Sam­sung UN65F9000 Flag­ship 65-Inch 4K Ul­tra HDTV

NOVO - - PRODUCT REVIEW - Mike Osad­ciw

In­tend­ing on out­per­form­ing all other mod­els in their LCD (LED-back­lit) lineup, Sam­sung’s flag­ship 65” 2160p UHDTV tele­vi­sion de­liv­ers the same great im­age qual­ity as their 8000-se­ries 1080p HDTV but with four times the res­o­lu­tion ca­pa­bil­ity. The finest de­tails in 1080p con­tent is re­solved with pre­ci­sion and the tele­vi­sion is ready for na­tive 2160p (aka 4K) con­tent when it be­comes avail­able. Avail­able in 55” ($3,999), 65” ($5,499) and 85” sizes ($39,998), these Ul­tra High Def­i­ni­tion Tele­vi­sions have the po­ten­tial to keep up to date as the 2160p for­mat evolves. Re­viewed here is the 65” model. If you have UHDTV on your mind, this Sam­sung tele­vi­sion de­serves a closer look.

de­sign | fea­tures

I im­me­di­ately no­ticed the effect of a de­sign up­date that looks great in its new form but may re­quire a change on your part. If you in­tend on plac­ing this set on a TV stand, Sam­sung has moved away from a cen­tral pedestal and has opted for a slim, curved base with its ends at the far reaches of the screen. The TV with its stand is just un­der 75 lbs and 33 cm deep and hence com­mands a larger than av­er­age TV stand. This will of course not af­fect you if you are con­sid­er­ing wall mount­ing. The screen it­self is sur­rounded by a slim 1 cm black bezel.

At the right rear of the tele­vi­sion is a master power/joy­stick but­ton that al­lows some nav­i­ga­tion of the tele­vi­sion without the re­mote, but the de­sign is in­tended as a last re­sort should the re­mote be in­ac­ces­si­ble. There are only three con­nec­tors on the rear of the TV: a ser­vice jack, a USB 2.0 con­nec­tion, and Sam­sung’s pro­pri­etary One Con­nect ca­ble. While the rear USB con­nec­tor will be in­ac­ces­si­ble in all wall mount sce­nar­ios, two other USB in­puts can be found on the One Con­nect box. This ex­ter­nal de­vice, con­nected with a 10-foot cord to the TV, has all of the tele­vi­sion’s in­puts and pro­cess­ing and is es­sen­tially the brain of the tele­vi­sion. This con­cept isn’t new since boxes like these have been in­cluded with higher end tele­vi­sions in the past. But what makes this Sam­sung tele­vi­sion more ap­peal­ing when com­pared to other UHDTVs is that it of­fers an up­grade path as the UHD specs change, for ex­am­ple adding HDMI 2.0 com­pat­i­bil­ity in the fu­ture. As this hap­pens, you can be con­fi­dent that your pur­chase can be en­joyed now and well into the fu­ture without be­com­ing ob­so­lete, as

long as the rest of the hard­ware is com­pat­i­ble with those up­grades. The One Con­nect box also al­lows for a cleaner look with less ex­posed ca­bling. Al­most all HDTVs have HDMI in­puts on the side and un­less a right-an­gled con­nec­tor is used, the ca­bles are of­ten ex­posed. The One Con­nect box can also be placed some­where ac­ces­si­ble by the rest of the com­po­nents for quick and easy con­nec­tion ac­cess. I’m a fan of this upgrad­abil­ity and quick ac­cess con­cept and hope other man­u­fac­tur­ers will fol­low suit. TVs are just too big and en­vi­ron­men­tally haz­ardous to dis­card, and it’s just a bad idea to let TVs be­come out­dated too quickly. This is one great way to make sure per­fectly good work­ing items can be used a lit­tle longer.

