There's still plenty of life left in LCD TVs yet
What is the Samsung JS9000?The JS9000 is Samsung's latest high-end curved Ultra HD 4K LED LCD TV model, sitting just below the flagship JS9500 in their 2015 SUHD range. The UE65JS9000 is the 65-inch version and retails for around £3,999 but the range also includes the 55-inch UE55JS900 (£3,099) and the 48-inch UE48JS9000 (£2,599).
Samsung's SUHD line of TVs are designed to offer a degree of future-proofing and the JS9000 includes their Nano Crystal technology, which delivers a wider colour space that is 92% of the DCI standard. The JS9000 also uses more efficient LEDs and a newer brighter panel that allows it to support High Dynamic Range (HDR), along with 10-bit video.
In terms of comparisons between the JS9000 and the more expensive JS9500, the major difference is that the latter uses a direct LED backlight, whilst the JS9000 has edge LED lighting. The cheaper model also loses the chamfered bezel and built-in camera but otherwise is the same - with two remotes, two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses, the One Connect Box and Smart TV powered by Tizen.
Editors Note: We always fully disclose to our readers what it is we are reviewing and why. This model is not released for retail until the end of March and as such all UK reviews of this TV are currently based on either a show floor demo at CES, a closed door preview at Samsung UK or in the case of this review, a pre-production review sample being sent to us directly from Samsung.
The sample has been tested in our usual review environment and it was treated the same way as any TV sent in for review. However, readers should bear in mind that we can't guarantee the final retail production units that ship to retailers will be exactly the same as this sample unit. Although we don't think there will be any major differences in terms of design, layout or performance.
DesignThe JS9000 sports a very similar design to the more expensive JS9500 but the changes reflect the differences between the two models. Since the JS9000 uses edge LEDs rather than a direct backlight array, the chassis isn't as deep and has tapered edges. Otherwise the two models look almost identical with a curved screen, a brushed metal finish and a ridged grey and silver rear panel. The bezel isn't chamfered like on the JS9500 but it's still an attractive brushed metal finish and measures 1.5cm wide at the sides and 1cm at the top and bottom. There is no built-in camera on the JS9000 and rather than an illuminated Samsung logo there is a LED at the bottom, although this can be turned off.
The downward-firing speakers are also built into the bottom of the chassis and the overall build quality is excellent with a solid and largely metal construction. The JS9000 has the same stand as the JS9500 with a chrome curved bar and a matching rear support. It looks attractive and is solidly built but can't be swivelled so careful placement is important. However a new filter does mean that this latest generation of curved screens are less prone to reflections. At the back of the panel there is a recessed area where you plug the two-pin power cable in and another where you attach the proprietary cable for the One Connect box. Also at the rear, on the bottom left is a small joy stick control in case you misplace both of the provided remotes.
The JS9000 boasts a gorgeous design and an excellent level of build quality.
Connections and ControlThe JS9000 includes the One Connect box, which means that there are only two connections going to the panel itself, the proprietary One Connect cable and the power cord - handy if you're wall-mounting. It has Octa-Core processing, the latest version of Samsung's Smart TV platform, HEVC decoding and support for HDCP 2.2 copy protection. In terms of the actual connections, the One box includes four HDMI 2.0 inputs and three USB ports. There's also twin tuners for both terrestrial and satellite TV, along with a Common Interface (CI) slot.
In addition there are inputs for composite and component video, digital optical audio, an IR extender and a headphone socket. There's a proprietary connector for the cable that connects the box to the TV, as well as a LAN port, although the JS9000 has built-in WiFi. The One Connect box mirrors the rest of the TV with a silver brushed metal finish and obviously with Octa-Core processing in this year's model, the amount of heat produced has increased and so Samsung have included fans for cooling. You can hear these fans when the volume is low or off but you can always put the box away somewhere.
