Samsung UE78JS9500 (JS9500) SUHD 4K TV Review
On a screen this big the curve really makes sense
What is the JS9500?The JS9500 is Samsung’s flagship TV model for 2015 and forms part of their SUHD range. It includes all the latest features with an Ultra HD 4K 10-bit panel, a wider colour space thanks to their Nano Crystal technology and support for High Dynamic Range (HDR). It also includes a curved screen, octa-core processing and Samsung’s latest Smart TV platform powered by Tizen. There's also a newly designed remote control, support for active shutter 3D, a built-in camera and Samsung’s proprietary One Connect box.
The JS9500 is intended to be a statement product and only comes in very large screen sizes. In the fact the smallest is the 65-inch UE65JS9500 that we reviewed recently and the largest is the 88-inch UE88JS9500. Our review sample is the equally monumental 78-inch UE78JS9500, which will set you back a whopping £9,999 at the time of writing (May 2015). Obviously the 78JS9500 is beyond the means of most people but does this aspirational product provide a glimpse of the future?
DesignThe JS9500 is every inch the flagship product with an excellent level of build quality and a beautifully engineered finish. The solid construction is important because you don’t want this beast collapsing in your living room and it needs to be well made to support the huge 78-inch curved screen. Whilst the merits of curved screens on smaller TVs might be debatable, there’s no denying the immersive nature of the curve when looking at the 78JS9500. The screen is surrounded by a chamfered 1.5cm wide brushed metal bezel and there is an illuminated Samsung logo at the bottom centre, which thankfully can be turned off. At the top centre you’ll find a pop-up camera for making Skype video calls.
The JS9500 uses a direct LED array backlight but despite this, and the screen size, the chassis is only 4cm deep. The rear of the TV is as well finished as the front but since it uses the One Connect box, the only connectors are for the power cord and the proprietary One Connect cable. The chrome metal stand is equally as solid but then it needs to be and whilst it can’t be swivelled that’s probably not an issue on a screen this size. There’s no getting around the fact that the UE75JS9500 is a big TV and it weighs a ton, although not literally; so if you’re thinking of buying one make sure you have the space and a suitably robust base. Although if you’re thinking of wall mounting you might want to check the stability of your house first.
Despite the huge screen, the 78JS9500 remains surprisingly slim but thankfully has tank-like construction.
Connections & ControlThe 78JS9500 comes with Samsung's handy One Connect box which 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 JS9500 has built-in WiFi.
The box itself mirrors the rest of the TV with a silver brushed metal finish and a well built feel to the unit. The first generation of the One Connect box could get quite hot due to the processors inside but Samsung managed to address that issue last year. Obviously with Octa-Core processing in this year's model, the amount of heat produced has increased and Samsung have included fans for cooling. Although we should point out that you can hear these fans when the volume is low or off.
In terms of remotes the UE78JS9500 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 78JS9500 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 JS9500, the ability to use your smartphone or tablet as a remote is a welcome addition
78JS9500 Features & SpecsSince the JS9500 is Samsung's flagship TV range, it comes with just about every feature imaginable including the previously mentioned Ultra HD 4K panel, One Connect box and motion remote control. It also incorporates Samsung's proprietary Nano Crystal technology for a wider colour space (92% of DCI), along with a new 10-bit panel and octa-core processing. In addition there is support for High Dynamic Range (HDR), as well as the Peak Illuminator which boosts the brightness to 1,000nit without using additional power. The Peak Illuminator analyses the image and converts energy from the dark parts of the picture to the bright parts, thus improving the contrast ratio and boosting the dynamic range. The UE78JS9500 also uses a direct backlight and local dimming to produce a superior overall performance, whilst the Auto Depth Enhancer has been improved and now works on an object-based rather than area-based methodology.
