What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

Samsung UN55D8000 55" LED 3D HDTV Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Christmas is just around the corner but people seem to be approaching this year’s traditional buying season with a bit more apprehension than usual. Global finances are in the shitter, debt is rising and long term savings have tumbled. A gradual erosion of buying power has led to some interesting market segregation though. On one hand some are either delaying or ditching plans for large cost purchases in order to conserve money where they can but many are actually following a different mantra. For them, the focus seems to be upon spending more now in order to buy quality rather than settle for a product they’ll want to replace in short order. This could be why HDTV makers have reported a massive jump in sales of $1000+ sets while the lower end products have been experiencing relatively poor retail movement.

With the economics lesson out of the way, we can see why Samsung has been so excited about their UN55D8000 LED TV. Though 2011 may not have been a year of new technologies or radical forward steps in the HDTV world, the 3D market has matured, LED lighting has taken over from traditional LCD CCFL technology and the “smart”, connected TV is really starting to make some waves. The D8000 takes advantage of every one of these and wraps them up into a neat, clean and well designed package which is pretty much a given considering this is considered Samsung’s flagship TV for 2011.

As with most other HDTVs these days, the D8000 has a fair bit of marketing mumbo jumbo attached to it. There is the Smart TV aspect which integrates a full top to bottom online experience alongside your typical viewing experience. We also get a “Clear Motion Rate” of 960 which is just another way of Samsung saying normal consumers are too disconnected to understand fully what refresh rate is (yeah, right) so they just use a mostly meaningless but good looking figure. Other items like Micro Dimming Plus for deeper contrast built in WiFi and an ultra wide colour gamut will have a much greater effect on how you perceive the D8000.

Flagship status, supposedly class leading picture quality, a relatively large 55” screen size and a feature list longer than our arm does of course translate into one hell of an investment. Just how much? Between $2200 and $2500 USD or if you’re north of the border a whopping $2900. This may be far above the price range of Joe six packs but due to its huge cost, we’re expecting some great things out of the D8000. Actually, Samsung’s new trendsetter may just be the TV you ask your wife for if you’ve done the chores for the last decade or so.

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Features & Specifications

Features & Specifications



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the UN55D8000

A Closer Look at the UN55D8000



The basic design of the D8000 bears a striking resemblance to that of the D7000. It uses the former’s stunning edge to edge, almost bezel free Lucite and titanium edged design along with a delicate but well designed chrome base. Indeed, throughout the review you’ll see quite a few similarities between the two sets since the higher end unit is actually a carbon copy of its sibling but has a few additional features and a slightly better panel.


Like most large Samsung HDTVs, this one requires a bit of assembly as that good looking stand needs to be attached to the panel itself. All in all we love this design though the D8000 does have a small “chin” for the center mounted Samsung logo which tends to break up otherwise very clean lines.


Along the D8000’s right edge is a bank of actual buttons which do away with the wonky functionality (or lack thereof) of the D7000’s capacitive interface. However, we highly doubt most people will actually use these all that much.


When looked at edge-on, there really isn’t anything to distinguish this set from any other in Samsung’s D-series edge lit LED lineup. At about 1.2” at its widest point, the D8000 is one of the slimmest HDTVs currently on the market but you’ll likely never be able to appreciate this feature unless it is mounted on a wall.


In order to maintain such a minimalist design, Samsung has spread the connectors over two surfaces that are at a right angle to one another. In total, there is a quartet of HDMI 1.4a connectors alongside VGA, component, Ethernet and composite inputs. Audio I/O is handled by a couple of 3.5mm jacks and an optical output. The D8000 also has WiFi built into its svelte frame.


Much like on the D7000, Samsung has carried over their interesting looking remote to this higher end product. On one side you have a standard remote interface with every function we’ve come to expect along with a few SmartTV access points and a 2D to 3D conversion shortcut.

The flip side is where the magic lies. Samsung has converted the remote’s underside into a full QWERTY keyboard, number pad and directional controller that really comes in handy when using the SmartTV applications that are included with the D7000. There is also a small monochromatic screen that displays text as you type.

We found this to be a great addition and due to its button design, there’s no way you’ll accidentally press the opposite side’s keys. There is however one major issue with this thing: it has to be “paired” with the TV in a process that is long, arduous and next to impossible without some serious patience. It isn’t all that comfortable either but we wouldn’t expect you to be using it all that much.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Menu Layout & Observations

Menu Layout & Observations


Note that the menu system for the D7000 and D8000 is identical
As usual, Samsung’s menu system is nothing short of spectacular and is the benchmark by which all others should be measured. It is clearly laid out with good explanations and features plenty of worthwhile adjustments alongside some detailed, fine grain tuning tools that will appeal to true HDTV junkies.



