Samsung KS9000 (UE55KS9000) UHD 4K TV Review
Welcome to the cutting edge-lit
What is the Samsung KS9000?The KS9000 is Samsung’s latest top-of-the-line edge-lit Ultra HD 4K TV and forms part of their SUHD range. As such the KS9000 not only uses an Ultra HD 10-bit panel but also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider colour gamut thanks to the use of Quantum Dot technology. Since this is a Samsung TV it naturally has a curved screen, although for those that prefer a flat option there’s also the KS8000, which offers the exact same feature set apart from the Auto Depth Enhancer that Samsung only use on their curved models. The KS9000 includes a bezel-less screen and a new moth eye filter to reduce unwanted reflections which, along with Precision Black local dimming, should improve the perceived contrast. The KS9000 sports Samsung’s new 360 degree ultra slim design, as well as auto device detection, an upgraded Smart Hub platform, a universal Smart Controller and a One Connect Mini box.
That’s a lot of features but there is one thing that you won’t find on any of this year’s Samsung TVs - 3D. The world’s largest TV manufacturer has decided that there isn’t enough interest in 3D to warrant its inclusion and have dropped the feature from their entire 2016 line-up. The 55-inch UE55KS9000 retails for £2,099 as at the time of writing (March 2016), which is a competitive price when you consider all the features included. Although if you're looking for a different screen size, there's also the 49-inch UE49KS9000, the 65-inch UE65KS9000 and the 75-inch UE75KS9000 in the range. The Samsung KS9000 is certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance but, with so much changing in terms of TV technology, does it have what it takes to survive in a brave new world?
Note: The unit of the UE55KS9000 that we reviewed was a final production model and not a pre-production sample. We should also point out that the KS9500 that was demonstrated at CES was the same edge-lit model that we reviewed. Confusingly in the UK the KS9500 model number is used for the full array local dimming model that will be launched here in May.
DesignAlthough 2016’s design isn’t a vast departure from last year, it does appear slightly more stylish, with an elegant ultra-slim chassis and attractive chrome stand. This angular stand is designed to match the overall design aesthetic for this year. As such the stand compliments the clean lines of the panel itself and it sweeps back at the rear to give the impression that the screen is floating in mid-air when seen from the front.
At the back there is a magnetic panel to cover the screws that attach the panel to the stand, retaining the clean lines of the 360 degree design. The stand measures 85cm wide and 38cm deep, so it should fit on most equipment racks, and there is 10.5cm of clearance beneath the bottom of the image if you're thinking of using a soundbar. In testing we found the stand to be suitably stable but it can’t be swivelled, although there is also the option to wall mount the KS9000 using 400 x 400 VESA mounts.
Thanks to its 360 degree design the KS9000 is an attractive TV from whichever direction you look.
The KS9000 incorporates Samsung’s 360 degree design aesthetic, which means that the TV is intended to appear attractive from whichever direction you look at it, even the back. We don’t generally look at the backs of TVs ourselves but the KS9000 is an attractive model, so if you should end up looking at the back you'll see a ridged design that is quite effective. The overall build quality is also very good.The KS9000’s curved screen uses a bezel-less design, although there is still a 0.5cm black border around the outer edge of the image and a 1cm wide strip along the bottom of the panel. There’s a silver trim around the outer edge and the entire panel is only 1cm deep at the top and 2cm deep at the bottom, which is where the speakers and electronics are housed. The overall dimensions of the KS9000 are 1226 x 800 x 376mm (WxHxD) with the stand attached and it weighs in at 20kg.
Connections & ControlAlthough the KS9000 uses Samsung’s One Connect Mini box, there are still a few connections on the panel itself. On the left hand side, as you face the screen, is a two-pin socket for the power cable, which uses a right angled connector to ensure the screen is flush when wall mounting. Over on the right there are some basic connections which can be hidden using a removable panel that helps to retain the overall aesthetic of the 360 degree design.
