Samsung D8000 (UE-46D8000) 3D LED LCD TV Review
Mark bids farewell to Samsung's 2011 top tier LED TV. Will it be a fond one?
IntroductionIt’s very near the end of the line for the UE-D8000 with this year’s Flagship 3D LED LCD TV, the ES8000, just about to hit retail channels. With the D8000 currently available for a few hundred pounds less than the likely asking price for the ES8000, it may be worth consideration for those that can live without a built in camera, speech recognition and all those other ‘must haves’ that will feature in Samsung’s new headline TV. We’ve already covered the 40 inch and 55 inch versions, which weren’t without their issues whilst also providing some great pictures, at times. We’re likely several software versions down the line, since then, so let’s see what changes the Korean’s have made, if any.
Design and ConnectionsFor the most part reaction has seemingly been positive to the D8000’s bold, almost borderless design and it has its merits, that’s for sure. What we’ve never been so keen on is the shiny bezel, which despite its slenderness, has the tendency to pick up stray light that can cause distracting glints of light. We would be much happier had the micro bezel been formed from non-reflective material but Samsung seem happy enough with it as they’ve continued in the same vein with the ES8000. For that matter, a number of other manufacturers are featuring designs that look to have been inspired by the D8000 but then most of them will watch the Korean’s sales figures with a degree of envy. The ‘quad stand’ supplied with the D8000 certainly seems to divide opinions and we’re certainly not big fans but Samsung have at least done away with it for the ES8000. There’s no denying the D8000 stood out from the crowd in the 2011 ranges and it’s certainly going to be a while before it looks outdated.
Despite the D8000’s lofty status within the Samsung ranks, it doesn’t come with anything fancy in terms of the remote control and it does feel a little cheap but it is sensibly planned and reasonably comfortable to operate. One feature we’re always pleased to see is a backlight and although the glow of the Samsung remote is fairly dim and it doesn’t quite stretch to illuminate all the buttons, it’s still a welcome feature.
To the rear of the chassis there's a recessed cavity that houses four sideways facing HDMI ports with HMDI2 being HDMI v1.4 ARC compliant. There are also three side-facing USB inputs with USB1 assigned 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.
In the box of the D8000 came one pair of the active shutter SSG-3100 3D glasses that we found to be nice and light to wear but we’d have preferred the lenses to have been a little larger but the sides shields do a good job in blocking out ambient light. The lenses are a little green tinged but they’re not too prohibitive in keeping out light and 3D images aren’t too dull, as a result. Considering the 3100’s are widely available for around £40, we think they represent very good value.
MenusInitial set up of the D8000 was a fairly lengthy process and the fact some of the settings are wiped after updating the software version as part of the process, is a little frustrating. Still, best to get it out of the way. Once up and running the Samsung GUI that greets you is very brightly and snazzily presented and although there’s a whole host of options in the menu that may bewilder some, at least Samsung have thought to include a brief description of what they all do when highlighted. The main menu is split in to 6 further sub-menus comprising Picture, Sound, Channel, Network, System and Support.
Under the Picture Menu, 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. 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.
Also in the Advanced Settings there’s an option 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. Black Tone is best left off to save crushing shadow detail and likewise Edge Enhancement brings negative impact to picture quality by performing exactly as billed. 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.
For a more in depth look at the non-picture options of the D8000 we’d recommend taking at look at the reviews of 40 and 55 inch versions linked in the introduction, but for anyone looking for the Game mode, it’s under the System Menu under General - for some reason.
Test ResultsThe Movie Picture Mode was already producing fairly pleasing images prior to calibration, but there was a sunburnt look to skin tones and colours in general looked a little over baked. Our eyes aren’t suitable measuring devices, however, and so having optimised our Contrast, Brightness and Backlight sliders to match the testing environment we set about using our specialised equipment and software to first ascertain the errors and then correct them. First we checked how the greyscale and gamma were measuring up.
The over-emphasis of the red channel came as no great surprise but the results here are still pretty good. Ideally the coloured lines would all be tracking together at 100 on the RGB Balance Graph but given the excellent 10 Point White Balance controls provided, we shouldn’t have too many difficulties in ironing out the kinks in order to provide a neutral background for the colours to be ‘painted’ on to. Gamma response was even better and already tracking very close to the 2.2 target we choose for a fairly dimly lit viewing environment. The actual standard for gamma on a digital display is now set at 2.4 but that only applies for monitors used in HDTV production where the conditions are almost pitch black. The average home environment is unlikely to ever replicate these conditions and a setting of 2.4 is likely to crush detail in the low end.
Having established the greyscale performance was already at a reasonable level, we then checked how the D8000 fared in reproducing the Rec.709 colour gamut and the answer was, very well indeed. There was the expected over saturation and excess luminance in red. In fact most of the colours were a little too bright, which was in keeping with our eyeballing of the D8000. Some might actually like the over-done look but having been exposed to numerous calibrated displays we were looking forward to taming the Samsung’s colour performance and the UE-D8000 has the tools on board to do such a job.
