Putting the plus into HDR
What is the Samsung KS9500?The Samsung KS9500 is the manufacturer's flagship Ultra HD 4K TV for 2016 and sits at the top of their SUHD range. It uses the same 360 degree design as the edge-lit KS9000 and includes all the features found on the other KS models, whilst adding a few more of its own. The KS9500 promises the best picture quality from a Samsung TV this year thanks to its use of a full array direct LED backlight with Precision Black Pro local dimming. It's also the first Samsung TV to feature their new HDR+ feature which is designed to give consumers an HDR-like experience with SDR content. It sports a curved bezel-less screen, a 10-bit VA panel and a colour gamut that is 96% of DCI-P3 thanks to Samsung's latest Quantum Dot technology.
The KS9500 also supports High Dynamic Range, more specifically HDR 10, and it has a peak brightness of over 1,000 nits. As with all the models in Samsung's SUHD range this year, it is certified as Ultra HD Premium by the UHD Alliance. It boasts Samsung's latest Smart TV platform, along with their new Smart Controller and an auto source detection feature. There's built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, along with a One Connect box that includes four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 inputs. The KS95000 comes in screen sizes of 65-, 78- and 88-inches and the UE65KS9500 that we are reviewing retails for £3,799 as at the time of writing (June 2016). So can the Samsung KS9500 use its full array backlight effectively and put the plus into HDR? Let's find out...
DesignThe KS9500 uses the identical 360 degree design ethos that we saw on the KS9000, with the only real difference being that the former has a chassis that is 6cm deep due to its full array backlight. Aside from that the two are identical with a curved bezel-less panel, a 0.5cm black border around the screen and 10.5cm of clearance beneath it when using the stand. There is a silver trim around the outer edge and 1cm strip along the bottom with the Samsung logo in the middle. Unlike the KS9000 which has an illuminated logo, the newer TV actually has a light beneath it instead, although this can also be turned off.
The angular chrome stand is much larger and sturdier than the version used on the KS9000 but then it needs to be as it supports a much heavier TV. The stand can't be swivelled and measures 106cm across, so you'll a surface at least that wide on which to place the KS9500 or alternatively you can wall mount using a standard 400 x 400 VESA bracket. The larger and deeper KS9500 also has a slightly different approach to cable management at the rear but still retains the 360 degree design aesthetic. As a result the overall look remains slim and attractive, with a ridged rear panel and an excellent level of build quality.
The KS9500 has the same angled stand and 360 degree design as the KS9000 but is obviously deeper
Connections & ControlThe majority of the KS9500's connections are to be found on the included One Connect mini box but there are a few on the panel itself, which are located at the rear right as you face the screen. These can be found in a recess that is 33cm from the edge of the panel, so you shouldn't see any cables and there is a removable cover to keep things tidy. In this recess there's a USB 2.0 port, a Common Interface (CI) slot and an Ethernet port for a wired connection; although the KS9500 also includes built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. There is also a connector for the One Connect box itself and over on the left hand side as you face the screen there is a two-pin connector for the provided power cable, which is right angled to make wall mounting easier.
All the remaining connections can be found on the One Connect mini box and these include four HDMI 2.0a inputs with HDCP 2.2 – we checked all the HDMI inputs with our Murideo Fresco Six-G pattern generator to confirm that this was the case. There are also two more USB 2.0 ports, twin satellite and terrestrial tuners and an optical digital output. The box itself measures 21.5 x 7 x 2 cm and comes with a dedicated One Connect cable that measures 3m in length. This is used to connect the box to the TV, minimising the number cables that you actually need to run to the KS9500.
As with all of Samsung's SUHD TVs this year, the KS9500 includes their new Smart Controller. This small universal remote is nicely designed, well made, comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. It includes all the buttons you'll need for day-to-day operation of the TV and there's even a built-in microphone for voice control. There are centrally positioned navigation and OK buttons around which you'll find multi-purpose controls for numbers, colours, return and play/pause. There's a power button in the top left hand corner and a Home button, along with volume and channel controls, further down.
The Smart Controller also serves as a universal remote and works in connection with the Samsung's new auto device detection feature. When the KS9500 detects a new device being connected to the One Connect box via HDMI, it automatically identifies that device and sets it up in the Smart Hub. It also loads the remote control codes, thus allowing you to use the Smart Controller to control that connected device, as well as the TV itself. This is actually a very useful feature, providing you with basic control of a number of different devices and relegating the usual pile of remotes to a drawer somewhere.
