If you're looking for great Ultra HD performance at an equally great price then look no further
What is the Samsung KS7000?The KS7000 is Samsung's entry-level flat screen model in its SUHD range of Ultra HD 4K TVs. Like all the models in the SUHD range this year, the KS7000 supports HDR 10 and is certified as Ultra HD Premium – which means it uses a 10-bit VA panel, can reach over 90% of DCI-P3, thanks to Quantum Dot technology, and can deliver at least 1,000nits of peak brightness. The KS7000 is LED edge-lit and includes both Precision Black local dimming and an Ultra Black anti-reflection moth eye filter. The TV also comes with the latest version of Samsung’s Smart TV platform, the new Smart Controller and a One Connect box with four HDMI 2.0a inputs. The KS7000 is available in 49-, 55- and 60-inch screen sizes and we're reviewing the UE55KS7000 which, as at the time of writing (June 2016), retails for just £1,499 – that's £200 cheaper than the equivalent UE55KS7500. It seems that every year Samsung release at least one TV that delivers an outstanding combination of performance and value; so can they do it again in 2016 with the KS7000? Let's find out...
Although the KS7000 uses the same design to the KS7500, aside from the obvious fact that the KS7000 is flat rather than curved. They both use a very minimalist approach with a slim-edged chassis and a bezel-less screen. There is a silver trim around the outer edge with a 1cm wide black border around the screen itself, and Samsung have included their Ultra Black moth eye filter to reduce unwanted reflections. Along the bottom there is a silver strip which matches the feet and an illuminated Samsung logo in the middle, that can be turned off. The flat model is just as slim as its curved sibling, measuring 10mm at the top and 44mm at the bottom; whilst for those thinking of using a soundbar there is 9cm of clearance beneath there screen.
Considering its price, the build quality is very good on the KS7000 and certainly matches the more expensive KS7500; and both models use Samsung's 360 degree design ethos, which means the rear is a glossy black plastic. The panel sits on two chrome feet, that Samsung calls a ‘branch’ stand. These slot into place at either end but, for some reason, Samsung have decided not to include screws to keep the feet in place, which means they have an annoying habit of falling out when you move the TV. We found that, as with many problems in life, a lump of Blu-Tack solved that particular issue but we have asked Samsung to attach the feet more firmly in future designs. The feet are 112cm apart, which means you’ll need a fairly wide surface to position the KS7000 on and obviously it can’t be swivelled. However you do have the option to wall mount the TV using standard 400 x 400 VESA mounts and included spacers. The overall dimensions of the UE55KS7000 are 1225 x 776 x 233mm (WxHxD), with a weight of 17.6kg.
Connections & ControlAs with all the models in the KS range, the majority of the connections are on the included One Connect Mini box but there are a few on the panel itself. These can be found in a recess on the rear right hand side of the panel behind a removable cover and include a USB 2.0 port, a Common Interface (CI) slot and an Ethernet port for a wired connection, although the KS7000 also has a built-in wireless capability. There’s also the connector for the One Connect box, itself, and all the connections are sideways facing and measure 30cm from the edge. On the left hand side there’s a two-pin socket for the power cable, this uses a right angled connector to allow you to mount the screen flush to the wall if that's the installation option you choose.
The design is attractive and the build quality is good but watch the feet, they have a habit of falling out
The fan-less One Connect mini box measures 20 x 7 x 2 cm and includes four HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2, along with two more USB 2.0 ports, satellite and terrestrial tuners and an optical digital output. The KS7000 includes Samsung's standard black plastic remote, along with the new universal Smart Controller – which is small, well made, comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. The controller includes all the buttons that you would need for normal use, along with a microphone for voice control. The layout is centred on the navigation and OK buttons, with the Home, volume and channel buttons underneath. Around the navigation buttons are numbers, colours, return and play/pause buttons, some of which bring up additional choices on the screen when pressed.
