Samsung UN55F8000 Review (UN55F8000BF)
55" 1080p 3D HDTV with Smart TV
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
Samsung's new UN55F8000 LED TV focuses on many of the same aspects as it's predecessor – the ES8000 series. One of the major objectives was to make the voice recognition software more usable and relevant and Samsung has done that. The improvements are drastic and the new voice recognition software is capable of discerning entire sentences. Specifically, viewers can request shows or the names of actors. The UN55F8000 is the top of the line LED TV for 2013 and 2014 (not considering 4K).
Picture Quality Rating: 9.3
The clear coat, rich black screen and the high quality edge lighting LEDs allow for colors to pop and give a real sense of depth when viewing HD quality source material. Light flow-through (areas of the on screen picture that show lights, or sunlight streaming into images) is the best of any TV you will find on the market. Black levels and contrast are two other strong points of picture quality on the UN55F8000. Blacks are deep even when other areas of the screen are bright. Dark shadow detail is impressive as well.
This shot displays the great contrast and clean lines the F8000 is capable of. Color is realistic while the level of detail is impressive
LED Backlighting – A Standout Feature for the F8000!
The strongest in the market LED edge backlight and black levels really give this Samsung an edge in picture quality over every other LED TV in the market. The 55F8000 has best in class color and contrast that create superior images and the light flow through the the LED backlights is amazing. Images on screen are crisp, and refined compared to some of the other LED TVs out there. The backlight does need to be kept in check because it has the potential to wash colors and contrast out. The safe zone for the backlight setting on this TV is around 70% of capacity.
This shot from the 5th Element Blu-ray really shows off the light flow through of the LED Backlights
Colors can really pop on the 55F8000 for an LED TV, though they can get hazy if the backlight is set too high. From up-converted content color flow is much better than other TVs on the market – one of the reasons this is a premium model. Overall color is very well balanced and saturated and the Movie mode is set very close to D6500K right out of the box. Only top plasma TVs will beat the F8000 in color performance.
Micro Dimming Ultimate with Precision Black
Overall the effects really do make a more colorful 3 dimensional image, even from 2D programming. We felt the image with this feature on (Smart LED) was better than off. This is due to separating the picture into hundreds of parts and pieces and changing the amount of backlighting from the LEDs. The Precision Black produced inky blacks without losing any dark shadow detail. To find the setting, look for the Smart LED option in the Picture Options menu. It is set to standard by default and we saw no difference when bumping it to high. When turned off, the picture seems to lose the vibrancy it had.
Depth is a strong point of the UN55F8000 for 2D and 3D viewing alike. This stands as more than a good example for the sense of depth
Auto Motion Plus (Note: Super Important Setting!)
The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse and is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. When watching content from the Internet, TV, DVD or BluRay, this feature should be disabled or at least the De-Judder portion of the feature should be set to 0. Leaving the De-Blur portion on is OK. The feature creates the dreaded 'Soap Opera' effect, making images look terribly unrealistic by eliminating natural background blur. Turn it off in the Picture Options menu and everything will be fine again. You'll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. When viewing 480i based content we saw slight improvements when the setting was low.
(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll all the way down to Picture Options, Scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)
However, the AutoMotion Plus shows its worth when it comes to gaming and 3D viewing. We cover those issues in depth below. We would love to see a direct button on the remote control to the AutoMotion Plus settings.
480i and 480p Standard Definition Quality – Best in the Market!
Samsung 55F8000 performed excellently in this often forgotten category. If you watch Netflix streaming videos and normal DVDs you will appreciate the F8000's excellence here. The F8000 brought Kill Bill and Tristan and Isolde DVDs to life. The light throughput from the UN55F8000 really makes the difference to create more color and contrast around and in images. If you want to really make older DVDs come to life and you can handle diminished natural background blur, try the AutoMotion Plus feature on the Smooth setting rather than our normal recommended Off position.