These connections are the only ones actually on the panel itself and include a USB 2.0 port, a CI (Common Interface) slot and an Ethernet port for a wired connection. Although the KS9000 naturally includes built-in wireless support. These connections are housed in a recessed area at the rear, face sideways and are 21.5cm from the edge. Thanks to the use of the One Connect box you can limit the number of cables going to the TV itself to just two - the power cable and the proprietary connector for the box itself.
On the Mini box you’ll find four HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2. We can confirm this is the case, having checked the HDMI inputs with our Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator. There are also two more USB 2.0 ports, twin satellite and terrestrial tuners and an optical digital output. The box itself measures 20 x 7 x 2 cm and we think it’s a clever idea, allowing for tidier cable management, especially if you plan on wall mounting the KS9000.In terms of control, Samsung have replaced last year’s motion controller with a new universal remote control, which Samsung call the Smart Controller. We have to say we really like the new controller, it’s 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 we can't say we're sorry to see Samsung drop motion control. The layout of the buttons is centred on the navigation and OK button, with the numbers, colours, return and play/pause buttons located around them and the Home button directly beneath. There are also buttons for volume and channel, whilst some of the buttons bring up additional choices on the screen when pressed.
The remote is also a universal remote which works in connection with the KS9000's auto device detection feature. When the Samsung 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. This is a very useful feature, allowing you to control multiple devices from the Smart Controller and eliminating that pile of remotes on your coffee table. In fact the combination of auto device detection and the universal Smart Controller are two of the best new features on this year's Samsung TVs. Our only real complaints about the remote would be that the power button isn't that obvious in the dark, although there are little bumps that indicate where all the buttons are, and since the TV often refers to the OK button, it would make sense to actually write OK on the button to make that clear to users.
The KS9000 includes an excellent set of connections and the new Smart Controller is well-designed and effective.
If you're one of those people who thinks using a remote control is simply passé these days, then naturally there is also Samsung's Smart View remote app. This is available for both iOS and Android devices and is a simple but effective remote control app. The layout of the main control page is designed to replicate the button layout found on the provided Smart Controller and the app also allows access to content on your mobile device. Finally if the Smart Controller or the remote app aren't to your liking, the KS9000 also comes with Samsung's standard black plastic controller, with all the buttons you'll need to simply control the TV.
Features & SpecsLast year's Samsung TVs already included many of the features that are becoming more common this year but the manufacturer has fine-tuned them in order to deliver an improved performance in 2016. The KS9000 uses a curved screen with a 10-bit panel but they are now using Quantum Dot technology to deliver purer colours and brighter images. Samsung's Quantum Dot technology uses a new protective shell to prevent impurities and defects and maximise the colour performance. As a result the KS9000 can deliver 96% of DCI-P3, along with a brighter image, improved viewing angles and better energy efficiency. The panel also includes Samsung's Ultra Black filter that uses technology based upon a moth's eye to reduce reflections.
The KS9000 includes Precision Black local dimming and supports HDR 10, with over 1,000 nits of peak brightness, making it the first edge-lit TV to achieve this. The Samsung also includes improved upscaling and source and bit-rate analysis to improve the picture quality with streamed sources. As mentioned in the introduction, Samsung have dropped 3D from their entire line-up this year because they feel that it's a feature in which consumers are no longer interested. If you're one of those people then fine, if not then you'll probably be looking elsewhere for your next TV.
The smart TV platform has also had a makeover this year and has been designed around a single point Smart Hub experience that should make it easier to find and watch your favourite content. The system now 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. Another new feature this year is Auto Detection which automatically detects 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. This effectiveness is improved by increased processing power that results in a very responsive platform that boots up extremely quickly. One thing that is missing this year is the 'Evolution Kit' upgrade path, so you'll no longer be able to upgrade the 2016 Samsung TVs in the way that you could with previous generations. This is a shame but probably reflects the fact that most consumers weren't actually bothering to upgrade their TVs when that was an option. We'll cover the new Smart Hub platform in more detail in a dedicated review.
