To improve matters on-screen the D8000 features a redesigned 'micro-dimming' LED system, although the array is still edge based. Samsung have also promised a reduction of crosstalk in the 3D presentation as well as improved motion through the 800Hz Motion Plus interpolation system but will the big numbers prove more than just a marketing tool and deliver? As well as the UE40D8000 under review, the 40 inch model is accompanied by bigger brothers in the UE46D8000 and UE55D8000 and whilst viewing experiences, across the sizes, will be very similar, small variances may occur owing to the use of different panels. The D8000 is Samsung's flagship LED/LCD in 2011 and, as such, commands a premium price-tag going head to head with the big boys in LG's LX9500 and the Sony EX923 plus Panasonic's premier plasma, the VT30. Will the Samsung UED8000 justify its top billing and prove that beauty isn't only skin deep by producing the goods on-screen? We're not going to find out by speculating, so, on with the show.
Design and Connections
To the rear of the chassis that's less than 4cm in depth, at its deepest point, there's a well recessed cavity that will please wall mounters by housing four sideways facing HDMI ports with HMDI2 being HDMI v1.4 ARC compliant. There are also three side-facing USB inputs with one intended for use with the USB HDD PVR functionality. Last of the sideward pointing connections are an adaptor port for Component video input, an SPDIF Digital Audio out and the PC sound-in jack. Downward facing, on the bottom of the recess, we have aerial and satellite connections; a LAN port; a D-SUB PC input and a headphone jack. There are also two further adaptor inputs for use with legacy Scart connections. Samsung package all the adaptor leads in the box, thankfully.
We already knew we were going to be disappointed in the remote control before unboxing the D8000. Consumers laying down their hard earned for the D8000, over the Atlantic, are treated to a dual sided QWERTY remote control to ease use of the new Smarthub features, whilst we in the UK and Europe are forced to make do with the bog-standard Samsung remote that only hints at being a premium product by virtue of the backlight. There's nothing wrong with the remote in itself - the layout is functional enough and is easily operated with one hand - but we can't escape feeling a little short changed and would suggest to Samsung that if they want to entice people into using the much heralded Smart Hub features, let them do it more comfortably than with the rather awkward interface the traditional controller provides - still at least they've added a dedicated SMART button.
Foremost of the sub-menus is Picture which contains an absolute host of options - some useful, some not - that may prove bewildering to the uninitiated. Beside the standard Picture Mode, Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness and Colour options - on the first page of picture options - there's Screen Adjustment that houses zoom and overscan functions. The second page of picture options contains options for 3D output as well as Picture Options andAdvanced Settings. The 3D menu allows you to choose the mode of 3D you require, although most will find the option unnecessary as the D8000 features auto sensing of the signal and was never tripped up under testing. There are also options for setting 3D Auto View and the 2D > 3D conversion mode. For the record, we found the 2D>3D feature more or less ineffectual but some might like it. Additionally there are effect controls and a 3D optimiser slider that we didn't find the need to move from the default position.
The Picture Options item contains some digital noise reduction settings that proved neither here nor there, Colour Tone - best set to Warm 2 in conjunction with the Movie picture preset for accuracy - and HDMI Black Level that governs setting of PC or Video levels. Two further options in Film Mode and Motion Plus also exist in this area but we'll deal them in more detail later in the review.
Further options also reside in the Advanced Settings including Flesh Tone that changes the luminance of, primarily, Magenta and is not needed; Dynamic Contrast bends the gamma all the way to S-Curve through its levels and Shadow Detail raises and lowers gamma, near black, in the greyscale - more on this in the calibration section. Black Tone is best left off to save crushing shadow detail and likewise Edge Enhancement brings negative impact to picture quality by doing exactly what it says on the tin. Next we have Motion Lighting that bills itself as an energy saving feature which instantly raised suspicions but its effects proved fairly subtle in practice, nonetheless, we'd recommend it set to off. Finally, there is LED Motion Plus which we'll deal with later in the review.
The Sound menu contains the usual preset options as well as the ability to set a delay through the SPDIF optical output (which proved necessary). The Channel Menu concerns tuning and options relating to the DTV and Satellite tuners whilst the Network menu is exactly what you'd expect in that it's where you set up either the built-in wireless connection or a wired connection plus some privacy settings in the AllShare item. The Support menu contains an ebook instruction manual and the option to check for software upgrades. We're sure you've probably had enough of 'enjoying menus' by now but there is also theSystem menu where under the General sub-menu the Game Mode is inexplicably hidden as well as the option for turning the Samsung logo illumination off from the front of the bezel. There are a number of other options under the System menu but, having covered all the options with a major impact on the picture, we'll move on to more interesting subjects.
Results, pre-calibration, can be considered very good but as we can see from the RGB Balance Graph, Green is tracking a little low across the greyscale with red too high and blue more or less where we want it. Ideally we're looking for all three colours to be as close as possible across the scale, ensuring as neutral as possible transistion from black to white and thus giving us an untainted canvas on which to paint our colours. Given that Samsung provide both 2 and 10 point white balance controls and that the errors are fairly linear, we shouldn't have any problems in reducing all Delta Errors below the magic number of 3, at which point they should be imperceivable to the human eye.
