Samsung 65HU8500 Ultra HD 4K LED TV Review
Does Samsung's new UE65HU8500 Ultra HD TV throw the competition a curve ball?
If CES 2014 was any indicator, like it or not, the curved TV screen is here to stay.
Design and Connections
There is an indicator light at the centre bottom, just beneath the company name, and whilst it could be quite distracting, thankfully it can also be turned off. At the right rear is a small control joystick, along with the proprietary input for the One Connect box, whilst on the left hand side is the two-pin power cable connector. At the top in the middle is a pop-up camera that can be used for making Skype video calls and for motion control. The main chassis measures just 2cm deep, although the effective depth is more like 10cm when you take the curve into account. The HU8500 can be wall mounted and Samsung include spacers that can be used with a standard VESA mount but obviously due to the curve it will stand out from the wall slightly.
In terms of actual connections on the box itself there are now four HDMI 2.0 inputs, which include support for HCDP 2.2, HEVC Codec, 3D, ARC and MHL 3.0. In addition there are all the legacy connections, an aerial socket, two satellite connectors, two USB ports, an Ethernet port, an IR extender, a service port, a 3.5mm audio jack and an optical digital output. One additional advantage of the One Connect box is that it aids cable management as there's only one proprietary connector going to the display itself, which is especially handy if you're wall mounting.
As is aways the case with Samsung TVs, the best out-of-the-box choice is the Movie mode, which will deliver a performance that matches the industry standards as closely as possible for a factory setting. A list of suggested settings based on the measurements taken during the review can be found here.
The HU8500 includes both a two- and a ten-point white balance control, so it was a simple task to get all three primary colours to measure in equal amounts. This resulted in errors that were well below the acuity of the human eye, delivering a smooth transition from black to white that was free of discolouration. The gamma was still mostly tracking around our target of 2.3 and overall this is a reference performance. The CMS employed by Samsung on their TVs is extremely effective and we were able to deliver a reference performance when measured at 100% saturation.
All the colours were hitting their respective coordinates for Rec.709 precisely, whilst white was also measuring exactly at its target of D65. There was a tiny amount of under-saturation in red but this certainly wasn't visible and, just like the greyscale, this is a reference colour performance overall. This impressive level of colour accuracy continued when we measured at lower saturation points and, with the exception of 75% red, all the colours were at or very near their targets. We have come to expect a high degree of accuracy from Samsung TVs when it comes to the greyscale and colour gamut and the HU8500 certainly didn't disappoint.
The only area where the HU8500 showed any real weakness was in terms of its backlight uniformity, which was very slightly patchy in places. It was mostly limited to the bottom left hand corner, so it's possible that this was the result of damage because based on the packaging this sample has been shipped around a fair bit. In addition, our review sample was an early production model so we would expect those that ship to stores to be better. The backlight uniformity for this sample can be evidenced by the ANSI graphic below, which shows measurements for each of the black and white squares. The backlight uniformity was significantly improved by using the Smart LED feature and the Cinema Black mode also proved very effective when watching 2.35:1 ratio movies. The HU8500 was pleasingly free of the two other common issues often found on LED LCD TVs - dirty screen effect or banding; these can be especially annoying so we were glad the HU8500 had no such problems.
Samsung are using a SPVA panel on the HU8500 and in our testing we measured the native black level at 0.08cd/m2 which is very good for a LCD TV. The Samsung includes their Smart LED feature and when activated the measured black levels reduced to 0.01cd/m2 in the low and standard settings and 0cd/m2 in the high setting. The HU8500 is also bright, hitting our target of 120cd/m2 for white easily, which resulted in a very good on/off contrast ratio of 1,500:1 and a suitably wide dynamic range. The ANSI contrast ratio was also quite reasonable, coming in at 1,036:1. The use of a SPVA panel may deliver better blacks than an IPS panel but it also results in a narrower optimum viewing angle. Anything outside a 90 degree radius began to look a bit washed out, so correct placement will be critical, especially since the panel can't be swivelled. However the curved nature of the screen does actually help in this aspect because when viewing at an angle the far edge of the screen is curved towards the viewer and thus isn't as washed out.
The video processing on the HU8500 is especially important because for the time being, all the content you will be watching on it will be upscaled to the native 4K panel. Thankfully the video processing was absolutely superb, with all the content we watched being deinterlaced and scaled perfectly to match the 4K panel. The HU8500 proved extremely competent at deinterlacing and scaling standard definition content, with clear and crisp reproduction of fine details and no unwanted ringing. The Samsung also had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadence correctly and, as long as the Auto2 Film Mode was selected, scrolling video text over film was also delivered perfectly. The HU8500 aced all the other tests as well, delivering an almost flawless performance in every regard.
The quality of the video deinterlacing at 1080i50 was just as good as it was for standard definition and there were no apparent issues with 24p content. All this content was perfectly scaled to match the panel and the motion handling also proved to be quite impressive for a LCD TV. However if you watch a lot of fast moving sport, then you might consider the Motion Plus frame interpolation feature, although as always we would never recommend using it with film-based content. Samsung had added a new feature this year called Auto Depth Enhancer which adjusts the contrast of areas of the image to create an added sense of depth. Unfortunately there is no control to turn this feature on and off, so whilst it might be very effective there was no way being able to effectively quantify it's impact.