Samsung UE55KS9000 Recommended Settings
Picture Settings - Out-of-the-BoxAlthough the standards used for TV distribution and delivery are changing and Ultra HD sources with HDR are becoming more readily available, the reality is that the majority of the content that we watch for the next few years will still use the old standards. That means that your new TV must be able to reproduce D65 and Rec.709 accurately, making performance in this area just as important as it’s always been. It also means that you should resist the temptation to simply boost the brightness and widen the colour space in a misguided attempt to replicate the 4K/HDR experience with Full HD content.
Although an HDR image is capable of 1,000 nits in terms of peak brightness, the majority of the image brightness will actually sit in the 100 to 200 nits range, with the very little of the picture actually hitting those peaks. If you simply increase the backlight and contrast with standard dynamic range content, all you will do is create an overly bright image and possibly lose detail in the brightest parts of the image. The same goes for the colour space and using one that is wider than Rec.709 for content mastered in that standard will result in images that are oversaturated and no longer representative of what the content creators intended.
Ultimately what you want is an image that is suitably dynamic and accurate but within the limitations of the standards used for the content's creation. That's why there are standards, to ensure consistency from the mastering suite to the final display and at every other point in the video chain. Anyone who recommends widening the colour gamut to make pictures more colourful or increasing the backlight to make images excessively bright will fundamentally change the image in a detrimental manner. By increasing the brightness and widening the colour you actually change the intended look of the images; so for example when watching football the team colours are no longer Manchester United red or Chelsea blue but instead you find that Man United are now playing in pink and Chelsea's strip looks more like Man City light blue. You should also never assess or setup a TV image based upon what you think skin tones should look like; this is a flawed approach and will result in images where skin tones may appear correct but the rest of the image can be completely off hue. The settings that we recommend in the video above will give you an accurate and watchable picture for standard dynamic range content, as well as the best settings for HDR content.So how does the KS9000 perform out-of-the-box in our standard dynamic range tests? Overall it actually does very well, even after the most basic of setups that involved simply selecting the Movie picture mode and Auto colour space setting, as well as setting the backlight to suit the viewing environment. As you can see from the graph above, the KS9000 delivered a fairly accurate greyscale, although there was a slight excess of red and deficit of green in the brighter part of the image. This resulted in errors (DeltaE) that were at or slightly above the visible threshold of three, with a slight magenta tinge to white. The gamma curve was a little disappointing, tracking from just over 2.5 at 10IRE and down to 2.3 at 90IRE rather than matching our target of 2.4. However in general this was a decent out-of-the-box performance that resulted in very watchable images.The colour gamut in the Auto setting was also very accurate and in fact was even better than the greyscale performance. The luminance measurements were very accurate and the colours were all at or fairly close to their saturation targets. The only slight errors of note were at 50 and 75% for red, green and yellow, where there was some undersaturation, especially at 75% red. However as with the greyscale this is a very decent out-of-the-box performance and resulted in images that generally appeared accurate and natural looking.
It's still important that a TV can deliver accurate pictures with Rec.709 and in this, the KS9000 excelled.
Picture Settings - CalibratedWhilst we understand that most people probably won't get their new TV professionally calibrated, it is still important to measure just how accurate a TV can be when compared to the industry standards. As it happens the KS9000 is capable of delivering an accurate and very watchable image without resorting to a professional calibration but thanks to some excellent picture controls the Samsung can be even more accurate.The KS9000 includes both two- and ten-point white balance controls, allowing us to calibrate the greyscale with much greater accuracy. In fact it was relatively easy to get all three primary colours tracking each other precisely and we rarely even needed to use the ten-point control. As a result errors were now well below the visible threshold of three and in fact were all below one. We were also able to iron out the gamma to track our target of 2.4, resulting in a reference overall performance with the greyscale and gamma.The colour management system (CMS) on the KS9000 also allowed us to improve the accuracy of the colour gamut and we were able to get all the primary and secondary colours hitting their targets at 100% saturation. As a result the luminance, saturation and hue errors were all under one, which is well below the visible threshold, and the tracking at lower saturation points was also improved. In fact aside from some minor under-saturation of green, red and yellow at 75%, the overall colour performance was again at a reference level for Rec.709.