Gaming - Top Quality
Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3 performed well on the F8000
The Movie picture mode is my preferred setting when gaming on the UN55F8000 with a Playstation 3. The AutoMotion Plus on User with the Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction at 0 is my favorite for both Gran Turismo 5 and Okami HD. This gets rid of judder reduction processing similar to what Game Mode does. Those that want to try it out have to do a little digging to find it. This is where Game Mode is located: Menu > System > General > Game Mode. Input lag was present in all variations, but not enough to effect game play in a very bad way, though some may have a problem with it. The difference in lag was minimal between having the AutoMotion Plus feature on and off. The AutoMotion motion smoothing feature is essential to improving the performance of gaming from the 240Hz panel. When this feature is enabled, motion lag and judder are virtually eliminated and gaming performance is best in class. This is a great gaming TV, very enjoyable once you have the right settings. The 3D effects of depth really showed, but picture quality suffered so much I would never opt to play a game that way.
We measured 100ms of input lag with the AutoMotion Plus feature enabled
Disabling the AutoMotion Plus feature makes a small impact on the motion lag at 90ms.
Active 3D Performance – Also Excellent
55F8000 – Leave the Picture Mode on the Standard setting with the Smooth setting in Auto Motion Plus feature on. The AutoMotion Plus feature adds tons of depth to 3D images and reduces judder to a non-issue. We also turned the 3D light setting up to High from the low position. Great picture but it does degrade from side viewing angles and is not as strong as the LA7400 3D picture. Changing the picture settings to Vivid and trying different combinations to improve the 3D picture saturation and depth proved fruitless as it created noticeable double images and glowing around figures.
This year's Active 3D glasses are extremeyl light and have a more streamlined design
The design of the 3D glasses is pretty similar to last year, but you'll see they are a little more streamlined. They have clean lines and are super light. They do produce slight flicker if you are viewing in a room with incoming light from the front.
2D to 3D Conversion – Usable at Last
We noted improvements of 2D to 3D conversion last year and are still seeing the results here. Be aware that the picture settings change when 3D is enabled by pressing the 3D button on the remote, so make sure the AutoMotion Plus setting is on to get the best effect. We tried a Blu-ray first. The 3D effect was pronounced in The 5th Element with a good deal of depth. We also tried out streaming content from Amazon's Instant Video service. When watching Justified the picture popped. I did find that turning down the AutoMotion Plus feature kept the picture from looking unnatural. I saw small amount of crosstalk in the streaming content. The picture from both sources remained bright and clear as the 2D images.
Side Angle Viewing – Still Room for Improvement
Color and contrast do fade when viewing from off center though subtly - as we usually see with LED TVs. Off-center from top to bottom is not as bad as an offender, but the effects are still seen. The black bars at the top and bottom of the screen get a purplish haze as you move farther off center. We saw a little bit of light bleed at extreme angles, but it disappears as you move toward the center again. Center viewing will always provide the absolute best picture on this one, moving to the side can mitigate the excellence of picture quality somewhat. The UN55F8000 cant match a good plasma TV in this area.
Preset Picture Setting Modes Notes:
Dynamic – The blue is overpowering and the image is overly bright, like we see in many other dynamic modes. Not recommended.
Standard – This is the energy star mode so the picture is geared toward keeping the backlight low. The picture is dim and the colors are subdued.
Natural – The natural picture mode seems like a toned down version of the dynamic picture mode. There is much less of a blue push, but the colors are still a bit off.
Movie – This is one of the best settings out of the box. The brightness of the backlight is showcased but it's not out of control and there is a warmness to the overall image.
Features Rating: 9.3
Samsung Smart TV
The Smart Hub redesign for Samsung Smart TVs this year breaks the platform down into 5 different sections. They are: Apps, On TV, Movies & TV Shows, Social, and Photos & Video. This is a good way to separate everything by its use. If you want to check your social networks, you know where to go. If you are going to look for a digital rental, there is just the right place for it.
Samsung's Smart TV Apps – Best Overall Offering
This page lists all of your downloaded apps. Premium apps are listed under the recommended section. Getting to the apps store is not as intuitive as we would like it to be. It took a little searching to find. From the main Apps page the 'Samsung Apps' button is the way to access the store. (See photo) There is no real way to identify that it is the way to get to more apps unless you open it. The store front loads up quickly and displays a number of free apps and ways to sort them by category.
The highlighted icon is where you will need to go to find the app store on the Smart Hub
The app store seems to operate much faster than last year. There have been major improvements in speed and navigation, probably thanks to the quad core processor under the hood. Sifting through the apps and reading their descriptions is an easy and frustration free process. No slow down occurs during down loading either. Just hit download and continue browsing the apps. This is a major plus in our book.