The KS9500 also comes with Samsung's standard black plastic remote control included, which has all the buttons you'll need but obviously isn't as stylish as the Smart Controller, nor does it offer universal or voice control. If you'd rather use your smart device as a controller there's 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.
The KS9500 is as feature-packed a TV as you're likely to find and the first Samsung model to include HDR+.
Features & SpecsThe KS9500 is as feature-packed a TV as you are likely to find this year and it includes all the key advances in technology that have been developed over the last few years. So the KS9500 uses a curved screen with a 10-bit panel and 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 KS9500 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, as well as the Auto Depth Enhance that is used on all their curved models. In fact our only complaint is that Samsung don't offer a flat model with a full array backlight for those who aren't interested in curved screens.
The KS9500 includes Precision Black Pro, which is the best version of Samsung's local dimming technology, and supports HDR 10, with well over 1,000 nits of peak brightness. The KS9500 is the first Samsung model to include the new HDR+ feature that is designed to give a faux-HDR experience from standard dynamic range content. We will discuss this feature in more detail in the Picture Quality section but Samsung will be rolling HDR+ out to all their KS models via a firmware update in the next few weeks. The Samsung also includes improved algorithms and processing to deliver upscaling and source and bit-rate analysis that results in a superior picture quality with streamed sources. As has already been well reported, Samsung have dropped 3D from their entire line-up this year but that probably won't be a major issue for most consumers.
As mentioned previously, the KS9500 includes four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP2.2 inputs, as well as built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. This year Samsung have redesigned their Smart TV platform, simplifying it around a single point Smart Hub experience that is intended to make it easier to find and watch your favourite content. The new system uses a single access point, or more specifically a launcher bar along the bottom, that provides access to menus, sources, channels, apps, games etc. All you need to do is select something from the launcher bar and a series of choices appear on another tier above that, making it easy to access all your favourite content. There's also the option of customising the launcher bar, making it even easier to access the features you use regularly.
This year Samsung have also added a new Auto Detection feature which automatically detects a new device when connected via HDMI, sets it up in the Smart Hub and loads in the appropriate remote codes. The combination of the Smart Hub and Auto Detection feature, along with the new Smart Controller and Smart View app, results in a very effective smart platform. This effectiveness is improved by increased processing power that also delivers a robust and responsive platform that is both fast and stable. Sadly Samsung have dropped their '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. However we'll cover the new Smart Hub platform in more detail in a dedicated review.
Samsung UE65KS9500 Recommended Settings
Picture Settings - Out-of-the-BoxAs we do with any Samsung TV that we're reviewing, we selected the Movie mode to ensure the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements compared to the industry standards. Samsung have simplified their menu system this year, removing quite a few unnecessary picture features and putting all the controls in a single sub-menu called Expert Settings. As a result once you've selected Movie mode, you'll find that the majority of controls are set correctly and all you really need to do is set the backlight, contrast and brightness to suit your viewing environment.
We'd also recommend setting Sharpness to zero and using the Low setting for Smart LED, which is what Samsung call their local dimming system. As far as Auto Motion Plus is concerned, we would definitely recommend turning it off for film based content but there is room for experimentation where fast-paced sports content is concerned. There is another sub-menu called Special Viewing Mode and it's here that you can select Game Mode to reduce the input lag significantly. There is also a setting called Sports Mode, which you should avoid at all costs and the HDR+ Mode that we'll discuss later.As you can see in the graph above, the out-of-the-box greyscale is actually reasonably good with a slight excess of red energy and not enough green. As a result white is skewed slightly towards magenta but the overall errors are all at or below the visible threshold of three. We found that leaving the gamma setting at zero gave us the best result, with the KS9500 tracking our target of 2.4 and fluctuating slightly between 2.3 and 2.5, although the overall performance was perfectly fine with test patterns and actual content.The colour gamut performance using the Auto Colour Space was also very good out-of-the-box, with the majority of the colours tracking their targets at 25, 50, 75 and 100% very well for the industry standard of Rec.709. Blue was over-saturated at all its saturation points and magenta was somewhat skewed, probably due to the minor errors in the greyscale, as evidenced by the position of white. However overall the KS9500 could deliver an excellent greyscale and colour performance right out-of-the-box, without ever needing to resort to calibration.