The main menu houses all of the available options under six distinct categories: Picture, Sound, Network, System, and Support. They are all self descriptive but we’ll go through each quickly below.

The Picture section allows for both basic and fine-grain image settings to be controlled along with the ability to enable the TV’s 3D options (separation, 2D / 3D conversion, etc.). This is also where the all-important Picture Mode can be selected. Picture Mode automatically adjusts a variety of image settings for a given viewing condition and in our opinion it works quite well, particularly when in Movie mode.


Within the Picture menu, there are two additional subsections: Advanced Settings and Picture Options. Advanced Settings houses items that deal with colour, contrast, white balance and motion performance. Most of the options are straightforward but the custom While Balance and Colour Space sections allow for tweaking to your heart’s content.


The Picture Options section really could have been lumped into the previously explained Advanced Options area since it really doesn’t include much. With that being said the items here are important for overall image cohesion since the Color Tone makes an appearance right at the menu’s onset. Color Tone allows you to set a default color profile depending on your requirements or viewing conditions. Meanwhile, the two Noise Filters are handy for reducing various types of image noise but increasing these two into the higher reaches of their sliders can induce unwanted image artifacts.

The Auto Motion Plus option deserves its own page but unfortunately, we don’t have the space in this review to go too far into details. At its most basic, AMP gives users the ability to control this TV’s motion interpolation or refresh rate which reduces the amount of ghosting and judder in fast scenes. There are a number of presets that can be worked through but we prefer to go straight for the Custom setting and fiddle with the sliders until motion performance is good but the scene doesn’t take on the “shot on rails” look of over compensation.


As we already said, the other sections are pretty much self explanatory with the Sound options controlling the two included 15W speakers and optical output while the Network settings being used to set up and control the interconnect between this TV and the internet or other linked hardware. The System section includes general hardware settings but there is one item that’s hidden here: Game Mode, a setting that reduces input lag by turning off the TV’s post processing. Finally, Support allows for software updates among other things and Samsung has even included an electronic owner’s manual.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Viewing Conditions / Calibrated Settings

Viewing Conditions


Before we get to the calibrated settings, it should be mentioned that my viewing environment isn’t exactly what you would call optimal for TV watching. During the day, we get a ton of light coming in from our monstrous second story window while at night there is a street light directly opposite the viewing room. If anything, this emphasizes that even though I have included my somewhat finalized settings below, everyone’s viewing conditions will be different and as such you should take these as a starting point rather than an end-all of calibrations.


Calibrated Settings


Picture Mode

Mode: Movie
Backlight: 10
Contrast: 97
Brightness: 50
Sharpness: 0
Color: 51
Tint: G50/R50


Screen adjustment:

Picture Size: Screen Fit


Advanced Settings

Black tone: Off
Dynamic contrast: Off
Gamma: 0
Expert Pattern: Off
RGB Only Mode: Off
Color space: Standard
White Balance: Standard
10p White Balance: On
Flesh tone: 0
Edge enhancement: Off
Motion Lighting: Off
xvYCC: Off
LED Motion Plus: Cinema


Picture Options

Color tone: Warm2
Digital Noise Filter: Off
MPEG Noise Filter: Off
HDMI black level: Normal
Film mode: Auto 1
Auto motion plus: Custom
Smart LED: Standard
Cinema Black: On

Custom AMP Settings:

Blur reduction: 10
Judder reduction: 2
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
General HD Picture & Image Quality Observations

General HD Picture & Image Quality Observations


There are three words to remember when you first set up you brand new HDTV: calibration, calibration, calibration. We cannot emphasize this enough since every set we have come across has had default picture settings which are set for in-store environments rather than our living room. Need proof? Check out our images below.



Every Samsung TV we have reviewed has exhibited poor out of box picture quality and colour reproduction and the D8000 is no exception. In order for the picture to be seen in a retail environment where the store staff rarely calibrates any settings, the Dynamic contrast is increased to the highest levels which blows out light areas and the colour is overly cool. Like every other set, this one was simply unviewable for extended periods of time when using the defaults.

While Samsung may not be known for their acceptable default settings, the onscreen menus are so user friendly and intuitive that dialing in picture quality for your personal preference should only take a few minutes. If fine grain tweaks are still needed as we saw previously, Samsung has included plenty of those as well.

After using some test images included with the Disney World of Wonder Blu Ray, we sound a combination of settings that really allowed the image to pop without featuring the loss of contrast and horrible colour reproduction of the defaults. The result was a relatively warm picture that plays up on the D8000’s qualities while deftly avoiding some of the issues is displays from time to time.