On the One Con­nect box you will find 4 spe­cific HDMI in­puts; one to com­mu­ni­cate with a set-top-box, one for DVI de­vices where the ana­logue au­dio-in will be linked to it, an­other for ARC (Au­dio Re­turn Chan­nel), and the last for MHL (Mo­bile High Def­i­ni­tion Link) for smart­phones, etc. A sin­gle ana­logue com­po­nent and com­pos­ite video in­put can be used with the mini-jack con­nec­tors, and the ATSC OTA HD con­nec­tor is stan­dard with the TOSlink out­put for broad­casts re­ceived by HD an­tenna. When watch­ing over the air HD, the re­cep­tion of the tuner was ex­cel­lent, pulling in all of the sta­tions I ex­pected to, even the ones on the out­skirts of my sig­nal range. The on-screen guide and de­scrip­tions beat any other com­pet­ing tele­vi­sions. While the TV can pick up in­ter­net wire­lessly, there is a LAN con­nec­tion on the box for the fastest con­nec­tion. With all of these op­tions to ac­cess me­dia, hav­ing the One Con­nect box will be a good idea for many users.

The Blue­tooth en­abled Smart Touch re­mote doesn’t need line of sight to op­er­ate. It’s not the typ­i­cal re­mote since there is a swipe pad and very few but­tons on it - in­clud­ing power, source, chan­nel and vol­ume, and ac­cess to Sam­sung’s Smart Hub, among a few oth­ers. The swipe pad con­sumes most of the space on this small re­mote and al­lows you to nav­i­gate menu op­tions and draw chan­nel num­bers on the sur­face with your finger. An­other way to con­trol the TV is with the app for iOS and An­droid phones and tablets. And if but­tons are not enough, this TV con­tin­ues of­fer­ing the voice and hand ges­ture fea­tures from pre­vi­ous years. With these fea­tures en­abled, the user can nav­i­gate the tele­vi­sion by ei­ther talk­ing to it or by swip­ing their hand in the air (the ges­tures are rec­og­nized by the TV’s re­tractable top-mounted cam­era). But as I’ve men­tioned in pre­vi­ous re­views, this fea­ture doesn’t work if the TV is mounted higher than your seated po­si­tion or in a dark­ened room, and I still per­son­ally pre­fer but­tons. The web brows­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is still the best over all of the com­pe­ti­tion. Brows­ing is not as seam­less as on a tablet or an out­board com­puter, but it’s still an ef­fec­tive way to ac­cess your favourite web­sites. For more smart fea­tures, you can read about them on Sam­sung’s web­site in greater de­tail. In my ex­pe­ri­ences with TVs, Sam­sung’s Smart TVs are the smartest of all.

This is a 3D-en­abled tele­vi­sion that comes with four sets of glasses. They are the light­weight and com­fort­able, and friendly to those who wear reg­u­lar glasses. Un­like com­pet­ing sets from other man­u­fac­tur­ers, Sam­sung’s 3D glasses are ac­tive and use a small bat­tery to power up and sync with the TV. Even when the res­o­lu­tion in this 4K set can af­ford to be cut in half (which is what pas­sive 3D glasses rely on), why Sam­sung didn’t choose to pur­sue the pas­sive route is a mys­tery to me.

per­for­mance

One of the pic­ture as­pects I was most in­ter­ested in, is how this 4K UN65F9000 dif­fers from the 1080p UN65F8000 model in re­gards to the black level. The lit­er­a­ture says the F9000 has “Mi­cro Dim­ming Ul­ti­mate” and “Pre­ci­sion Black Lo­cal Dim­ming”, while the F8000 se­ries only has “Mi­cro Dim­ming Ul­ti­mate”. Both LCD sets have edge-lit LED back­light, and the UN65F9000’s lo­cal dim­ming fea­ture con­trols dim­ming at the edges of the screen where the back­lights are lo­cated. The re­sults of this back­light tech­nol­ogy in the UN65F9000 are ex­cel­lent, fur­ther clos­ing the al­right tight gap be­tween LCD and plasma tech­nol­ogy, which is quickly be­com­ing a thing of the past. An­other ad­ver­tised key fea­ture of this set is called “Clear Mo­tion Rate 1200”. Rather than get­ting into how in­flated these num­bers are, let’s just say that the Sam­sung’s mo­tion res­o­lu­tion is very good when com­pared to com­peti­tors, and the op­tion to add the pic­ture smooth­ing ‘soap opera’ effect in vary­ing amounts is avail­able at your fin­ger­tips. Of course, if you care for ac­cu­racy, you’ll want to dis­able this fea­ture al­to­gether.