Picture Settings - CalibratedOf course we will also calibrate our review sample and if you're buying a quality TV like the KS9500, we'd certainly recommend hiring a professional to get the best from your new TV. As with all Samsung TVs, the KS9500 includes a two- and a ten-point white balance control and a Colour Management System (CMS). As usual we used our profiled Klein K-10A, Murideo Fresco Six-G and CalMAN 5 software to measure and calibrate the KS9500.As you can see in the graph above it was a fairly easy task to get the greyscale perfect with all three primary colour tracking each other exactly. The gamma was still tracking our target of 2.4 but again it fluctuated between 2.3 and 2.5 and ideally we would like to have seen a slightly flatter gamma curve, but as we mentioned in the previous section the gamma delivered a great looking picture when it came to test patterns and actual content..After calibrating the greyscale white fell nicely into its target of D65, which is the industry standard for the colour temperature of white and this meant that the tracking of both cyan and magenta immediately improved. We were able to fine tune some of the overall performance, although blue remained slightly over-saturated and we couldn't correct the hue error in magenta at 100% without adversely affecting the lower saturation points which actually make up most of the image. However the majority of colours were hitting their targets for all the saturation points within Rec.709 and overall the KS9500 delivered a fantastic level of greyscale and colour accuracy.
The KS9500 delivered an accurate image and the best PQ EOTF tracking that we've measured for HDR content
Picture Settings - High Dynamic RangeWhilst the current industry standards of 8-bit colour depth, 100nits of peak brightness, D65 and Rec.709 remain important, the industry is changing and new standards are being introduced. This is in part due to the move from Full HD to Ultra HD but also thanks to the advent of High Dynamic Range (HDR). The latest content is now being mastered using 10-bit colour depth, a peak brightness of at least 1,000nits, D65 and Rec.2020. Although in the case of the latter, the content actually uses the DCI-P3 colour gamut, which is delivered within a Rec.2020 container. So we have introduced new tests to see how a TV performs in terms of the PQ EOTF used for HDR and tracking the Rec.2020 colour space within the confines of the TV's native colour gamut.The KS9500 was very impressive in our first test, which showed how well it tracked the PQ EOTF used for HDR. In fact the Samsung delivered the best PQ EOTF we have measured to date and the measurements shown above are an out-of-the-box performance based upon a very basic setup. The greyscale is very accurate and the KS9500 is tracking the PQ EOTF precisely, resulting in errors that are all well below two with the exception of 80IRE which is where the Samsung rolls off.If we were very impressed with the KS9500's performance in terms of greyscale and PQ EOTF, we weren't originally as happy when it came to the colour tracking against Rec.2020. Samsung had claimed that the Auto Colour Space setting was designed to recognise the Rec.2020 signal from an Ultra HD HDR source and track it accordingly. In our initial testing the Auto Colour Space wasn't working correctly, it was defaulting to Rec.709, and the Native Colour Space was tracking DCI-P3. However Samsung have since released a firmware update and now the Auto Colour Space is working correctly and, as you can see in the graph above, it is tracking Rec.2020 correctly. This is excellent news and we're pleased to see that Samsung were listening to our feedback and impressed that they produced a firmware fix so quickly. Now that the colour space is tracking Rec.2020 correctly, when you combine that with the excellent PQ EOTF, you have what is currently the best performing TV when it comes to HDR 10.
Black Levels and Contrast Ratios
The KS9500 was particularly impressive in these tests for an LCD television and this undoubtedly comes down to its combination of a VA panel and a full array backlight. We measured the TV's native black level at 0.014 nits and this immediately dropped down to 0.001 nits when we set the Smart LED local dimming to Low. We had no trouble hitting our target of 120 nits for standard dynamic range content and we measured the Samsung at 1,473 nits with a 10% window and 715 nits with a 100% window, when sending it an HDR signal. So there is plenty of headroom when it comes to delivering the specular highlights of HDR 10 content. Those are some impressive numbers and using our 0.014 and 120 nits standard dynamic range measurements that equates to an on/off contrast ratio of 8,571:1 and the ANSI contrast ratio measured at 3,783:1.
