Samsung UE55H7000 (H7000) TV Review
The H7000 is a big, flat and very smart Full HD LED TV
What is the Samsung UE55H7000?If you’re one of the simple folk – and this is tongue in cheek – who is satisfied with a flat, non-curved, TV and you’re quite happy to eschew 4K TVs for the time being, at least, then the Samsung H7000 is their current top offering. The UE55H7000 is blessed with super-quick quad core processing for all the Smart TV features and an active shutter 3D system for those still interested and is currently (October 2014) widely available for between £1,300 and £1,400. Also in the family are the previously reviewed 48-inch H7000 and UE40H7000, as well as a 60-inch model.
Design & ConnectionsThe H7000 has one of our favourite overall designs, with the curvaceous U-Stand setting off the micro-thin bezel beautifully. Around the edges there’s a metallic trim, which also adds a touch of distinction, and the Samsung logo, bottom centre, is of a very understated size, reflecting Samsung’s confidence in the TV market.
At just 33.2mm thin, the 55H7000 will make for a very tidy wall-mount installation, although it would have been better if at least one of the four HDMI ports had been downward-facing. Instead, you get two that are mounted to the side and two that point out from the rear. Additionally, there are 3 USB inputs, wired and wireless LAN, digital optical audio, a headphone jack, as well as the legacy video connections. For more details about connections, take a look at our useful guide. One of those HDMI ports is ARC (Audio Return Channel) enabled, for the likes of soundbars and powered speaker systems.
Remote ControlsAlong with LG’s Magic Remote, Samsung’s Smart Touch controller is our favourite of this new breed of remote controls. It has a varied set of command interfaces, including voice and gesture as well as a touch pad, similar to those you’ll find on a laptop.
By far our favourite is voice, which lets you do things like launch apps, adjust volume or perform searches with consummate ease but the other interfaces are also reasonably successful. The Smart Touch also has a basic set of standard controls that will do for most and as the other remote is quite squat, which makes the buttons slightly small and awkward to press. We really think everyone should give the Smart Touch a go.
All the smart TV features you will ever need
Samsung Smart TV AppsThe Samsung Smart TV platform is arguably the most expansive in existence. Certainly when it comes to the various major UK video streaming services, we think it has more than any other. You are given access to catch-up players from the BBC, ITV, Channels 4 and Five and of course there are also the ubiquitous YouTube and Netflix apps. Additionally, there is Amazon Prime Instant Video support as well as Wuaki TV and about the only ‘big one’ we feel is missing would be Sky’s NOW TV service.
On top of all that, there are an ever-growing selection of games and a very robust media player with support for all the popular file types over USB and DLNA. You can, with the addition of a USB hard drive, use the H7000 as a personal video recorder and a content recommendation engine tracks your viewing habits to provide viewing suggestions. There is also a, surprisingly good, HTML5 friendly web browser and a ton of other apps to explore in the Samsung store. In short, it’s great!
Samsung H7000 Picture SettingsWe are getting into the area of a TV where an owner might consider getting it professionally calibrated. When you consider that you can save around £600 off the RRP, that’s a calibration more than comfortably paid for and the results in the case of the 55H7000 were near night and day, in terms of the pre and post calibrated state. The pallid stock settings were transformed, allowing detail to emerge as well as gain far more vibrancy. You could have a go with some of the basic controls to improve things, yourself, or even try our review sample calibrated settings but there’s no substitute for a bespoke job.
The out-of-the-box Movie mode was unusually inaccurate for a Samsung TV and the excess of blue and green energy you can see in the RGB Balance graph below was reflected in real world content with a correspondingly coloured blue-green tint. The colours were definitely better than the greyscale when measured against the HD Rec.709 standards, although there was a large over-saturation in blue and an unevenness to colour luminance.
The 2 point white balance controls were almost enough to coax a reference greyscale performance out of the 55H7000 but having the option of ten point manipulation means fine-tuning can be done. As a result, we had ruler flat tracking of the greyscale with gamma response similarly excellent. There’s also a full colour management system available in the menus which allowed us to tidy up the loose ends and the overall delta Errors were well under the perceivable threshold of 3, so any remaining errors won't be noticeable to the human eye.
Input LagThe lowest input lag we recorded was achieved by editing the HDMI input name to ‘PC’ and was measured at 40.1 milliseconds. You can get a very similar performance of 41 milliseconds using the game mode but that’s almost no easier to find (it’s in the System Menu under ‘General). These kind of numbers aren’t the lowest we’ve seen but they are certainly respectable and should be sufficient for most gamers.
