Smart TV' this year and the D8000 plays home to the newly launched Smart Hub that unites Internet features with network connectivity, media playback and an App store in a one-stop shop.
To improve matters on-screen the D8000 features a redesigned 'micro-dimming' LED system, although the array is still edge based. Samsung have also promised a reduction of crosstalk in the 3D presentation as well as improved motion through the 800Hz Motion Plus interpolation system but will the big numbers prove more than just a marketing tool and deliver?
As well as the UE40D8000 under review, the 40 inch model is accompanied by bigger brothers in the UE46D8000 and UE55D8000 and whilst viewing experiences, across the sizes, will be very similar, small variances may occur owing to the use of different panels. The D8000 is Samsung's flagship LED/LCD in 2011 and, as such, commands a premium price-tag going head to head with the big boys in LG's LX9500 and the Sony EX923 plus Panasonic's premier plasma, the VT30.
Will the Samsung UED8000 justify its top billing and prove that beauty isn't only skin deep by producing the goods on-screen? We're not going to find out by speculating, so, on with the show. You can read the in-depth review after the summary and scores below.
The Samsung UE-D8000 is a bit of a design classic - whether it's to your tastes or not. We would have preferred the virtually non-existent bezel to have been constructed from less reflective material but, given the right lighting conditions, the sense of the image floating was one we liked albeit after a brief acclimatisation period. The mixture of downward and sideward facing connections will please those that wish to wall mount and the ultra-slim (less than 3cm) chassis should fit very flushly. We weren't completely sold on the 'chicken foot' swivel stand but a centre speaker or soundbar may provide adequate camouflage. The remote control was a real let-down in light of what our friends in the US receive and only serves to make enjoying Samsung's new Smart Hub service more difficult to achieve.
Samsung's tradition of providing of an attractive GUI with well presented menus continues and the calibration controls available remain amongst the best. For the most part we found the layout of options to be logical although why they continue to hide Game mode in the System menu is still unfathomable.
The grouping of PVR, networking and media functionalities, along with the ever-growing number of internet widgets and video streaming services, is an idea we like and makes using the features a more likely prospect by having them all together. The Smart Hub could perhaps benefit from a de-clutter but the service shows great promise and the internet browser works speedily, if constrained by use of a TV remote.
Out of the box comparisons to industry standards were above average in the Movie picture mode and the excellent set of calibration tools, and options on offer, meant the calibrated results were of a superb standard.
Video processing was also of a very high calibre with scaling and deinterlacing duties carried out with extreme efficiency. Cadence detection was near flawless and dynamic range was very good, once we'd pegged back the Contrast slider. We didn't find much joy in either the standard Motion Plus or LED Motion Plus configurations although a very conservative Custom setting did make some very marginal improvements to movement.
The UE-D8000s excellent black level provides the picture with an admirable contrast performance and the almost borderless construction adds to the immersion. The calibrated greyscale and gamut results complimented a well transferred Blu-ray almost sublimely but off-axis performance was the usual disappointment, even if we've experienced worse. Similarly uniformity issues were a let down and we'd expect more of a flagship product. Motion handling may prove an issue, unfortunately, and both ghosting and haloing effects were observed. There were also some instances of the Auto Motion Plus processing going in to complete meltdown with fast panning action - take note sports fans.
We enjoyed the 3D experience of the UE-40D8000 more than we have with other displays of these relatively modest proportions. The skinny bezel was a much a reason for the added pleasure as the actual 3D performance itself. Whilst the D8000 showed great depth of image there was a noticeable amount of crosstalk present at default settings. We managed to minimise crosstalk - if at the expense of both perception of depth and clarity contained within it - but things were certainly a step up from 2010 LCD standards.
Gaming performance was far from exceptional but the D8000 would serve the non-serious, single player focussed gamer adequately. Energy consumption figures were good and have the scope for reaching extremely low numbers at the expense of picture quality.
The Samsung UE-D8000 is an extremely good television in many respects. The 'floating' picture, excellent contrast, calibrated colour and greyscale performance along with top-notch video processing affords the on-screen results real gravitas at times. We were disappointed with uniformity issues, in a television commanding this price, and some may find motion handling not to their requirements but we have no qualms in handing the D8000 a Recommended award with our usual suggestion of a demo firmly in place.
