Samsung UE55KS8000 UHD 4K TV Review
If you're not a fan of curves then this is the Samsung for you
What is the Samsung KS8000?The KS8000 is Samsung's top flat screen TV for 2016 and is essentially the same as the company's other flagship edge-lit model the KS9000. The only real difference between the two TVs, aside from the shape of the screen, is that the KS9000 includes the Auto Depth Enhancer feature, which only applies to the manufacturer's curved models. In all other respects the two TVs are identical, so which one you choose will depend on how you feel about curves. If you prefer your TV flat, then the KS8000 could very well be the choice for you. The UE55KS8000 retails for £1,599 as at the time of writing (September 2016) and since we were so impressed by the UE55KS9000 we reviewed earlier in the year, we have high expectations. Let's find out if those expectations are met...
DesignThe KS8000 has the same 360 degree design aesthetic that Samsung have been using on all of their KS Series this year, which means you get an ultra-slim chassis and an attractive chrome stand. There is a magnetic cover over the screws that attach the chassis to the stand and a panel that covers the minimal connections on the TV itself, thus retaining its clean lines. The panel is 41mm deep, there is a silver trim around the outer edge and a 5mm wide black border around the screen.
The angular stand sweeps back to give the impression that the TV is floating in mid-air and the rear panel has a groove effect that gives the back of the TV an interesting and tactile appearance. The stand measures 87 x 38cm and there is 9.5cm of clearance beneath the screen. The stand can't be swivelled but you can wall mount the KS8000 using standard 400 x 400 VESA mounts. The 55-inch model measures 1230 x 800 x 376mm (WxHxD) with the stand attached and it weighs in at 20kg.
Connections & ControlThere are very few connections on the TV itself, in fact all you'll find behind the removable panel are an Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 port, an Ex-Link (RS-232C) connector and a Common Interface (CI) slot. All the other connections are on the One Connect box and here you'll find four HDMI 2.0a inputs, one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), and two more USB 2.0 ports. There's also an optical digital output, dual terrestrial and satellite tuners and built-in WiFi. The One Connect box itself measures 20 x 7 x 2cm and the proprietary cable that connects it to the TV is 2m long.
The KS8000 comes with Samsung's Smart Controller, which is small, well made, comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. It includes all the buttons that you would need for day-to-day control, as well as a microphone for voice control, and the layout of the buttons is sensible, with everything you'll need for day-to-day use.
The Smart Controller is also a universal remote which works in conjunction with the KS8000's auto device detection feature. When the TV detects a new device being connected via HDMI, it automatically sets that device up in the Smart Hub and adds the remote control codes. You can then use the Smart Controller to control that connected device, as well as the TV itself.
The KS8000 has the design aesthetic and build quality that we expect from Samsung
Features & SpecsThe KS8000 uses a flat screen with a 10-bit panel and Quantum Dot technology to deliver purer colours and brighter images. As a result the TV can deliver 96% of DCI-P3, along with brighter highlights, improved viewing angles and better energy efficiency. The panel also includes Samsung's Ultra Black filter to reduce reflections and Precision Black local dimming. The KS8000 supports High Dynamic Range, specifically HDR 10, with over 1,000 nits of peak brightness. The TV also includes improved upscaling and source and bit-rate analysis to improve the picture quality with streamed sources. As with all of Samsung's TVs this year, the KS8000 doesn't support 3D, so if that's important to you then you'll need to look elsewhere.
The KS8000 uses a single point Smart Hub experience that makes it easier to find and watch your favourite content. The system uses a single access point for menus, sources, channels, apps, games etc., which takes the form of a launcher bar along the bottom. When you select something from the launcher bar, a series of choices appear on another tier above that, allowing for easy access to your favourite content. You can also customise the launcher bar, making it even easier to access the features you use regularly. The system can also automatically detect a new device when connected via HDMI and sets it up in the Smart Hub. Once you combine the Smart Hub and Auto Detection with the new Smart Controller and Smart View app, you have a very effective smart platform.
Samsung UE55KS8000 Recommended Picture Settings
Picture Settings – Out-of-the-BoxAs with all Samsung TVs, the KS8000 ships in the Standard picture mode but you can immediately get a more accurate image by selecting the Movie mode instead. The measurements below were taken with the TV in the Movie mode and after we had performed a basic set up. As always we used our profiled Klein K-10A meter, a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator and CalMAN 2016 calibration software to make all our measurements for both the out-of-the-box and calibrated settings.