In previous sections we mentioned the aesthetical and internal similarities between Samsung’s D7000 and this higher end D8000 and this continues in the picture quality department as well. Much like its lower end sibling this set displays near perfect colour reproduction without trending towards the blue end of the spectrum like last year’s comparable C-series set. The colours were warm and very accurate without an over balance red and the included Skin Tone compensation ensured that actors’ faces maintained natural look. This excellent performance has become a hallmark of Samsung’s 2011 sets and they deserve some major kudos for that.

Aside from the eye opening, beautiful colour reproduction the panel’s glossy finish does tend to reflect a large amount of light back into your face. This won’t be an issue if you are watching at night or in a basement setting but can become a serious problem if the D8000 is set up in a well lit room.

One of the main advantages of this set over some of its competitors is an ability to dynamically adjust edge lighting when it detects letterbox-format content. On past generations, LED-based panels exhibited a trait where the LED edge lighting tended to seep into the black bars above and below the film image. It proved to be both distracting and annoying. The current generation of D7000 and D8000 products eliminates this issue through their Cinema Black feature which essentially turns off sections of the panel to produce deep and more natural black bars.

Video processing is also one of this TV’s highlights. It had absolutely no issue handling 1080P/24 content and didn’t exhibit any of the latent issues like frame skipping which marred viewing on some past Samsung products. Motion performance was also second to none since the D8000 allows for full calibration of both Judder and Blur reduction. However, increasing Judder reduction past the 4 mark tended to introduce artifacts into some scenes.


As with all of Samsung’s higher end HDTVs, the UN55D8000 uses the “Micro Dimming” technology. This may make it sound like a local dimming set but it actually leverages edge lighting along with hundreds of individual sections on the panel in order to micro manage contrast from one scene to the next. When we first heard about Micro Dimming, it almost sounded too good to be true but it seems to do an admirable job of maintaining black levels without sacrificing contrast.

With Micro Dimming providing a good starting point for this panel, it is able to exhibit some of the deepest blacks we have ever seen from an LED-based LCD TV. There wasn’t any odd colour shift away from black either. Unfortunately, there are some glaring uniformity issues here (more about this on the next page) which cause contrast to vary widely from one section of the screen to the next.

One area where this set was found lacking is shadow detail. Even after hours of calibrating, we still noticed a large amount of black crush in movies like 300 and Transformers and actually had some problems following some portions of both movies.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Panel Uniformity / Viewing Angles

Panel Uniformity


We had some major concerns with Samsung’s $2000+ UN55D7000 since it was a great HDTV that got a fair amount of egg on its face due to laughable screen uniformity. The D8000 doesn’t have its compatriot’s in-your-face vertical banding but that doesn’t mean perfection. No way.


For an LED HDTV, the black on black uniformity isn’t all that good with noticeable differences between the center and outer edges. However, the clouding and backlighting bleeding that characterized other Samsung HDTVs were MIA from our sample. Normally this would have pointed towards moderately acceptable full screen picture performance but that just wasn’t the case.




While the ridiculous amounts of vertical banding seen on the D7000 isn’t as apparent this time around, the D8000 still exhibits a disappointing amount of off-center variation between one section of the screen and another. The TV’s center axis looks near perfect but a few inches off of center and it’s a whole different story with both vertical AND horizontal banding apparent.

Optimally the three grayscale tests we conducted at 15%, 30% and 50% grey scale should display uniform areas of grey across the entirety of the screen. However, as you can see above the D8000 failed our grayscale tests in spectacular fashion and these variations could indeed be seen in particularly darker scenes within movies. There were four distinct “zones” on this panel, each of which displayed a slightly different grey scale on contrast ratio. Even in lighter films, we were able to see differences during camera pans and fast action scenes. This really isn’t an optimum situation for a nearly $3000 TV to be in.

According to some anecdotal evidence, it looks like Samsung is addressing this but once again in their usually odd manner. Instead of doing sufficient quality assurance tests BEFORE the initial sets shipped to retailers, they have been busy performing very quiet panel revisions. Our sample used a H302 revision and the first batch of UN55D8000 TVs used H301 panels while the newest shipments seem to be coming with H303 units. Normally this wouldn’t make much of a difference but supposedly the newest revision fixes many of the uniformity problems we experienced. I guess this just goes to prove that early adopters can get royally screwed from time to time.


Viewing Angles



The D8000’s viewing angles are reasonably good for an LED TV, particularly if you are viewing it from fifteen or more feet away. However, those of use with smaller living rooms and larger couches, there is a noticeable degradation in contrast when this set is viewed about 20 degrees off center. This is compounded by the uniformity issues since the lighter areas of the screen will look much worse than their surrounding areas.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Gaming Impressions / 3D Performance

Gaming Impressions


Many of today’s most popular HDTVs can’t be deemed fit for gaming on due to their massive amounts of input lag. Basically, input lag means there is a discernable pause between a controller input and that same action showing up on the screen Most of the time this is caused by excess background post processing or the signal passing through a long list of filters and noise reduction processes before it can be viewed on the screen. During regular TV or movie watching, this process is all but invisible to end users but when direct input is required, things quickly go downhill.

