“…depth, nuance, in­ten­sity…”

FOR Great HDR per­for­mance; all-round pic­ture qual­ity AGAINST Lack­ing catch-up ser­vices; blacks could be deeper

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - First Tests -

In the bat­tle of curved TV ver­sus flat TV, most peo­ple sit firmly in one camp or the other. If it’s the former, Sam­sung’s 2016 range of TVS has you cov­ered. If it’s the lat­ter, you are a lit­tle more lim­ited.

This means, in ab­so­lute terms, the KS8000 is Sam­sung’s flag­ship flatscreen range for 2016. This 49in ver­sion is the small­est of the lot, sit­ting be­low 55in, 65in and 75in screen sizes. It’s not small on fea­tures though, and packs both 4K and HDR, with an al­most iden­ti­cal list of specs as its curvier KS9000 sib­ling.

Like the KS9000, the KS8000 fea­tures Sam­sung’s '360-de­gree de­sign', which of­fers a su­per-slim bezel, stylish cen­tral stand and an al­most un­blem­ished back panel. A small flap lifts to un­veil a USB port and eth­er­net con­nec­tion, with other in­puts – in­clud­ing four 4K-ready HDMIS, an op­ti­cal in­put, two fur­ther USBS and both satel­lite and ter­res­trial con­nec­tions – found on Sam­sung’s Onecon­nect box.

The Quan­tum Dot dis­play – tech­nol­ogy also used by LG and Pana­sonic – makes it ca­pa­ble of a wider colour gamut than reg­u­lar pan­els. It ticks all the boxes for a UHD Pre­mium logo, in­clud­ing 1000 nits of peak bright­ness. Not bad for an edge-lit dis­play.

Sam­sung’s Tizen op­er­at­ing sys­tem has seen some wel­come tweaks this year. It’s now faster and more in­tu­itive, and adds a sec­ond row of ex­ploded con­tent and sug­gested next steps along the bot­tom of the screen. This could mean a list of sources or quick set­tings with­out need­ing to open up a full set­tings screen, sug­gested con­tent from your Net­flix and Ama­zon watch lists, or Youtube videos from your sub­scrip­tions.

It’s frus­trat­ing then, that we’re still wait­ing for all of the UK catch-up ser­vice apps to be added to the KS8000. BBC iplayer and ITV Player should ar­rive this au­tumn, with 4OD be­fore the end of the year, but you’ll have to go with­out for now.

Rich and vi­brant

With so much tech, some­thing has had to fall by the way­side, and that’s 3D. As with all Sam­sung’s 2016 TVS, the KS8000 has no 3D func­tion­al­ity, which is worth con­sid­er­ing if you have a li­brary of 3D discs.

Set-up is nice and sim­ple, with the KS8000 walk­ing you through the main set­tings for get­ting chan­nels loaded and net­work con­nec­tions sorted, plus it will also help you to add sources by recog­nis­ing and nam­ing them au­to­mat­i­cally.

The in­cluded smart re­mote dou­bles up as a univer­sal re­mote for com­pat­i­ble kit too, and is able to de­liver ba­sic com­mands to de­vices from all man­ner of man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Pic­ture con­trols are hid­den away un­der 'ex­pert set­tings', leav­ing sim­pler modes such as Movie, Stan­dard, Nat­u­ral or Dy­namic front and cen­tre for you to choose from. Of course, you should dive straight into set­tings to tweak these fur­ther – we opt for Movie for the most nat­u­ral han­dling of colour, and cal­i­brate us­ing our THX Op­ti­mizer disc.

The only ex­tra set­tings we find of much use are the Smart LED lo­cal dim­ming set­ting, which helps to get blacks a lit­tle deeper when set to low (it de­faults to high for HDR con­tent), and the mo­tion con­trols – we’d try set­ting low cus­tom val­ues if you feel the need, as the KS8000 doesn’t re­quire much help in this de­part­ment. It’s a very sta­ble pic­ture in­deed.