The out-of-the-box greyscale performance was a little bit disappointing, with an excess of blue and a deficit of red that resulted in some noticeable errors. This was surprising because all of the Samsung TVs we have reviewed this year have delivered an impressive level of out-of-the-box accuracy but it might just be this particular unit. Certainly if you take a look at the cheaper KS7000 for example, you'll see that the out-of-the-box accuracy was better on that review sample. However the gamma performance was better, with the curve tracking around our 2.4 target.The colour accuracy would have been extremely good out-of-the-box, were it not for the errors in the greyscale. The excess of blue was affecting the colour temperature of white and skewing the colour gamut towards blue as seen in the graph above. However the the colours themselves were tracking their saturation targets very well, so as soon as the excess blue has been removed, the colour gamut should fall into line very accurately.
Picture Settings – CalibratedThe KS8000 includes both a 2- and a 10-point white balance control, which means we should be able to accurately calibrate the greyscale. There is also a full colour management system (CMS) with control over the primary and secondary colours, so we can also fine tune the colour gamut if necessary. You can find our recommended settings for Day, Night and HDR modes in the video above.
We initially started with the 2-point white balance control, bringing down blue and increasing red at 80IRE. This immediately fixed the majority of the errors in the greyscale and then all we needed to do was fine tune using the 10-point control. The gamma curve was still tracking our target of 2.4 and overall this was an excellent greyscale performance, with all the errors below two and most below one.As we suspected once we had calibrated the greyscale and removed the excess blue, the colour temperature of white was hitting its target of D65. The colours also fell into place and were precisely tracking their saturation targets. There were some minor hue errors in green and magenta, which we couldn't quite fix using the CMS, and we tweaked the saturation and hue of yellow but in reality the colour gamut was almost as accurate just using the Auto Colour Space setting. The luminance measurements, which aren't shown on the graph above were also spot-on, so overall this was also an excellent colour performance.
The out-of-the-box greyscale was disappointing, although the calibrated image was very accurate
Picture Settings – High Dynamic RangeThe KS8000 is part of Samsung's high-end series of SUHD displays and is certified by the Ultra HD Alliance as Ultra HD Premium. This means that the KS8000 must have a resolution of 3840 x 2160, support HDR, be capable of a 10-bit colour depth, produce a wider colour gamut of at least 90% of DCI-P3 and deliver a peak brightness of at least 1,000 nits on a 10% window. It must also be able to accept a Rec. 2020 signal, which is the colour space that is used to deliver Ultra HD domestically.
The KS8000 actually delivered 1,372 nits on a 10% window, so it definitely met that aspect of the Ultra HD Premium criteria and it didn't have any issues accepting a signal using 10- or 12-bit colour depth. As you can see in the graph above the greyscale tracking for HDR is very good, although the curve rolls away from the PQ EOTF quicker than on some of the competition. This is a deliberate choice on the part of Samsung and by rolling off quicker, their displays have greater headroom when tone-mapping content graded at over 1,000 nits. This is why Samsung's KS Series appears to be the only TVs this year able to correctly tone-map 4,000 nits content - which is how a number of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays were graded.
The KS8000 also needs to be able to accept a Rec. 2020 signal and it had no problems in this area either, reproducing 70% of the Rec. 2020 colour gamut. Samsung recommend using the Auto Colour Space rather than the Native setting because Auto is designed to detect the incoming signal and adjust to the wider colour gamut accordingly. We sent a Rec. 2020 signal and as you can see in the graph above, the KS8000 did a reasonably good job of tracking the Rec. 2020 saturation point, within the limitations of the TV's native colour gamut. It was only magenta where the Auto setting appeared to struggle.
Although the TV needs to be able to accept a Rec. 2020 signal, content isn't actually graded using that colour gamut, colourists use the DCI-P3 colour gamut instead. However since DCI-P3 isn't a domestic colour gamut, it's designed for the professional cinema, the content that is graded using DCI-P3 is then delivered using the domestic Rec. 2020 container, which is what the graph above demonstrates – DCI-P3 within Rec. 2020. As you can see the KS8000 tracked the saturation points quite well, aside from some issues with magenta again. We measured the Samsung at 91% of DCI-P3 using xy coordinates and 96% using uv coordinates, so the TV does meet all the requirements of Ultra HD Premium certification.