Styling and Connections
Never has so much been said about so little with the design of the Samsung UED8000. When all is said and done, the D8000 is a very simply styled televsion with a very thin (less than 2cm) strip of chrome framing the glossy screen to the top and sides. The bezel becomes very slightly broader at the bottom and features an illuminated SAMSUNG logo to the centre as well as the infra-red and power indicator to the right. Thankfully the logo can be dimmed in the System Menu as some (us included) found it rather distracting. The sense of the picture 'floating' at you may be a little disorientating, initially, but the frame may have been better made of a more matte material as the metallic strip will catch any stray light and glint, which some might not like. All in all, there's no denying the D8000 is something a bit different and we applaud Samsung for at least trying. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it's likely the D8000s looks will divide opinion especially as the 'chicken foot' swivel stand carries over from 2010.
To the rear of the chassis that's less than 4cm in depth, at its deepest point, there's a well recessed cavity that will please wall mounters by housing four sideways facing HDMI ports with HMDI2 being HDMI v1.4 ARC compliant. There are also three side-facing USB inputs with one intended for use with the USB HDD PVR functionality. Last of the sideward pointing connections are an adaptor port for Component video input, an SPDIF Digital Audio out and the PC sound-in jack.
Downward facing, on the bottom of the recess, we have aerial and satellite connections; a LAN port; a D-SUB PC input and a headphone jack. There are also two further adaptor inputs for use with legacy Scart connections. Samsung package all the adaptor leads in the box, thankfully.
Also in the box of the UED8000 were a pair of Samsung's SSG-3100 active shutter glasses that were extremely light and comfortable to wear but let in just a little more light than we would have liked. For those that want to have as little a reminder as possible they're wearing tech specs, Samsung have also released the ridiculously light SSG-3700 glasses, available as an extra.
We already knew we were going to be disappointed in the remote control before unboxing the D8000. Consumers laying down their hard earned for the D8000, over the Atlantic, are treated to a dual sided QWERTY remote control to ease use of the new Smarthub features, whilst we in the UK and Europe are forced to make do with the bog-standard Samsung remote that only hints at being a premium product by virtue of the backlight. There's nothing wrong with the remote in itself - the layout is functional enough and is easily operated with one hand - but we can't escape feeling a little short changed and would suggest to Samsung that if they want to entice people into using the much heralded Smart Hub features, let them do it more comfortably than with the rather awkward interface the traditional controller provides - still at least they've added a dedicated SMART button.
Menus and Set Up
We're fans of Samsung's clearly presented GUI, both menus and the EPG have long been nicely designed with just the ocassional suggestion of misplacement of important options. Not much has changed with regards to layout but the D8000s menus have a more colorful appearance than the outgoing models'. Under the main menu are 6 further sub-menus comprising Picture, Sound, Channel, Network, System and Support with the highlighted item bringing a gradiated light blue overlay containing the options for each. The directional keys on the remote are used to scroll the myriad options available and where many options exist under the first tier of options, a further pop up overlay will appear that will list a third tier of options - which is very handy for your friendly neighbourhood HDTV reviewer attempting to reel them all off for you!
Foremost of the sub-menus is Picture which contains an absolute host of options - some useful, some not - that may prove bewildering to the unitiated. Beside the standard Picture Mode, Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness and Colour options - on the first page of picture options - there's Screen Adjustment that houses zoom and overscan functions. The second page of picture options contains options for 3D output as well as Picture Options and Advanced Settings.
The 3D menu allows you to choose the mode of 3D you require, although most will find the option unnecessary as the D8000 features auto sensing of the signal and was never tripped up under testing. There are also options for setting 3D Auto View and the 2D > 3D conversion mode. For the record, we found the 2D>3D feature more or less ineffectual but some might like it. Additionally there are effect controls and a 3D optimiser slider that we didn't find the need to move from the default position.
The Picture Options item contains some digital noise reduction settings that proved neither here nor there, Colour Tone - best set to Warm 2 in conjunction with the Movie picture preset for accuracy - and HDMI Black Level that governs setting of PC or Video levels. Two further options in Film Mode and Motion Plus also exist in this area but we'll deal them in more detail later in the review.
The Advanced Settings area of the Picture Menu features many of the controls we'll need to perform advanced calibration of the UED8000 including a CMS, White Balance controls - both 2 and 10 point - plus a global Gamma setting. There are also a couple of Expert Patterns that allow a calibration of the display itself (rather than an external source) plus a RGB only mode, which is useful for a quick colour calibration. We applaud Samsung for providing such a rich calibration suite so let's hope the panel is worthy of such extensive controls.