There are sev­eral pre­set pic­ture modes avail­able out of the box that Sam­sung thinks will look good for the av­er­age con­sumer in the av­er­age en­vi­ron­ment. But like ev­ery other TV, it’s im­pos­si­ble for Sam­sung to know where the TV will be set up and can­not have an im­age mode cus­tom­ized for each of their cus­tomers. In re­sponse to this re­al­ity, Sam­sung con­tin­ues the long tra­di­tion of of­fer­ing a huge num­ber of cal­i­bra­tion con­trols (that work well) in menus that can be cus­tom­ized for you. Video cal­i­bra­tors can dial in set­tings that fol­low HDTV stan­dards us­ing test equip­ment. Sam­sung in­cludes 2-point and 10-point grayscale con­trols and an 18-point colour man­age­ment sys­tem, as well as an ef­fec­tive way to ad­just the colour de­coder. Con­trol of the im­age is ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause ac­cu­rate black level, white level, grayscale, and colour is far more im­por­tant than res­o­lu­tion. So while this may be an Ul­tra HDTV of­fer­ing four times the res­o­lu­tion, all of the above should al­ways come first. As usual for Sam­sung, the tele­vi­sion looked great af­ter cal­i­bra­tion and was able to ac­cu­rately por­tray movies and TV shows with pre­ci­sion. To cal­i­brate this TV I used my ref­er­ence Kon­ica-Mi­nolta CS-1000A spec­tro­ra­diome­ter, the Ac­cu­pel DVG-5000 1080p video gen­er­a­tor, and Cal­Man 5.2 soft­ware. For fur­ther cal­i­bra­tion re­sults, please visit the 4K TVs fo­rum at www.canadahifi. com/fo­rum.

As in all my re­views, I re­port on im­age qual­ity only af­ter cal­i­bra­tion since that’s the only proper way to judge a tele­vi­sion’s per­for­mance. First, I want to men­tion that I had no 4K source for this re­view and any­one who pur­chases this tele­vi­sion will be in the same boat. While at TAVES 2013 last Novem­ber, I had the op­por­tu­nity to do some quick cal­i­bra­tions on Sam­sung UHD dis­plays run­ning 4K con­tent, based on which I can tell you that the res­o­lu­tion ca­pa­bil­ity of this TV is amaz­ing, but only af­ter the most im­por­tant steps of set­ting all of the pic­ture con­trols. Re­mem­ber, res­o­lu­tion is at the bot­tom of the im­age qual­ity hi­er­ar­chy. That said, watch­ing 1080p con­tent looked just as great on this TV as it did on Sam­sung’s ref­er­ence 1080p

UN65F8000 set. I re­viewed this UHDTV from my typ­i­cal 7 foot view­ing dis­tance; that’s close to THX rec­om­men­da­tions for this screen size and about the equiv­a­lent to the field of view the av­er­age movie the­atre screen would take up, if it was pos­si­ble to sit a lit­tle fur­ther than the back row. Ac­tual pix­els can be seen at a dis­tance of 10 feet on 1080p screens and are very no­tice­able when sit­ting closer. UHDTVs give the ad­van­tage of not see­ing the pix­els at these same dis­tances.

I’ll come right out and be hon­est - if you think this Sam­sung UHDTV will make your 1080p Blu-ray col­lec­tion look like 4K ma­te­rial, you will be dis­ap­pointed. In fact, un­less you are sit­ting closer than 10 feet to the screen, you will be hard­pressed to see any dif­fer­ence. The ben­e­fit at this close dis­tance is that the im­age will re­main smooth without see­ing in­di­vid­ual pix­els as you would on a 1080p HDTV. What this Sam­sung does, is it elim­i­nates the screen door effect by re­duc­ing the in­di­vid­ual pixel size and tight­ens up the spa­ces be­tween them. It also pro­vides ad­van­tages of smooth­ing out rounded and stepped edges that are no­tice­able on text when sit­ting closer to the screen. Us­ing a va­ri­ety of sin­gle-pixel test pat­terns, all 1080p pix­els were re­solved a tad bet­ter on this Sam­sung than on a 1080p dis­play. This means that some of the finest de­tailed HD con­tent will have a slight ad­van­tage when played back on this UHD set – but only at these close dis­tances. The game changes once 4K con­tent be­comes avail­able; 4K con­tent can be ap­pre­ci­ated on this TV even when seated as far away as 15 feet.