Samsung UE55H7000 Picture QualityThe panel in the 55-inch H7000 had even lower native black levels than the smaller models. We got an average of 0.036cd/m2 from a chequerboard pattern, against a peak average white of around 119cd/m2, giving an ANSI contrast ratio of comfortably over 3,000:1, which is very good for LCD tech. Dark screen uniformity wasn’t the best we’ve seen from a Samsung this year, however, and there were several patches of light bleed that could sometimes be seen on very dark scenes. You could go some way to alleviating this using the Cinema Black control, which doesn’t exactly perform as described. Samsung says it just dims the black bars when you’re watching movies but we can see that if affects the whole picture, sometimes negatively in terms of shadow detailing.
The general performance of the 55H7000 was terrific, however, with the beautifully realised colours combining with the deep native blacks to superb effect. Obviously our detailed calibration helped there but the picture was decent enough prior to that. The general motion handling of the H7000 is also pleasing, without the need to engage the motion processing options available but we know some will like the smoothed look the Motion Plus controls provide. It’s not something we would advise but if you are sensing some blur when watching content like fast spaced sports, it is quite effective. Never have it on for a movie though, we urge you.
Some minor blemishes but generally excellent picture performance
Video processing has long been something Samsung’s engineers have excelled at so it’s no surprise the H7000 is extremely strong in that department. It can detect and correctly display all the important film cadences, which is great for movie lovers, and it is also capable of high quality video deinterlacing, which is important for broadcast TV. To boot, scaling of standard definition material is also very good, with some of our (the kids’) better DVDs looking more than palatable on the 55-inch screen.
We found the UE55H7000 was almost as capable in 3D mode as it was in two dimensions. Thanks to the brightness of the panel, any dimming brought about by the active shutter glasses is pretty much negated and it also allows colours to have plenty of pop. There’s an excellent amount of depth and pop-out to 3D pictures too, as you would expect, and only some hints of ghosting on moving objects ever distracts. You get a couple of sets of 3D eyewear included with the H7000, too, so it’s going to cost you nothing to give it a try.
The general screen uniformity problems that have blighted many a LCD/LED TV have shown a marked improvement, almost across the board, this year and whilst the H7000 may not be the complete embodiment of that, its issues were fairly minor. There were two fairly large, dark vertical lines that could sometimes be seen on panning shots, especially with pale green and cream shades, which we would put down to the panel array being laid on show but it wasn’t consistent enough an issue to really grate. The other weakness is something that will be common to all H7000s, in that viewing angles are fairly shallow so if you’re more than 40 degrees off-centre, you won’t be getting the same contrast rich experience as those in the sweet spot. That is particularly the case with black levels and off-axis viewing also highlighted the dark screen uniformity imperfections noted above.
- Beautiful design
- Excellent feature set
- Current prices is attractive
- Very accurate - once calibrated
- Deep blacks
- Some screen uniformity problems
- Not as accurate out-of-box as we would expect
- Viewing angles are shallow
Samsung UE55H7000 (H7000) TV Review
Should I buy one?
Despite some minor panel uniformity issues, the Samsung UE55H7000 still provided an excellent all-round viewing experience, with all the pleasing picture traits we’ve come to associate with the Korean brand. Colours were spot-on, black levels were deep, meaning the H7000 boats tremendous native contrast, and video processing capabilities were of a very high order. There’s also the most comprehensive Smart TV system in the business to get your teeth in to, which can all be controlled via one of the most intuitive remotes ever made. We have to caveat that with the fact it took some quite detailed picture fine tuning to get the most from the H7000, and that you don’t get the same viewing experience, off-centre, but this is yet another great TV from Samsung - Recommended.
What alternatives are there?
At current prices (October 2014), the Sony 55X8505 falls into a similar bracket and it provides similar designer looks, as well as extensive smart TV features. You could save yourself a considerable chunk of change by looking at the Toshiba 55L7453 and though it can’t match the Samsung in either picture quality or feature set, it’s a good value TV. For the kinds of sums we’re talking about here, you could even step in to the world of entry level 4K with the 55-inch version of the Panasonic AX630. It boasts great pictures and features as well as 4 times the pixel count!
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,899.99
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality7
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box7
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
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