Picture Settings - High Dynamic RangeThe adoption of HDR is one of the biggest changes to happen to TV since the move to Full HD and from the point of view of the underlying standards it represents the biggest change since the days of CRT. The new standards and recommendations allow for a higher resolution and an increased bit depth but they also cover the adoption of a wider colour space (Rec.2020) and a new EOTF (Electro Optical Transfer Function) which describes how to turn digital information into light. This new EOTF is standardised as SMPTE ST2084 and it uses perceptual quantisation (PQ) to replicate the human visual response, creating images that are defined by how we actually see rather than the limitations of decades-old technology. These are huge changes and to ignore these new standards or simply watch a couple of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs with HDR and then comment on the picture quality, is just not an acceptable approach in 2016.
It is important that a methodology is established that can objectively quantify what a display is doing based upon the agreed standards and recommendations. Although there are various recommendations relating to SMPTE 2084, the majority of manufacturers are using HDR 10 to reproduce the EOTF and since HDR 10 is an open standard, they are free to use whatever approach they feel is best. The manufacturers and the UHD Alliance are also quoting the native colour space of TVs against the DCI-P3 colour space rather than Rec.2020 because it's a bigger number. However, although films released at the cinema do use DCI-P3 and that same colour space is used when mastering content for Ultra HD Blu-ray, it is delivered within a Rec.2020 container. That means that the DCI-P3 colour space is mapped to the saturation tracking targets of Rec.2020 and so for a display to accurately replicate the colours it needs to track Rec.2020. A caveat to that last statement is that the maximum colorspace will be limited to whatever the display is capable of but in simple terms the display will map the DCI-P3 content to match what the display is capable of showing within the Rec.2020 container. This will be a vitally important aspect when measuring the performance of all Ultra HD TVs going forward.
For our reviews we use a Klein K-10A that includes colour profiles designed to match the Quantum Dot technology used in most higher-end TVs this year and we also use a Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator that can not only produce 4K test patterns and the Rec.2020 colour space but can also create the necessary HDR metadata, so that a TV will detect the signal and switch into that mode. This allows us to objectively test the HDR performance of a display using graphs we have specially created in our CalMAN Ultimate calibration software. The result is hopefully a better idea of what a display is doing when it receives an HDR signal and how well it adheres to the recommendations and standards. It also allowed us to establish what the best settings were for watching HDR content and we found that using the Movie mode, a Backlight setting of 20, a Contrast setting of 100, the Native Colour Space, a Gamma setting of 1 and a Smart LED setting of High gave the best results.
Note: At this stage we are not showing calibrated charts for the HDR mode. The reason for this is that rather than showing calibrated results that are not representative for the majority of users, we feel that currently it is more important to show what the display is capable of out-of-the-box and how closely it adheres to the standards. In that regard, what we can say in this review is how the TV will perform for every user and not just those who have calibrated their TV.
The graph above shows the response of the KS9000 when receiving test patterns with static HDR metadata that identifies the content as being mastered at 10,000 nits. This static metadata identifies the minimum and maximum brightness as well as the average brightness at which the pattern was encoded. Although the majority of Ultra HD Blu-rays are currently mastered at 1,000 nits (Warner Bros. titles are apparently mastered at 4,000) by using a 10,000 nits signal we can check that the tone mapping on the TV is correctly mapping the 10,000 nits to the panel's 1,000 nits performance without clipping the highlights. The KS9000 was able to do this, which means that the tone mapping appears to be working correctly.