I used a Sony PS3 as my Blu-ray player and fed it di­rectly to the tele­vi­sion with a Monster M1000HD HDMI ca­ble. Some live ac­tion ti­tles I watched in­cluded We’re the Millers, 2012, and Sweeney Todd. I watched one an­i­mated film, The Lit­tle Mer­maid, and sev­eral clas­sics such as Nos­fer­atu (1922) and Me­trop­o­lis (1927), as well as episodes from The Twi­light Zone. The colours in We’re the Millers looked strik­ingly close to my ref­er­ence plasma tele­vi­sion when viewed di­rectly from in front of the TV, rather than off to the side at which the colours shifted. The colours in this film are in­ten­tion­ally styl­ized like in many mod­ern films, with warm skin tones and lush colour­ing. The silly dis­as­ter film 2012 looked amaz­ing on this UHDTV from my view­ing dis­tance. Never did any pixel get in the way from my en­joy­ment of this film. Ev­ery bit of dis­as­ter could be seen to the finest de­tail of­fered from Blu-ray. The im­age was ca­pa­ble of switch­ing quickly from bright to dark scenes, giv­ing it an im­pres­sive con­trast. Since this TV is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing a very bright pic­ture, the con­trast ra­tio can be bet­ter on this set than a plasma TV, since plasma auto bright­ness lim­iters can’t be de­feated. I watched Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp to check out this TV’s han­dling of darker de­tails. This film proved that if you’re plan­ning to use the dim­ming func­tions on this TV, you must have it cal­i­brated with the fea­ture turned ‘on’ or else you’ll risk ob­scur­ing the dark­est parts of the pic­ture. The rock-solid grayscale this TV pro­duced re­sulted in great im­ages from this drab film, with great shadow de­tails and ac­cept­able blacks. Dark im­ages were cleaner than on my plasma TV be­cause LCD doesn’t gen­er­ate the same noise plas­mas do at dark sig­nal lev­els (which look like film grain). With this ref­er­ence Sam­sung UHDTV, I never once felt that the panel’s tiny pix­els got in the way of re­solv­ing the film grain in­her­ent in clas­sic films. The hard pixel steps on 1080p sets just don’t give me the same ana­logue feel­ing. There are some great clas­sic film restora­tions out there today, and there’s an in­her­ent beauty of black and white films that LCD UHDTVs can de­liver and plas­mas can­not (you’ll al­ways see colour arte­facts in black and white films on a plasma). Cal­i­brat­ing a sep­a­rate warmer E5400 colour tem­pera- ture set­ting gave these films life in my liv­ing room like I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

What are the down­sides? The up­con­ver­sion of 1080p to 4K (2160p) can give a false im­pres­sion of soft­en­ing the pic­ture when in fact it’s just the gap be­tween pix­els on a 1080p set that makes it feel sharper. I didn’t see any real in­stances of soft­en­ing dur­ing my view­ing. I also found that when fed a pic­ture with a res­o­lu­tion lower than 1080p, this Sam­sung can create large jagged arte­facts (which look like hor­i­zon­tal streaks) dur­ing its up-con­ver­sion. There­fore I rec­om­mend us­ing a good qual­ity 1080p source with this set. If you watch a lot of over the air HD as I do, then you’ll need to live with those arte­facts un­less you pur­chase a sep­a­rate OTA tuner or video pro­ces­sor.

For those of you look­ing for an Ul­tra HDTV (or 4K TV if you pre­fer), there is now plenty of se­lec­tion from the ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers. What dif­fer­en­ti­ates this Sam­sung from the com­pe­ti­tion is its ex­cel­lent suite of smart TV fea­tures and the One Con­nect box which can be up­graded in the fu­ture as tele­vi­sion tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to evolve - and it sure will. While 4K TVs will not make Blu-rays look like na­tive 4K con­tent, they will present the im­age without the dreaded screen door effect present on all 1080p TV sets. If you’re in the mar­ket for a new tele­vi­sion set that of­fers ex­cel­lent pic­ture per­for­mance and will be ca­pa­ble of 4K play­back when the con­tent be­comes avail­able, you should cer­tainly look at this Sam­sung UN65F9000. You will not be dis­ap­pointed.

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