In this review we look at the Samsung UE55HU8500, a 55-inch model in the HU8500 series that has a curved screen and virtually everything that you would expect from a premium smart TV.
Samsung HU8500 – specifications
The Samsung UE55HU8500 is the first TV with a curved screen that we view extensively and that is the first thing you notice. But, we will go into that later in detail. In terms of specifications, the TV is also richly equipped. You get a 55-inch LCD display with LED backlighting, Micro Dimming Ultimate, a 4K resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, a 1,200 CMR, access to the famous Smart Hub from the Korean manufacturer, a built-in camera, built-in WiFi for access to the internet, active 3D rendering and support for the Smart Evolution Kit (One Connect) with which you can also be provided with the latest software and hardware next year. For the display of 4K material, the required HDMI 2.0 ports are also present and the TV is equipped with the HEVC decoder.
The HU8500 series consists of the 55-inch UE55HU8500, the 65-inch UE65HU8500 and the 78-inch UE78HU8500. The prices currently range from 3,200 euros for the 55-inch model, to 3,900 euros and 7,500 euros for the 65-inch and 78-inch model respectively.
For this review use the Marantz UD7007 Blu-ray player , the Marantz SR6009 receiver and a PlayStation 3 game console. We also used Netflix for testing 4K material.
Samsung HU8500 – design
In the design, too, the first thing that stands out is of course the curved screen. Although the curve is not very large, it remains a characteristic feature of the TV. You have to love it, it is after all a feature that revolves around aesthetics. But, more about that later. The curved screen also makes the TV a bit thicker and deeper, something that will stand out on the wall. But, ugly, we can not call it; it is a personal preference.
Samsung has equipped the HU8500 models with a matching and sleek foot. It has a brushed aluminum finish and looks neatly in line with the shape of the TV. The TV itself has a somewhat more plastic look and feel, which is a shame for a premium model. But, all in all, it is a tightly finished TV that will not be out of place in many living rooms. Please note; a curved screen looks a bit strange on the wall.
However, there is one more striking element present, or absent actually. You will not find any connections on the TV itself, apart from the power supply and one port. Everything runs through the included One Connect box, also called UHD Evolution Kit. Here you will find all connections, including four HDMI 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, the CI module, the Ethernet port, etc. There is one cable from this box to the TV and so you can clean the box nicely. An extra advantage is that you can buy a new One Connect box next year to enjoy the latest features and functions. The processor is also hidden in this box, just like the smart TV software.
The HU8500 models are supplied with two remote controls; the standard black remote control with almost all the buttons you need and the Smart Touch remote that gives you access to the most important functions with a limited number of buttons and a touchpad. The ‘normal’ remote control feels a bit cheap and does not look really premium, but if this is a problem you can use the premium looking Smart Touch remote control. It also features a built-in microphone for voice operation and a motion sensor. Because of its drop shape and the structure at the back it is well in hand. In addition to these two options, you can also control the TV through an application for your smartphone or tablet.
Samsung HU8500 – ease of use
In terms of ease of use, we can virtually take over what we wrote earlier in the review of the UE65HU7500, the model that matches a lot with this TV but has a flat screen. Samsung did not change much in 2014 to the interface and the menus, but we did not have much to complain about.
The menus of the TV are easy to navigate, respond quickly to input and with most options is briefly explained what they contain so you also know what you do when you play with the settings. However, there are many submenus for the novice user. You can dive completely into the setting of, for example, the image view, for example to adjust the movement correction or advanced color options. You can of course make it as crazy as you want in terms of settings, but more about this under the heading about image quality.
If you switch on the HU8500 models for the first time, you will be guided through the most important settings fairly quickly, including searching for channels, setting up your WiFi network and creating a Samsung account to make full use of smart TV. -platform. This smart TV platform, which we will discuss in more detail later, also works thanks to a quad-core processor, which is wonderfully fast and smooth. Switching between apps is hardly ever delayed and scrolling through app lists and menus is fast.
Samsung HU8500 – features
Smart TV platform (Smart Hub)
Where Samsung has made some changes in 2014 is the smart TV platform, called the Smart Hub by the Korean manufacturer. This year the platform is completely dedicated to ease of use, overview and speed. That is why the different parts of the platform are subdivided into their own home screens. There is a home screen for what is on TV, a homescreen with multimedia, a homescreen with films and series, and a homescreen with apps. In the home screen for multimedia you can connect the TV to other devices from your home network, display media from a USB stick or connect to a cloud service such as Dropbox or OneDrive. Once you start the smart TV platform, however, you do not come directly into these homescreens but you see a row of favorite apps appear at the bottom of the screen and you can select the home screen of your choice with the icons that float above. The whole is easy to navigate so you quickly find interesting content for you.
A new feature for 2014 is Multi-Screen. This allows you to subdivide the big screen into two, three or four parts in which content from different sources is shown. For example, you can watch TV on the left and surf the internet on the right. The choice of apps and applications that can be used for this, however, is still very limited. You can select apps from the app store via the options, but those apps must provide support. Unfortunately, a popular apps like Netflix does not offer this. But, if you want to watch TV and at the same time keep up to date with the latest news on HomecinemaMagazine.nl, then it is possible in any case.