The full array LED backlight was another area where the KS9500 proved to be an extremely strong performer and overall the uniformity was excellent. There was no evidence of bright corners or edges when looking at a 5% test pattern, nor were there any signs of clouding. We used a 100% white pattern to check for dirty screen effect and again the Samsung passed with flying colours. In fact the only issue we could see was some minor banding on fast pans across football pitches but we have yet to see a TV using a direct LED backlight that didn't have at least some banding, however slight. Having said that, it was very mild and shouldn't spoil your enjoyment when watching football and we certainly found the picture impressive whilst watching the opening match of Euro 2016.
Local Dimming and Viewing Angles
Samsung have excelled in terms of their local dimming over the last few years , so it didn't come as a surprise to discover the feature was highly effective on the KS9500. In fact because of the full array backlight, the KS9500 includes Precision Black Pro and overall the results were 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 whilst retaining detail in the shadows. At the other end of the scale, the highlights were bright and punchy but without any clipping. The result was an image that had plenty of dynamic range and almost no halos in the Low setting and when combined with the excellent native black levels and inherent brightness the results could be impressive.
Although we used the Low Smart LED setting for standard dynamic range content, you will need to set it to High for HDR content, if you want to get the best possible experience. When it came to HDR we did occasionally get some mild haloing in the High mode but overall the the KS9500 showed exactly why a full array backlight is superior to an edge-lit model in this respect. The blacks were deep, dark and consistent, as evidenced by the black bars on films, even when the image itself was very bright and the KS9500 also managed to achieve a darker overall image, even when there was a bright object in the frame, whilst retaining plenty of shadow detail at the same time.
Although Samsung's main reason for further developing their Quantum Dot technology is to produce a wider colour gamut, there are other benefits. One of these is that the viewing angles have improved and the KS9500 was certainly better than previous generations of Samsung TVs. In fact last year's models had a rather 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 KS9500 uses a VA panel, it will always struggle to retain image accuracy once you move outside a 90 degree arc. In fact it was only when viewing off-axis that any halos became apparent, although they were rarely visible when viewing from the centre.
Whilst we can test for motion resolution, people can perceive motion very differently and what one might consider good or bad can be extremely subjective. However we have always found the motion handling on Samsung TVs to be quite good, allowing for the inherent limitations of LCD technology. Motion handling was certainly another area where the KS9500 impressed us and it was free of any of the stuttering or frame dropping that we have experienced with Samsung TVs in the past. The KS9500 handled all of our motion tests very well, delivering a motion resolution measurement of over 300 with Auto Motion Plus off and the full 1080 lines with it on. Naturally using Auto Motion Plus does introduce smoothing thanks to the frame interpolation, so with film-based content we would always leave it off. However for sport-based content, which is shot on video, there is certainly room for experimentation and it could certainly pay dividends during Euro 2016. Samsung also include a custom setting, where you can experiment further with blur and judder reduction, and it's here that you'll find LED Clear Motion. This feature uses black frame insertion, which reduces the brightness of the image and can cause flicker with some people, but it can also result in a better sense of motion.
Standard and High Definition
As always we started with the lowest quality content and gradually worked our way up to the best, so our testing started off with standard definition material. Since the KS9500 gets the basics right it is able to deliver a very watchable picture even with lower resolution content. The combination of the greyscale, gamma and colour gamut created a great foundation, whilst the deep blacks, bright highlights and effective local dimming gave images plenty of impact. The Samsung is able to squeeze every last pixel of detail from the standard definition content, thanks primarily to the company's superb video processing and upscaling, which has been enhanced this year by intelligent image analysis. What this meant in principal was that the image was analysed against a database of images and then deinterlaced, scaled and processed to produce the optimal viewing experience. It certainly worked in practice and whilst watching the season finale of Agents of SHIELD we could almost forget it was in standard definition. Once we moved up to high definition content, the KS9500 could really show what it was capable of, with detailed and natural-looking images that were thoroughly enjoyable.
There was a noticeable sense of refinement to the pictures that the Samsung produced but also an almost casual ease about the way in which it produced them, an ease that stems from a degree of confidence on the manufacturer's part. This confidence comes from the fact that the TV was laying all the groundwork so effectively, meaning that all the key aspects of picture quality were place. When you combined these factors the results were simply superb. So nature documentaries looked wonderful on the KS9500, whilst with the Euro 2016 football the Samsung delivered an exciting and hugely enjoyable visual experience. Naturally it was with Blu-ray that the TV could really strut its stuff and a recent purchase like Zootopia looked absolutely stunning, although old favourites like Gravity also looked impressive. The local dimming handled the space-set images with ease, reproducing all the stars whilst also managing to retain the deep blacks and deliver all the dynamic range as Sandra Bullock tumbles in the abyss. The darkness of space is juxtaposed against the bright white of her spacesuit, resulting in images that had a real sense of impact.