In terms of remotes the JS9000 comes with two, the first of which is a plain black plastic controller. It includes all the buttons you would ever need to control the TV but, aside from during setup, you probably won't use most of them very often. For that reason Samsung provide a simplified 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 JS9000 is fairly feature ladened TV and, as already mentioned, comes with the One Connect box, two remote controls and two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses. It also incorporates Samsung's proprietary Nano Crystal technology, along with a new 10-bit panel that uses an improved light source with higher transmittance. It has Octa-Core processing with quantum colour expression, a peak illuminator and content-orientated picture quality enhancements.
As mentioned the JS9000 uses edge LED backlighting and the Auto Depth Enhancer has been improved, now working on an object-based rather than area-based methodology. Samsung have updated their Smart TV platform, which is now powered by Tizen and offers a host of new features as well as a completely redesigned user interface. Since our review sample was a pre-production unit and the smart platform is still being developed and tested, we will wait until after its official launch before reviewing it in detail.
In terms of the new technology, Nano Crystal technology is Samsung's version of quantum dot and means that the JS9000 can deliver purer and more precise colours by adjusting the size and thus the wavelength of the ultra fine particles in the nano crystal layer, allowing it to deliver 92% of DCI. In addition the cell structure of the panel has been changed to improve the transmittance making it 37% brighter, whilst the LEDs are 20% more efficient, thus improving the black levels and creating a better contrast ratio.
The new panel also offers 10-bit colour depth and Quantum Colour Expression processing which uses an increased number of colour adjustment points to better map content to the TV's wider colour space. The Peak Illuminator allows the TV to take full advantage of its increased brightness and improved contrast ratio, boosting the brightness to 1,000nit without using additional power by analysing the image and converting energy from the dark parts of the picture to the bright parts.
Whilst the JS9000 might not be the flagship model in this year's Samsung range, it has all the same features.
Picture SettingsWhen you first setup your new JS9000 or any Samsung TV for that matter, we always recommend that you select the Movie picture Mode; by doing this you will immediately get the most accurate out-of-the-box performance. Once you've selected the Movie mode, you'll need to set the Backlight, Contrast and Brightness controls to suit your viewing environment, you can do this using a calibration disc. The Sharpness control can be set to zero to ensure there is no edge enhancement artefacts and the Colour and Tint controls left at their default settings. In the Picture Size sub-menu choose Picture Size 16:9 and turn Fit to Screen on.
To make sure that your calibrated settings are being used on all inputs, apply the picture mode to all sources. In terms of the advanced settings, you need to turn off special features such as Dynamic Contrast, Black Tone and Flesh Tone because these are detrimental to image accuracy. Unless you're planning on a calibration we'd also recommend leaving the Gamma at zero, the White Balance controls untouched and the Colour Space on Auto. In terms of the picture options you can turn the Digital Clean View and MPEG Noise Filter features off. When watching letterboxed films use Cinema Black on to turn off the LEDs in the black bars.
In addition set Film Mode to Auto2 for interlaced content but when watching film-based content we would recommend leaving Auto Motion Plus to off but feel free to experiment with sports broadcasts. The Smart LED feature controls the local dimming and using the Low setting produced the best results in terms of deep blacks and minimal haloing. When we reviewed the JS9500 we noticed that the Smart LED control kept defaulting back to Standard whenever you turned the TV off or changed input or mode. We reported this to Samsung and they released a firmware update that fixed this particular bug, so it's no longer an issue.
You can see our suggested picture settings for the pre-production sample of the UE65JS9000 we reviewed in this video:
Pre-CalibrationWhen we tested the JS9500 it delivered some of the most accurate out-of-the-box measurements we had ever recorded. So we were curious to see how the JS9000 performed and whilst not quite as good as the more expensive model, they were still superb. As you can see in the graph below the greyscale is tracking very accurately, with almost equal amounts or red, green and blue. As a result all the DeltaEs are below three, which is the threshold at which errors become imperceptible to the human eye. The gamma is tracking around our target of 2.4, which is also very good.
The same excellent out-of-the-box performance also applied to the colour space, where most of the DeltaEs were also below three. The hue errors were all below three and so were most of the saturation errors, aside from a slight over-saturation in green, blue and yellow. The luminance numbers were also impressive, with only an excess of energy in red and magenta worth mentioning. Since this is a pre-production sample, there's no guarantee that mass-produced retail units will also deliver such a level of accuracy but we will update this area when we have tested a retail unit to verify the results.