The Smart Controller doesn't only boast a new design but is also a universal remote that works in conjunction with the KS7000's auto device detection system. When the TV detects a new device connected via HDMI, it automatically sets that device up in the Smart Hub and adds the remote control codes. This means you can use the remote to control the TV, as well as any suitably identified connected device. It's a useful feature that helps cut down on the number of remotes on your coffee table but if you'd rather use your smart device to control the KS7000, there's also Samsung's Smart View remote app. This is available for both iOS and Android devices and the layout is designed to replicate the Smart Controller, whilst also allowing you to easily access content on your smart device.
Features & SpecsAs with all the SUHD models this year the KS7000 supports Ultra HD 4K (3840 x 2160), uses a 10-bit VA panel and is certified Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. It also includes Quantum Dot technology which uses a new protective shell to prevent impurities and defects and maximise the colour performance. As a result the KS7000 can deliver 96% of DCI-P3, along with a brighter image, improved viewing angles and better energy efficiency. The KS7000 uses Samsung’s Ultra Black moth eye filter and includes Precision Black local dimming. There is support for High Dynamic Range and, more specifically, HDR 10 with over 1,000 nits of peak brightness. The Samsung also utilises upscaling and source and bit-rate analysis to improve the picture quality with streamed sources but, as with all their TVs this year, the KS7000 doesn't support 3D.
Samsung have redesigned their smart platform for 2016 and it now centres on a single hub that is intended to make it easier to find and watch all your favourite content. There is a single access point for menus, sources, channels, apps, games etc. and when you select something from the launcher bar along the bottom, a second tier of choices appears above that, allowing for easy access. You also have the option to customise the launcher bar, making it even easier to directly access the features you use regularly. Also new this year is an Auto Detection feature, which automatically detects when you connect a new device via HDMI and sets it up on the TV. Samsung have also included more processing power this year, so the platform is very responsive and boots up extremely quickly. We'll cover the new Smart Hub platform in more detail in a dedicated review.
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxAs with all of Samsung's TVs the KS7000 defaults to the Standard Picture Mode, so to get an image that is closer to the current industry standards you'll need to select the Movie Picture Mode. The majority of the default settings in this mode are correct and so all you need to do then is set the Backlight, Brightness and Contrast controls to suit your particular viewing environment. After that you can turn the Sharpness control down to zero, turn Auto Motion Plus Off for film-based content, select the Auto Colour Space and set the Smart LED local dimming to Low. This will result in an excellent level of image quality for Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) content without the need to resort to a professional calibration. You can find our recommended settings here and there's more information about correct display setup on the PicturePerfect home page.As always, we began our objective testing process by measuring the greyscale and as you can see from the graph above the results were excellent for an out-of-the-box setting. All the primary colours were tracking very close to each other, which minimises any discolouration in the greyscale, and the DeltaEs (errors) were all below two. There was a shade too much blue around 20 to 50IRE but since the errors were below the visible threshold, it's unlikely anyone would notice. The gamma defaulted to a setting of zero but this measured at 2.2, so we moved the setting to -2, which then gave us a gamma curve that tracked our target of 2.4. Overall this this is a very impressive performance from the KS7000.The excellent greyscale performance out-of-the-box meant that the colour temperature for white was very close to the industry standard of D65 and, as you can see in the graph above, it was hitting its target which is the square in the middle of the triangle. The colour performance was equally impressive, with all the primary and secondary colours at, or very close, to their targets for 25, 50, 75 and 100% saturation of Rec.709, which is the industry standard for all standard dynamic range content. There was some minor under-saturation of red at 50 and 75%, which also affected magenta at the same saturation points, but overall this is an impressive level of colour accuracy and an excellent out-of-the-box performance.
