While Samsung has reserved its best technologies for its flagship HU9000 curved TV, the HU8500 (available in 48, 55, 65, and 85-inch screen sizes) is still very much a highend TV, sporting features like a Clear Motion Rate of 1,000 (it’s a 100Hz panel), a new local dimming method called UHD Dimming, a quad-core processor to ensure operation smoothness, and a built-in DVB-T2 tuner for tuning in to digital TV broadcast. But unlike the HU9000, the HU8500 lacks a built-in camera. Design-wise, we like that Samsung didn’t try to be too fancy, and has gone for a simple brushed metal stand (non-swivel though) and a thin metal trim around the frame. The focus is on the giant panel, and rightly so.
Speaking of futureproofing, arguably our favorite feature of the HU8500 (in fact, for all of Samsung’s 4K TVs) is its ability to upgrade to the latest hardware (sans the panel, of course) and software simply by plugging in an external box that Samsung calls the One Connect box or Evolution Kit down the road. With this upgrade path, your investment will not become obsolete as fast compared to other TVs. That said, it’s not as if the HU8500 is lacking anything. Out of the box, it already supports standards like HEVC, HDMI 2.0, MHL 3.0, and HDCP 2.2.
Samsung’s 2014 Smart Control remote connects to the TV via Bluetooth, and is delightful to use. We find the touchpad handy for scrolling webpages; and even for menus that don’t support it, there are arrow keys to fall back on (or you can just use the standard remote). On the UI front, Samsung continues to improve its Smart Hub interface, and this version has a new Multimedia panel that combines the previous Photo, Video, Music, and Social panels. Compared to LG’s generous use of animations, it can still look a tad intimidating, especially to non-advanced users.
Another feature we like is Multi-Link Screen, a contextual multitasking mode that lets you split the screen real estate, so you can do things like having live TV on one half of the screen and contextual search results on the Web browser, relevant YouTube video content, or a compatible app up on the other half at the same time. A Soccer mode that allows you to enlarge a selected area on the screen is also pretty nifty, but we aren’t fans of the pumped up colors and contrast this mode brings.
Good set of smart TV features. Competitively priced. Doesn’t sport all of Samsung’s top-end hardware features.