All aboard the HDR Express
What is the Samsung UE65JS8500?The UE65JS8500 is the 65-inch model in Samsung's entry level SUHD TV range, although take the term entry-level under advisement as typical online prices (November 2015) are around £2,200. For that fairly substantial sum of money you do get some degree of future-proofing with Samsung's proprietary quantum dot technology to create a wider colour space and a new, much brighter panel that allows it to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) and 10-bit video. We’ve already checked out the 55-inch JS8500 so let’s take its big brother out for a spin and see how it compares.
Design & ConnectionsThere’s no denying that the sight of a really large TV with a curved screen is striking and guaranteed to garner gasps of admiration from anyone visiting, although we’re pretty much agnostic in terms of it adding anything to the pictures it produces. The JS8500 doesn’t just look appealing from the front, the back panel is also a thing of (relative) beauty with its tactile, charcoal finish. The curved T-Stand also looks very much the part and will sit safely on any TV unit with a width greater than 100cm.
The JS8500 range doesn’t come with a full sized One Connect Box, instead you get the One Connect Mini which houses the four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 compliant ports, two USB 2.0 inputs and a Toslink digital audio out. The one that came with the review sample was totally silent, this time, unlike some of the others we’ve been given in the past but since the Mini doesn’t contain any of the video processing chips, it’s not as ‘updateable’ as the full sized version.
Barring the power input, all the other connections are behind the right side of the screen and include a headphone jack, a USB 3.0 input, terminals for satellite and aerial connections and a LAN port. The JS8500 naturally also features built-in Wi-Fi and thankfully supports both the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands; if you’re planning on taking advantage of the built-in Ultra HD streaming apps, the 5Ghz band should give you better performance, provided the TV isn’t too far away from the router. Finally we have the terminal for the One Connect lead and very small inputs for the supplied adapters covering legacy video (Scart, Component, Composite) types.
Remote ControlsIf you haven’t got at least a pair of remote controls in the box, you can’t call yourself a high-end TV, in this day and age, so the JS8500 ships with the now obligatory brace of handsets. If you’ve used a TV produced in the last ten years, you won’t really need a description of the standard remote but the other is more exotic. Functionality wise, the smart remote has navigation buttons and a pointer for motion control and it’s optimised for the Smart TV platform. There’s a built in microphone for voice commands – Change Channel, Launch Netflix, that kind of thing - and some basic options covering the menus, channel selection and volume plus a discreet mute button placed on the left side. It’s heavier than it looks and feels good in the hand and overall we were more than happy to use it on a day to day basis.
Features & SpecsThe UE65JS8500 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 Quad-Core picture processing. The JS8500 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 – particularly pertinent for HDR delivery - along with Precision Black local dimming and Auto Depth Enhancer. The JS8500 also uses a new filter on its curved screen that is designed to reduce unwanted reflections and it also includes extensive calibration controls. The UE65JS8500 also incorporates 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.
Samsung Tizen Smart TV PlatformThe last time I had occasion to check out Samsung’s Tizen Smart TV platform, it wasn’t quite there in terms of having all the key apps available but things are much better now. So we have all the major UK catchup services excluding Demand 5 but the headlining apps, as far as we are concerned, are from Netflix and Amazon with both providing Ultra HD video through their services. In the case of Amazon, their HDR content is supposed to be available in the UK on the JS8500 now so, if it is, we’ll be looking at in the picture quality section below. We have to say that Tizen is extremely slick, very well presented and, ahem, very similar indeed to LG’s webOS but that’s no bad thing.
Picture Settings Out of the BoxTo get the best results right out of the box is a simple matter of choosing the Movie viewing mode in the Picture Menu. Doing so switches off all almost all the options we would usually advise disengaging, other than Motion Plus - which adds frame interpolation; you can experiment with that and, indeed, you can custom set it so that the effect is very subtle but we would urge you to leave it off in all cases when watching a movie. The other one to experiment with is the Smart LED settings, which controls the dimming system in the JS8500. It is set at Medium by default but we found that could introduce some noticeable haloing of bright objects on dark backgrounds – for a current good example see the 2015 John Lewis Christmas ad - so we switched it to Low which reduced the effect to much more tolerable levels. You could also set Backlight, Contrast and Brightness to match your viewing conditions by following the guides in our Picture Perfect section.