As you can see from the EOTF graph the KS9000 tracks in line but is brighter than it should be for much of the scale and it also goes higher than its target luminance at 90IRE. Its the difference between the measured response and the EOTF that generates the DeltaE errors, although how that compares to the competition remains to be seen as this is the first TV we have tested in this manner. We measured peak brightness at 1,450 nits on a 10% window, which is what the UHD Alliance use for their certification, but you need to use the High local dimming mode because in Low and Off we only measured 760 nits.
The peak brightness will only apply for short periods of time and in small areas, which is why a 10% window is used for testing. However the use of edge lighting and local dimming does limit just how bright a small area of the screen can go and this was borne out when we reduced the window size to 2% and the peak brightness dropped to 760 nits. The best way of ensuring that peak brightness can be delivered to very small areas of the screen is to use a full array backlight with a lot of LED zones or a self-emitting technology like OLED.The graph above shows how the KS9000 tracks against Rec.2020 and it is the one disappointing area in the TV's performance. Clearly Rec.2020 is a much wider colour space than the KS9000 is capable of, which is to be expected because DCI-P3 is also smaller than Rec.2020. That's why the manufacturers quote the DCI-P3 percentage because 96% of DCI-P3 sounds better than 72% of Rec.2020. However what the display should be doing is tracking the saturation points of Rec.2020 within the limitations of what the TV's colour space is capable of. This would mean that the TV is then reproducing the colours on the Ultra HD Blu-ray in the same way as they were encoded when the disc was originally mastered.
It appears from our testing that the KS9000 is tracking the saturation points for DCI-P3 rather than Rec.2020 and nothing we tried, including using the Auto and Native colour spaces and turning on HDMI UHD Colour, made any difference. The best example of this is the tracking of green, which sits closer to the DCI-P3 targets, although the red tracking shows just how much energy is needed to reach these higher brightness levels, with 75% actually measuring at 50% and thus losing 25% of its saturation. It is issues like this that we will be testing and measuring going forward, because we feel that this is more informative for potential buyers than calibrated graphs.
Note: Since we reviewed the UE55KS9000, 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 KS9000, 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 KS9000.
The KS9000 can hit the peak brightness required for 1,000 nits HDR, resulting in impressive images.
Black Levels and Contrast Ratios
Overall the Samsung KS9000 delivered an extremely impressive picture but lets break it down into the important elements, starting with the black levels, contrast ratios and dynamic range. The KS9000 uses a VA panel and, using our normal brightness target of 120cd/m2, it delivered a native black level measurement of 0.034 cd/m2, which is excellent for an LCD TV and an improvement on last year. Naturally if you turn on the Smart LED local dimming to its low setting that immediately falls to 0.001cd/m2 but even without the benefit of local dimming the KS9000 delivered an on/off contrast ratio of 3,529:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 2,688:1.
Unlike previous Samsung edge-lit TVs, the LEDs are along the bottom rather than at the sides. Samsung say that this was necessary to deliver the increased brightness needed for HDR at 1,000 nits but it might also be to accommodate the incredibly thin chassis. Whatever the reason, Samsung have certainly done an excellent job of distributing that light behind the panel. The KS9000 had a very uniform backlight and largely managed to avoid the bright edges or corners and light pooling that often plagues edge-lit LED TVs.
In general, despite the location of the LEDs, we were rarely if ever aware of the columns of light from which similar TVs from LG and Sony have suffered. We also didn't notice any banding on horizontal pans across football pitches or any dirty screen effect either. We should point out that tested a brand new sealed unit, so there was no question of Samsung cherry-picking the review sample for the best backlight performance. Although backlight uniformity of edge-lit TVs is often something of a lottery, we do feel that our review sample should be representative of what you can expect when you buy one from a store.
Just how noticeable the location of the LEDs will be, largely depends on the viewing environment, the content you're watching and how bright you have the backlight set. Obviously the brighter the backlight, the more likely you are to see bright edges due to the physical location of the LEDs but with Full HD content, using a calibrated night time setting and some bias lighting in the room, we rarely experienced any such issues. If you're going to see the LEDs at all, it is most likely with dark scenes with letterboxed films and especially when watching HDR content, where the backlight and contrast are at their maximum settings but even in a completely darkened room it was rarely an issue.