Samsung have overhauled their Smart TV system this year and it's now powered by the Tizen operating system. That means the system has moved away from a full screen approach and now resembles LG's webOS - which probably isn't a coincidence. It does mean that everything is now treated as an app in the system and thus allows easy navigation using a selection of cards running along the bottom of the screen. You can select or expand these cards to drill further down into the content you want or you can simply change the source and select video on demand services, games, social apps and more. The system is fast and stable thanks to the use of octa-core processing but it is still being developed at the time of writing. As such there have been regular software updates and services being added to the Smart platform, so some popular apps are missing but will be added soon. We will provide a full standalone review of the new smart TV system once Samsung have finished rolling it out.
The JS9500 deserves it's status as a flagship model and includes just about every TV feature you can imagine.
Picture SettingsIn terms of picture settings we would recommend selecting the Movie picture mode, a colour tone of Warm2 and the Auto colour space, along with appropriate contrast and brightness settings. You can also leave the sharpness, colour and tint controls at their default setting. In the included video we go through all these settings and also the detailed white balance and colour space Custom settings but we would warn against just copying these settings. Every TV and environment is different, so just copying detailed settings doesn't guarantee a better picture and might make things worse; instead we would suggest that you also follow our Picture Perfect Guide.
You can see our suggested picture settings for the sample of the UE78JS9500 we reviewed in this video:
Pre-CalibrationSo far this year, all the Samsung TVs we have reviewed have been extremely accurate out-of-the-box, so we were surprised that the UE78JS9500 didn't deliver better measurements. That isn't to say they were bad but there was a deficit in blue across most of the greyscale, which meant the excess of red and green was giving whites a slight yellow push. Although the gamma was tracking at 2.2, aside from a slight bump up to 2.4 at 10IRE. The colour accuracy was better but it was being affected by the errors in the greyscale and you can see white skewing towards yellow in the CIE chart on the right below.
Post CalibrationThankfully correcting the deficit of blue in the greyscale was easy, all we needed to do was increase the blue gain control in the two-point white balance and the errors disappeared. Although the JS9500 also has a ten-point white balance control we didn't really need to use it to get a reference greyscale performance. The gamma is tracking around 2.2, although we couldn't flatten out the bump at 10IRE. Once the greyscale had been calibrated, it was a simple task to use Samsung's excellent colour management system to bring all the colours into line with their target coordinates, again delivering a reference performance.
We measured the tracking at lower saturation points and were pleased to see that the UE78JS9500 delivered a very accurate performance, with the primary (red, green and blue) and secondary (cyan, magenta and yellow) colours all at or very close to their targets for 25, 50, 75 and 100%. We also measured the full native colour space of the JS9500 and as Samsung claims, it is about 92% of the DCI standard thanks to the use of their Nano Crystal technology.
The out-of-the-box performance wasn't as good as on other Samsung models but it was reference after calibration.
Input LagSamsung have made huge improvements this year in terms of the input lag on their Ultra HD 4K TVs and the UE78JS9500 is no exception. In Game mode we measured a lag of 24ms, which should be low enough for even the most demanding gamer. As a result gaming was very responsive and the combination of the huge screen size, curve and excellent processing made the experience highly immersive. We certainly enjoyed gaming on our PS4 and although a TV like the 78JS9500 is beyond the means of most people, it's a thrilling experience gaming on a UHD screen this big.
Sound QualityConsidering the size and cost of the UE78JS9500 we assume anyone buying it will also have some form of outboard sound solution and during testing we used it in conjunction with Samsung's HW-J7500 curved soundbar. The J7500 matched the 78JS9500 in terms of curve and styling but it was actually a bit small. The J7500 is designed to be used with screen sizes up to 65-inches but its bigger brother, the HW-J8500 has been specially designed to compliment the 78- and 88-inch versions of the JS9500 range. However if you are planning on using the onboard sound, the huge size does at least mean that some decent speakers are included. As a result the sound quality of the 78JS9500 was very good, with the downward-firing speakers creating a decent front soundstage. The size of the screen itself makes for better stereo separation, whilst the built-in amplification meant that the Samsung could go loud without distorting. The JS9500 reproduced dialogue with clarity, whilst music and effects are also well rendered. There are a number of different sound effects available, allowing you to adjust the sound quality depending on the content you are watching.