Samsung ESPN Next Level – This app lays over what you are currently watching. The download to up and running time was almost instant. After loading, we were presented with predicted winners, short tidbits of information on different teams in the news, and recent game stats. It is a quick and to the point app that doesn't give all the information you may want, but provides just enough to hold you over until Sports Center comes on. 3 out of 5.
Explore 3D – There is a lot of free content available from Samsung's Explore 3D section. The same categories from last year show up. They are: music, kids, documentary, and sports. The music section offered music videos to full blown concerts. The kids section has more than 100 videos, most of it educational programming. The documentary section offered short videos on various subjects, most were shorter than 10 minutes. The sports section was very lacking. Navigation was a pretty slow in this app and turning 3D effect off for navigation purposes didn't help. 4 out of 5.
Facebook - To use Facebook is it much better to just pull it up on the Internet browser instead of utilizing the built in App. The app is very clunky and slow. I felt like I was using it on an 8 year old cell phone, while in the browser it is the full experience. Rating 2 out of 5.
TED – This app provides a collection of informative videos about technology, spiritualism, art, and more. There is a lot of content here. For example, there are 68 videos under the 'Animals that Amaze' theme and 310 videos under the 'The Creative Spark' category. This will keep you busy for a while. Rating 4 out of 5.
Amazon Instant Video App – This Amazon's video on demand app worked fast and provided good video quality. If you are an Amazon Prime member this service adds a great deal of value. Rating 4 out of 5.
Home Barista – Another free app. It provides a little information on coffee from the bean to the cup. Nice pictures and an explanation of different coffee drinks are really the only things going on here. A quick internet search would probably provide much more information. Rating 1 out of 5.
On TV Guide
This is the interactive TV guide part of the Smart Hub. You see a selection of programs that are currently on and what will be on soon. When you click on a show you can either tune to it if is on or schedule a viewing for when it airs. The Smart Hub also displays related content you may be interested in. Switching to the Timeline view gives a more in depth look at what time shows are playing by 1-hour increments.
Movies and TV Shows
Here is where you will find all the video on demand content. It brings together all the content from all the different places they are available. When you find a something, just click 'Watch' and the Smart Hub will tell you where to watch. If it is on Netflix and you have a subscription you can go straight to it from there. Otherwise, you will be directed to where it can be purchased. Trailers, similar content, ratings, and more are also found here.
After linking your accounts from Facebook, Twitter, and other like it you are ready to go. The What's Hot tab shows trending content from the internet and your social network feeds. Most of what we saw was from Youtube. The Friends tab shows a list of friends from your linked social networks and any updates from them. The Video Call tab opens Skype for video conferencing.
Photos, Videos, and Music
This is the area where you can access photos, videos, and music from your computer, USB drive, or smart phone. All the screen sharing features are found on this page as well.
Web Browser – Decent Performance
In the UN55F8000's web browser, the cursor is controlled by the pad on the touch remote. Think of it like the touch pad on your laptop I found it to be a decent way to navigate around pages. It's much better than a 5-way remote, but it still can't compete with the point and click nature of LG's Magic Remote. One downside we experienced was that it can be hard to do pinpoint clicking and selecting. This leads to fumbling around for the delete or back button. Scrolling up and down is also pretty slow with the touch pad. Page load time was by no means fast, but there is a big improvement over last year's attempt. Multiple tab browsing was one of the better aspects of the browser. We loaded up a 1080p movie trailer on Youtube and were impressed. It loaded up quickly but skipped every so often.
Smart Touch Remote – More Impressive looking than useful
The Smart Touch remote is the only remote included with the F8000 series TVs. It is a big change from the standard remote. There are no numbers and not too many buttons. The first thing we noticed is the touch pad area in the center. This is where you will be swiping your thumb to switch between screens on the Smart Hub. The swipe touch pad is an improvement over the normal 5 way controller, but it's still pretty slow when it comes to inputting text.
The remote for the UN55F8000 has a swipe pad that makes it easy to switch between the main Smart Hub screens. There is also a button to engage the mic, making it simple to access the voice control features
The buttons on the remote are spaced out enough so there will not be a problem of a crowded remote. The button that are there are raised and you should be able to tell which button you are on by feel. The mic button is next to the volume and channel buttons. The Smart Hub button is centered on the bottom and it takes you straight to the On TV screen of the Smart Hub. The 'More' button brings up an on-screen menu to find more buttons like play, fast forward, and rewind. There you will also find dedicated buttons for Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. The number pad is here as well. The source button is located at the top center, so you can easily switch between your Blu-ray player and the cable box.