Samsung still offers a wide range of apps that you can install on your TV, in the past few months little has changed. Compared to the competition, Samsung offers the apps with the best quality and the greatest diversity, so there is a lot of fun for everyone. For those searching for 4K content, the Netflix app can not be missed. As indicated earlier in this review, the platform works fairly smoothly and quickly, without long waiting times or annoying lags. In this area, Samsung is still doing everything well.
A TV is no longer only operated by means of a remote control. Samsung is leading the way in this area and implements several other options. This way you can control the TV by means of voice and movements and an app has been developed so that the TV can be operated via a smartphone or tablet.
Motion recognition for hands and fingers is only available when the built-in camera of the TV is used and we can be quite short about this. It is a nice feature but frustrates rather than that you actually do something about it. After all, a new way of operating must be faster and more convenient, without having to think about it.
However, with the Smart Touch remote control you can designate elements on the TV as a kind of cursor. This service is initially getting used to but once used you can browse through the various menus so comfortably and quickly and even browse websites fairly quickly. You can adjust the sensitivity in the menu to your own preferences and the touchpad of the remote control serves as a mouse button to click on elements. Incidentally, it must be said that this form of operation does not work within apps. A popular app like Netflix should simply be operated with the arrow keys.
The Smart Touch remote control also includes a microphone that allows you to use certain voice commands. For example, it is possible to call ‘Start Netflix’ or ‘Start Smart Hub’ and then the corresponding function is automatically opened by the TV. The voice operation works fairly accurately and quickly, but it is rather difficult for the beginner to estimate what is and what is not recognized. Unfortunately, a detailed explanation of the possibilities is missing. In addition, more is a feature to show what is possible, which is not bar much. The use is cumbersome, unclear and simply does not really invite you to repeat.
We not only watch more TV on our TV, we can now also surf the internet using the built-in web browser. Samsung has made big steps in this area and the browser is also a relief to use. When you use the Smart Touch remote you can browse websites fairly quickly and the display of sites is also fine. Pages are loaded quickly and so the browser is a great option to quickly show a website or look up something.
Samsung HU8500 – image quality
It is all about one thing, of course; the image quality. Samsung has equipped the HU8500 models, including the UE55HU8500, with the latest technologies and features, including LED backlighting with Micro Dimming Ultimate, a 1,200 CMR technology, a Quadmatic engine, Wide Color Enhancer (Plus) and a powerful upscaler with which low resolution content can be improved.
With every TV we test, we try to create the optimum picture quality with as few advanced adjustments as possible. For the Samsung HU8500 models, the Film Mode offers the best picture quality from the box, but with some small adjustments you can still get some get extras. Please note; it depends on your own preferences and also the space in which the TV stands. Do you want to professionally calibrate your TV or start working on it yourself? Then go through our tips articles in the home cinema information guide . Although it is not professional calibration, we have adjusted the TV to our preferences and that is where the following basic settings came from;
|Picture mode: Film
Tint: G50 / R50
|Dynamic contrast: Off
Black tones: Off
Skin color: 0
RGB mode: Off
Motion lighting: Off
|Color tone: Warm2
Digital Clean View: Off
MPEG noise filter: Off
HDMI black level: Low
Motion Plus: Off
Cinema Black: Low
Smart LED: Low
In a review of a TV, we always first look at the general picture properties, including the backlight and its uniformity, the black values and possible problems with, among other things, halo effects. Let us go straight to the door at home; the UE55HU8500 is not for nothing the top model of Samsung. There is little to see on the image. Firstly, the LED backlight hardly causes ‘leaks’, vertical or horizontal bands or lighter parts of the screen. We can therefore describe the image as uniform. The local dimming technique also works well, so that light objects on a dark background do not suffer from a slight haze, which can be seen during the credits of a film. The black values of this model are impressive, better than many top models of LCD TV that we have seen in recent times. Pay attention to the settings used (see above), because the dynamic contrast and the smart LED setting, among other things, can have a negative effect on the contrast. So it is absolutely good in terms of contrast; even in scenes with, for example, a lot of shadows subtle and dark details remain very visible.
With a TV like this, the chances are of course not that you view a lot of content in SD resolution, you are almost obliged not to do it, but if you view content in low resolution, the TV knows how to handle this. The HU8500 models impressively well with lower resolution, thanks in particular to a very good image processor that pulls the material to a higher resolution. It remains SD content and here and there there is some noise and artefacts but it is certainly visible, without disturbing elements. Especially with content in lower resolutions, HD or SD, the TV sometimes has some difficulty with fast movements. We turn off the Motion Plus option because it does not make movements more natural, but if you suffer a lot from stutter effects, a small adjustment in this area can help.