Post CalibrationSince the review sample was so accurate out-of-the-box, there wasn't much left to do in terms of calibrating the greyscale and colour space. We merely fine-tuned the greyscale using the ten-point white balance control to get errors of less than one, although it's doubtful you'd see any difference between the pre- and post-calibration settings. We also slightly adjusted the colour space using the colour management system but again, it's debatable how much of a difference you would actually notice after calibration. However, even if this exercise had no perceivable affect on the accuracy of the TV it shows how effective Samsung's calibration controls are, producing results that are essentially perfect - as the graphs below demonstrate.
The measurements shown in the CIE chart above right are only part of the picture, if you'll excuse the pun, because they show the performance at 100% saturation. However we rarely look at a fully saturated image, so get an idea of the colour accuracy at lower saturation levels we also run a series of sweeps at 25, 50 and 75%, as shown in the graph below. The performance of the JS9000 was equally impressive, with all the other colours were at or extremely close to their targets. However, once again we can't guarantee that actual production units will deliver the same kind of accuracy as this pre-production sample.Finally we also checked the native colour space of the JS9000 to see how Samsung's Nano Crystal technology actually measured up in reality. The newly discussed Ultra HD standards for both broadcast and Blu-ray will probably include a colour space as wide as Rec.2020, however in practice it's more likely that the cinema standard of DCI will be used. Samsung claim that the JS9000 has a colour space that's 92% of DCI and as the graph below shows this would appear to be the case. In fact most of the colours were able to reach their targets for DCI, aside from a slight restriction in green and thus yellow.
Samsung's claims of a colour space that reaches 92% of DCI were confirmed by our own measurements.
Input LagIf you're a serious gamer you will definitely need to use the Game Mode because without it the JS9000 delivered an input lag measurement of 161ms. Thankfully once we engaged Game Mode this dropped down to an incredibly low 22ms, which means the JS9000 was extremely responsive when gaming. During our review of the JS9500 we noticed that there was a line, or tear, about two thirds of the down the screen and we made Samsung aware of this issue. We're happy to report that Samsung have since released a firmware update that has fixed this bug, so now there are no issues when gaming on the JS9000 or JS9500.
Sound QualityOver the last two years the sound quality on modern TVs has improved as manufacturers become less obsessed with making ultra-slim designs. The generally larger size of the JS9000 chassis means that bigger speakers can now be included and although they are downward-firing the results were quite impressive. The sound quality of the JS9000 was surprisingly good, with the speakers creating a decent front soundstage and the size of the screen creating a better sense of stereo separation. In addition, the built-in amplification meant that the Samsung could also go loud without distorting or sounding brittle. The JS9000 handled dialogue with clarity, whilst music and effects were also nicely reproduced. There are a number of different sound effects available, allowing you to experiment with adjusting the sound quality depending on the content you are watching.
Samsung UE65JS9000 Video
The JS9000 delivers lovely images that are accurate, detailed and highly enjoyable.
Samsung JS9000 Picture QualityUnlike its more expensive sibling, the JS9000 uses LEDs at the sides which could result in an uneven backlight. Thankfully this didn't prove to be the case and clearly Samsung have made great strides in evening out the backlight of their curved TVs. The JS9000 had a nice even backlight, with no signs of obvious clouding, pooling, bleeding or bright corners and edges.
Video ProcessingWhen we moved on to the video processing the results were equally as impressive, with the JS9000 performing extremely well in all of our tests. This is important because when it comes to Ultra HD 4K TVs most of the content you watch, for the time being at least, will be upscaled to match the higher resolution panel. Thankfully the Samsung delivered a fantastic performance in this area, scaling content effectively without introducing any obvious artefacts. The JS9000 passed all of our usual video processing tests and overall the quality of the deinterlacing and scaling was excellent.
