- Mostly outstanding, next-generation picture quality
- Easy-to-use smart TV system
- Plays HDR content, and plays it well
- Curved screen can distort reflections
- Backlight clouding has to be worked around
- Doesn't deliver so potent an HDR impact as Samsung's more expensive JS9500 series
- Review Price: £2350.00
- 55-inch LCD TV with edge LED lighting
- HDR playback support
- Native 4K UHD resolution
- Tizen Smart TV system
- Curved screen design
What is the Samsung UE55JS8500?
Despite sitting quite high up in Samsung’s 2015 TV range, the UE55JS8500 is actually the company’s entry-level ‘SUHD’ model.
Its SUHD status means it enjoys a native UHD resolution, Samsung’s new Nano Crystal colour technology, a high-brightness panel, and support for the new high dynamic range (HDR) picture format. It’s predominantly distinguished from the JS9000 series by having less powerful processing and a Mini One Connect connections box.
Video: Trusted Explains… All you need to know about TVs
Samsung UE55JS8500 – Design and Features
As with all of Samsung’s SUHD models for the UK, the UE55JS8500 features a curved screen, supported in this case by a seriously attractive slim, deep grey metallic frame. The tabletop stand – if you opt to use it – is a work of art too, thanks to the way it makes the screen look like it’s somehow hovering in some anti-gravitational field a few inches above and behind the stand’s distinctive, inch-high metallic front bar.
The UE55JS8500’s connections are plentiful. On the external One Connect Mini you get four HDMIs (each built to the 2.0 standard with HDCP 2.2 support), a pair of USBs and an optical digital audio output. On the TV you get satellite and Freeview HD RF tuner inputs, a component video input, and a LAN port along with, of course, the input for the cable that feeds from the One Connect Mini.
On the JS9000 and JS9500 TVs essentially all of the TV’s connections, including the tuner and network options, are found on external ‘full sized’ One Connect boxes. This is important because it’s a function of the way the full One Connect box carries the TV’s processing inside, whereas the processing is built into the UE55JS8500’s main TV chassis. Which means the UE55JS8500 can’t be upgraded to accommodate new features and processing systems by adding a future One Connect box in the same way the JS9000 and JS9500s can.
In fact, really all the One Connect Mini does is reduce – slightly – the amount of cable spaghetti going into the UE55JS8500’s rear.
As you’d expect of a 55-inch TV that costs £2,350 at the time of writing, the UE55JS8500 is jam-packed with cutting edge tech that goes way beyond its curved screen and native UHD resolution. New Nano Crystal technology delivers a markedly wider colour range than you get with normal LCD TVs – as much as 92% of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) spectrum – and joins forces with an ultra-transmissive and thus ultra-bright LCD panel design to ensure Samsung’s TV does much more than just pay lip service to its ability to play HDR content.
Obviously, HDR content continues to be in short supply right now. Oh, alright, yes, it’s non-existent in the UK – except on the USB sticks Samsung supplied us with for this review. But it is coming soon, with Netflix and Amazon (currently offering it in the US) promising to start HDR streams this year, UHD Blu-rays with HDR due before Christmas, and potentially a new HDR-toting UHD Video Pack coming from Samsung itself in the not too distant future.
While the UE55JS8500’s £2,350 price still looks expensive versus many (less well specified) 55-inch TVs, it actually looks pretty good when compared with the £2850 Samsung is asking for its step up UE55JS9000. Especially when you discover that aside from lacking the JS9000’s upgradable connections/processing box the only immediately obvious differences between the two models are quad core processing on the UE55JS8500 versus Octa-core processing on the JS9000, and a step down from 2000PQI to 1900PQI.
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The latter difference means, for what it’s worth, that the UE55JS8500 may not deliver motion with quite as much clarity and smoothness as the step-up model. Though it’s entirely possible we won’t even be able to notice this difference given that it’s mostly a factor of the sort of heavy duty motion processing technology we mostly like to keep turned off anyway.
Where the Quad-Core versus Octa-Core difference is concerned it’s hard to predict how much of a difference this might make. Maybe it will just effect the speed of the TV’s smart functions, but past experience suggests it could also subtly impact the quality of the set’s pictures, as it’s not able to work through its processing algorithms as quickly as the JS9000.
As with all of Samsung’s mid-range and higher smart TVs this year, the UE55JS8500 sports the brand’s new Tizen smart TV system. This is a radical departure from Samsung’s previous smart TV generations, replacing the old, rather cumbersome full-screen menus with a much slicker, less intrusive system of overlaid menus that actually resembles, to be honest, LG’s acclaimed webOS platform.
At the moment, the system feels like it needs a more sophisticated content recommendations system before it will become truly indispensable. But Samsung claims such a system is being worked on and, in any case, even as it stands Tizen undoubtedly marks a big step in the right smart TV direction. For more on that check out our dedicated Tizen review.
Samsung UE55JS8500 – Setup
As with the step-up JS9000 series, the UE55JS8500 needs a bit of set up work to get the best out of it. The main things to do are making sure all noise reduction processing is turned off with watching native UHD and, for most of the time, HD content, and – during dark room viewing, at least – making sure the backlight is reined in to around its 9 setting to keep a lid on backlight clouding.
You should also keep the motion processing either switched off, on its lowest Clear setting or on its Custom mode with the judder and blur components set to around 3.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the way the TV applies its wide colour gamut technology to non-HDR sources, you might also want to adjust the colour space setting to Auto, which will limit the set’s colour response to levels close to the traditional Rec 709 colour standard. Personally, though, we were impressed by how sensitively the UE55JS8500 applied its high brightness and wide colour gamut to non-HDR material. And if you’ve paid for all that fancy next-gen tech it seems to us you might as well use it as much as possible.