Local Dimming and Viewing Angles
One of the main reasons the KS9000 managed to keep any backlight issues to a minimum is thanks to its highly effective local dimming system. This has been an area where Samsung have excelled over the last few years and the local dimming on the KS9000 was just as impressive. We used the Low setting for the majority of our viewing and overall the local dimming enhanced our viewing experience, ensuring that blacks appeared suitably dark and that the backlight was nice and even. There were almost no halos obvious in the Low setting, no doubt thanks to the excellent native black levels, and aside from some minor crush in dark shadows, which has never been a strong point for LCD panels, the image delivered a suitably dynamic experience.
Thanks to improvements in Samsung's Quantum Dot technology, the viewing angles of the KS9000 were certainly better than previous generations. Last year's models had a decidedly narrow viewing angle, which was fine if you watched TV sat central to the screen. However as soon as you started to move off-axis the colour accuracy and contrast performance word begin to deteriorate. This year the optimal viewing angles are wider, although given that the KS9000 uses a VA panel, it will always struggle to retain image accuracy once you move outside a 90 degree arc. In fact it was mainly when viewing off-axis that issues such as halos and bright edges became more visible, although they were rarely apparent when viewing from the centre.
We already mentioned the greyscale and colour accuracy when it comes to Rec.709 in detail but another area where the KS9000 impressed was its motion handling, which was good for an LCD panel. There was none of the stuttering or frame dropping that we have seen on Samsung TVs in the past and the KS9000 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. Although for sport-based content, which is shot on video, there is certainly room to experiment and choose a setting that suits you. Samsung also include a custom setting, where you can experiment further with blur and judder reduction. Its is here that you'll find the LED Clear Motion feature that uses black frame insertion and although it reduces the brightness and can cause flicker with some people, it can give images a better sense of motion.
Standard and High Definition
When it came to watching standard definition content the KS9000 did an excellent job of deinterlacing and upscaling the image. No doubt thanks to the accurate greyscale and colour space, the results were quite watchable despite the obvious drop in resolution. We watched both Gotham and Agents of Shield in standard definition and we found that the KS9000 was capable of delivering a very watchable picture. Once we moved to Full HD things picked up a gear and shows such as Indian Summers and Daredevil looked fantastic on the Samsung, with the accuracy, local dimming and video processing all combining to deliver lovely images.
Naturally once we moved to Blu-ray we saw another pick-up in performance with our usual test discs all looking wonderful on the KS9000. 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. Gravity looked marvellous and despite the frequent sight of bright objects against black backgrounds, the LEDs were hardly ever visible unless we plunged the room into total darkness and even then they weren't that obvious. Thanks to a winning combination of factors, whether you're watching standard or high definition content, the KS9000 was capable of delivering a great looking picture.
High Dynamic Range
Which brings us on to this year's hot topic - High Dynamic Range. We have already discussed our approach to testing HDR at length but test patterns and graphs can only tell you so much and ultimately you need to actually watch some content to fully appreciate the experience. Until now we have found this difficult due to the limited amount of content available but with Amazon already offering series in HDR, Netflix to follow suit and Ultra HD Blu-ray about to launch, all that has changed. Thankfully Samsung provided us with one of their UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray players to evaluate the latest TVs and we picked up a selection of discs from Amazon in the US.
We have seen a number of HDR demos before but actually being able to sit down and watch an entire film was a revelation. Since we had objectively tested the KS9000 for HDR we knew we were getting the best from the TV and it didn't disappoint. Films such as Mad Max: Fury Road just burst into life with the image revealing a fantastic dynamic range from the darkest scenes to the brightest. There was greater detail in the darker parts of the image, which was especially apparent during the early scenes where Max is running around in a series of caves and tunnels. It was also this scene that revealed the limitations of using edge-lit technology, and we did see some bright edges here as a result. However the way that sunlight streamed down in the scene and interacted with the darkness of the tunnels was impressive and the KS9000 managed to retain detail at both ends of the dynamic range.
