Is it always good to leave them wanting more?
What is the Samsung UE48JS9000?When it comes to getting the latest TV review samples out of the door, you have to hand it to Samsung who are leaving the competition standing so far in 2015. We’ve already had the good fortune to have been presented with early looks at the UE65JS9500 and the slightly lesser-specified UE65JS9000 and there’s also a UE40JU6400 review in the works, too. What we have here, however, is the 48-inch JS9000 which comes from very close to the top of the Samsung family tree and resultantly carries a fairly steep cost, with a suggested price of £2,599.
For that kind of money you would expect to be furnished with the very latest technologies and that’s precisely what the JS9000 provides. Not only is the a UHD (4K) television, according to Samsung this is a SUHD TV, where the ‘S’ stands for whatever you take it to be. Clearly Samsung is seeking superlatives, here, not snide slurs nor super-obvious swearing. Specifically, in addition to the 4K panel, the JS9000 is imbued with the latest industry innovation – HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology and the ability to deliver a much wider colour space than most TVs. And that’s without mentioning Samsung’s new Tizen Smart TV system.
So, as you can see, we have our work cut out to get all this exciting new technology tested and documented, so read on to see if Samsung really has put the S in to UHD TV…
Design & ConnectionsIt’s curved, let’s get that one out of the way right off the bat. We have absolutely no issue with that from an aesthetic perspective – in fact it looks lovely – but we’ll have to admit that we’re still largely unsold on the idea, from a picture quality standpoint, but more on that later. The all-silver bezel doesn’t really do anything for us, either, and we’d prefer something less eye-catching (we want to watch what’s on the screen) but in lower light conditions, it’s not too obtrusive. The base stand arcs sympathetically with the screen and is attached to the chassis by means of a fairly sturdy fixing but all this designer goodness comes at the slight expense of practicality, as you can’t swivel the screen around, which is likely to be an issue for those sitting at reasonably acute angles.
A neat solution but a noisy one, at that
To maintain the sleek aesthetic, Samsung keeps the majority of cabling away from the TV by keeping most of the connections in a standalone unit known as the ‘One Connect’ box. Obviously you have to connect that – as well as the power cord – directly to the TV but all else can be hidden away. In fact, we’d highly recommend that you do exactly that, as the One Connect is quite loud in operation due to the built-in cooling fan. Tolerances will vary here but I found myself completely rewiring the setup at around 11pm, when the rest of the house was quiet and the noise became truly obtrusive. We don’t know what Samsung can do about this issue, but the device is beyond our auditory acceptance levels.
In terms of its actual connectivity options, the One Connect can’t really be faulted however. It provides four HDMI 2.0 inputs and three USB ports, with one of those featuring v3.0 support, for ultra-quick data transfer rates. Also included are twin satellite and terrestrial TV tuners and inputs for composite and component video, digital optical audio, an IR extender and a headphone socket. Of course, the JS9000 has built-in WiFi, with useful dual 2.4/5Ghz support but you might want to consider using a wire in to the LAN port, if you’re planning on getting in on the 4K streaming services.
Remote ControlsAs has become customary, these last few years, this Samsung smart TV ships with a brace of remote controls in the box. One of them doesn’t really require any explanation – you’ve seen this sort of thing many time before – but the other is more interesting. smart controller that has been optimised for use with the Smart TV platform. This smart controller is well made and fits comfortably in the hand, whilst its silver brushed metal finish matches the rest of the TV's styling.
The smart remote includes navigation buttons and a pointer for effective motion control of all the smart features on the JS9000 but as an alternative there is also a free remote app available for both iOS and Android. This app is well designed, with a slick and attractive user interface and includes all the controls you will need to control the TV. Whilst there are already two other ways to control the JS9000, the ability to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote is a welcome addition.
Features and SpecsThe UE48JS9000 incorporates all the new picture features found on Samsung's 2015 SUHD range of TVs and uses a curved screen with an edge LED backlight. It supports Ultra HD 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) and includes Octa-Core picture processing. The JS9000 also features Peak Illuminator Pro, which is designed to boost the brightness of the image by taking energy not being used in dark parts of the image and using it to boost the brighter parts.
The UE48JS9000 uses a new filter on its curved screen that is designed to reduce unwanted reflections and includes extensive calibration controls. There is the Smart LED local dimming feature with settings for Low, Standard and High, along with the Auto Motion Plus feature that can be used to reduce motion blur. Along with Nano Crystal technology, which is Samsung's proprietary version of quantum dot, the 10-bit panel also uses a new LED light source and improved transmittance. The Octa-Core processing adds content orientated picture quality enhancements and quantum colour expression to better map colours to the TV's colour space.