Like curved screens, really accurate out-of-the-box pictures are becoming ever more commonplace and this trend mostly continued with the 65-inch JS8500. As we can see from the RGB Balance chart, top-left, there was a slight deficiency of blue energy as we get nearer white in the greyscale but deltaErrors averaged below the tolerable threshold of 3. The colours weren’t quite so good, as we can see from the set of graphs top-right, with some reasonably significant luminance errors in green and, resultantly, cyan and yellow that you would expect to see with the naked eye.
Picture Settings CalibratedBeginning with the two-point white balance control, we were able to get errors comfortably under two and we then massaged it using the ten point controls to get both the greyscale and gamma tracking ideally. We then set the Colour Space to Custom and, after some to-ing and fro-ing, we tidied up the various colour errors to bring an excellent level of accuracy to the JS8500. As we can see from the charts beneath, we’re in very good shape to enjoy content as the creators intended.
With an eye toward the future, we also checked out how the UE65JS8500 matched up to the wider, DCI colour gamut – we’re ignoring Rec.2020 for now – and Samsung’s claims of it being able to achieve about 92% of this extended colour space are almost exactly right. Using our specialist software (Calman 5 Ultimate) we actually found that Samsung are being a little coy as we measured a whisker under 92.5 so when the content is available, the UE65JS9500 will be able to take decent advantage of the available colour space.
JS8500 Best Picture Settings Video
Picture QualityThe 65-inch Samsung JS8500 had very little in the way of shortcomings which, to be honest, doesn’t make writing the review of it especially easy; let’s start with what bad news there was though. Screen uniformity, and especially with those that are curved, is generally the primary worry when looking at an LED TV and, sure enough, the UE65JS8500 had some issues on very dark scenes with some instances of patchy light dotted around the screen. They weren’t visible all that often and they certainly weren’t overly distracting but they were there. Bright screen uniformity was generally very good although we could sometimes spot vertical lines (panel banding) when action was panning over large expanses of the same colour; alright, I’ll come clean, I saw it when I was watching the football. Again, it wasn’t particularly bothersome and it’s something that’s apparent on just about every LED TV we review, to some extent or other, and this was definitely one of the better examples. The other real weakness of the JS8500 is it’s very narrow viewing angles, with contrast and colour saturation severely hampered when you move off centre – on both the horizontal and vertical axes.
About the only other ‘minus’ we can come up with is the haloing effect when the Smart LED (local dimming) function is switched on; as mentioned earlier, the 2015 John Lewis Xmas advert is a demon for showing it up, with the wispy hairs of the old man against the backdrop of space showing an unnatural glow around the edges. You can of course switch off Smart LED but then you do lose some of the contrasty punch the UE65JS8500 can provide, and there definitely seems to be some improvement in the accuracy of the dimming since we ran the rule over the 55-inch version. For those interested in some numbers, with Smart LED switched off, native black levels came in at an average of 0.065 cd/m2 from a chequerboard pattern, while with it on Medium, that drops to 0.051cd/m2 and despite the fact, on paper, that’s only a tiny difference, it is apparent when the lights are low.
We would advise anyone looking in to a 4K Ultra HD TV – especially a big one like this - that if their primary video sources are standard definition – and for lots of folk, that’s still the case – to hold on until their viewing habits change but the JS8500 makes a surprisingly good job of lower quality material. That’s testament to the excellent processing Samsung provides, which also extends to spot on framerate (cadence) detection and largely first-rate deinterlacing; the latter of those is particularly important with broadcast sources. There is just a bit of image ‘break-up’ with broadcast content such fast moving sports (yes, the footy again) which you wouldn’t associate with the better 1080p TVs of years gone by but most won’t really spot it. The scaling of 720p and 1080p, as you would expect, is even better with Blu-ray discs looking just that bit higher resolution on static scenes.
It's early days but HDR is shaping up to be a game-changer
Moving up the resolution and technology ladder, this review gave us the opportunity not only to watch more Ultra HD content but to take in our first extended experience with HDR video. To say choices are limited to do so, at this time, would be underplaying it- Mozart in the Jungle through Amazon Instant Video is just about all there is, bar the demo videos the manufacturers provide. Dealing with those first, it would be fair to say, based on the clips, that when the full HDR versions of Life of Pi and Exodus: Gods and Kings arrive, it could be a seminal moment in home entertainment as some of them were truly jaw-dropping. Just for a bit of fun – well, to us it is – we took the measuring equipment to the screen during one particular scene in Pi and measured the sun setting over the sea at around 520 cd/m2 and this was with the Backlight set at 14 out of 20. That is truly a staggering figure when you consider the Blu-ray, at equivalent settings, measured about 140 cd/m2. This is down to the Peak Illuminator processing which redistributes energy to the panel with much greater efficiency than previously possible.