The prescribed wisdom when using 10 point white balance controls is to first use the more standard 2 point controls to largely eradicate errors and then use the 10 point sliders to fine tune. We decided in this case, however, to jump straight on the multi-point controls and the entire process was quickly done as a result. Our greyscale and gamma are almost perfectly aligned to our targets and it’s a reference performance from the D8000. The controls are a calibrators dream and we wish others could get it so right. Having our greyscale calibrated to neutrality we were now ready to set about tickling the RGB Colour Management System to see if we could gain similarly excellent results. Again, we have an answer in the affirmative and we have absolutely no problems in any of the facets of colour performance; be it Hue, Saturation or Luminance. With overall delta errors all below 1, we once more have a reference result for the D8000.
We’ve become accustomed to the higher end Samsung’s having absolutely excellent scaling engines and the 46D8000 is no different. Given a decent quality standard definition source, the Samsung wrung out every last detail without introducing ugly haloing. The scaling performance was augmented well by the ability of the D8000 to correctly detect progressively shot material sent in an interlaced signal, meaning that movies viewed through a set top box or DVD player will not undergo unnecessary deinterlacing and therefore don’t suffer a loss of resolution and nor do they pick up any jagged artefacts on the way.
Video deinterlacing was also of a very high standard indeed, which again ensures a clean, smooth look to pictures. It’s almost needless to say that the D8000 handled 1080p Blu-ray material shot at 24 frames per second without issues, but it’s our duty to do so, and it did. The HyperReal processing also couldn’t be tripped up by a mixture of film and video content being present on-screen simultaneously. In short, the D8000 provides an almost masterclass in cadence detection, scaling and deinterlacing. There is, however, an element of the video processing that isn’t too our taste but more on that in the Picture Quality section on the first page.
With Game Mode engaged, the D8000 returned input lag readings between 30 and 35milliseconds, which translates to 2 or 3 frames of the average console game. It’s certainly within our tolerances and is not going to be noticeable to the vast majority of gamers, we feel.
Like most LED lit displays, energy consumption measurements fluctuated very little. In our calibrated Movie mode, the D8000 drew an averaged 65W, whilst the out of box Standard picture mode asked a little more in taking 80W.
Picture Quality - 2DOne thing that has struck us with the better Samsung LED’s is just how effective a filter is deployed in them. Meaning the excellent black levels hold up very well indeed, even in very bright environments, which is sure to be noticeable on the shop floor, especially when compared to the average plasma that will suffer in the same environment. The D8000 has a very reflective screen, however, so we wouldn’t advise placing it directly facing a large window, but then we would never advocate that as a prime location for positioning a display.
Although the scaling is of a very high quality, naturally it’s with high definition sources that the D8000 truly wows; combining the excellent dynamic range with the reference calibration results produced some outstanding images with better than average viewing angles for the technology employed.
There were two fairly major hindrances to the D8000 though. The first being as result of cramming in the TVs components in to such a slim chassis, and the second down to Samsung’s predisposition to slipping in some backdoor processing. We are probably starting to sound like a scratched record with the first complaint and we’re almost tired of regurgitating it in almost every LED TV review but we’ve become increasingly less tolerant of the uniformity issues associated with the technology. Whilst there was some light pooling/flashlighting/call it what you will, it wasn’t overly noticeable with regular content and was comfortably more tolerable than the vertical panel banding evident on virtually all panning shots. Simply explained, it manifests as lines of alternating luminance, around 3cm wide, right across the screen – light, dark, light etc. The ‘banding’ is particularly evident when solid patches of colour are on screen, e.g. a football pitch or a skyscape but its ever present. We would really like Samsung to grasp the nettle - as Sony are promising to do -and produce TVs with deeper chassis to alleviate the problem but we doubt they will.
The second gripe we had is something we brought up in our first D8000 review and that is with unwanted processing applied to motion. It simply looks too smooth in situations where it shouldn’t. Samsung’s Motion Plus processing can be deactivated in the menus but there’s still something going on, even with it and Motion Lighting disabled. In point of fact, the Clear setting of Motion Plus provides good results with fast moving video based content but Samsung should leave it there and ‘Off’ should mean exactly that. It’s fairly easy to detect there’s extraneous processing going on with virtually any sports broadcast featuring action replays where the sudden change of pace we’ll see it breakdown altogether, on occasion, as it stutters, stalls and then eventually catches up. The ‘motion smoothing’ is also evident on film material and gives an artificial look to certain scenes. The panel is certainly well capable of handling the relatively low frame rate of film so why Samsung, why? We’re sure there are many owners out there that have no issues with the motion smoothing but we sincerely hope it becomes a truly optional feature in the 2012 range.