The KS7000 delivered an excellent out-of-the-box performance with both the greyscale and the colour gamut
Picture Settings – CalibratedMoving on to the calibrated performance we used the same Movie Picture Mode and then adjusted the greyscale using the two- and ten-point White Balance controls and selected the Custom Colour Space to give us access to the Colour Management System (CMS). As always we used our profiled Klein K-10A meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN 5 calibration software to make all our measurements for both the out-of-the-box and calibrated settings.Since the out-of-the-box performance was already so good, we actually didn't have much to do when it came to calibrating the greyscale. We just made some minor adjustments with the two-point white balance control to reduce the excess energy in blue between 20 and 50IRE and then fine tuned a couple of points with the ten-point white balance control. The result was a reference performance in terms of greyscale and gamma, with errors below one and the gamma tracking our target of 2.4.As with the greyscale, so it was with the already excellent colour gamut and all we needed to do was fine tune the colour performance using Samsung's highly effective CMS. We were able to improve the saturation tracking of red at 50 and 75% but otherwise all the other colours were already tracking at or very close to their targets. What this essentially means is that the KS7000 is capable of an incredibly accurate performance in terms of the current industry standards for D65 and Rec.709.
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeWe are currently going through a period of change in the television industry, with a new set of standards being established for Ultra HD 4K content. That doesn't mean that the existing standards of D65 and Rec.709 are now redundant because the majority of the content that we watch will continue to use those standards for years to come but it does mean that TVs released in 2016 also need to adhere to the new standards as closely as possible.
The existing standards are based on the a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and 8-bit video, with D65 for the colour temperature of white, Rec.709 for the colour space and content being mastered at 100nits. The new standards are based on the Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels and a 10-bit video depth. The colour temperature for white remains D65 but the colour space is now Rec.2020 and the content is currently being mastered at between 1,000 and 4,000nits.
The measurements and graphs shown in the previous section are based on the existing standards, whilst the measurements and graphs in this section are based on the new standards including HDR. Since these standards are so new, we are still developing a full set of tests for our reviews and the workflow will continue to evolve as the test patterns and calibration software is updated to reflect a better understanding of how these standards are being implemented.
As the graph above shows, when it comes to handling the new PQ EOTF that has been developed for HDR, the KS7000 is doing an excellent job of tracking it. The greyscale is very accurate and thanks to the way the display tracks the PQ EOTF, the errors are all at or below the visible threshold of three. Samsung TVs support HDR 10 and the KS7000 delivers one of the best measurements that we have seen so far this year, thanks to the display's accurate tracking and ability to reach a peak brightness of over 1,000nits.Although the KS7000's tracking of the PQ EOTF was excellent, it's ability to track the saturation points for the Rec.2020 colour space wasn't as impressive. According to Samsung, if you leave the TV in its Auto Colour Space setting it should map its performance to the source signal, so if it uses Rec.709 it reproduces that colour space and if it receives a Rec.2020 signal then it maps to the larger colour space. We found in testing that the Auto feature wasn't doing this and it continued to map to Rec.709 even when we were sending a Rec.2020 signal. So we recommend selecting the Native Colour Space setting because this uses the TV's full colour gamut, which measures 96% of DCI-P3, but as you can see in the graph above the Native Colour Space is tracking to DCI-P3 rather than Rec.2020. We feel that this is the wrong approach given that Ultra HD content uses the Rec.2020 container and we have reported our findings back to Samsung.
Note: Since we reviewed the UE55KS7000, Samsung have released a firmware update that has corrected the issue with the Auto Colour Space setting failing to correctly detect and track Rec.2020. Although we aren't in a position to re-test the KS7000, we have tested the KS9500 and can confirm that the issue has been corrected on that model. We see no reason why the firmware update hasn't also corrected the problem on the KS7000.