Motion HandlingAs always we used our FPD Benchmark test disc to measure the motion resolution of the JS9000 at around 300 lines which is what we would expect from an LCD TV. This could be improved to the full 1080 lines by using the Auto Motion Plus feature but that gives film content an overly smooth appearance. However there is room for experimentation when it comes to fast-paced sports or games but in general we found the motion handling on the Samsung to be perfectly acceptable without the need to resort to frame interpolation. When watching 24p Blu-rays with Auto Motion Plus off, the motion retained a suitably film-like quality and overall the motion handling on the JS9000 was very good for a LCD TV.
Black Levels and Contrast RatioAs with all Samsung TVs, the JS9000 uses a VA panel, which should result in a superior native black level when compared to a rival IPS panel. In tests we measured the JS9000 at 0.06cd/m2 using a 0IRE window and with a full black screen the LEDs were turned off and the measurement dropped to 0.001cd/m2. We got exactly the same measurement on both a window and full screen with the Smart LED (local dimming) set to Low. This performance matches the JS9500 and, like that TV, the JS9000 is also very bright, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2 and going much higher with the backlight and contrast maxed out, although to get the brightest image you need to use the Dynamic mode, which we would never recommend.
When you combine the brightness of 120cd/m2 and the black measurement of 0.06cd/m2, you get an on/off contrast ratio of 2,000:1 and an ANSI contrast ratio of 1,554:1. These numbers are with the Smart LED feature off and whilst this isn't quite as good as the JS9500, with Smart LED set to Low the JS9000 delivered an ANSI contrast ratio of 2,429:1, which was actually better. These are excellent numbers for both these TVs and demonstrates what LED LCD is capable of with the right combination of panel and local dimming. As with all of Samsung's TVs this year, the viewing angles are limited when compared to an IPS panel; whether you feel this is acceptable will largely depend on where you sit and what's important to you.
Ultra HD 4K Performance and HDRWhilst the amount of native 4K content is still relatively limited, it looks as though that's changing fast. We've already got Netflix, Amazon and YouTube streaming native 4K content, with Netflix also promising support for HDR. Of course that's all well and good for those with fast enough broadband but for many internet streaming won't be an option. Thankfully it looks as though UHD broadcasting will be announced this year, along with an agreed set of standards that won't just mean a higher resolution but also include HDR, a wide colour space and higher dynamic range. Finally we should see the UHD Blu-ray specifications announced and players hitting the stores early next year.
In the meantime we have our own 4K test footage, including gorgeous Canadian vistas shot by AVForums Editor Phil Hinton using a Panasonic GH4 camera. On the JS9000 this test footage looked absolutely stunning, with an incredible level of detail. We also had some brief snippets of Ultra HD 4K content mastered in HDR, including scenes from Exodus: Gods and Kings and Life of Pi. The Exodus footage looked stunning, with amazing detail, a more realistic colour palette and scenes that had real punch and pop. Since we happened to own Life of Pi on Blu-ray we were able to compare specific scenes and there's no doubt that aside from the higher resolution, the HDR image was superior, with more detail in highlights and no compression or video artefacts.
Full HD PerformanceHowever although there's lots of exciting new Ultra HD 4K content on the horizon the reality is that, for the foreseeable future, the majority of the content that you will be watching on your new JS9000 will up upscaled Full HD, so it's vital that the TV performs well in this area. Thankfully the Samsung delivered the goods in spades and as we caught up with season three of House of Cards and new series Better Call Saul on Netflix, we were constantly amazed at how good the picture looked. We had to remind ourselves that this wasn't native 4K content and was in fact being streamed down our fairly slow broadband connection.
When we moved onto Full HD broadcasts things only got better, with wildlife documentaries on BBC 4 looking especially impressive. The level of detail that the 4K panel could squeeze out of the Full HD broadcast was impressive and the video processing did an excellent job of scaling and matching the content to the panel itself. The natural colours and accurate greyscale also came into play and the local dimming did a superb job of delivering deep blacks whilst retaining shadow detail. The peak illuminator also played its part, even with non-HDR content, producing images that hand an impressive dynamic range and sense of impact.
