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Samsung UN55D8000 55″ LED 3D HDTV Review


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.

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