Although last year’s Samsung 9000 series 3D LED LCD TV was the clear winner in the style department with a super-svelte look, the next tier down 8000 series models were actually better performers, as they had a more sophisticated LED edge lighting scheme.
What a difference a year makes. Their new 8000 series (presently consisting of 46” and 55” sizes) are even slimmer than last year’s 9000 models, with a front panel bezel width and depth that barely exceeds the diameter of a #2 pencil. Unlike last year’s 9000 models, the new 8000 series sets include the precision multi-zone LED dimming system, which Samsung now calls Micro Dimming Plus, that provides for contrast enhancement on a localized basis.
The new 8000 sets also ship with a way cool dual-sided remote that features a conventional TV remote control layout on one side, and a smartphone-like QWERTY keyboard configuration (with an LCD text screen) on the other.
Consider this HDTV if: you’re after a 3D LED LCD TV that’s pretty much packed to the rafters with useful features along with a stunning look that will have your friends turning green with envy.
Look elsewhere if: you’re not flush with so much green as this is most definitely a top-tier set with a price tag to match. Consider one of Samsung’s plasma 3D sets, which offer a much better dollar-per-screen-inch price ratio.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced HDTVs)
• Overall picture quality (HD): 10
• Features: 10
• Connectivity: 9
• User interface: 10
• Value: 7
This Samsung has just about every feature you could possibly think of, including tremendous Internet app functionality, aided by a built-in web browser and a remote control that features a QWERTY keyboard on one of its two operating faces. There’s a LAN port for connection to a wired network, and the set features built-in Wi-Fi (b.g.n) wireless connectivity. Samsung’s app selection is pretty broad and includes a number of popular subscription TV show and movie streaming services. Along with the apps, the set features a well-designed on-screen operating manual (called E-Manual) that has highly legible text and sharp colorful graphics.
The Micro Dimming Plus feature (also known as Smart LED) provides multi-zone backlight dimming by modulating the LED edge lights around all four sides of the screen to increase contrast in select portions of the image. When paired with the Auto Motion Plus feature, which uses backlight on/off scanning to reduce perceived motion blur and smooth out movie judder, the picture quality approaches that of a top-line plasma flat panel.
When in 3D mode, the LED backlighting modulation improves the 3D experience by inserting black frames between each of the displayed left and right eye images to reduce ghosting (caused by left/right image smear) and flicker. New for this model is a 3D focal plane adjustment (3D Viewpoint) that can move the principal in-focus portion of the 3D image forward or backward. Not everybody sees 3D the same way, so the control is helpful to prevent crosstalk (which causes ghosting) by making the image more focused.
As with some earlier Samsung LED models, the 8000’s LED Motion Plus feature provides separate processing levels for video-originated and film-originated content. The Custom choice allows the viewer to individually dial up or down the processing level for both content types. Some film buffs expect to see the judder that’s a result of the comparably slow 24 frames per second film acquisition rate, so they can turn the judder reduction all the way down, effectively killing it. Or, they can choose a low level that provides a modest amount of judder reduction for movies and perhaps a higher blur reduction level for 60 frames per second video-originated content.
New for this year are two additional options, including Cinema which optimizes detail for the center of the image, and Ticker which fine-tunes the processing for the top and bottom portions of the image, where text crawls are typically positioned. There’s also a separate option, Cinema Black, which recognizes letterboxed content with black bars above and below the image, and shuts of the LED lighting for those portions to improve deep black quality.