All these set­tings will change the mo­ment the TV recog­nises an HDR source, boost­ing the back­light up to its max­i­mum, among other things, in order to make the most of your HDR con­tent. The KS8000 will au­to­mat­i­cally re­vert back to SDR set­tings once the HDR source is turned off.

We play a 4K HDR disc of Mad Max: Fury

Road to see how the KS8000 copes with the movie’s strik­ing vi­su­als. On cue, the back­light jumps into ac­tion to de­liver an im­pres­sive level of bright­ness we wouldn’t usu­ally ex­pect from an edge-lit set.

The burnt-or­ange desert waste­land looks rich and vi­brant, dis­played with more depth, nuance and in­ten­sity than you would get from SDR con­tent. High­lights are just as strik­ing but avoid look­ing one-di­men­sional, de­liv­er­ing subtlety and de­tail to the likes of sun­shine and clouds.

Wholly im­mer­sive

There’s real in­sight else­where too. The cos­tumes that bagged this film an Os­car are sharply etched and su­perbly re­alised, with enough fine de­tail on dis­play so you don’t miss a stitch. Tex­tures ap­pear true to life, skin-tones won­der­fully judged.

It makes for a wholly im­mer­sive pic­ture that’s just as stun­ning as we found on the KS9000, with colours across the board man­ag­ing to tread that fine line be­tween punch and be­liev­abil­ity. Black lev­els could be a lit­tle bet­ter though. Even with the Smart LED set­ting turned up to its de­fault high for HDR con­tent, we’ve seen deeper, more con­vinc­ing blacks in sets such as Pana­sonic's DX902.

This isn’t helped by Sam­sung’s edge-lit tech – now lit from top and bot­tom rather than from the sides – which isn’t quite as ac­cu­rate in its dim­ming as a full ar­ray set is. We also no­tice a touch of ver­ti­cal bloom­ing when a bright ob­ject is in shot, just as we did on the KS9000. It’s not too dis­tract­ing – it’s only re­ally no­tice­able in a very dark room – but is a lim­i­ta­tion of the KS8000’S ca­pa­bil­i­ties all the same.

It’s much less ob­vi­ous with SDR con­tent though, mostly be­cause the back­light set­ting is much lower. As a re­sult, blacks are bet­ter, and cling on well to shadow de­tail in murkier scenes.

Drop down to stan­dard Blu-ray con­tent, or even broad­cast TV, and you won’t see a huge shift in char­ac­ter, thanks to the de­cent up­scaler Sam­sung has on board. De­tail lev­els nat­u­rally take a step down with ev­ery com­pro­mise in qual­ity you make, but ul­ti­mately it re­mains a sharp, nat­u­ral and well-judged pic­ture.

We don’t of­ten hold out much hope for sound from TVS this slim, but the KS8000’S 4.1-chan­nel setup with its claimed 60W of power cer­tainly holds its own. There’s enough weight here to give body and author­ity to voices, and it keeps its cool even when the vol­ume is pushed high.

Sam­sung has clearly worked hard to en­sure the KS8000 doesn’t sound bright or thin, but ap­pears to have erred on the side of cau­tion. More bite in the top end would give the KS8000 the chance to be more ex­pres­sive – and a more en­gag­ing lis­ten.

The UE49KS9000 squeezes a lot of tech into a sub-50in screen, mak­ing it a tempt­ing buy for the size-con­scious con­sumer want­ing a high-end 4K up­grade. If you have shunned the trend for curved TVS, the UE49KS8000 is by far the best flatscreen Sam­sung set we’ve seen this year.

“The UE49KS9000 squeezes a lot of tech into a sub-50in screen. It’s a tempt­ing buy for the size-con­scious con­sumer want­ing a 4K up­grade”

The KS8000 shuns the curved screen trend. Its fea­tures make it Sam­sung's flag­ship flatscreen choice for 2016

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