Samsung UE78JS9500 Video Review
The picture quality was superb and the huge curved screen helped to create a truly immersive experience.
UE78JS9500 Picture QualityThe JS9500 range of SUHD TVs all use a full direct LED array and as a result the backlight was extremely uniform, even on the UE78JS9500's huge screen, with no clouding, pooling, bleeding or bright corners and edges. However, despite the deeper chassis there was some minor banding apparent on camera pans across uniform surfaces such as a football pitch. This is undoubtedly caused by the very bright LEDs themselves being directly behind the panel and is common issue with LED LCD TVs that use direct array backlighting.
Video ProcessingSamsung have always been very strong when it comes to video processing and on the UE78JS9500 the results were extremely impressive. This remains a key area when it comes to Ultra HD 4K TVs because, for the time being at least, almost all the content you watch will be upscaled to match the higher resolution panel. The 78JS9500 delivered a fantastic all-round performance, scaling content effectively without introducing any obvious artefacts. The JS9500 also 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 UE78JS9500 and it came in 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 sports or games but in general we found the motion handling on the 78JS96500 to be perfectly acceptable, even on a screen this big. Thankfully when watching 24p Blu-rays the motion retained a suitably film-like quality and overall the motion handling on the JS9500 was generally good for an LCD TV.
Black Levels & Contrast RatioSamsung use VA panels on their TVs and as a result the black levels are generally very good for an LCD panel. We measured a 0IRE window at 0.06cd/m2, although on a full black screen the LEDs switched off and the measurement dropped to 0.001cd/m2. We got exactly the same measurement of 0.001cd/m2 on both a window and full screen with the Smart LED (local dimming) set to Low. The UE78JS9500 is also very bright, easily hitting our target of 120cd/m2 and going as high as 386cd/m2 on a 100IRE full screen with everything maxed out. The on/off contrast ratio came in at 2,000:1 and the ANSI contrast ratio was 1,544:1 with Smart LED off and 1,935:1 with it set to Low. Since the 78JS9500 uses a VA panel it is worth pointing to that the viewing angles are limited when compared to an IPS panel. However thanks to the huge screen size this is less of an issue than it is on smaller models because unless your room is huge, you're never that far off axis.
Ultra HD 4K PerformanceIn our recent review of the 40-inch Samsung UE40JU6400 we questioned the logic of watching Ultra HD 4K content on a screen that small but there are no such issues when it comes to the UE78JS9500. This panel has been designed to represent the state-of-the-art when it comes to UHD and at 78-inches the results are simply jaw dropping. We have test footage of Canada that was shot on a Panasonic GH4 and the images looked simply spectacular on the JS9500. All the elements that make this TV so good came into play with the Ultra HD panel, the full array backlight, the inherent brightness, the image accuracy and the effective local dimming all combining to deliver stunning 4K images.
We also had some test content (scenes from Exodus: Gods and Kings and Life of Pi) that has been remastered in High Dynamic Range (HDR) and again the results were hugely impressive. On the massive UE78JS9500 these scenes in HDR simply looked breath-taking, with incredible detail and highlights that popped. One thing we did notice is that when the JS9500 detects HDR content, it defaults to a backlight setting of 20, which means you'll need to remember to turn it back down again when watching normal content. Although with the recent announcement of the completed specifications for Ultra HD Blu-ray, the future of 4K looks very bright indeed - if you'll excuse the pun.