The HDR EOTF was extremely good but the colour gamut wasn't tracking Rec.2020 correctly
Black Levels and Contrast Ratios
The KS7000 uses a VA LCD panel, so we would expect a decent black level performance compared to an IPS LCD panel. So it proved with the Samsung delivering a native black level measurement of 0.033nits with the Smart LED local dimming off and 0.002nits with it in the low setting. We set our calibrated SDR mode to 120nits, which the KS7000 had no trouble delivering, and this resulted in an on/off contrast ratio of 4,000:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 3,140:1. These are excellent results for an LCD panel and the impressive performance continued when it came to HDR, with the KS7000 hitting a peak brightness of 1,500nits on a 10% window and 537nits on a 100% full screen. This proves that the KS7000 can easily achieve the minimum dynamic range of 0.05 to 1,000 nits required for Ultra HD Premium certification.
In order to achieve the ultra-slim design of the KS7000 the LEDs are position along the bottom of the screen but, despite that, Samsung have managed to deliver an impressive level of backlight uniformity. In our calibrated settings there was no apparent clouding, bright edges or haloing and the image was free of any dirty screen effect as well. The KS7000 wasn't quite as impressive with HDR content but given the brightness levels require an edge-lit display is never going to be ideal. However the KS7000 generally handled most HDR content very well and it was only in certain circumstances that the location of the LEDs and the edge-lit nature of the TV became apparent. In these circumstances the brightness of the edges and the location of the LEDs were more obvious and with letter-boxed movies in particular, the black borders could appear dark grey, depending on the content on the screen. Although we weren't in a position to do a direct comparison, we did feel that the KS7000 handled HDR content better than its curved sibling the KS7500 and this might be due to the flat screen.
Local Dimming and Viewing Angles
Samsung's Precision Black local dimming system has always been one of the better versions available and when you combine it with the excellent blacks levels and contrast performance, the results can be impressive. Although the performance wasn't quite as good as the more expensive KS9000, which uses Supreme UHD Dimming, the KS7000 still gave an extremely good account of itself. The local dimming did a great job of keeping the blacks deep without excessive crush, it also retained an even backlight and delivered bright highlights that ensured a suitably dynamic viewing experience.
As we mentioned earlier, Samsung have made improvements to their Quantum Dot technology this year. As a result the panel is not only brighter and more energy efficient but the viewing angles have also improved compared to last year. The optimal viewing angles certainly appeared wider, although since the KS7000 uses a VA panel, it will always struggle to retain image accuracy once you move outside a 90 degree arc. As a result when you move off-axis to a larger degree, issues such as halos became more visible, although they were very rarely apparent when viewing from the centre.
Although the KS7000 uses an LCD panel, and motion handling is never a strong point of that technology, we're glad to see that Samsung continue to make improvements in this area. Resultantly, the motion handling on the KS7000 was very good, with none of the stuttering or frame dropping that we have experienced on previous Samsung TVs. We measured the motion resolution at round 300 with Auto Motion Plus off and the full 1080 lines with it on, so you could find this setting very useful when watching all the fast-paced action in the upcoming Euro 2016 football championships. Samsung also include a custom setting, where you can experiment further with blur and judder reduction but since Auto Motion Plus introduces smoothing we would never recommend using it for film-based content. Under the custom setting you'll also find the LED Clear Motion feature that uses black frame insertion to give images a better sense of motion, although it also reduces the brightness and can cause flicker for some people.
Standard and High Definition Content
The KS7000 delivered a fantastic all-round performance when it came to standard and high definition content. Needless to say, the image accuracy plays an important part in this and the superb greyscale and colour gamut performance resulted in images that were both detailed and natural in appearance. The excellent blacks, contrast performance and dynamic range also played their part, delivering deep blacks that retained shadow detail but also producing a bright and punchy image. The local dimming revealed its effectiveness at night and, coupled with our settings, was able to produce images that retained their deep blacks whilst also delivering an even backlight. The Ultra Black moth eye filter also proved effective, eliminating or reducing troublesome reflections so that the KS7000 could produce an equally wonderful image during the day.