Further options also reside in the Advanced Settings including Flesh Tone that changes the luminance of, primarily, Magenta and is not needed; Dynamic Contrast bends the gamma all the way to S-Curve through its levels and Shadow Detail raises and lowers gamma, near black, in the greyscale - more on this in the calibration section. Black Tone is best left off to save crushing shadow detail and likewise Edge Enhancement brings negative impact to picture quality by doing exactly what it says on the tin. Next we have Motion Lighting that bills itself as an energy saving feature which instantly raised suspicions but its effects proved fairly subtle in practice, nonetheless, we'd recommend it set to off. Finally, there is LED Motion Plus which we'll deal with later in the review.
The Sound menu contains the usual preset options as well as the ability to set a delay through the SPDIF optical output (which proved necessary). The Channel Menu concerns tuning and options relating to the DTV and Satellite tuners whilst the Network menu is exactly what you'd expect in that it's where you set up either the built-in wireless connection or a wired connection plus some privacy settings in the AllShare item. The Support menu contains an ebook instruction manual and the option to check for software upgrades.
We're sure you've probably had enough of 'enjoying menus' by now but there is also the System menu where under the General sub-menu the Game Mode is inexplicably hidden as well as the option for turning the Samsung logo illumination off from the front of the bezel. There are a number of other options under the System menu but, having covered all the options with a major impact on the picture, we'll move on to more interesting subjects.
Pretty much every feature built in to the Samsung UE-D8000 is accessed through Samsung's all-new Smart Hub interface. The GUI has a charcoal and grey background and is split in to four areas. Uppermost of the areas is the new Your Video feature which has a selection of VOD provided by Samsung. To the right is another new feature in the Samsung Apps store to which were never able to get a connection during testing but we expect that's down to teething problems.
Running horizontally top middle of the screen is a Recommended area that has icons for searchable video on demand services from the likes of BBC iPlayer and Lovefilm; social networking through Twitter and Facebook; Skype access that can be used in conjuction with the an optional video camera and a Yahoo widget icon.
The bottom half of the screen is scrollable and has icons for dlna network and usb media playback through the Photos, Music and Video items plus access to the EPG(s) and Channel tuning options as well as a source selector for changing input. The built-in Web Browser works well enough but would be a lot friendlier to use if the aforementioned QWERTY remote had been bundled with the D8000. For owners with Android smartphones or iPhone there is an app to control the D8000, via Wi-Fi, that should make control a less frustrating experience but we maintain that something more suited to the job should come supplied.
We mentioned earlier in the review there is a PVR functionality and the Smart Hub is again the place to go to access your recordings. Functionality is a little limited, for instance you can only record programs at once, but it's still a nice to have feature if not a real substitute for a dedicated box.
Whilst we like the idea of grouping all the bells and whistles of a modern TV into one place and the one touch access from the remote control, we would perhaps ask Samsung to de-clutter the Smart Hub interface a little but, all in all, we think it shows great promise as it continues to evolve.
Measured Results Out of the Box
Having evaluated the various presets we were unsurprised to find that Movie in conjunction with the Warm2 Colour Tone offered us results closest to the industry standards we're aiming for. We then optimally set the backlight for our viewing conditions together with the Brightness and Contrast controls. Now we were at the point to perform more advanced calibration so let's see what we were faced with before making detailed adjustment.
Results, pre-calibration, can be considered very good but as we can see from the RGB Balance Graph, Green is tracking a little low across the Greyscale with red too high and blue more or less where we want it. Ideally we're looking for all three colours to be as close as possible across the scale, ensuring as neutral as possible transistion from black to white and thus giving us an untainted canvas on which to paint our colours. Given that Samsung provide both 2 and 10 point White Balance controls and that the errors are fairly linear, we shouldn't have any problems in reducing all Delta Errors below the magic number of 3, at which point they should be imperceivable to the human eye.
Moving on to the gamma results and results here are also quite good. Getting a flat response across the Gamma Point Graph should mean we're not over-brightening dark portions or over-darkening bright elements - and vice versa - of the picture as well as helping to maintain that neutrality across the greyscale we want. There's no actual defined standard for gamma in digital displays but a reasonable rule of thumb is anywhere between 2.2 and 2.35 (the higher the value, the darker the viewing environment) and as flat as possible. We'd only recommend going lower than 2.2 if you're conditions are fairly bright and above 2.35 is bat cave territory. Samsung only provide a global control over gamma response but, as it stands, that shouldn't be a major issue especially as we have 10 point white balance controls.