LCD and LED-based sets are more often than not particularly bad in this respect since their light engine has to process the signal prior to display in order to clean up the image. Samsung has found a way around this through their Game Mode which has been implemented

Game mode essentially shuts off the TV’s post processing algorithm which increases response times, tightens up input commands and renders the TV / controller handoff all but invisible. Unfortunately, there is one major downfall to using game mode: a significant reduction in image quality.



Playing games on this set is remarkably worry-free considering its roots in the LCD technology world. Even without Game Mode enabled input lag hovered around the 70ms mark which is still not optimal but soundly beats out many HDTVs we’ve previously reviewed, even the D7000. There was also very little discernable ghosting and full action movements were smooth and fluid.

Since Samsung’s TV’s don’t support multiple picture setting profiles from a single connector, we recommend installing your gaming console on a separate HDMI input. This will allow the blur and judder reduction to be maxed out without having an adverse impact upon movie viewing.

As usual, enabling game mode destroys image quality but immeasurably speeds up panel response times. The difference is so significant that we felt the essence of our games was lost at some points. More often than not, we played single player missions with Game Mode enabled while the competitive nature of online multiplayer matches necessitated Game Mode being turned on.


3D Performance


This is a tough section for us since we feel stereoscopic content is (hopefully) nothing more than a fad which is being shoved down our throats by overeager Hollywood studios that need to justify their existence in a digital world. Nonetheless, viewing 3D movies at home does have a certain amount of allure providing your TV properly supports this emerging format.

Samsung has built in a bevy of 3D options into the UN55D8000 but none of them really make stereoscopic viewing all that enjoyable. Sure, the ability to adjust image separation is beneficial for those of you who tend to get headaches when viewing 3D content but that doesn’t help with some inherent issues.

One of the main problems we have encountered with the current generation of 3D HDTVs is their lack of brightness when viewed through 3D glasses and the D8000 is no different. Due to the polarization on the active shutter lenses, every scene viewed through them will seem muted and slightly washed out. This means either increasing the brightness on the D8000 to iris-burning levels or making do with lower contrast and serious black crush. Some manufacturers have found a way around this by automatically increasing the backlighting once 3D content is detected but unfortunately Samsung hasn’t yet instituted this technology on their HDTVs.

There are some other features here like excellent 2D to 3D conversion and the beginnings of good judder reduction but the distraction of crosstalk and ghosting are still part of the package as well. As you can imagine, we’re still ont sold on stereoscopic 3D in one’s home.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


About four weeks ago we looked at Samsung’s UN55D7000 and while it hit quite a few high points there were some glaring problems that made us shy away from recommending it. On paper at least the D8000 is supposed to succeed where its sibling failed but the question on everyone's mind remains very simple: is this flagship HDTV worth almost a grand more? The answer to that isn’t as straightforward as some may have hoped.

In many ways Samsung has produced one hell of an HDTV. Its industrial design sets new standards for what’s possible with today’s materials by giving a massive 55” panel the look of floating in midair and the effect truly is a conversation starter. The colours the D8000 produced were simply amazing, blacks were deep and rich and scenes were remarkably free of ghosting. In addition, Game Mode continues to be one of the best possible technologies to have if there are any gamers in your household since it can mean the difference between multiplayer life and death.

While the UN55D8000 does set new standards in terms of colour reproduction and video processing, it also tends to fall flat in several key areas. While older LCD technology may not be the “in” thing anymore, we have been constantly wishing for the good old days of the B750 and A850 series we reviewed years ago. Edge lit LED panels have brought nothing but uneven uniformity and lackluster contrast to the table and the D8000 doesn’t differ all that much in either of these respects. Once again Samsung has sacrificed uniformity for an almost razor thin frame and on an HDTV that costs three grand, that just isn’t acceptable in our books.

Samsung hit the nail on the head when it came to designing the UN55D8000. This is one of the best all-round sets we’ve come across in some time since it performs well in a wide variety of circumstances, be it gaming or Blu Ray movie viewing. Unfortunately like its 55” D7000 sibling, our opinion of the D8000 is diminished due to our sample’s piss poor screen uniformity. Now to Samsung’s credit some anecdotal evidence does point towards several of these mistakes being corrected with new panel revisions. But whether or not you get one of the newer sets really comes down to a game of Russian roulette.

This review will end with the answer to a question we asked a few paragraphs ago: is the UN55D8000 worth almost $1000 more than the D7000? In our opinion, no. Yet it does have the potential to be an absolutely top notch set once Samsung finishes ironing out the kinks.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top