Samsung AU9000 (UE50AU9000) LED LCD TV Review

Bargain gaming?

by Phil Hinton
SRP: £629.00
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Samsung AU9000 (UE50AU9000) LED LCD TV Review

The Samsung AU9000 is not an enthusiast’s TV for critical movie viewing in a dark room, and it never pretends to be. It is a good quality everyday living room workhorse with a decent image for bright room viewing that gets fairly accurate out of the box. It has an excellent smart TV system and gaming features such as ALLM, VRR and a low input lag of 10.9ms to keep the most competitive gamer happy. It does struggle with HDR image brightness and there is no Dolby Vision on board, but it also comes in at a very competitive price point, where it offers decent value for money and gets a recommendation if you are looking for such a screen.

The Good

  • Filmmaker Mode
  • Good calibrated images in SDR
  • Good motion for SDR and HDR film content
  • Good motion with 50Hz broadcast
  • Very good gaming features - VRR, ALLM, 120Hz
  • Input Lag 10.9ms
  • Excellent OS and Smart TV (Tizen)
  • Object Tracking Sound Lite

The Not So Good

  • Not a TV for enthusiasts or dark room viewing of movie content
  • Filmmaker Mode could be more accurate
  • Gamma S-curve
  • Bright edges to panel uniformity due to edge-lit panel
  • Black crush with SDR and HDR content due to gamma S-curve
  • Poor viewing angles when watching off axis
  • Lacks HDR brightness for impact

What is the Samsung AU9000?

The AU9000 is part of Samsung’s ‘Crystal’ UHD range that sits just below the more premium QLED range. We are reviewing the 50-inch model here that features an edge-lit 4K (8bit +FRC) VA panel on a bezel-less design with HDR10+, HLG and HDR10 high dynamic range support, but no Dolby Vision. The picture processing is handled by the Samsung Crystal Processor 4K providing upscaling and motion processing along with the Dynamic Crystal Color feature to provide a wider colour gamut performance.

The main features of the AU9000 certainly centre around its gaming prowess to attract users looking for a more cost-effective solution instead of an OLED or Neo-QLED model, with some of the HDMI 2.1 features being available through its three HDMI 2.0b ports. We get the Motion Xcelerator Turbo gaming mode which is Samsung’s unique dynamic refresh technology for displaying VRR and 120Hz plus we get a new Game Bar display showing you what the game you are playing is using in terms of refresh and graphics. You can also set this to display 32:9 PC style super-wide games. Gaming input lag is also an impressive 10.9ms in 4K/60.

... very good sturdy build quality and decent plastics

In terms of audio, the AU9000 also features the Samsung Object Tracking Sound Lite which uses both of the 10W speakers in the TV to create an immersive sound field, with a wide stereo soundstage and some height effects. It ultimately lacks any real weight or dynamics, but for casual TV viewing, which this TV is designed for, the sound quality is surprisingly very good.

Finally, we have the menus and Smart TV system and like all Samsung models at any price point, the same technology is employed across the entire range. Tizen is a superb operating system with almost every major application supported, along with fast and reactive processing, allowing things to work without any hanging or crashing. The menus are also a simple design that makes it very easy for users of any ability to find what they are looking for and make their desired changes.

So, it all looks promising at the price point for the AU9000, so just how well does it perform? Let’s find out...

Video Review

Design, Connections and Control

The design of the AU9000 is very good for a value option with very good sturdy build quality and decent plastics. The bezel-less design features a gunmetal style finish to the panel edges, and the stands, while plastic, are also sturdy enough to hold the TV upright without any problems. The feet also have rows within the plastic at the rear to push cables into for cable management.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Those same runs also feature on the rear of the panel to allow cable management from the connections and away from the TV via the stands.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Around the back of the panel, we also have the connections which are sideways and rearwards facing. Sideways we have two USB 2.0 ports, a LAN and two HDMI 2.0b slots with an RF antenna at the bottom of the connections section and a CI slot. Rearwards facing we have a further HDMI 2.0b port and digital audio output.

Samsung UE50AU9000

The AU9000 ships with two remote controls with a small mini remote in black for everyday use with a larger traditional remote full of buttons with access to more options through direct button pushes. Both are plastic but sturdy with a nice feel in the hand no matter which one you choose to use.

Measurements

Out of the Box

As we do with all TV reviews we factory reset the Samsung AU9000 and then measured the picture presets to find which is the most accurate to the industry standards, out of the box. The best preset is Filmmaker Mode (FMM) which switches off all unwanted processing with accurate colour and white balance retained. It is a one-button press solution that has no video processing or motion interpolation applied and it follows the industry standards for SDR and HDR content playback.

We use Portrait Displays’ Calman colour calibration software, a Murideo Seven Generator and Klein K-10A meter for measurement and calibration.