The increased image processing definitely impacted on the HU8500's input lag measurements and in its calibrated Movie mode there was a delay of 153ms. This be could reduced to 91ms by selecting the Game mode but this is still too high for serious gamers, although renaming the input 'PC' managed to get the lag down to 58ms. This relatively high number is 20ms more than the H8000 and no doubt this increase is a result of all the additional processing; we suspect this will be the case for all the UHD TVs that are currently being launched. This is still on the high side and although it probably won't bother casual gamers it will certainly be noticed by those who play a lot. We actually fall into the former category and thus our meagre aiming skills weren't affected by the lag, instead we just enjoyed the bright and detailed images that filled the 65-inch screen.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Normal Mode: 129W
- Calibrated – Professional Mode: 112W
- Calibrated - 3D Mode: 168W
Picture Quality - 2D
As we mentioned, there were some minor backlight uniformity issues but this could largely be addressed by using the Smart LED feature. We found that not only did the perceived blacks improve but any light patches largely disappeared. The only exception was the bottom left hand corner, where a slight light patch could still be seen on widescreen movies. However we could address this by activating the Cinema Black mode, which turns the LEDs off in the areas where the black bars are, thus eliminating this final light patch. We're glad to see that Samsung has made improvement to the Cinema Black mode and it's now a truly useful feature. Samsung's local dimming is amongst the best implemented we have seen, with deep blacks, excellent dynamic range and no perceivable loss of detail. This was evidenced by watching the notorious scene in the last Harry Potter movie where Lord Voldemort's army amasses over Hogworts. It can be a torture test for many local dimming systems but the Samsung didn't break a sweat. Since we were reviewing an early production sample of the HU8500, we would expect the backlight uniformity to be better on the units that actually ship to stores.
As for the curved screen, for the most part we are largely agnostic and certainly during our time with the HU8500 we didn't find it to be either a specific benefit or a particular nuisance. Since the screen itself was reasonably large at 65 inches and since we were in the sweet spot and quite close to the TV, we did sometimes get a greater sense of immersion. Conversely, when there were horizontal lines on the screen, such as the black bars on a widescreen movie, we were also more aware of the curve itself. Certainly the use of a curve on larger screen sizes and with Ultra HD content, where the higher resolution will allow people to sit closer to the screen, could be beneficial, creating a greater sense of immersion. We did however find that the curve itself was useful with off-axis viewing, where the far edge faced the viewer thus reducing the amount the image was washed out. A need to avoid any light sources directly in front of the screen because this will cause reflections that become exaggerated by the curve itself, causing them to be stretched across the screen. However the curve did prove highly effective at combating reflections from light sources that are off to the side, which was handy in our viewing environment.
Picture Quality - 3D
- Great blacks and contrast ratio
- Reference greyscale and colour accuracy
- Genuine future-proofing
- Excellent video processing
- Superb Smart TV System
- Effective motion controller
- Minor backlight clouding
- High input lag
Samsung 65HU8500 Ultra HD 4K LED TV Review
The image processing was as impressive as ever and Samsung had even managed to improve it in places, whilst their local dimming feature remains amongst the best we have seen to date. As we have come to expect from Samsung the greyscale and colour accuracy were superb and as a result, the HU8500 delivered wonderfully natural and detailed images, regardless of the source material. Obviously native 4K content looked incredible but upscaled high definition was equally as impressive and even standard definition was passable. The 3D performance was also excellent, with bright and detailed images that were completely free of crosstalk, resulting in an immersive and enjoyable experience. The only missteps in an otherwise flawless performance were some very slight clouding on the backlight and a high input lag, which might put off serious gamers.
Ultimately the UE65HU8500 is a hugely impressive Ultra HD TV that sets the benchmark for others to follow and given its current price it could prove very difficult to resist. Samsung might very well have a serious winner on their hands and with the World Cup just around the corner, the timing couldn't be better.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money8
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Display LED Backlight Type Edge Display Format 4K Ultra HD Screen Size 65 In Resolution 3840 x 2160 Pixels 1080p24 Support Yes Claimed Contrast Ratio Mega Contrast 3D Technology Active Aspect Ratio 16:9 Picture-in-Picture PiP
Image Enhancement Engine Auto Depth Enhancer
Tuner Freeview HD
3D Accessories Active Glasses
PVR Features Twin Tuners
External PVR Ready
Auto Calibration Yes Smart TV Yes Smart TV Features WiDi
Video on Demand Access
App Store Access
File Formats XViD
Speakers Stereo with Subwoofer Speaker Output 60 Watts Supported Sound Formats Dolby Digital
Dolby Digital Plus
Energy Efficiency Class A Power Consumption 84 Watts Power Consumption (Standby) 0 Watts Release Year 2014 Screen Size 165 cm Width (With Stand) 1451 mm Height (With Stand) 892 mm Depth (With Stand) 327 mm Weight 31 Kg Width (Without Stand) 1451 mm Height (Without Stand) 848 mm Depth (Without Stand) 111 mm
HDMI Type HDMI
HDMI with ARC
HDMI with MHL
HDMI Inputs 4 Scart Connections 1 Component Inputs 1 Composite Inputs 2 USB Ports 3 Common Interface Slot Yes Ethernet Port Yes Digital Audio Out Yes Wi-Fi Built-in
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