Once we moved to one of the chase scenes, the KS9000 really began to strut its stuff, with vibrant images of scorched desert landscapes and plenty of detail retained in the sky. The flames, explosions and lightning all had a reality to them that was missing from the normal Blu-ray and the HDR experience was certainly preferable. We also watched the film Wild, a simple tale of a woman walking up the west coast of America in an effort to rediscover herself. This film is free of effects and action, instead relying on natural lighting and beautiful scenery, all of which the HDR helped to make more realistic. The wide open vistas looked wonderful, whilst the sun appeared more like it would in real life and the way it reflected off water and snow gave the scenes far greater impact than they did on normal Blu-ray.
Whilst both Mad Max: Fury Road and Wild used a 2K source, the Ultra HD Blu-ray of Chappie is a full 4K transfer and we could see that there was more detail when comparing with the normal Blu-ray. However the difference wasn't huge and it was the HDR that really made the Ultra HD discs pop when compared to their Full HD counterparts. The use of 10-bit video depth also helped, with lovely gradations in colour and no banding appearing in uniform areas of colour or dissolves. In general the colours appeared more realistic and certainly more vibrant on the HDR discs, which makes sense as they use a wider colour space.
However it was when comparing the Ultra HD Blu-ray of The Martian with the regular Blu-ray that the KS9000's inability to track Rec.2020 correctly became apparent. We definitely felt that the surface of the red planet lost some of its vibrancy on the UHD BD, often appearing more pink than red, which would make sense if the image is losing 25% of its red when mapping to Rec.2020. When comparing other UHD discs against the Blu-ray version the differences in colours were more subtle but with The Martian it was quite pronounced. We've never been to Mars, so it's hard to say which was representative of the filmmaker's intentions but we found ourselves preferring the look of the Blu-ray. Having said that, the colours in Wild appeared very natural and realistic and since we do know what fields and trees are supposed to look like, perhaps that was more representative of the KS9000's colour performance in Ultra HD.
Ultimately we found the Ultra HD HDR performance of the KS9000 to be stunning and we're certainly looking forward to watching as many of our Ultra HD Blu-rays as possible before returning the review sample.
Samsung UE55KS9000 Video Review
Sound QualityWhen you consider that the speakers for the KS9000 are housed in a chassis that is only 2cm deep, it is amazing that the TV sounds as good as it does. We were expecting the worst but Samsung have clearly been conducting a lot of research and development into how to get a better audio performance from small speakers. We used the Music sound mode as our default listening choice because we always find that gives the best audio performance and we were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality.
The 55-inch panel size meant that the KS9000 could deliver a decent 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 Samsung could go loud without becoming brittle. However there was very little sense of bass presence, so anyone who wants a suitably big sound to go with the images produced by their new TV should seek an outboard solution. However, for everyday TV watching the KS9000 proved surprisingly effective.
Overall the KS9000 delivered great images for an edge-lit LED TV, regardless of whether the source was Full HD, 4K or HDR.
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionIf you’re a serious gamer then this year’s Samsung models could be of particular interest to you. We were impressed when the manufacturer got the input lag on their 2015 Ultra HD models below 30ms but this year they’ve managed to improve it even further. We measured the KS9000 in Game mode using our Leo Bodnar tester and the input lag came in at just 21ms. That’s seriously low and should keep even the most demanding gamer happy. We were also pleased to note that as part of Samsung’s menu redesign this year, they have moved the Game mode into the Picture settings, rather than buried in the General sub-menu. So if gaming is a priority to you, the well-specified and highly responsive KS9000 could be the model for you.