Although if you want to an almost HDR-like experience with non-HDR content then Samsung may have the answer. HDR+ is an interesting new feature that makes its debut on the KS9500, although it will be rolled out to Samsung's other KS models via a firmware update over the next few weeks. HDR+ actually takes the original standard dynamic range signal and enhances it to create an experience that is intended to mimic HDR. It does this by accurately mapping the hue and saturation of the source content to points within the TV's native DCI-P3 colour gamut and then analysing the luminance of each scene to boost the gamma curve and enhance the dynamic range to take advantage of the KS9500's increased brightness capabilities.
Since the image is being manipulated it will obviously no longer match the industry standards, which means you won't be seeing what the content creators intended you to see and, as with any image processing, HDR+ also can't add what isn't there. So although an image may appear to have brighter highlights, the detail in those highlights will be the same as it was in the original source content. To demonstrate this we watched the exact same scene in Deadpool using the Blu-ray with HDR+ and the Ultra HD Blu-ray with genuine HDR and there was was clearly more detail in brighter parts of the image, such as the clouds in the sky, which just isn't there on the Blu-ray. This increased detail doesn't just stem from the higher resolution of Ultra HD Blu-ray but also from the fact that HDR content is mastered at 1,000 to 4,000 nits, whilst standard dynamic range content is mastered at 100 nits. As a result HDR can reveal more detail in shadows and bright highlights than non-HDR content.
However if you allow for the inherent limitations of the source content, HDR+ can actually prove quite effective at creating a more dynamic viewing experience. This is because Samsung have invested a great deal of time and money in creating a processing algorithm based upon the statistical analysis of the differences between the same content in both Rec.709 and DCI-P3. It is this algorithm that maps the Rec.709 content to the native DCI-P3 colour space of the TV. They have also developed a similar approach for luminance, using statistical analysis to extract a tone curve that can map different luminance regions within the same scene.
The resulting images did look surprisingly natural and HDR in appearance, such that when watching the same scene with the feature turned off it looked rather dull in comparison. We measured the HDR+ setting and found that despite expanding the colour gamut and enhancing the gamma, it retained an accurate greyscale and colour temperature for white. So given the limited amount of HDR content available, we can see consumers finding it a useful feature to get the most from their new TV. As video purists we would always recommend watching content as the creators intended but, as Mark found out when reviewing the Sony 55XD9305, there is fun to be had from these faux HDR settings and they can produce a natural-looking and highly enjoyable experience. The good thing is that you can just turn HDR+ on and off, so you always have a choice, and you can adjust the HDR+ settings which allows you to experiment and create an image that best suits you.
High Dynamic Range
The KS9500 is the first TV with full array local dimming that we've been able to properly review with HDR test patterns and content because when we reviewed the Panasonic TX-65DX902B the tests and content weren't available yet. Hopefully we'll be able to update the Panasonic review soon but, in the meantime, the KS9500 clearly showed how superior a full array backlight is when watching Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR. We have been pleasantly surprised at how good the images produced by Samsung's edge-lit TVs have been this year but they have all struggled to some degree or another when it comes to HDR. It was never going to be easy delivering those bright highlights with the LEDs located at the bottom of the screen but the KS9500, with its full array and 150 dimming zones, was able to take full advantage of the new format. When watching the best of the current crop of Ultra HD Blu-rays, the Samsung revealed exceptional levels of detail, superior colour depth, a wider colour gamut and an incredible dynamic range. There's no question that the increased brightness and image control afforded by full array local dimming makes a noticeable difference – blacks were deep, dark and consistent, even in the borders of letterboxed films, whilst the highlights were bright and punchy.
The entire image just popped in a way that only genuine HDR can and the KS9500 also had no problems with motion artefacts or any other apparent issues. It was, quite simply, a lovely image that fully demonstrated the potential of Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR. There are a number of UHD Blu-rays that really stand out from the pack in terms of image quality, resolution and dynamic range, with The Revenant, Sicario and Deadpool being our current favourites. The KS9500 rendered them all with exceptional clarity, producing vivid and natural colours and a dynamic range that gave the images real impact. In comparisons with the same regular Blu-rays of these films there was clearly more detail in highlights, whilst the blacks were deep but retained plenty of shadow detail. The increased resolution of these titles was also immediately apparent, as was the wider colour gamut, with the colours now looking very accurate. There was a solidity to the image and in a film such as The Revenant, some of the wide shots looked incredibly realistic. There's no doubt that the KS9500 delivered the best HDR experience that we have had to date and if you're sitting on the fence when it comes to the new format, it's time to get off.