Now we have assessed greyscale and gamma performace, out-of-the-box, it's time to look at the third 'g' of gamut. Samsung provide 3 presets governing gamut performance in Auto, Native and Custom, with Custom allowing access to the Colour Management System(CMS). As it turned out Auto and Custom measure almost identically in terms of hue and saturation but Custom had noticeably less luminance over all. The points of the triangle within the CIE Diagram represent the extents of hue and saturation - for the primary colours - we want to match to hit the Rec. 709 standard. The targets between red, green and blue are the secondary colours of cyan, magenta and yellow. What the CIE Diagram doesn't show us is the vital luminance results but we can see from the Gamut Luminance chart everything is too dark with blue, in particular, far too dim. Samsung's CMS doesn't provide an actual individual luminance control over the colours but the rule is with a CMS - if it works, it works - so we may be able to manipulate our colours sufficiently to give more satisfactory results and, in actual fact, a few clicks up on the basic Colour control could work wonders here.
Now we have our baseline measurements, it's time to go in to the Advanced Picture Menu to see what we can do to improve matters.
We can now see that red, green and blue follow each other extremely closely, right across the scale, and already our picture is showing a big improvement. We've not really been able to improve our gamma - the 10 point white balance controls showed a big domino effect in the middle of the scale meaning we couldn't really flatten anything significantly. We did, however, manage to raise shadow detail without the need to engage the Shadow Detail control in the menu. The control actually did work but at the sake of rasing the luminance of black and squeezing contrast performance somewhat. We're not going to get hung up that we couldn't make the response ruler flat - you'd need a reference display to notice it wasn't - and with greyscale errors absolutely minimal, we can move on to tackling the CMS.
If anything results after calibration here are probably more impressive than the calibrated greyscale/gamma. We're now in the realms of broadcast monitor level performance and we can't imagine there would be many that could notice anything was off, in any way at all. We now have an extremely flat greyscale along with a (near as dammit) reference gamut and an extremely decent gamma response so time to get on with enjoying the calibrated picture.
We always expect good things from Samsung in this area of testing and the D8000 proved no let down. Scaling of standard definition (480/576i) images is up amongst the best we've seen in a TV with very little in the way of ringing and even very fine details brought out where compression didn't get in the way. Good quality DVD's, in particular, looked excellent with my daughter's Disney collection given a new lease of life.
Deinterlacing performance of video based content at both 576i and 1080i was similarly excellent with very fine details maintained even under movement. The Samsung UE-D8000 didn't bat an eye when presented with a mixture of film based material overlaid with scrolling video encoded text.
We also checked the dynamic range performance using patterns from the Spears and Munsil disc that showed the D8000 had no problems in reaching peak white performance but we needed to reign in the contrast to prevent clipping of the red and blue primaries.
Recognising progressively shot film based material sent in an interlaced signal (cadence detection) was another win for Samsung's video processing with the D8000 all but acing the lot bar the very obscure 5:5 cadence. Good cadence detection ensures the TV isn't throwing away resolution by performing unncessary deinterlacing and the D8000 was more than good in this regard. It's almost needless to say the D8000 handled 24p Blu-ray material without hitch, provided Motion Plus was off or set with no Blur Reduction applied.
In the recently tested Samsung LEC650 review we found some success in using Samsung's Motion Plus frame interpolation system when using a custom set up. The D8000 is purported to ship with a 200Hz 'Auto Motion Plus' system and, unfortunately, it's not without its problems with fast panning action sometimes throwing it in to complete meltdown with images stuttering and stalling. As we'd expect, even the the effects of applying the custom Motion Plus, in the user menus, provided different results to the LEC650. We actually found every option unusable bar a very conservative Custom Blur Reduction 0/Judder Reduction 3 - going above 3 started to induce the video cam/soap effect and any blur reduction, at all, brought noticeable artefacting, the occasional motion 'meltdowns' were still present, at all levels, however.
Buried far down in the Advanced Picture Menu is the LED Motion Plus setting which can be either on or off. What we will say for this system is that it didn't show the same artefacting as the standard Motion Plus system and there was a noticeable improvement to motion but, unfortunately, frequently tripped over with a change of scene or camera - stuttering alarmingly at times. The UE-D8000 handles motion reasonably well without use of its additional interpolation systems and dimming algorithms but, as ever, we'd advise prospective to go and demo for themselves as some may just notice a touch of haloing and ghosting when things start to move quickly on screen.