The video processing was excellent, with the Samsung deinterlacing and scaling lower resolution content to match the Ultra HD 4K panel, whilst the motion handling remained free of judder and excessive blur. When you combined all of these factors the result was a great image, no matter what we watched on the KS7000. Although we don't watch much standard definition content these days, what little we do watch looked excellent, which is impressive when you consider the size and resolution of the panel. A standard definition broadcast like Agents of SHIELD was handled with skill, retaining all the detail in the original source content, whilst scaling it without introducing unwanted artefacts. The colours also retained a nice sense of realism and the Samsung was even more effective with DVDs, and although we haven't bought any for years the KS7000 brought new life to older discs.
Of course once we moved on to high definition broadcasts the entire image moved up a level, with plenty of detail and beautiful natural-looking images. As always BBC wildlife documentaries looked especially impressive, whilst we are now able to enjoy Gotham in high definition since Channel 5 HD moved to the slot previously occupied by BBC3 HD. Streaming content from Amazon and Netflix also looked impressive and, as we finished off the excellent fourth season of House of Cards, we could almost think we were watching in 4K. Naturally the best high definition performance was reserved for regular Blu-ray and here the KS7000 really showed what it was capable of, reproducing the original content with style and delivering detailed and film-like images. Test favourites like Jurassic World and Tomorrowland looked stunning, with realistic colours, deep blacks and loads of detail.
High Dynamic Range Content
The new kid on the block this year is High Dynamic Range and although both Amazon and Netflix are streaming in HDR, with the latter also using Dolby Vision, our internet connection isn't fast enough to enjoy those services. However we do have Samsung's excellent UBD-K8500 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player and just about every 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc released so far, so we had plenty of content to watch on the KS7000. Our current reference test discs are The Revenant and Deadpool, both of which looked stunning in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and the KS7000 took full advantage of the increased resolution, higher dynamic range and wider colour gamut. Whatever our reservations about the colour tracking in testing, it certainly didn't seem to translate to actual viewing material which simply looked breathtaking. The red of Deadpool's outfit looked just how we remembered it from the cinema, whilst the natural landscapes of The Revenant looked totally realistic and immersed you in the drama.
The edge-lighting of the KS7000 would occasional struggle with darker scenes where there were individual light sources but overall we found it handled the increased brightness of HDR very well. We did, on occasion, see the black bars in widescreen films become lighter as the the content on screen changed but overall we thoroughly enjoyed watching HDR content on the Samsung. The level of detail was often astonishing and that wasn't just because these two films used 4K digital intermediates. There was also more detail in both darker and brighter parts of the image, whilst the specular highlights gave everything a greater sense of realism. Although we weren't in a position to make a direct comparison, we would actually say that the flat KS7000 handled HDR better than the curved KS7500 but that is only based on remembering how the same scenes appeared on both sets. Whilst we would agree that edge-lighting isn't ideal for HDR, there's no denying that KS7000 delivers a great performance for the money.
Sound QualityThe sound quality on the UE55KS7000 was actually reasonably good considering the dimensions of the chassis and there's no doubt that the screen size at least helped in terms of creating a sense of stereo separation. Samsung have definitely made great strides in terms of delivering passable audio from their latest ultra-slim TVs. As a result the KS7000 was able to create a wide enough front soundstage to handle an average-sized living room and it could go reasonably loud without becoming too harsh or sibilant. In terms of settings we generally find that the Music Sound Mode makes for a good all-round option.
The KS7000 delivered dialogue clearly, which is obviously important, and it also handled music quite well. We're not suggesting it should be used as a primary listening source for music but it does mean that TV shows and most films were reproduced adequately. Naturally when it comes to more complex multi-channel soundtracks the KS7000 will struggle, especially in terms of any surround presence or bass but it's competent enough for day-to-day TV watching. If you actually want proper surround sound or better bass performance, you'll need to look at a suitable outboard audio solution.
