Samsung UE65HU8500 UHD 4K curved TV review

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posted on Saturday, 19th April 2014 by Steve May

AWE Europe  4K 

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The shift to 4K at the higher end of the quality TV market is now firmly underway. With all name brands now committed to UHD screens, even though general availability of native 4K content (broadcast, packaged media) remains probably around a year away, installers specifying rooms with some claim to futureproofing should be upgrading to 2160p. There remain choices to be made, however: should you install flat of curved?

Samsung has firmly nailed its colours to the bendy mast this year, heralding the shift from flat to curved displays as an evolutionary one in the history of television. But what should an installer make of such next generation displays? We've been taking a closer look at the 65-inch version of Samsung's flagship HU8500 UHD TV. Integrators also have the choice of 55- and 78-inch models, the UE55HU8500 and UE78HU8500 respectively.

Samsung UE65HU8500: Build quality and features
Certainly from an aesthetic point of view, this big curving panel is remarkable. At 40mm, it's significantly deeper than previous Samsung flatscreens, and sits on a hefty curved Aero Arena pedestal stand. Consequently, it doesn't actually feel as premium as previous range toppers from the brand, but equally that's probably reflective of its aggressive price point. This model retails for just £3,999.

Bend

The curved design is obviously the key talking point here. There is a wall mount for the screen, but it's debatable if clients would want a curved screen on their wall. Frankly, it looks pretty silly; on furniture though the design is a good deal more appealing.

There are no AV connections to the screen itself. Instead, everything hooks into the separate 'Smart Evolution' One Connect interface box (pictured below). This contains the terrestrial and satellite tuners, plus four HDMIs, with 2.0 support for high frame rate 4K, HDCP 2.2 and MHL 3.0, three USBs, one of which is USB 3.0, component video via an adaptor and Ethernet. There's also high-speed IEE.802.11AC Wi-Fi onboard. The One Connect box tethers to the screen with a thick proprietary lead which also supplies power. This modular approach is certainly useful in so much as when 4K standards evolve, and they will over time, the box can be replaced while the screen remains in situ.

One Connect

Two handsets are supplied, a standard IR model and a pebble-shaped Bluetooth oval which combines a touch sensitive pad with gyroscopic control and Hot Key buttons. The latter is very similar to LG's Magic Remote. Samsung naturally continues to offer motion and voice control, with the Full HD camera now properly integrated into the bezel of the screen.

The brand's Smart portal offers a variety of subtle changes this season, including casual games and a split-screen Multi-View mode, which allows simultaneous live TV/connected content to be displayed side by side (a return to PIP and PAP). On the gimmicky side, there's also an advanced Soccer mode; we know it's a gimmick because when you select it, it announces itself with a crowd roar. Rather ingeniously this has been designed to auto-record match highlights, activated by crowd noise.

The HU8500 is also the first 4K UHD screen we've seen this year to incorporate an HEVC decoder, making it compatible with the Netflix 4K streaming service, which has now begun to operate in the UK.

It should be noted that the versatility of the twin tuners has been improved on this set, and now includes the ability to watch non-tuner content such as streaming media or Blu-ray, while recoding two channels to an external USB HDD. 

Samsung UE65HU8500: Performance
Samsung has ploughed all its new image processing into this screen (as opposed to the flat HU7500 which has a 2013 panel spec), and the results are largely spectacular. Contrast, black level and image dynamics are high.

Full HD content is well served by set's upscaler, not least because there's no visible line structure in its images. This obviously allows the set to be located relatively close to any viewing position. The TV's colour performance lends itself to some very vibrant hues, and has excellent out-of-the-box settings. While Full HD content looks good when rendered at 2160p, images from the Netflix 4K service are superb. Installers will need to ensure a fast broadband connection to get this service. The optimum stream is 15.6Mbps.

HoC

Currently there's only a limited amount of 4K programming available from the streaming giant, just House of Cards Season 2 and a selection of Moving Art travelogues, however all look wonderful. Dealers with these screens front of house should ensure the Netflix content is playing just to demonstrate the potential of the UHD panels.

The display can also natively play back content from the YouTube 4K channel, although the provenance of the material available here is somewhat less assured. Compression artefacts are often quite visible, even if image definition appears to be very high.

That said it's best to steer clear of the set's 'optimised' Soccer mode. Pictures here are nothing less than horrible; it's Dynamic Shop mode in an England shirt.

The HGU8500 supports Active Shutter 3D. Two pairs of glasses are included in the box. 3D depth and detail are pronounced, creating great stereoscopic imaging. While there is some crosstalk, the fun factor remains high.

Off Angle

Calibration options are many and varied. There's a wide variety of image management, including a professional calibration mode for those offering such services. It should be noted that motion artefacts are present to a lesser or greater extent in nearly all preset image modes with Motion Plus image interpolation. The best options for visual performance are Motion Plus Off, which presents a clear image but has low motion resolution; Motion Plus Clear, which has no overt artefacting but some horizontal panning judder and Motion Plus Custom, wherein Blur Reduction should be set to around 8 and Judder Reduction set to zero.

In terms of design, the panel is considerably bulkier than LG's curved OLED offerings and suffers cosmetically in comparison. There are also placement considerations. Sit close enough and there is a feeling of immersion which can almost be giddying. However, while off axis contrast and colour is above average, there are issues with screen geometry. Viewed from an angle the closer edge contracts the image in a way not seen with flatpanels. There may also be issues with local reflections.

Samsung UE65HU8500: verdict
Overall, the HU8500 impresses for the right reasons. Overall image clarity and dynamism is high; the panel image processing technologies at play here are very compelling. The feature specification is loaded and the new Quad Plus processor also ensures a great user experience. The set is swift to respond and navigation is a breeze. The appeal of the curved screen itself is going to be down to the client. Ultimately, we feel this screen is best sold in on the back of its style and fashion credentials than any visual benefit attributed to the bend.     

HU8500 Samsung Mainr

The Samsung UE65HU8500 is available now:
Retail price: £3,999

Samsung UHD 4K screens are distributed by AWE. For more on AWE's products and services, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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