4K content is barely available, so most films and series will be viewed in HD resolution. Fortunately, the UE55HU8500 really shows the possibilities in this area. Although it is not native 4K material, HD content is amazingly sharp and tight, barely distinguishable from real 4K material. The TV convinces in all areas, including the highly accurate and natural reproduction of colors, and that largely from the box. The TV provides realistic skin tones and above average gray values. The latter ensures that subtle details remain visible in dark areas of the screen, for example details on a dark coat. It must be said that content from streaming services sometimes has some problems with artefacts caused by compression, but you will not get away with that. HD material from digital TV or similar sources can sometimes be somewhat tugging and stuttering, especially in action and sports. But, fortunately, this problem is a lot less with Blu-ray discs. Again, you can partially compensate with the Motion Plus option.
The Samsung UE55HU8500 is of course a UHD, or 4K Ultra HD, TV. Although not many series and films in this resolution are available yet, the content on YouTube is of a low quality and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs have yet to be released, you can already enjoy them. For the Dutch, Netflix is the best option, with a number of series, films and documentaries in the 4K resolution.
4K Ultra HD movies and series on Netflix are naturally compressed and so it can be even a bit better (with the arrival of Ultra HD Blu-ray), but if you can accept some artifacts here and there you get an ultimate picture. We can almost take over the paragraph about HD content, with the addition that details are just a bit more convincing in terms of sharpness and the high resolution which adds more depth to the image.
The processing of fast movements, of the camera or of objects in the picture is almost perfectly arranged in both HD and 4K. Without switching on the motion options, the TV knows how to accurately keep track of movements, which ensures a clean view without vibrations, hitches or motion blur. There may be a slight stutter effect here and there, especially in fast sports, but this can be compensated by activating the option in the Motion Plus menu.
In the field of 3D display, little has changed this year, also on the Samsung models. The Korean manufacturer is no longer using the technology in the marketing of TVs and so we can assume that the development is almost at a standstill. But, the UE55HU8500 still manages to offer an excellent experience, with small hiccups.
The TV uses the active 3D technique which gives you a full HD image. This 3D image offers enough clarity and detail to come across as convincing and dynamic, but 3D images are quickly provided with too much noise and a striking grain. Motion-handling in 3D mode is also slightly less than in 2D mode, something that can be picked up with a low Motion Plus setting.
Unfortunately, the glasses sometimes cause some uncomfortable flicker effects. Samsung provides two active 3D glasses with the models in the HU8500 series, which incidentally also suffer from incident light on the sides. This can affect the viewing of 3D material especially during the daytime. Crosstalk, another known disadvantage of active 3D, is not entirely absent but does not result in a lesser 3D experience.
When you play a lot of games where the reaction speed is of great importance then the UE55HU8500 may not be the best option. This model has an input lag of 65 ms in game mode and is therefore a middle class. Apart from that, the TV provides an impressive picture and a great gaming experience.
Reflections and viewing angles
With this cup we end up on the curved display because apart from the fact that it is beautiful, which is personal, the curvature does influence the image quality. Unfortunately, this influence is not positive. Compared to a flat screen display, the viewing angle is slightly less. You have to sit right in front of the TV if you want the optimal picture to be presented. If you sit out of the middle, you deliver faster in terms of contrast and clarity. Reflections, especially of direct light in front of the TV, are also faster due to the curve in the screen than with a flat screen TV. So it is not a TV where you go with the whole family every night, not if you want to get the best picture quality in any case.
Samsung HU8500 – audio quality
If you buy a TV of this caliber then chances are that you also buy a nice audio system, but if you want to do it with the built-in speakers you get a nice sound. The speakers are more powerful than the size suggests and a good balance has been found between the bass, the midtones and the high tones. The low tones sometimes even convince, which is good for a sleek TV in which there is actually no room for low tones. Dialogues are also clear, but with a lot of action they can quickly be snowed under. For normal TV viewing, the integrated audio system is fine but you watch films often than an external speaker system is really recommended.
Samsung HU8500 – conclusion
All in all, we have to say that the Samsung UE55HU8500 is the perfect TV on almost all levels. The curved screen is a nice feature but does not make the viewing experience any better and does provide slightly lower viewing angles than a flat screen display. The curvature is therefore especially something that you have to find beautiful to go for it. Samsung has been at the top for a while now in the field of ease of use and smart TV capabilities, and this model is no different. There are many useful and fun apps within the platform to find and the software is wonderfully fast and user friendly. In terms of image quality, this model does not have any noticeable stitches and offers, especially with HD and 4K content, an impressively tight, sharp and natural image. The 3D experience is not perfect but sufficient when you occasionally want to watch a movie in three dimensions. In addition, the audio reproduction is certainly not disappointing and you can absolutely use the built-in speakers for normal TV viewing.
Is there no disadvantage or big downside to find? The input lag is not optimal for gamers and the curvature has, as mentioned, its small drawbacks. And yes, the HU8500 models are far from cheap. You really have to have a budget for it. But, for this money you will get a very impressive TV which, thanks to the One Connect box and support for the 4K resolution, is ready for the future. It is now only waiting for more 4K material.