Technophiles and A/V geeks may describe Samsung’s 55-inch Series 8 LED-backlit 3D TV as they would a supermodel: Gorgeous body, stunning features, incredibly expensive. Not to mention thin. If you’re serious about your home entertainment and have the necessary savings or disposable income, this is the kind of TV that’ll be on your radar.
The TV boasts the gamut of interfaces and features you’d expect to see on such a high-end set:
- Active shutter 3D
- High refresh rate
- Ethernet (RJ-45) network support
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- 3 USB ports
- 4 HDMI ports
- Digital optical audio out
- Component video and audio in
- Composite video and audio in
- VGA in
- RF (antenna) in
- Headphone out
Samsung doesn’t report the refresh rate of the TV in Hertz (Hz), but instead use their own “Clear Motion Rate” (CMR) measure, which they say is more accurate as it takes panel refresh rate, image processor speed, and back-light technology into account.
That definition combined with the number CMR 800 isn’t particularly meaningful, but the bottom-line is that the Samsung Series 8 has blur and judder reduction.
While some might enjoy the frame smoothing effect this can offer, I associate such high frame rates with cheap television programmes. When you watch a movie you know and love and the transition between frames is suddenly smoother it just feels… wrong.
Fortunately the Samsung D8000 let’s you adjust this and has three basic Clear Motion presets: clear, standard, and smooth. “Clear” provided an acceptable compromise for my bias against high frame rates. If none of the presets appeal to you, you can always manually adjust the blur and judder reduction.
The Samsung D8000 has some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen. This extends from the glasses all the way to the actual effect.
That said, a pair of normal 3D glasses for the TV will set you back R349 each. These are comfortable, even for those who need to wear prescription glasses underneath, but clunky. They also use a non-standard coin shaped lithium battery similar to the type used on PC motherboards.
Premium or “luxury” 3D glasses with built-in batteries that recharge through USB will cost you R799 each. While they are the most comfortable 3D glasses I’ve ever worn, it is difficult to justify paying so much for a pair.
When the price is paid and the time comes to deliver, however, the Series 8 Samsung D8000 doesn’t disappoint.
The 3D effect is still subtle, giving good depth but not much coming out of the screen – nothing seemed to “jump out” at you. There was no perceptible eye strain throughout a 2 hour movie and images were vibrant and crystal clear all the time.
Over and above the standard high-end TV features, modern TVs all want to be connected devices as well.
When you access the Samsung D8000’s “Smart Menu” for the first time there are a few things available to you. To get the full set of features you have to sign in with a Samsung account, however.
This initiates what seems to be a rather large and lengthy download of apps to the TV, such as YouTube .
While these apps and other “smart” features are neat, I’m not convinced about the usefulness of accessing Facebook or the web from your TV. Tablet PCs, smartphones, and notebooks remain a far more suitable way to access the Internet when you’re in front of the TV.
For those without home entertainment systems or consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox360, the network connection on the TV does offer a way to connect to your media server.
The real power of “SMART” would lie in accessing on-demand video content, however. While having YouTube on your TV is great, what I really want when I connect my TV to the Internet is on-demand movies and series.
Samsung also gave us the QWERTY remote to test with the TV.
This is handy on occasion (such as when typing Wi-Fi passwords and other login information), but I remain unconvinced about TVs being used to browse the web.
Oddly, the remote didn’t seem to work in the YouTube app when we tested it.
Samsung’s UA55D8000YR is an excellent TV, but at the price nothing less is to be expected.
If I had to criticise one aspect about the design it would be the base. Unlike other high-end TVs with heavy glass bases, the D8000’s was a light spider stand. It’s the only part of the set’s construction that comes across as cheap.
Nevertheless, if you want to blow R50k (and change for the 3D glasses) on an LED-backlit 3D TV, the Samsung Series 8 won’t disappoint.