Dressed in Samsung’s signature Touch of Color livery, the 8500 includes a manual swivel stand.
During a recent visit to Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea, I was able to see how they manage to produce a single piece bezel that incorporates both clear and opaque areas. A massive dual-mode injection molding system is sized about one third that of a subway car, and features four 16” hydraulically-actuated screws that squeeze the huge dies together during the molding process, which includes clear and colored acrylic pellets as the main ingredients. Some other Samsung sets feature a dark burgundy/clear bezel, while the 8500 models feature a more demure black and smoked gray treatment, which imparts an air of quiet elegance.
The 8500 features an incredibly slim cabinet, only 1.6” deep, which is remarkably svelte for an LED backlit LCD HDTV, but might pose a problem for HDMI cables with thick connectors. That caveat is clearly pointed out in warnings on the rear panel as well as in the owner’s manual. There are four HDMI inputs arrayed down a side-accessible jack pack, along with one of the two USB inputs, an optical digital audio output (but no analog stereo outputs) and a 3.5mm stereo audio input for connection to a PC.
Along the bottom-facing input row is a single component input with companion stereo analog input jacks, the RF input, PC input, the second USB port and the power connector. There’s a single composite input, but that’s shared with the component connection, so it’s an either/or scenario. For users that have multiple legacy source components that are equipped only with analog video outputs, the Samsung’s lack of connectivity there may be of concern. The RGB PC connection supports full 1920 x 1080 signals.
On Screen Display
The Samsung’s on screen display is one of the best in the industry, with clearly legible text, and logical groupings. The volume control icon resembles a speaker driver, with a graphic ring that shows the volume level, as well as a numerical indicator, a nice touch. A soft blue arc at the bottom center of the set glows when the set is powered on, but that can be disabled, as can the brief musical tones that announce the set is powering on and off.
The TV industry’s best remote control just got a little bit better. Virtually identical in appearance to the excellent remote that ships with other Samsung premium-tier sets, the 8500’s remote is likewise a standout of good ergonomic design. The remote features clearly legible button nomenclature, with large number pad indicators. The backlighting system is touch-activated and is super-sensitive—just picking up the remote activates the lighting function, and there’s a photocell that deactivates the backlighting when the room is well lit, which helps to prolong battery life.
The center cursor pad features an iPod-like click/wheel system, which also provides disc transport chapter skip forward and back modes. New for the 8500 series is the addition of RF capability, which greatly expands the coverage area, and helps if the set is mounted in a custom cabinet that blocks the front panel’s IR eye.
A small companion “easy” remote is supplied, but it only includes power on/off, volume up/down and channel up/down functions. It can’t be programmed for cable or satellite set-top boxes however, so its usefulness will probably be limited to those who have either over-the-air or direct-to-the-TV cable connections.
As with other recent Samsung sets, the Movie mode and color temperature Warm 2 setting combine to provide superb measured performance along with a great picture. The Auto Motion Plus 240Hz Custom mode provides separate adjustments for video sharpening and film smoothing, which is an advantage over other systems that provide only an on/off choice.
Picture Mode: Movie
HD size (pixel-to-pixel): Screen Fit
Color Temperature: Warm 2
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Gamma: +1 (2.28 result)
Black Tone: Off
Dynamic Contrast: Off
Color Space: Auto
Flesh Tone: 0
Edge Enhancement: Off
LED Motion Plus: On
xvYCC: Off (unless connected to an HD camcorder that supports xvYCC)
Smart LED: On
Digital NR: Auto