Finally when we watched some of our recent Blu-ray purchases the JS9000 had a chance to really shine, producing some truly lovely images that took the took full advantage of the better quality high definition source. Thanks to all the strengths that we've already mentioned, the images had natural colours, deep blacks, plenty of brightness and impressive levels of detail without introducing any unwanted artefacts. As we watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, John Wick and Predestination we were amazed at what the JS9000 was capable of, proving that there's still some life left in LED LCD technology.
3D PerformanceSince the JS9000 is a Samsung TV, it should come as no surprise to discover that it uses active shutter 3D. Samsung include two pairs of glasses that are light, comfortable to wear and use RF to sync with the TV. Thanks to the JS9000's increase brightness, the 3D performance was excellent and the image had plenty of punch and was free of any crosstalk, flicker or other annoying artefacts. The video processing handled the Full HD 3D Blu-rays superbly and the resulting picture had loads of detail and depth, delivering an enjoyably immersive 3D experience. We watched Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and X-Men: Days of Future Past in 3D and both looked very impressive, with nicely accurate and highly dimensional images.
As with the JS9500 there was one issue however, when it came to watching 3D content. During our testing we could immediately see that frame interpolation was being applied to 3D content, despite the fact that we had definitely turned Auto Motion Plus off. We were able to confirm this observation using our FPD Benchmark disc and the 2D to 3D feature and the continued presence of this undefeatable frame interpolation on 3D content was a real disappointment. Just like the earlier review of the JS9500, we reported the issue back to Samsung and hopefully, as they have done with other bugs that we have pointed out to them, they will be able to address this problem with a firmware update.
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?
- Extremely wide dynamic range
- Impressive local dimming
- Great backlight uniformity
- Reference image accuracy
- Excellent video processing
- Extensive features and upgradability
- Great design and build quality
- Very low input lag
- Un-defeatable frame interpolation in 3D
- Limited viewing angles
- One Connect box is noisy
Samsung UE65JS9000 (JS9000) SUHD 4K TV Review
Should I buy one?Whilst there's no doubt that Samsung's range of SUHD LED LCD TVs are quite expensive, the reality is that this level of performance rarely comes cheap. Besides, the SUHD range of TVs do exactly what the claim to, delivering every last drop of performance from LED LCD technology whilst providing a degree of future-proofing when it comes to the proposed UHD standards. So aside from the Ultra HD 4K support, you also get HDR, a wider colour space and a 10-bit VA panel. On top of that there's the One Connect box, two remote controls, two pairs of active shutter 3D glasses and Samsung's latest Smart TV platform powered by Tizen. If all that isn't enough, the UE65JS9000 also looks gorgeous and is solidly built and well engineered. Of course none of this matters if the JS9000 doesn't deliver the goods in terms of picture quality but thankfully it does, with a lovely image that is accurate, bright and detailed.
Despite the use of edge LEDs, the backlight uniformity remains very good, whilst the local dimming is highly effective delivering great blacks and plenty of dynamic range. The use of a VA panel certainly helps in terms of the native blacks but it does mean that the viewing are restricted when compared to a TV using an IPS panel. However the results with Full HD content were excellent and with 4K content, nothing short of spectacular. The same was true of the small amount of HDR content we had available to watch, with an incredibly detailed and punchy image. The 3D performance was also good but, as with the JS9500, there was still the presence of undefeatable frame interpolation. However when you add up all the positives, the UE65JS9000 represents another strong contender from Samsung and is thoroughly deserving of a Highly Recommended award.
What are my alternatives?It's still early days but based upon what we have seen so far at various shows and launches and given its £3,999 price tag, the JS9000 will be going up directly against Panasonic's CX802, which uses a flat VA panel and their CX852 which uses a curved VA panel. Both of these models also support HDR, 10-bit video and a colour space that is 98% of DCI. In terms of LED LCD TVs from other manufacturers there is Sony's X93C and LG's UF950 but, as far as were know, they don't offer the same degree of future proofing with no support for HDR, DCI or 10-bit video. Obviously we'll know more once we have had a chance to review all these new models but for the moment at least, it appears that Samsung are setting the early pace in this year's TV race.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality9
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box9
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
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