At the top of Samsung’s broad range of 3D-enabled HDTVs, the 9000 series is clearly the standard-bearer and it sets the bar for advanced HDTV design and engineering to a level that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The set is packed with features, including 3D playback that’s compatible with both broadcast and Blu-ray 3D sources, and that includes Samsung’s own 2D-3D upconversion technology, which provides a better synthesized 3D effect compared to other brands.
Consider this HDTV if: you’re after the absolute latest in technology—the Samsung 9000 is a state-of-the-art TV.
Look elsewhere if: you want a much larger 3D TV—the only other model in the 9000 range is a 55” set. As an alternative, consider Samsung’s 65” 8000-series LED 3D TV (an excellent performer), which carries the same list price as the 9000 series 55-incher ($6,000). It’s not as slim as the 9000, but with a cabinet depth of under and inch, it’s no fatty either.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced HDTVs):
Overall picture quality (HD): 8
User interface: 8
Of course, this Samsung is a 3D TV, and works with active shutter LCD glasses. At launch, Samsung only offered battery-powered 3D glasses, but now also offers rechargeable types (at a $50 premium). The review sample came with two pairs of battery-powered glasses, and a 3D Blu-ray of Dreamworks Animations’ How To Train Your Dragon. As with other 3D TVs, the Samsung works with compatible 3D-capable Blu-ray players including the firm’s own as well as Sony’s PS3, which was used during the testing. There’s also a 2D-3D upconversion feature, which works better than similar upconversion technologies found in other 3D sets we’ve tried of late. The Samsung’s effect is best described as moderate, compared with what’s achievable with 3D Blu-ray content, but it still offers better performance than we’ve seen from any other 3D set we’ve tested over the past year. And, there are adjustments to fine-tune the 3D effect (not everybody sees 3D the same way, so it’s good to have tuneability).
There are a host of Internet apps, including widgets for various things like news, sports, weather and the like, as well as multiple video streaming services, including Vudu, Hulu Plus, Netflix and Cinema Now. There’s also Blockbuster On Demand available, but you’ll have to download that from the Samsung App Store (it’s a free download, and only takes a minute or so to install).
The set ships with a swivel stand, but unlike almost all other flat panel HDTVs, the 9000 also ships with their Ultra Slim wall-mount, which is usually an extra cost option.
To keep the cabinet absolutely as slim as possible (and at under a third of an inch deep, the 9000 is ridiculously thin), some of the connections require 3.5mm adapters (which are included), such as the component video input and the composite A/V input. The supplied swivel base has connections on the rear edge as well as the stand’s left side, but if you opt for wall mounting those side connections go away. One very nifty feature of the swivel base is a motorized slide-out control panel (front and center under the panel itself) that allows direct control of the set if the remote isn’t immediately at hand (or if the remote is being charged, something that needs to be done frequently).
While there’s an RJ-45 port for a wired LAN connection, the 9000 ships with a b/g/n Wi-Fi USB adapter, which is required for the remote to take advantage of all of the set’s control options, as well as video streaming and other internet-enabled apps (a second USB port is also there) as well to provide connections to any multi-media PCs that are on the home network. There’s also a D-sub RGB PC input, which supports all the usual resolutions including full 1920 x 1080 (not all 1080p sets that have a PC input can do that).
On Screen Display
Samsung’s OSD provides a logical menu layout, and there’s a quick menu function for often-used items, such as picture mode. Within the main menu’s picture controls, there’s a plethora of picture adjustment options, which will keep video enthusiasts happy for hours as they can tweak the set just so. For calibrators, the set provides for a 10-step gray scale adjustment, which allows a level of precision tuning that other sets don’t offer.