The KS8000 delivered a fantastic picture from both standard and high dynamic range sources
Picture QualityThe KS8000 uses a VA panel and, like Samsung's other SUHD TVs this year, it delivers a very impressive black level measurement of 0.015 nits with the local dimming off and 0.001 nits with it in the low setting. The TV is also bright, easily hitting our target of 120 nits and, as mentioned in the HDR section, delivering a peak brightness of over 1,300 nits. As a result the on/off contrast ratio with the local dimming off was 8,000:1 and the ANSI contrast ratio was 2,800:1, both of which are impressive for an LCD TV.
The uniformity was also impressive, with our review sample delivering an even backlight that was free of any obvious clouding or bright edges and corners. We also didn't notice any dirty screen effect and overall this was an excellent performance from the Samsung. The off-axis viewing angles weren't bad either, although the KS8000 uses a VA panel so they are never going to be ideal. However they did appear better than many other TVs that we have seen this year.
The local dimming was excellent and even in the low setting the KS8000 could deliver deep blacks and bright whites, without crushing shadow detail or clipping highlights. There was a pleasing lack of haloing, especially when sat directly in front of the TV but there was more haloing as you moved off axis, especially in the vertical plane. However for standard dynamic range content we generally found the local dimming to be impressive, despite the fact that the KS8000 uses edge lighting with LEDs along the bottom. This limitation was more obvious with high dynamic range content, where the increased brightness and the local dimming on the high setting could sometimes reveal haloing or brighter edges. This was especially true of letterboxed films, where on occasion we could see brighter edges due to a specific image on screen.
The motion handling on the KS8000 was good for an LCD panel, with none of the stuttering or frame dropping that we have seen on Samsung TVs in the past and it handled all of our motion tests very well. We measured the motion resolution round 300 with Auto Motion Plus off and the full 1080 lines with it on, which is what we'd expect. However using the Auto Motion Plus features does introduce smoothing that can rob images of their film-like quality, so we generally left it off. However for sport-based content, which is shot on video, there is certainly room to experiment and choose a setting that suits you.
When it came to watching standard definition content the KS8000 did a superb job of deinterlacing and upscaling the image. The video processing on the Samsung was excellent and, thanks to the accurate greyscale and colour space, the results were very watchable despite the obvious drop in resolution. Once we moved to Full HD things picked up a gear, with nature programmes looking wonderful and certain scenes in Stranger Things looking particularly impressive. Naturally once we moved to Blu-ray we saw another pick-up in performance with our usual test discs all looking wonderful on the KS8000.
As we have mentioned the local dimming did an excellent job of delivering great blacks and dynamic range, without introducing halos or overtly crushing shadow detail. A regular test Blu-ray such as Gravity looked marvellous and despite the frequent sight of bright objects against black backgrounds, the backlighting was rarely visible unless we plunged the room into total darkness and even then they weren't that obvious. As a result of this impressive performance, the KS8000 could deliver a great picture, regardless of whether we were watching standard or high definition content.
Finally we ran through various HDR content and once again the KS8000 delivered the goods with images that took full advantage of the increased resolution available. When watching films like The Revenant and Deadpool that actually used a 4K digital intermediate, the level of detail was impressive. The use of 10-bit video depth helped eliminate banding in the image and the wider colour gamut revealed more saturated and realistic colours. The KS8000 also took advantage of the HDR grading to deliver images that had great impact.
The high peak brightness meant the highlights could really pop, whilst the blacks remained deep but there was still plenty of detail in the shadows. The KS8000 managed to properly tone-map a favourite scene from Pan and overall it performed very well with HDR content. However, as we mentioned earlier, edge lighting isn't ideal for HDR and on occasion the Samsung struggled with certain scenes and the limitations of the technology were revealed through bright edges. That being said, the KS8000 was still capable of one of the better HDR performances that we've seen this year and when combined with its SDR performance it makes for an ideal all-round TV.
