Samsung UE55BU8500 TV review

Is the South Korean giant still the king of the mid-range LCD flatscreen? John Archer finds out

The BU8500 is the most premium LCD model in Samsung’s 2022 range that doesn’t use Quantum Dot colour technology. Instead, it features Samsung’s Dynamic Crystal Colour system – a more traditional filter-based approach, but one that still claims (in conjunction with the TV's Crystal 4K processor) to deliver a billion different tones.

Still available even as new 2023 Samsung sets come to market, for around £649 the 55in 55BU8500 is £150 cheaper than Samsung’s entry-level 55in Quantum Dot set. Such a gap makes it look potentially fair value, while its ‘AirSlim’ design and neat, central desktop pedestal (there's a BU8000 variant, with dual feet) also help it look pretty for a mid-range model. The TV ships with two remotes, one button-packed, the other a solar-powered, streamlined, 'smart' zapper.

Connectivity includes a respectable three HDMI ports, but none can handle 4K/120 playback and variable refresh rate gaming features. TCL has moved the goal posts here by providing such tricks on its aggressively priced C735K range – though the 55BU8500 does keep gamers smiling with a speedy 10ms of input lag in Game mode.

Pan's people
Picture quality, sadly, isn’t a chip off the dependable old Samsung block. For instance, where normally we’d expect good intensity and HDR ‘sparkle’, instead HDR pictures actually feel rather drab and bland.

The 55BU8500’s peak HDR brightness highlights don’t hit with the punch and precision we’d hoped to see – as confirmed by a mediocre peak brightness measurement of 328 nits. Colours lack a little vibrancy too, leaving HDR pictures with wide colour gamuts feeling slightly neutered.

There’s some impressive subtlety on show when it comes to colour blends and skin tones, but this isn’t backed up by sharpness. The details in Peter’s gloves and the ropes and wood of the boat in Pan (4K BD), as he flies through brightly coloured water bubbles towards Neverland, just don’t have that Ultra HD snap.

Motion isn’t as slick as it usually is with Samsung TVs either. While the 50Hz World Cup Final looked okay, the 24p frame rate of The Revenant’s ever moving and panning cameras (4K BD) causes noticeable motion blur with motion processing turned off, and a slightly uncomfortable look even with the motion processing set to its optimal level – namely, in Custom mode, with Judder/Blur reduction set to level three.

Not that the set has lost all of the brand's familiar strengths. Black levels are pretty good (although the dark tunnel through which Peter enters Neverland is missing a little shadow detail), and baseline brightness levels feel slightly higher than the mid-range norm, even if peak highlights fall a little flat. Plus there’s a consistency and balance to the 55BU8500’s presentation that eludes some punchier but less disciplined rivals.

The insanely raucous tsunami sequence in Moonfall (4K BD) exposes a rather meagre audio performance, with minimal bass and a lack of soundstage expansion. It does, however, place voices and effects quite accurately, and is clean and convincing with daytime chat and news shows.

The game's afoot
While the 55BU8500 is ultimately average overall rather than actually poor, it still feels like a step backwards for the once invincible king of mid-range LCD – just at a time when 'newcomer' brands such as TCL and Hisense are really upping their TV games.

HCC Verdict: 3/5

Samsung UE55BU8500
Price: £649

We say: While it’s respectable enough for its money, the UE55BU8500 isn’t up to Samsung’s usual mid-range LCD TV standards.


4K: Yes. 3,840 x 2,160 HDR: Yes. HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ TUNER: Yes. Freeview HD; satellite HD CONNECTIONS: 3 x HDMI; 2 x USB; Ethernet; optical digital audio output 4K/120 PLAYBACK: No SOUND (CLAIMED): 20W BRIGHTNESS (CLAIMED): N/A Contrast: N/A DIMENSIONS (OFF STAND): 1,233(w) x 709.2(h) x 25.7(d)mm WEIGHT (OFF STAND): 15.5kg

FEATURES:Crystal processor 4K; Tizen OS system with built-in voice recognition; solar powered smart remote; Dynamic Crystal Colour panel; eARC; AirSlim design; ALLM support; edge-lit VA panel

Samsung UK