Samsung's decision to further develop their Quantum Dot technology has paid dividends in areas other than just wider colour gamuts, brighter images and better optimal viewing angles. It has, according to Samsung, also resulted in an improvement in energy efficiency and this was borne out by our measurements. We found that using a 50% raster we measured the energy consumption of the Standard mode that the TV ships in at 98W and the calibrated Movie mode at 60W. We also measured the HDR mode and, whilst that obviously used more energy, it still measured at a respectable 140W. So for those of you who place importance on the energy efficiency of their TV the KS9000 will certainly fit the bill.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 96% 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?
- Excellent greyscale and colour accuracy
- Great black levels and contrast ratios
- Impressive local dimming
- Effective video processing
- Good backlight uniformity
- HDR content looks stunning
- Incredibly low input lag
- Attractive design
- State-of-the-art smart features
- No 3D support
- Occasional bright edges
Samsung KS9000 (UE55KS9000) UHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
The Samsung UE55KS9000 is an attractively designed and well made TV that offers a host of cutting-edge features at a decent price. The 360 degree design works well, resulting in a TV that combines a minimalist approach with a degree of visual flair. The chrome stand not only gives the impression that the TV is floating in mid-air but also provides stable support without using a huge footprint. The One Connect box remains a great idea, meaning that there are only two cables going to the TV itself, very handy if you plan on wall mounting the KS9000. There are also plenty of connections including four HDMI 2.0a inputs and three USB 2.0 ports, along with twin tuners and built-in WiFi.
The Smart Hub has had a makeover and is now even more intuitive to use, making finding your favourite content easy. The addition of auto device detection is handy, as is the universal Smart Controller, and the Smart View remote app is also very effective. The sound quality is surprisingly good, considering the dimensions of the chassis, and the energy consumption has also been improved from last year. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the input lag, which we measured at 21ms, making the KS9000 an ideal TV for serious gamers.
The picture quality was generally excellent, with an impressive level of greyscale and colour accuracy with standard dynamic range content. The upscaling and video processing was superb and the TV produced lovely, natural-looking images with both standard and high definition content. The better the source the better the pictures and with Blu-rays the KS9000 could produce detailed and accurate images that boasted excellent blacks thanks to a decent native performance and highly effective local dimming system. The motion handling was good for an LCD TV and, despite the use of a VA panel, the viewing angles were also an improvement on last year. The moth eye filter on the front of the panel also proved useful, reducing the instances of reflections when there was ambient light in the room.
Despite the use of edge LEDs, the backlight was very uniform and the Samsung managed to generally avoid the pitfalls of the technology, although you did occasionally notice brighter edges with dark scenes on letterboxed films. This was especially true for HDR content where the backlight is at its maximum setting but this was a small price to pay for such an incredible level of image quality. When watching films in HDR the KS9000 showed its full potential with detailed and dynamic images that really enhanced our viewing experience. Once you add in the accurate colours, we really couldn't fault the KS9000.
Obviously it doesn't support 3D, so if that is important to you then the KS9000 won't even be on your radar but if you're not interested in 3D and you're looking for a great all-round TV that does everything well then the Samsung UE55KS9000 should definitely be on your short list.
What are my alternatives?
At the moment this is an interesting question because we have yet to see any of the high-end edge-lit models from Samsung's main competitors. The obvious contenders will be Panasonic's DX802 and Sony's XD93, both of which support HDR and, in the case of Sony, sports an ultra thin chassis. The Panasonic and Sony models also support 3D, so if that's still important to you it makes your decision easier. The DX802 and XD93 use flat panels but, as we mentioned in the introduction, the Samsung KS8000 also uses a flat panel whilst retaining all the features of the KS9000, so that's another option. The Samsung UE55KS9000 is the first edge-lit Ultra HD LED LCD TV to be put under the microscope when it comes to HDR performance, so it will be fascinating to see how the other manufacturers perform in comparison. In the meantime the Samsung UE55KS9000 has established itself as an effective benchmark against which other edge-lit LED LCD TVs can be judged.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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