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Samsung UN55D8000 55″ LED 3D HDTV Review


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.

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