The HDR+ algorithms, whilst not accurate in the purest sense, are very clever and sure to prove popular with consumers
Sound QualityThe KS9500 actually delivered a solid performance when it came to sound quality and there's no doubt that the larger screen size and deeper chassis certainly played a factor. The use of psychoacoustics and clever speaker design can tease a half decent audio performance out of an ultra-slim TV but you ultimately can't cheat the laws of physics. So if there's room in the TV's chassis for a decent set of speakers and better amplification, the result will be a superior level of sound quality. The KS9500 is a good example and the 65-inch screen size means that the audio has a better sense of stereo separation, whilst the speakers reproduced mid-range and high frequencies very well. Although the bass performance isn't going to compete with even a cheap soundbar that includes a dedicated subwoofer, the low frequency response was certainly sufficient for general TV watching.
The KS9500 had a decent amount of amplification built in and could go quite loud without becoming harsh or brittle. The Samsung also produced a expansive front soundstage that could fill the average sized living room, even creating a certain degree of immersion, whilst dialogue always remained clear and centred. We generally find that the Music option in the sound settings tends to provide the most balanced audio and so it was for the KS9500. Whilst this TV is never going to be able to deliver a room-shaking and immersive surround experience with modern blockbusters, it can certainly handle the majority of your regular content watching. However, if you're investing in a 65-inch KS9500, or an even larger model, we would recommend that you seriously consider buying an outboard audio solution so that you can get the best from your new TV.
Samsung UE65KS9500 Video Review
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionThis year Samsung have really set the bar quite high, or should that be low, in terms of input lag measurements and the KS9500 continued that impressive trend. As we have seen with other Samsung models this year, the input lag in Movie mode is quite high at 125ms but as soon as we engaged Game mode, that measurement dropped to 21ms when using our Leo Bodnar tester. That’s a genuinely low lag time and the best we have seen from any TV manufacturer this year. It should certainly keep even the most demanding gamer happy. Samsung have also finally moved the Game mode into a more convenient location in the menu system and the control now sits in the Special Features section of the Picture Settings sub-menu.
Samsung have invested a lot of time and money in developing their Quantum Dot technology, primarily to widen the colour gamut and increase the brightness. However the advances that the manufacturer has made in Quantum Dot technology also mean that the panel has a wider optimal viewing angle and an improved level of energy efficiency. We found that using a 50% raster we measured the energy consumption of the Standard mode at 140W and the calibrated Movie mode at an excellent 82W. We also measured the HDR mode, which obviously uses a lot more energy, and that came in at a much higher 294W. However, despite its relative size, for the energy conscious amongst you the KS9500 will certainly use less a lot less power with regular content than previous models.
For a large TV the KS9500 is surprisingly energy efficient whilst the 21ms input lag will delight serious gamers
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of Rec.2020 - 100% best) 69.5% 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
- HDR+ feature is interesting
- Attractive design
- State-of-the-art smart features
- No flat option
- No 3D support
- Occasional banding on pans
Samsung KS9500 (UE65KS9500) UHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?
The Samsung UE65KS9500 is everything that you would expect from a modern flagship TV, delivering an irresistible combination of design, build quality, features and performance. The look of the KS9500 is very attractive, with a surprisingly slim form factor considering its full array backlight, and a well-designed stand that provides solid support and offsets a deliberately minimalist appearance. There's a moth eye filter to help minimise light reflections and the KS9500 effectively combines style and solid construction with a contemporary aesthetic. In fact our only complaint in this area would be that unlike with the KS9000, Samsung don't offer a flat alternative. The KS9500 uses a One Connect box that minimises the number of cables that you need to run to the panel itself, handy if you plan on wall mounting, but has every connection you'll need, including four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs. There's also built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, ensuring that you can connect just about anything to your new TV.