Moving on to the gamma and results here are also quite good. Getting a flat response across the Gamma Point Graph should mean we're not over-brightening dark portions or over-darkening bright elements - and vice versa - of the picture as well as helping to maintain that neutrality across the greyscale we want. There's no actual defined standard for gamma in digital displays but a reasonable rule of thumb is anywhere between 2.2 and 2.35 (the higher the value, the darker the viewing environment) and as flat as possible. We'd only recommend going lower than 2.2 if you're conditions are fairly bright and above 2.35 is bat cave territory. Samsung only provide a global control over gamma response but, as it stands, that shouldn't be a major issue especially as we have 10 point white balance controls.
We can now see that red, green and blue follow each other extremely closely, right across the scale, and already our picture is showing a big improvement. We've not really been able to improve our gamma - the 10 point white balance controls showed a big domino effect in the middle of the scale meaning we couldn't really flatten anything significantly. We did, however, manage to raise shadow detail without the need to engage the Shadow Detail control in the menu. The control actually did work but at the sake of rasing the luminance of black and squeezing contrast performance somewhat. We're not going to get hung up that we couldn't make the response ruler flat - you'd need a reference display to notice it wasn't - and with greyscale errors absolutely minimal, we can move on to tackling the CMS.
We always expect good things from Samsung in this area of testing and the D8000 proved no let down. Scaling of standard definition (480/576i) images is up amongst the best we've seen in a TV with very little in the way of ringing and even very fine details brought out where compression didn't get in the way. Good quality DVD's, in particular, looked excellent with my daughter's Disney collection given a new lease of life. Deinterlacing performance of video based content at both 576i and 1080i was similarly excellent with very fine details maintained even under movement. The Samsung UE-D8000 didn't bat an eye when presented with a mixture of film based material overlaid with scrolling video encoded text.
We also checked the dynamic range performance using patterns from the Spears and Munsil disc that showed the D8000 had no problems in reaching peak white performance but we needed to reign in the contrast to prevent clipping of the red and blue primaries. Recognising progressively shot film based material sent in an interlaced signal (cadence detection) was another win for Samsung's video processing with the D8000 all but acing the lot bar the very obscure 5:5 cadence. Good cadence detection ensures the TV isn't throwing away resolution by performing unncessary deinterlacing and the D8000 was more than good in this regard. It's almost needless to say the D8000 handled 24p Blu-ray material without hitch, provided Motion Plus was off or set with no Blur Reduction applied.
In the recently tested Samsung LEC650 review we found some success in using Samsung's Motion Plus frame interpolation system when using a custom set up. The D8000 is purported to ship with a 200Hz 'Auto Motion Plus' system and, unfortunately, it's not without its problems with fast panning action sometimes throwing it in to complete meltdown with images stuttering and stalling. As we'd expect, even the the effects of applying the custom Motion Plus, in the user menus, provided different results to the LEC650. We actually found every option unusable bar a very conservative Custom Blur Reduction 0/Judder Reduction 3 - going above 3 started to induce the video cam/soap effect and any blur reduction, at all, brought noticeable artefacting, the occasional motion 'meltdowns' were still present, at all levels, however.
Buried far down in the Advanced Picture Menu is the LED Motion Plus setting which can be either on or off. What we will say for this system is that it didn't show the same artefacting as the standard Motion Plus system and there was a noticeable improvement to motion but, unfortunately, frequently tripped over with a change of scene or camera - stuttering alarmingly at times. The UE-D8000 handles motion reasonably well without use of its additional interpolation systems and dimming algorithms but, as ever, we'd advise prospective to go and demo for themselves as some may just notice a touch of haloing and ghosting when things start to move quickly on screen.
Aside from the pleasure gleaned from the great depth lent to 3D, the Samsung UE-40D8000 was no great shakes for gaming and response to controller input was a disappointment. For those that prefer the single player experience, the bizzarely hidden Game mode's lag of between 3 and 4 frames (48-64 milliseconds) may not prove an insurmountable obstacle but we doubt the competitive gamer would be putting the D8000 top of their list. Input lag in other than Game mode was even worse and practicably unplayable even for those with the less than cat-like reflexes.
Power consumption for the calibrated D8000 averaged a respectable 79w but this fugure can be significantly reduced by enaging a couple of the LED controls in the menus. As we felt those particular options were non-beneficial to picture quality, we'd prefer to stick with the calibrated result and, in any case, the numbers are a significant improvement over the default settings' consumption. Standby usage measured 0.5w
Picture Quality - 2D
As we mentioned earlier, the D8000s motion handling may not be to everyone's taste - we were aware of some haloing and ghosting, at times, but that's something that could be quickly identified as a problem, or not, with a decent demo. Some may also sense the LED activity in an occasionally spotted mild strobing effect that we saw on certain blocks of colours but we suspect the effect wouldn't be seen by most and, indeed, we've not encountered any reports of it on our user forums. We have, however, seen reports of backlight uniformity issues and a 'banding' effect, particularly with the 55" model, but whilst we are happy to report the lack of the horiztonal banding effect, the backlight did show bleed from the bottom corners and some coning, bottom middle. There was also a fairly sizeable patch of clouding mid/bottom right of the screen but, to be fair, that was rarely visible with the majority of content. Considering this is a flagship model, we would expect better QC from Samsung and we'd hope this isn't a wholly representative sample.