Picture Quality - 3DStrangely enough we couldn’t detect any such unwanted processing with 3D content where arguably it would be less noticeable as, let’s face it, 3D has a slightly unnatural look to it in any case. As with the 40 and 55inch D8000’s we’ve reviewed we found the 46D8000 to cope very well with 3D content, be it side by side or frame packed. Our test patterns did reveal that some crosstalk is evident but, for the most part, it wasn’t usually noticeable in real world viewing. Motion handling was also competent and the glasses didn’t overly dim the picture. The D8000 positively has luminance to burn, in any case, and cranking up the backlight high, gave picture of almost comparable brightness to that of our calibrated 2D pictures. Perhaps our biggest complaint was the glasses were quite green tinged but nothing a calibration couldn’t sort out.
FeaturesIn terms of the feature sets put in to the higher end Samsung’s, we’ve said all this past 12 months that they’re pretty much the reference and that looks set to continue for the year ahead but let’s take a quick look at what’s available, as far as last year’s vintage is concerned. What we particularly admired about Samsung’s approach is the way all the extra functions are grouped under the ‘Smart Hub’.
A press of the appropriate button on the remote brings up the Smart Hub where the 'Your Video' feature runs across the top. ‘Your Video’ works as a recommendation engine, where your viewing habits are tracked and suggestions based on genre, subject matter, director, actor, actress etc are made, a la TiVo. It works well enough but is limited to content from on-demand services and we’d prefer it to be linked with programming from the EPG too.
Just to the right of Your Video sits the Samsung App store where one of the most popular choices, Explore 3D, gives access to over 100 items of free 3D content. Some of the material is of a promotional nature but there's also plenty of fully featured stuff in there too and you certainly can’t complain for free. Below Your Video and the App Store runs a set of 'Recommended' apps and below that, occupying the bottom half of the screen, interfaces for network/USB playback of media files, a Web Browser plus additional ways of accessing the EPG and certain Menu items.
As well as AllShare providing standard DLNA functionality, Samsung have released the Smart View app that allows owners of Galaxy S2 Android smartphones, Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab tablets to view video sent from the TV via wireless Ethernet and the TV doesn't even have to be on or, if it is, the owner is not locked to viewing what's being shown on-screen as another input can viewed simultaneously through the mobile device.
As well as the Smart View App, there's also a Smart Remote app available that acts as a replacement for the supplied remote. The app is particularly useful for the included Web Browser and its main noteworthy feature is its ability to play embedded Flash video where competitors don't. The creation of folders for tidying up the Smart Hub by grouping your apps is possible through both the 'Remote' app and standard remote control but is, again, easier using a smartphone.
There’s also the ability to connect an optional Camera/Mic attachment for Skype calling and a USB hard drive for ‘lite’ PVR duties. We’ve previously remarked that we feel the Smart Hub looks a little cluttered but early indications from the upcoming ranges show a more streamlined appearance and we look forward to getting to grips with it soon!
- Excellent black levels - even in daylight
- Reference level greyscale and gamut post calibration
- 3D is very good
- Smart features
- Mostly excellent video processing
- Styling & design
- Unwanted and undefeatable motion processing
- Panel banding can be very distracting
- Remote control feels cheap for a flagship TV
- Some light pooling
Samsung D8000 (UE-46D8000) 3D LED LCD TV Review
The Samsung UE-46D8000 represents something of a conundrum for us when it comes to deciding on an award. Had it not been for the highly noticeable panel banding and unwanted - not to mention undefeatable - motion processing then it would have been looking at a rare AVForums Highly Recommended Badge. The D8000 possesses enviable black levels that hold up under bright lighting; absolutely reference calibrated greyscale, gamma and colour reproduction; relatively low input lag and a wealth of features all neatly grouped together in the Smart Hub. On the other hand, the two issues mentioned are of such magnitude that a lot of the good work is undone and, as a result, this Samsung just misses out.
Love or loathe its looks but the Samsung D8000 certainly stands out from the current crop of TVs with its almost borderless design and ‘daring’ quad stand. We’re not keen on the choice of materials used as they’re very reflective but we do like the near floating pictures the micro bezel affords. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the supplied remote control, just that it feels as though it doesn’t belong with a top tier product. The supplied 3D eyewear is light and comfortable to wear but we would have preferred slightly larger lenses and they’ve a definite green tint to them.
The Samsung menus are nicely presented and informative and we realty like the fact all the added features – and there are many – are grouped under one area, the Smart Hub. We do feel the hub suffers from looking a little cluttered but it’s a minor complaint and something Samsung seem to have addressed in the upcoming 2012 TVs. Another thing we’re big fans of are the extensive calibration controls found in the user menus by which we were able to extract reference results that married nicely with the mostly superb video processing of the HyperReality chip. The element of video processing that we’re not keen on is lamentably undefeatable and we don’t like the overly smoothed feel it gives to motion. Somewhat ironically the same processing doesn’t seem to affect 3D images and the D8000 proved a very capable performer in the added dimension with only relatively minimal crosstalk evident with real world material.
We’ve taken a stand, of late, against uniformity issues brought about by stuffing all the components of a TV into an ultra skinny chassis, and it’s largely due to this that the D8000 goes back to Samsung badgeless.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,449.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money7
Our Review Ethos
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