Picture Quality - 2D
With the oustanding results from our calibration and excellent scaling and deinterlacing capabilities we should have been in for a treat when viewing real-world material and indeed we were. With the right lighting, i.e. with none reflecting off the bezel, images did seem to float at us with the deep black levels and great dynamic range lending further weight to the calibrated greyscale and gamut's natural colour palette. There were issues off-axis with a loss of contrast and a blue tint to blacks but we've seen far worse and, with good placement, may not provide a huge issue.
As we mentioned earlier, the D8000s motion handling may not be to everyone's taste - we were aware of some haloing and ghosting, at times, but that's something that could be quickly identified as a problem, or not, with a decent demo. Some may also sense the LED activity in an occasionally spotted mild strobing effect that we saw on certain blocks of colours but we suspect the effect wouldn't be seen by most and, indeed, we've not encountered any reports of it on our user forums. We have, however, seen reports of backlight uniformity issues and a 'banding' effect, particularly with the 55" model, but whilst we are happy to report the lack of the horiztonal banding effect, the backlight did show bleed from the bottom corners and some coning, bottom middle. There was also a fairly sizeable patch of clouding mid/bottom right of the screen but, to be fair, that was rarely visible with the majority of content. Considering this is a flagship model, we would expect better QC from Samsung and we'd hope this isn't a wholly representative sample.
Blu-ray material, as expected, provided the best viewing experience and once again we could easily lose ourselves in the content thanks in part to the seemingly frameless experience. The odd bit of SD viewing we have to endure these days was also handled with aplomb and on a 40" screen a lot of the compression artefacts are forgiven in any case. All in all we rarely see better in terms of 2D performance in the LCD market but the motion handling did sometimes distract.
Picture Quality - 3D
If the 'floating' screen does a good job for 2D viewing enjoyment, we would say that it really added to the 3D experience. Again, in the right lighting, the sense of depth seemed heightened by the lack of borders. On default settings we did see a fair amount of crosstalk and we had to experiment with the 3D Effect controls in the Advanced Picture Menu to mitigate the effect- a setting of zero for the 3D Perspective proved the best balance between reducing content and blurring the background image. The default of +3 certainly had more depth and clarity to the background but crosstalk was at unacceptable levels, for us, with the setting. Once tweeked, the 3D experience was still engaging, even at reasonably long viewing distances, for 3D, on a 40 inch TV.
3D Gaming was certainly good fun on the Samsung UE-D8000 and as we're a little more forgiving of crosstalk in this area, we cranked up the perspective control, dimmed the lights, pulled up the recliner and lost ourselves in a couple of happy hours of Killzone 3, Motorstorm and Wipeout HD. We did find ourselves needing frequent breaks whilst gaming - the rapid shuttering of the glasses seems to have more affect in this particular pursuit but that's sensible, in any case, and experiences will vary user to user.
The supplied glasses were very comfortable to wear, the best compliment we can give is that we could nearly forget we were wearing them but they did let in just a little more light than some we've seen. The glasses never lost sync but some maybe put off by the fact they show no indicator light in operation (there's a brief flashing light and onscreen message) but aside from wearing them there's no easy way to find out if they're functioning or not!
Aside from the pleasure gleaned from the great depth lent to 3D, the Samsung UE-40D8000 was no great shakes for gaming and response to controller input was a disappointment. For those that prefer the single player experience, the bizzarely hidden Game mode's lag of between 3 and 4 frames (48-64 milliseconds) may not prove an insurmountable obstacle but we doubt the competitive gamer would be putting the D8000 top of their list. Input lag in other than Game mode was even worse and practicably unplayable even for those with the less than cat-like reflexes.
Power consumption for the calibrated D8000 averaged a respectable 79w but this fugure can be significantly reduced by enaging a couple of the LED controls in the menus. As we felt those particular options were non-beneficial to picture quality, we'd prefer to stick with the calibrated result and, in any case, the numbers are a significant improvement over the default settings' consumption. Standby usage measured 0.5w
This is a graphical representation of the accuracy of the colours measured in the display device.
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The range of different colours that a device can accurately capture. The more colours, the wider the colour gamut.
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3D LED LCD TV
Size: 40 inch television
Suggested price: £1,499
Reviewed 4th May, 2011 by Mark Hodgkinson
Supplied for review by
To get the best out of your TV or projector, consider getting it calibrated.