This brings in to question the comfort of the viewing experience, given the incredible luminance levels on offer. It’s impossible to say in the case of either of the movies we got brief glimpses of but, with a favourable backlight setting for our environment – as well as our own eyes – the couple of episodes of Mozart in the Jungle we watched certainly didn’t cause any eye-strain. There’s a moment right in the opening scene where you feel the impact of HDR immediately as the camera focuses on the orchestra conductor with a stage light right behind; the brightness of the light is truly noteworthy and it makes the darkness around look that much darker, thus lifting the contrast and dynamic range of the image.
Perhaps not the most spectacular example of what HDR can bring to the party but, hopefully, illustrative nonetheless. From what we’ve seen of Mozart, so far, the HDR application has been treated with due caution but the darker scenes can look a little bit washed out; to be fair that was also the case when comparing a 1080p SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) from the Amazon Fire TV back-to-back, although to a lesser extent. There was the odd scene where Mozart really filled us with excitement at the prospect of how well a high-budget movie or TV series could take advantage of this technological breakthrough and, certainly, the movie clips looked much better in terms of contrast. One thing we will say is that the overall difference in picture quality between the 4K HDR and 1080p SDR was pretty marked, with the latter looking plain flat and heavily compressed. We are convinced that HDR will have far more impact than the jump in resolution to 4K on the general public, if enough get to see it demoed and we can’t wait to see more!
Sound QualityThere’s a natural advantage for a TV this size in that they are wide enough to produce a convincing sense of separation but the JS8500 also produces good quality audio too. Dialogue is always easy to hear, effects are well placed and there enough power to fill the average living room with sound. It’s not audiophile grade, of course, and there’s a definite lack of bass and low-end presence but it will do for most although we would always advise looking for an outboard solution if you’re even semi-serious about sound.
Input Lag & Energy ConsumptionLike the 55-inch JS8500, the UE65JS8500 also makes a great choice for big-screen gamers with an input lag measured at 22 milliseconds, which is below one frame delay for a 30 frames per second title and only just over on a 60fps game. Gaming also gives you the excuse to check out the wider colour space, without any real detriment to the majority of titles – in fact some will look mind-blowingly good.
Samsung has been given a bit of a rough time of things in the press over its energy consumption figures recently, although we don’t really think they had a case to answer. Certainly, for a 65-inch TV this is no gas-guzzler with default factory mode consuming 145.9w on a 50% grey pattern and the out-of-box movie mode using 96.5w.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 92.5% 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) 8 What do these mean?
- Great colours
- Good contrast
- Excellent processing
- Tizen Smart TV platform now as good as any
- Low input lag
- Future-proof connectivity
- Price now very competitive
- Some mild uniformity issues
- Weak viewing angles
- Haloing present with dimming system
Samsung UE65JS8500 (JS8500) Ultra HD 4K TV Review
Should I buy the Samsung UE65JS8500?For its current online prices, the 65-inch Samsung JS8500 makes a compelling buy for its combination of great pictures, on-point Smart TV features – including 4K streaming services – and it is relatively well equipped to tackle the future with its HDR support and connectivity too. The looks are also there with its delicious curved screen, although it doesn’t really add anything to the pictures it produces.
Like so many LCD LED TVs before it, the 65JS8500 did have a couple of minor uniformity problems and the backlight dimming system isn’t perfect, with some easily visible haloing effects present when bright objects met dark backgrounds. Of course, it’s with Ultra HD content where this Samsung performs best but it can produce a more than creditable presentation with lesser sources and some static scenes from Blu-ray disc definitely looked more than 1080p.
This review also gave us the opportunity for extended time with some ‘real-world’ HDR content, in the shape of Mozart in the Jungle via Amazon. We’re pretty certain this isn’t the best example of the medium we’re going to see but there were certain scenes where the promise of HDR was more than evident; some of the test clips from big-budget movies were frankly breath-taking, however. One thing is certain, we can’t wait to see more and we genuinely think the public, at large, are going to see the benefits of HDR far more readily than they have/will the jump to Ultra HD resolutions.
All in all, the Samsung UE65JS8500 presents a gateway to the future at a price that’s far from unreasonable and we’re happy to give it an AVForums Highly Recommended Award.
What else could I buy?The most comparable TV we’ve reviewed to this one is the Sony KD-65X8505C, which has many of the same virtues as the Samsung at, more or less, the same price. We think the JS8500 edges this one, however, by way of its slightly more sophisticated dimming and better Smart TV features – it is close though.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money9
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