Come on Samsung, hurry up with Netflix (and iPlayer)
Samsung Tizen Smart TV PlatformDespite running the 48JS9000 on the latest software version (1205), much of the contents of the Smart Hub weren’t fully functional but what we have seen looks promising. Most notably, the 4K UHD Netflix app was unavailable, and nor was BBC iPlayer or All 4 functional. Samsung assures us all will be working fine soon but at least we got to try out the UHD material from Amazon and YouTube, which played perfectly well. Be warned, you will need a very fast broadband connection for YouTube as some of the bitrates are extremely high but a more modest connection will work with Instant Video and Netflix, when it arrives.
The Smart Hub, itself, is now a far less overbearing proposition and simply consists of an app draw running along the bottom of the screen. Your most used, and some featured, apps are positioned for quickest access, but it’s very easy to get to the rest from the box to the left, which switches over to become the app drawer when selected with a very pleasing transition effect. Dare we say that anyone who has used LG’s webOS platform would feel instantly at home? Well we have and that’s really a big complement for Tizen, in terms of ease of use, accessibility and presentation.
Once everything is fully operative, we’ll have a full in-depth review of the Tizen platform out for you to read.
Samsung UE48JS9000 Picture SettingsAs ever, the most accurate out of box image for a Samsung TV is obtained by selecting the Movie Picture Mode. From there, if you’re not planning on having it professionally calibrated, it’s just a case of selecting a Backlight setting you’re comfortable with, and then the only other thing we would advise is turning off (or at least down) the Auto Motion Plus processing, in Picture Options, which gives an overly smooth look at its default configuration. You might find you like the Clear setting, which isn’t overly obvious and works well with fast paced video material, such as sports broadcasts, but please never use it for your movies.
As we found with the 65-inch JS9000, the out of box accuracy – particularly in the greyscale – was truly excellent. In fact, with a highest delta error of just over 3, it’s near perfect to the human eye but there is room for slight improvement. The colours weren’t quite as faithful to the Rec 709 HD TV standard, with various luminance errors and off-hue secondary colours but we shouldn’t have too many issues, given the fact this TV is blessed with a well-functioning colour management system (CMS).
We only needed to slightly tweak the white balance controls to put the greyscale in to the reference category but the CMS required a bit more manipulation. Green, in particular, was a major balancing act and more work than in years gone by, probably as a result of the extremely wide native gamut of the panel, which is geared up for new colour standards from the proposed Ultra HD standards. Still, we got there in the end and we are left with only a slightly off-hue blue to make mention off. Even then, it’s not an error you’re going to see in real world content.
Samsung JS9000 Input LagThis has rarely – probably never - been an area where Samsung has covered themselves in glory but all that has changed in 2015. You are still required to switch on the Game mode in the system menu but the rewards are worth it with input latency as low as 23 milliseconds. That’s a lightning fast time for a TV and, at least to us, provides a seamless videogame playing experience.
Sound QualitySamsung has also done a really good job here with the built-in speaker array, which consists of 2 x 20W left and right together with dual 20W subwoofers. The sense of stereo separation was surprisingly good for a TV of this size and dialogue was always very clear and well centred. The dual subs definitely do their part, providing impressive impact to special effects and they – relative to your run of the mill TV – also sound pretty good with music, with a well refined presentation across the frequency ranges. The one criticism of the sound quality we would make is that there were varying degrees of lip-sync issues, dependent on input/resolution. The built-in Freeview tuner was nigh on perfect but 1080p sources connected via HDMI were out and not quite correctable with the offset controls.
Picture QualityThe standard of video processing built-in to the UE48JS9000 is quite simply superb. The scaling of material of a lower resolution to the 3840 x 2160 panel – and let’s face it, there’s very little 4K material currently available – is tremendous, with more static scenes from Blu-ray and higher quality sources appearing more defined than is actually the case. That’s not always the case with faster moving action but, even without any motion processing engaged, the JS9000 still produces a reasonably smooth presentation. If we’re nit-picking, and this has always been the case since the first generation of UHD TVs was introduced, interlaced broadcast material sometimes shows some sign of strain with some ragged edges visible.
Despite the LED backlighting being positioned to the edges of the panel, rather than the direct system used in the JS9500, the performance of it was generally excellent, with little to no haloing around bright objects on a dark screen. A haloing effect was more noticeable when sat to the side, however, which compounds the fact that viewing angles, in terms of colour and contrast, are far from generous and images begin to wash out from anything over 30 degrees off-centre.