High Definition PerformanceBy now you should have realised that in the JS9500 range of TVs Samsung have delivered the pinnacle in terms of performance from established LCD technology. In fact it's hard to see how they could really squeeze any more performance out of an LED LCD TV. They will probably reach 100% of DCI soon and if they make sure you can't see the LED array and improve the viewing angles that would be great but otherwise the JS9500 is probably about as good an LED LCD TV as you'll ever see. When you combine all the elements we've already mentioned and then add in the superb video processing, the results with lower resolution content are just as impressive. So when watching Full HD broadcasts the UE78JS9500 delivered lovely big screen images and nature documentaries in particular gained an entirely new dimension.
However the large screen size does mean that any limitations in the source material will be immediately apparent and banding in particular was evident in certain TV channels. Which means if you're watching standard definition, where the TV is interpolating over 90% of that 78-inch image, you're really going to need to employ some sharpening to make the image watchable. Although you won't need to resort to such methods with most Blu-rays and the high definition disc format really got a chance to show what it's capable of on the 78JS9500. Recent purchases like John Wick and old favourites like Gravity simply looked stunning on the JS9500, making you almost believe they were 4K transfers. Until that is you actually put on some UHD content and truly appreciate the potential of the new format.
3D PerformanceWhen it comes to 3D, the bigger the screen the more immersive the experience and the UE78JS9500 certainly delivers the goods in this regard. In fact with its curved screen it's already fairly immersive in 2D, so once you switch to 3D the results are fantastic. The active shutter technology takes full advantage of the increased resolution of Ultra HD panel and the result is a 3D experience that is bursting with detail. The incredibly bright panel means that the dimming nature of the glasses is completely eliminated and there was a pleasing lack of crosstalk or other distracting artefacts. In fact our only complaint is that there is some undefeatable frame interpolation going on, which we have reported back to Samsung. However that aside the results were spectacular and watching the recently released The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies showed a wonderful sense of dimensionality, with plenty of layers and depth. The overall performance of the 78JS9500, coupled with the size of the screen and the curve, completely immersed you in the film and made you feel as though you could step through the screen and into Middle Earth.
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?
- Wide dynamic range
- Highly effective local dimming
- Impressive 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
- Occasional banding
- One Connect box is noisy
Samsung UE78JS9500 (JS9500) SUHD 4K TV ReviewAs we mentioned in the introduction, the Samsung UE78JS9500 is more of an aspirational product, with a price tag that will mean it's out of reach for most people. However it does give a tantalising glimpse of our Ultra HD 4K future and many of the features on the JS9500 range will trickle down to lower Samsung models next year. It's certainly represents the zenith of LED LCD technology and we can't imagine Samsung will go much farther down this road. The 78JS9500 includes just about every feature you can imagine including a One Connect box, two remote controls, octa-core processing, a new Smart TV platform powered by Tizen and support for active shutter 3D. Thanks to Samsung's Nano Crystal technology the native colour space is 92% of DCI and the JS9500 supports High Dynamic Range. The video processing was as impressive as we'd expect from Samsung, the sound quality was good and the input lag was a very low 24ms.
The out-of-the-box accuracy wasn't as impressive as we've seen on some Samsung review samples this year but after calibration the 78JS9500 delivered a reference performance. The native blacks are good for an LCD panel and the local dimming is very effective, resulting in a decent contrast ratio and dynamic range. The motion handling was also good and can easily be improved by using the Auto Motion Plus feature. When it came to watching actual 4K content the huge 78-inch screen really came into its own, delivering a gorgeous and incredibly detailed picture. The same was true with lower resolution content, although the larger screen will reveal any limitations in the source content. Thanks to the size of the screen, the curve really added to the enjoyment and created a highly immersive experience which has even more impressive when watching 3D content.
In terms of complaints, our only real issues were that there was occasional banding, the optimal viewing angles are limited, there was some undefeatable processing in 3D and the One Connect box can get noisy. Otherwise the Samsung UE78JS9500 delivered a fantastic overall performance and despite the hefty price tag, it's worthy of a Highly Recommended badge.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9,999.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level9
3D Picture Quality9
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated10
Ease Of Use9
Value for Money8
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