Samsung UE50AU9000

As we can see in the greyscale chart above, the Samsung is not quite as accurate as it should be in Filmmaker Mode, with a deficit of red energy and a slight increase in green and blue through the range. We also have an issue with the Gamma which follows an s-curve instead of the BT.1886 standard, which means that the image is too dark in the shadows and too bright in the highlights, it gives the image a false sense of pop. As a result, our DeltaE errors are higher than the visible threshold of three, as we can see these errors within TV and Film content.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Moving to the Rec.709 colour gamut the results here are a lot more accurate with just a few small issues with red undersaturation and green hue errors, but these are under the visible threshold with no noticeable effect on TV and film content we viewed. So overall, as an out of the box present, we have seen much better from Filmmaker Mode on competing TVs and would encourage Samsung to make sure it adds in more accuracy going forward.

Calibrated

Like all Samsung TVs, there is a suite of calibration controls available to dial in the image quality and hopefully make the images a little bit more accurate to the standards.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Looking at the greyscale we were able to flatten out the scale as the image gets brighter and improve the out of the box results slightly. However, the controls are coarse which means that we were unable to get the results perfectly flat as we would like. We were also unable to correct the s-curve nature of the gamma response, which means that our DeltaE errors did get above the visible threshold of three around mid brightness levels.

Samsung UE50AU9000

The Rec.709 colour gamut was also calibrated as well as we could with the given controls, and this was done for 75% saturation and below, with a few errors remaining at 100%, but these are not as important as the lower saturation results, which make up the vast majority of the image quality. Overall, we managed to get the AU9000 looking fairly accurate following calibration.

HDR Results

We measured the HDR performance of the Samsung AU9000 in the Filmmaker HDR Mode which aims to tone map content correctly to the ST.2084 PQ EOTF standard and attempts to produce a wider colour gamut towards the BT.2020 standards. As with most LED LCD TVs at this price point, the peak brightness is not very bright and, being an edge-lit display, this is also impacted in terms of total peak brightness.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Using our standard testing of measuring various screen window sizes, we found that the peak brightness of the AU9000 was around 275 nits across all window sizes. This is to be expected from a set at this price point. With an ANSI measured black level of 0.071 nits we get an on/off contrast of 3878:1.

Samsung UE50AU9000

The PQ EOTF tracking to ST.2084 was decent given the lack of peak brightness with a tone map that rolled off gently from around 80 nits to the peak of 275 nits. This helped to retain some details in the peak highlights, but those highlights were far from being dynamic or bright on the Samsung. The brightness and performance on offer were slightly brighter than normal SDR content.

Samsung UE50AU9000

The Samsung AU9000 also makes a decent stab at wide colour with a gamut that is not quite wide enough for DCI-P3 coverage, but the saturation points are close to where they should be within a reduced gamut size.

Samsung UE50AU9000

We measured BT.2020 at 63% XY and 69% UV with P3 coming in at 87% XY and 92% UV.

Samsung UE50AU9000

Performance

To start, I think it is important to cover the expectations on image quality and the use cases for the Samsung AU9000. It is not a TV for critical film or HDR viewing due to the inherent limitations of the TV and the LED LCD technology being used. It is simply not bright enough to provide HDR with full dynamic range and the colour performance is not quite wide enough compared to the higher-end models but, once you are aware and accept these limitations, we can assess the AU9000 fairly.

Screen uniformity is not perfect with this being an edge-lit TV and it is a mixed bag to be honest. We have slightly brighter edges and a darker centre when viewing test slides from 5% to 100% brightness. With 5% we have lighter edges visible, especially towards the bottom of the panel. We also have issues with clouding across the screen and this is particularly visible with a 50% brightness pattern where we can clearly see an uneven uniformity to the panel and backlight. We also noted some Dirty Screen Effect (DSE) which was most noticeable when watching panning shots over areas of the same colour, like a football pitch or sky.

... watching with some ambient lighting is recommended to get the best out of the black levels and panel brightness

Black levels are decent on the AU9000 when watching in a bright well lit living room but if you look closely you start to notice a degree of black crush in the image. This is particularly noticeable in darker scenes, such as the beginning of John Wick: Chapter 3 where the walls and surroundings of a side street have details missing in the shadows that should be visible. When watching in completely dark surroundings, the black levels are more dark navy in colour due to the lack of contrast and the limitations of the technology. Like most LED LCD TVs at this price point, the Samsung AU9000 is best suited to bright surroundings where its image quality stands up to scrutiny better than in dim surroundings.

The video processing on the AU9000 is also decent for the price point with good HD to 4K upscaling with no obvious signs of over enhanced edges or ringing to straight lines, and we didn’t see any obvious issues with good quality HD sources being upscaled to the 3840 x 2160 resolution. Images are also sharp and detailed without looking overly processed in any way, although lower bit rate content doesn’t look good at all, but it doesn’t look any better on a TV costing thousands more. Motion is also decent on the AU9000 with 24fps material adopting the correct pulldown with Motion Clarity switched off. There is no induced judder present and image blur is present in the content and intact, giving images the correct look without over smoothing. You can add in frame interpolation with Soap Opera Effect (SOE) using the provided Motion Clarity controls but we found artefacts were present in most fast-moving scenes with edges breaking up and trailing. Some experimentation in the custom mode may help those looking for smoother motion with fast-moving sports, like football.