Blu-ray material, as expected, provided the best viewing experience and once again we could easily lose ourselves in the content thanks in part to the seemingly frameless experience. The odd bit of SD viewing we have to endure these days was also handled with aplomb and on a 40" screen a lot of the compression artefacts are forgiven in any case. All in all we rarely see better in terms of 2D performance in the LCD market but the motion handling did sometimes distract.
Picture Quality - 3D
3D Gaming was certainly good fun on the Samsung UE-D8000 and as we're a little more forgiving of crosstalk in this area, we cranked up the perspective control, dimmed the lights, pulled up the recliner and lost ourselves in a couple of happy hours of Killzone 3, Motorstorm and Wipeout HD. We did find ourselves needing frequent breaks whilst gaming - the rapid shuttering of the glasses seems to have more affect in this particular pursuit but that's sensible, in any case, and experiences will vary user to user. The supplied glasses were very comfortable to wear, the best compliment we can give is that we could nearly forget we were wearing them but they did let in just a little more light than some we've seen. The glasses never lost sync but some maybe put off by the fact they show no indicator light in operation (there's a brief flashing light and onscreen message) but aside from wearing them there's no easy way to find out if they're functioning or not!
We mentioned earlier in the review there is a PVR functionality and the Smart Hub is again the place to go to access your recordings. Functionality is a little limited, for instance you can only record programs at once, but it's still a nice to have feature if not a real substitute for a dedicated box. Whilst we like the idea of grouping all the bells and whistles of a modern TV into one place and the one touch access from the remote control, we would perhaps ask Samsung to de-clutter the Smart Hub interface a little but, all in all, we think it shows great promise as it continues to evolve.
- Excellent Contrast and Black Levels
- Almost Borderless Design
- Superb Calibrated Greyscale and Gamut
- Smart Hub Shows Promise
- Well Designed Menus and Generous Calibration Controls
- Freeview/Freesat HD Tuners
- PVR Functionality
- Built-in WiFi
- 3D Has Good Depth
- Lightweight 3D Glasses
- Top-notch Video Processing
- Occasional Motion Processing Meltdown
- Supplied Remote Control is Disappointing
- Reflective Frame
- Noticeable Crosstalk at Default 3D Settings
- Smart Hub GUI is a little Cluttered
Samsung D8000 (UE-40D8000) 3D LED LCD TV
Samsung's tradition of providing of an attractive GUI with well presented menus continues and the calibration controls available remain amongst the best. For the most part we found the layout of options to be logical although why they continue to hide Game mode in the System menu is still unfathomable. The grouping of PVR, networking and media functionalities, along with the ever-growing number of internet widgets and video streaming services, is an idea we like and makes using the features a more likely prospect by having them all together. The Smart Hub could perhaps benefit from a de-clutter but the service shows great promise and the internet browser works speedily, if constrained by use of a TV remote.
Out of the box comparisons to industry standards were above average in the Movie picture mode and the excellent set of calibration tools, and options on offer, meant the calibrated results were of a superb standard. Video processing was also of a very high calibre with scaling and deinterlacing duties carried out with extreme efficiency. Cadence detection was near flawless and dynamic range was very good, once we'd pegged back the Contrast slider. We didn't find much joy in either the standard Motion Plus or LED Motion Plus configurations although a very conservative Custom setting did make some very marginal improvements to movement.
The UE-D8000s excellent black level provides the picture with an admirable contrast performance and the almost borderless construction adds to the immersion. The calibrated greyscale and gamut results complimented a well transferred Blu-ray almost sublimely but off-axis performance was the usual disappointment, even if we've experienced worse. Similarly uniformity issues were a let down and we'd expect more of a flagship product. Motion handling may prove an issue, unfortunately, and both ghosting and haloing effects were observed. There were also some instances of the Auto Motion Plus processing going in to complete meltdown with fast panning action - take note sports fans.
We enjoyed the 3D experience of the UE-40D8000 more than we have with other displays of these relatively modest proportions. The skinny bezel was a much a reason for the added pleasure as the actual 3D performance itself. Whilst the D8000 showed great depth of image there was a noticeable amount of crosstalk present at default settings. We managed to minimise crosstalk - if at the expense of both perception of depth and clarity contained within it - but things were certainly a step up from 2010 LCD standards. Gaming performance was far from exceptional but the D8000 would serve the non-serious, single player focussed gamer adequately. Energy consumption figures were good and have the scope for reaching extremely low numbers at the expense of picture quality.
The Samsung UE-D8000 is an extremely good television in many respects. The 'floating' picture, excellent contrast, calibrated colour and greyscale performance along with top-notch video processing affords the on-screen results real gravitas at times. We were disappointed with uniformity issues, in a television commanding this price, and some may find motion handling not to their requirements but we have no qualms in handing the D8000 a Recommended award with our usual suggestion of a demo firmly in place.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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