The KS9500 is just as feature-packed on the inside and whilst it doesn't support 3D, it has just about everything else. So you get Samsung's new Smart Hub with its launcher bar that provides easy access to all the current 4K video services and combines all your favourite content into a single access point. There's also an Auto Detection feature that will automatically setup any device that you connect to the KS9500 via HDMI and load in the relevant remote codes, so you can use the Smart Controller as a universal remote. The Smart Controller has also had a redesign, simplifying the button layout but remaining comfortable to hold and intuitive to use. The controller provides the option to use voice control but there is a regular remote included if you prefer a more old school approach, whilst those who would rather use their smart device as a controller can download Samsung's Smart View app.
In terms of image related features the KS9500 obviously uses a 10-bit Ultra HD 4K curved panel with a full array LED backlight and Precision Black Pro local dimming. The use of a VA panel delivers a fantastic black level for an LCD TV, even without engaging the local dimming and the optimal viewing angles were surprisingly wide. The backlight uniformity was also excellent thanks the the full array and there were no problems with bright edges or corners, clouding or dirty screen effect. However there was a tiny bit of banding with fast camera pans across football pitches but we have yet to see a TV using a direct LED backlight that didn't have at least some banding, however slight. The local dimming was highly effective and the motion handling was particularly good for an LCD, making the KS9500 a great choice for fast-paced sports action.
The KS9500 delivered an excellent level of greyscale and colour accuracy both out-of-the-box and after calibration but we would like to see Samsung fine tune the gamma tracking slightly. However the TV combined all of its picture features and accuracy to deliver natural-looking and delightfully detailed images with both standard and high definition content. Obviously the better the quality of the source the more impressive the images that the Samsung could deliver on its 65-inch screen and it is the first TV that we've reviewed since Ultra HD Blu-ray arrived that can take full advantage of the new format. The KS9500 actually delivered the best tracking against the HDR PQ EOTF that we've measured, the colour gamut is also very wide and now tracking Rec.2020 correctly thanks to a firmware update. As a result the images that the Samsung produced from Ultra HD Blu-ray were spectacular and amongst the best we have seen.
As good as HDR content looks, there is currently only a limited amount available and so Samsung have added a new feature to the KS9500 that they call HDR+. This is designed to map standard dynamic range content to the wider colour gamut and increased brightness of the KS9500, resulting in an image that appears more like HDR. As with any image processing feature, HDR+ can't add what isn't there and it does veer away from image accuracy when compared to the industry standards but it's actually quite effective and will doubtless prove popular with many consumers. Thanks to the larger size of the chassis and the screen itself, the sound quality on the KS9500 is actually quite good, although we expect most owners will ultimately seek an outboard audio solution. As the cherry on an already delicious cake, the KS9500 is very energy efficient and has an input lag of only 21ms, making it ideal for gaming. In fact the Samsung UE65KS9500 does everything a flagship TV should do and it does it all very well, making it an obvious candidate on anyone's shortlist this year.
What are my alternatives?
If you like all the features on the KS9500 but would rather have a flat screen, then you could go for the UE65KS8000 but you will have to accept LED edge-lighting rather than a full array backlight. Aside from that the two TVs offer almost identical features sets, although the KS8000 doesn't include the Pro version of Samsung's Precision Black local dimming and since it's flat there's no Auto Depth Enhancer. However, if it's as good as the KS9000 then it should make a decent alternative and can be picked up for just £2,699. If it's a full array backlight that you're after and you also want 3D support then your best bet is Panasonic's TX-65DX902B, which uses a flat screen and costs a very reasonable £3,299. It includes 512 individual LEDs, boasts Premium UHD and THX certification and delivers the most accurate colours we've seen from any TV this year.
If you're prepared to go a bit larger then you also have the option of Sony's KD-75XD9405 which uses a full array backlight, has a flat screen and supports 3D. The XD94 is a cracking performer and thankfully Sony have dropped the massive side speakers this year, which means that despite the huge screen size, the XD94 will only set you back £4,999. Finally you could look at LG's new OLED range, all of which can deliver incredibly deep blacks, a wider colour gamut and HDR support including Dolby Vision. The 65-inch B6 will set you back £4,299 and uses a flat screen but doesn't support 3D, although if you're considering a 2016 Samsung then that probably won't be an issue for you. If you'd like 3D support and are happy with a curved screen there's also the 65C6, whilst if you'd like 3D and a flat screen there's the 65E6, which is feature-packed but will cost a hefty £4,999.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
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