SDR picture quality in the Filmmaker Mode and calibrated settings is good with excellent colour tones and a natural look to skin tones. Detail is present and correct, with a nice image sharpness and good motion when set correctly for 24fps. Film images have a nice filmic look within certain scenes, but watching with some ambient lighting is recommended to get the best out of the black levels and panel brightness. There is pop to images thanks to that s-curve in the gamma response for SDR content, but this does come at the expense of shadow details thanks to black crush. The brighter parts of the image also start to look slightly washed out with some detail missing due to gamma being much brighter than the BT.1886 standard. However, for a second screen or gaming TV, these issues will not affect the enjoyment of some users, this is not, after all, a TV for critical movie watching. Used in a well-lit living room and the small issues we have with the TV limitations as much less obvious with that pop in the image likely to please many end users not looking for complete image accuracy.

...

the end result is an impressive gaming performance at the price point, which will likely appeal to many console and PC gamers out there

HDR is a much tougher nut to crack when you are struggling for brightness, which is the case here with the AU9000. Like many other screens at this market level, the panel is just not bright enough to display HDR with any kind of dynamic range or peak highlight detail. Colours do look good with HDR content and the tone mapping also helps pull out some peak highlight details and add some dynamics to the image, but it is not getting close to any OLED or premium QLED for dynamic range or wide colour gamut performance. It plays back HDR content with a slightly brighter image than with SDR, but it is limited due to the technology and price point. However, once again, if you are watching in a bright living room, are not that concerned with image accuracy and you want a nice colourful image, the Samsung AU9000 will certainly give you that, with decent motion as well.

So when we move to the day to day role of the TV, the AU9000 is more than capable of being an everyday workhorse, gaming TV or second room screen. At this price point you can’t expect reference image accuracy or black levels that rival OLED, instead you get a solid performer that is honest in its picture quality capabilities and offers good value. This is especially true when it comes to gaming.

Thanks to the added benefit of the Motion Xcelerator Turbo gaming mode, you can feed the TV 1080p 120Hz signals, as well as having VRR and ALLM capabilities. Plus, the measured input lag came in at just 10.9ms in 4K/60p, which is impressively fast and should keep even hardcore gamers happy. We also found the image quality and motion when gaming to be very good indeed, with SDR images looking detailed and with a nice colour balance, while HDR was slightly brighter and slightly more colourful, but it’s not night and day. However, the end result is an impressive gaming performance at the price point, which will likely appeal to many console and PC gamers out there.

...

for casual TV viewing, which this TV is designed for, the sound quality is surprisingly very good

The OS and Smart TV system on the AU9000 is the excellent Tizen 6.0 system which has been around for a number of years now. It is fast and stable with an excellent selection of terrestrial catch-up applications, as well as the major services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Apple TV+ to name a few. There are also other options such as Samsung TV+ which collates the best TV and catch-up items for you and you can also control the Samsung using Alexa, Bixby or Google Assistant.

Finally, the sound quality on the Samsung AU9000 is again decent for this type of TV and price point. The two-channel 10W speakers create an excellent soundstage that is wide and expansive, helped by the Object Tracking Lite technology built-in. For everyday TV programmes and news, it suits the TV and provides a serviceable performance that allows clear dialogue and some expansive stereo effects. It does however lack any real weight and film soundtracks can sound a little underwhelming due to the lack of bass, but as an everyday TV, the speakers and sound quality are very good.

Conclusion

Samsung AU9000 (UE50AU9000) LED LCD TV Review

Like many TVs at this market position, the Samsung AU9000 has to be many things too many people and achieve this at a given price point. As such, it manages to do many things well, but not quite excel at them all, as a more expensive flagship model would.

... it’s an all-rounder for the living room or second room and it does that job very well

However, it does offer excellent attributes for console and PC gamers at a competitive price point, as well as very good image quality when watched directly on-axis in a well-lit living room. Here, it provides an image with pop and colour along with decent looking black levels. Of course, scratch beneath the surface and we find some areas that are weak due to the limitations of the technology at this price point, such as viewing angles, black levels and HDR that isn’t very bright at all. The AU9000 is not a TV for dark room viewing or critical movie watching, it’s an all-rounder for the living room or second room and it does that job very well.

Overall, if you are looking for a good value gaming TV with an excellent smart TV system and OS, along with decent image quality for everyday TV viewing in a well-lit living room or second room, the Samsung AU9000 should certainly be on your list of screens to check out, it gets a recommendation.

Recommended

Scores

Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level

.
.
.
7

Screen Uniformity

.
.
.
7

Colour Accuracy

.
.
8

Greyscale Accuracy

.
.
8

Video Processing

.
9

Picture Quality

.
.
8

SDR Picture Quality

.
.
8

HDR Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box

.
.
.
7

Picture Quality Calibrated

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Smart Features

.
9

Build Quality

.
.
8

Ease Of Use

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
.
.
7

Click here

The games console used in this review was kindly supplied by our gaming partner Smyths Toys Gaming, the No.1 choice for next-gen Gaming


7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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