There's more to Samsung's 8000 Series LED than its glam design and Smart talents
The UE55F8000 hits the ground running with its design, which combines an on-trend slender bezel with a dark, glassy finish and built-in camera. However, other designs in this roundup are spectacular too, so the UE55F8000’s styling alone won’t be enough to carry Samsung’s set to victory.
The TV increases its chances of success with its features. Connections are extensive, including four HDMIs, three USBs, and both LAN and Wi-Fi network options for DLNA file streaming and access to online services courtesy of Samsung’s Smart TV platform.
The amount of online content is spectacular. In particular, it uniquely supports all the main UK broadcast catch-up TV services: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5. Plus you get the key Netflix and LoveFilm subscription video streaming platforms, and numerous secondary VOD services that still appeal.
The UE55F8000 also grabs your attention with its five-window Smart Hub interface, and its sophisticated ‘S-Recommendation’ system that tracks your viewing habits and suggests related content. Speech and gesture control options will amuse tech-hedz.
The UE55F8000’s Smart features can feel inscrutable in places though, and Samsung’s Android/iOS app support is messy, requiring multiple different apps rather than everything being integrated into a single interface.
The set uses Samsung’s latest Ultra Clear Panel design, featuring an improved edge LED lighting system and ‘micro-dimming ultimate’ processing that breaks the image down into small blocks for processing, so it can, supposedly, accurately judge the optimum settings for the picture at any given moment.
It inevitably offers 3D, too. Being a Samsung TV, this means Active rather than Passive.
Imagery is easily the best Samsung has produced from an LED TV yet. Particularly striking during a run-through of The Dark Knight is the set’s contrast, which finds the UE55F8000 producing a deep and convincing black during the scenes where Batman rescues Gordon’s family from Two-Face. The picture's overall brightness is reduced to get to these rich black hues, meaning images don’t have quite as much dynamism as those of Sony’s 55W905A - however, they still look wonderfully punchy and never suffer with the light blocking effect that affects other LED models. And the backlight clouding issues that have affected previous Samsung LED generations appear to have been conquered.
Sharpness and detail are superior. The Venice shootout in Casino Royale proves frighteningly real and crisp, aided by terrific motion handling. In fact, the image’s sharpness is almost too much until you turn off the TV’s edge enhancement option and nudge down the sharpness preset.
Colours are bold and dynamic, and tweaking the TV’s settings (Samsung continues to struggle to deliver really useful picture presets) can help improve their subtlety. A high brightness ensures the UE55F8000 produces effective 3D pictures too, as the brightness combats the natural dimming effect of Samsung’s lightweight Active shutter spex. It's therefore easier to appreciate the Full HD detailing in stereoscopic Blu-rays.
The Samsung's sonics are fine. Its down-firing speakers are powerful, resulting in a large open soundstage underpinned by some clean low-end grunt.
All in all, this is a fine flagship TV from the Korean brand – Smart, stylish and an exceedingly good performer.
Price: £2,500 Approx
Highs: Terrific and stable 2D and 3D picture quality; sophisticated Smart UI
Lows: Unhelpful picture presets; dark scenes lack a little punch versus the very best local dimming TVs
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