As with other Samsung TVs this year the sound has been improved, the energy efficiency is excellent and the input lag is incredibly low
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionWhen it comes to input lag we have been really impressed with the performance of Samsung TVs this year and the KS7000 was no exception. We measured the input lag in our calibrated Movie Picture Mode using our Leo Bodnar lag tester at 112ms but soon as we engaged Game Mode the lag dropped to an excellent 21ms. That's incredibly low for a consumer TV and will certainly be good enough for even the most demanding of gamers. So if you're not interested in 3D but a low input lag is important to you, then this year's Samsung TVs should be at the top of your short list.
Samsung has been refining their Quantum Dot technology to deliver an improvement in energy efficiency and all this effort has certainly paid dividends with some excellent power consumption measurements. When using a 50% raster we measured the energy consumption of the Standard mode that the TV ships in at 96W and our calibrated Movie mode at 62W. We also measured the HDR mode and, whilst that obviously used more energy, it still measured at a respectable 134W. These are excellent results, making the KS7000 and obvious choice for any eco-conscious consumers.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 70% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 9 What do these mean?
- Impressive greyscale and colour accuracy
- Excellent black levels and contrast ratios
- Very good local dimming
- Effective video processing
- Full HDR support
- Incredibly low input lag
- State-of-the-art smart features
- No support for 3D
- Backlight sometimes struggled with HDR content
Samsung KS7000 (UE55KS7000) UHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
Well if you're looking for a great performing TV at a very attractive price, then the simple answer is yes. The Samsung UE55KS7000 can be picked up £1,499 and for that you get a fully loaded Ultra HD 4K TV with a flat 10-bit panel, a wider colour gamut, HDR support and Ultra HD Premium certification. The KS7000 also includes Samsung's Ultra Black moth eye filter and their excellent Precision Black local dimming, as well as some impressive video processing and motion handling. The build quality is very good and the design relatively attractive, although we're not huge fans of the feet. There's a newly designed universal smart controller, the excellent One Connect box and an updated smart platform that now includes an auto detect feature. There are also plenty of connections, including four HDMI 2.0a inputs with support for HDR and HDCP 2.2. The KS7000 is extremely energy efficient and has an input lag of only 21ms, making it ideal for gamers. In fact it's so feature-packed that we're struggling to think of any negatives aside from the obvious fact that it doesn't support 3D but if that dying format is still important to you then none of Samsung's 2016 TVs will be on your radar.
The KS7000 delivered a fantastic level of accuracy right out-of-the-box and thanks to some impressive picture controls, the calibrated performance was near perfect. The use of a VA panel meant the native blacks and contrast performance were all excellent, whilst the local dimming was highly effective and was rarely caught out. The motion handling was also very good for an LCD, with Auto Motion Plus working well with football, and the viewing angles, whilst limited, are better than many other TVs that use a VA panel. In testing the KS7000 delivered wonderful images with standard and high definition content and was equally as impressive with Ultra HD Blu-rays. Whilst an edge-lit panel isn't ideal for HDR, the results were still impressive with most content and the colours on Ultra HD Blu-rays looked very realistic. Ultimately the UE55KS7000 rarely put a foot wrong, making it an ideal all-round TV for anyone looking to upgrade for the upcoming 'summer of sport'. It seems that every year Samsung release at least one TV that offers an outstanding combination of performance and value. This year that TV is the KS7000, making it the worthy winner of a Best Buy badge.
What are my alternatives?
The obvious alternative, if your prefer curved screens, is the almost identical Samsung UE55KS7500 although that is £200 more expensive, presumably because it is more difficult to bend the panels. Otherwise the Panasonic TX-58DX750B would make a great alternative, it costs the same but has a larger screen and supports 3D. It has an attractive design, a great feature set, supports HDR and includes a clever multiple configuration stand. The Samsung has the edge in terms of local dimming and performance with HDR but both are very accurate and capable TVs; although if 3D is still a priority to you then that should swing the Panasonic in your favour. However the Samsung UE55KS7000 is a class act and at this price point we doubt you'll find a better performing TV anywhere.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money10
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