Negatives aside, the dimming is close to top-notch from flush on and we had no qualms in having the Smart LED setting at Standard, which produced an all-screen black level of 0.0029 cd/m2, which is highly impressive and very deep. Measurements from a checkerboard pattern (alternate black white blocks) weren’t quite so flattering but a better indication of real world performance and gave us average black levels of 0.055 cd/m2, against a chosen (personal preference) peak white of 140 cd/m2, giving an ANSI contrast ratio of more than 2500:1. That’s a very good number but no competition for an OLED TV.
Great dimming, strong contrast, excellent colour accuracy but narrow viewing angles
Owing to the lack of a working Netflix app, our opportunities for watching any 4K content, beyond demo clips and bits and pieces from YouTube, were more limited than we’d hoped. The Amazon Ultra HD Service was operable, however, so at least we got to see some. The first question would be, is UHD worthwhile on a 48-inch TV? And it’s not an easy one to answer with any sense of being definitive. Moving between some very well shot 4K (by our very own Editor PhilHinton) and the same content in 1080p, we couldn’t say we saw any more actual individual object detail but there was an appreciation of the whole image being more defined – if that makes sense. Scenes where lighting was mixed, in particular, had just that bit more of a natural look but it took some scrutiny to reach that conclusion. So without really answering our own question, all we could say with any certainty is that you’ll get more out of a UHD TV the larger it is. Cliché’s exist for a reason!
Without wanting to review the Amazon 4K content, en masse, from what we’ve seen, so far, it’s a bit of a mixed bag in terms of overall picture quality. I first sat through the opening episode of Transparent (without ever realising how to properly pronounce the title) and that was an unpromising start, with the programme looking decidedly sub Blu-ray standard for the most part. That’s not a criticism of Amazon’s service as whole, however, as both Bosch and Alpha House were considerably better; although I never felt they reached the image standards I saw with House of Cards, via a competing service. Still, it’s very early days and it’s already clear that 4K Blu-ray disc has an almighty fight on its hands to wrestle the public away from the lure and conveniences of streaming.
You know what, I was about to move on to the next section having omitted to mention the 3D performance! That’s probably indicative of the importance placed upon it by the manufacturer’s these days and their shift in highlighting Ultra HD resolutions, and associated technologies, is clearly rubbing off. But for those still interested, the UE48JS9000 is a cracking 3D TV, which blends its high luminance panel with very accurate colours to produce striking images. There are a couple of pairs of 3D eyewear in the box which are very comfortable to wear and very neutral, in terms of lens tint, which makes diving in that bit easier and our only criticism of the extra dimensional performance would be that the same forced motion interpolation we saw with the 65-inch model was still being applied, resulting in an unnatural smoothness to moving images. Still, it’s always looked strange to me so it’s not something I would lose any sleep over. To the 3D fans out there I may have offended, I offer my sincere apologies – to both of you!
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 92% 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 colours
- Brilliant video processing
- Deep blacks
- Strong contrast
- Great for gamers
- Slick UI
- Narrow viewing angles
- Smart TV platform not finished yet
- Noisy One Connect
- A bit pricey
Samsung UE48JS9000 (JS9000) Curved 4K SUHD TV Review
Should I buy the Samsung UE48JS9000?Well there’s an awful lot to like, irrespective of whether you’re watching 4K content or not. The foundation for any great display is contrast, and thanks to a very effective backlight and dimming system, the JS9000 is able to deliver here, with the minimum of haloing and excellent screen uniformity. Colours, too, are very accurate and believable, whilst the superior video processing ensures fantastic pictures from sources of 720p and up. To be fair, the JS9000 deals with even standard definition material as well as could be expected, but anyone considering a UHD TV shouldn’t really want to know about that.
The downsides of the JS9000 are narrow viewing angles, the fact that the One Connect Box is far too noisy and that the Tizen Smart TV platform has yet to be finished, although on the latter issue, we know that will be rectified and it does look very promising, as is. There’s also the question of whether 48-inches is enough for 4K but only your eyes can be the judge here. The JS9000 looks gorgeous, performs brilliantly and ticks all the boxes of a flagship TV so comes Highly Recommended. You may just want to consider the larger models though!
What else could I consider?In terms of the 2015 4K TVs, we haven’t got much to give you here as the other major manufacturers have yet to show their hands. It will definitely be worth hanging on to see how something like the Panasonic TX-50CX802B and LG 49UF675V perform, as well as keeping an eye on how the new Sony 4K TVs stack up but this is a very strong start from Samsung which truly lays down the gauntlet to the rest.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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