The voice features are engaged by pressing the mic button on the remote. You cannot immediately start talking after the voice button is pressed. It takes a moment before the voice recognition starts. There were many times where we had to repeat what was said because of the wait. This method of control is not terribly helpful in navigating around the Smart Hub, the remote is still going to be much faster. Where the voice features do come in handy though are when you search for specific content. After asking the TV “What movies are on right now?” it brought back exactly that. The results showed movies currently playing on Starz, HBO, and other channels. A search for “Johnny Depp” brought back a list of all his movies. The feature is a nice addition to further the functionality of the remote. It won't be the sole method for controlling the TV.
This is a great example of how helpful the voice recognition features can be in finding something to watch on TV
When trying to use the mic for inputting text into a search field on Google or Bing, only the last word the mic heard was used. When I tried to search “LCD TV Buying Guide,” only the word 'Guide' was put in the search bar. It seemed like it wanted one word at a time, but that would add a lot more time than necessary.
Motion Interaction – Interesting and Getting Better
The built in camera of the UN55F8000 allows you to control a number of things with just your hand. To engage the motion controls all you have to do is hold your open hand in front of the screen. It is pretty good at seeing your hand. Then you move your open hand around to move the on screen cursor. To select an option, make your hand into a fist then open it again. This is where the feature gets a little rough. You have to keep your hand in exactly the right place, make a fist, then open your hand in the exact same spot for it to register. Talk about an arm workout. If you move the cursor to the left side of the screen, a volume control appears. Same on the right with selecting channels. Move the cursor to the top right hand corner and a menu appears that lets you back up, switch inputs, open the recommendation menu, or power off the TV. The back command is one that will be used a lot and having to open a second hand menu to do it is very tedious.
The F8000 features a pop up camera on the top of the screen that makes it easy to enage the motion controls at any time
There is a motion command for swiping the screen to the left and to the right, but no up and down swiping. It is useful in the main Smart Hub section, but swiping up and down would have been an excellent addition for the web browser and the app store.
The motion controls may come in handy the onscreen keyboard once you get the hang of it. We found that if you use one hand to move the cursor and the other to hit the enter button on the remote, typing can be much faster. It's kind of like juggling, but it works well after some practice. We aren't sure if that was intended or not.
The menu is very similar to what we have seen on top tier Samsungs in the past. Overall it is complete and easy to find your way around. The left hand side list all of the major sections and is easy to get in and out of. One feature we really liked was the list of sub menu contents on the right hand side. For example, when you highlight Picture Options, you get to see every option located in that menu right on the screen. It's a subtle feature, but it can make finding a certain feature faster.
Appearance and Design - Awesome!
The first thing you'll notice is the deep black of the panel while the TV is off. It's much darker than any other TV sitting right next to it. The crescent moon stand of the Flow design really gives the illusion of floating. The of the TV is plastic that has a brushed metal look. Samsung has also called it the Clean Back design. This means you don't see any inputs or speakers from the rear. A plastic panel pops off the back to access the inputs and power plug. It's got a thin silver frame around the display with a small protrusion at the bottom center for Samsung's logo which lights up when the power is on. There is a 0.25” black bezel around the screen. The built-in camera pops out from the top center of the display and can be hidden by simply pushing it down. It's not very intrusive to the overall look while it is out and sitting atop the screen.
The design of the F8000 series from Samsung
We measure the Side bezel at half an inch, and total depth at 1.25 including the back input box and speakers.
There is plenty of volume from the speakers on the UN55F8000 and quality is consistently good though not as rich as some we've tested. Thankfully, there are no hollow or tinny effects in the sound as we've noticed from years past.
Value Rating: 8.9
The UN55F8000 is Samsung's top of the line LED TV for the year as as such it is expensive at around $2600. However, if you compare this excellent TV with the 4K and OLED TVs coming onto the market you may feel like Samsung is practically giving it away. Obviously, from the review you can see that there is quite a full compliment of picture quality and features. Competition is from LG 55LA8600, Sony KDL-55W900A, and the Panasonic TC-P55VT60 plasma.
Overall Rating: 9.2/10
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert|
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