Samsung UE55KS8000 Video Review
Sound QualitySince the KS8000 uses an ultra-slim chassis, no one is expecting earth-shattering sound quality but Samsung have clearly had great success in getting the most out of the small speakers inside the TV. We used the Music sound mode as our default listening choice because we always find that gives the most balanced audio performance and we were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the KS8000. The 55-inch panel size meant that the Samsung could deliver a reasonable sense of stereo separation and dialogue remained nicely centred on the screen. The mid-range was decent, the higher frequencies managed to refrain from sounding sibilant and, thanks to 60W of built-in amplification, the TV could go loud without becoming brittle. Understandably there was little in the way of real bass presence but for everyday use the KS8000 proved surprisingly effective. Of course if you want a bigger, more immersive sound then you'll need to look for an outboard solution like a soundbar.
The sound quality was good, the energy consumption efficient and the input lag the lowest we've measured
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionWe measured the KS8000 in Game mode using our Leo Bodnar tester and the input lag came in at just 21ms. That’s the lowest measurement we have seen on a consumer TV and should keep even the most demanding gamer happy. We certainly found game play on the Samsung to be enjoyable, with great images and a responsive performance. So if gaming is a priority to you, then the KS8000 should definitely be on your short list.
We measured the energy consumption using a 50% full screen raster and in the Standard mode that the KS8000 ships in, the TV was using 112W and in our calibrated Movie mode it used 72W. We also measured the HDR mode and, whilst that obviously used more energy, it still measured at a respectable 145W. So if energy efficiency is an important factor to you, then the KS8000 would certainly suit your needs in terms of power consumption.
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) 8 What do these mean?
- Great blacks and contrast ratios
- Impressive colour accuracy
- Effective local dimming
- Excellent video processing
- Good backlight uniformity
- HDR content looks stunning
- Incredibly low input lag
- Attractive design
- State-of-the-art smart features
- Disappointing out-of-the-box greyscale
- Occasional bright edges
- No 3D support
Samsung UE55KS8000 UHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
That very much depends on your priorities but if you're looking for a high performance Ultra HD TV with a flat screen, then the Samsung KS8000 should definitely be on your short list. The TV is attractively designed and well built, with a great set of features including an effective smart platform, auto device detection and a handy remote. The One Connect box is a clever idea that has plenty of connections including four HDMI 2.0a inputs. The KS8000 is energy efficient, it sounds good and the input lag is just 21ms, making it ideal for gamers.
Of course the most important aspect of any TV is its picture quality and the KS8000 doesn't disappoint in this area either. It is certified Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance and supports both wider colour gamuts and high dynamic range. The out-of-the-box greyscale accuracy was a bit disappointing, with an excess of blue, but this was easily fixed using the white balance controls and the accuracy after calibration was excellent. The colour gamut and gamma were also impressive, regardless of whether the source was standard or high dynamic range.
The KS8000 had excellent black levels and contrast ratios for an LCD TV and despite using a VA panel the viewing angles weren't too bad. The colours were natural, the motion handling was good and the video processing was excellent. Local dimming is an area where Samsung have traditionally been strong and aside from some bright edges with HDR content, the local dimming on the KS8000 was generally impressive. There is no 3D, so if that's a priority then this isn't the TV for you, but otherwise the Samsung UE55KS8000 is an excellent all-round performer.
What are my alternatives?
If you prefer a curved screen then Samsung's UE55KS9000 would be an obvious alternative because it is essentially identical to the KS8000, although you will pay an extra £200 more for the privilege of having a bent panel. As far as edge-lit HDR TVs from other manufacturers are concerned, the Sony KD-55XD9305 is a strong contender with a gorgeous design, great build quality and a fantastic performance. It's the same price as the KS8000 but the Sony supports 3D if that remains important to you, although we still find their Android TV system annoyingly buggy.
However, as we mentioned in the review, edge-lit TVs aren't necessary ideal for HDR even though both the KS8000 and XD93 still delivered great performances. So if you have a bit more budget you could get the Panasonic TX-58DX902B which uses a full array backlight with 512 local dimming zones and only costs £1,999. That's a great price for a screen that's three inches bigger than the Samsung and you also get 3D support, along with Panasonic's Firefox OS – which we really like. Ultimately the £1,500-2,000 price bracket is especially strong this year with plenty of choices for anyone looking to buy a new TV.
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Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,599.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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