Samsung UE65JS9500

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Incredible HDR picture quality
  • Tizen OS is slick and helpful
  • Upgradable connectivity and processors

Cons

  • It's not cheap
  • Native UHD and especially HDR content in short supply
  • The curve won't suit everyone

Key Features

  • Review Price: £5999.99
  • 65-inch LCD TV with direct LED lighting and local dimming
  • Native UHD/4K resolution
  • High Dynamic Range playback
  • Nanocrystal (Quantum Dot) colour technology
  • Tizen-based Smart TV engine

What is the Samsung UE65JS9500?

It’s become pretty much

customary now for Samsung to try and set the TV pace every year by being

first to market with its new flagship TV. And the Korean company has

thrown everything at the 65-inch Super UHD UE65JS9500 – it has HDR (high dynamic range) playback, native 4K/UHD resolution, a Nanocrystal colour system, a curved screen and the new Tizen Smart TV system.

The

pace it sets is so extreme that we’re hearing reports of grown cheetahs

crying. Let’s see if it ends up a winner or if it outpaces itself…

SEE ALSO: What is 4K/UHD?

Samsung UE65JS9500 – Design and Features

Aesthetically

the UE65JS9500 is a bold move in a number of ways. Particularly

striking is the way it consciously bucks the trend for ultra-thinness.

The rear is the chunkiest we’ve seen from a premium Samsung TV in years,

with its central portion even approaching the depth of last year’s

hefty Sony wedge TVs.

Samsung UA65JS9500

You

don’t notice this depth when you’re watching from the front, though, so

while the chamfered metallic bezel is also slightly wider than those

wrapped around many of today’s screens, you certainly can’t accuse of it

taking over an unreasonable amount of your living room.

The

bezel is keener than most modern examples to make its presence felt,

though. As well as boasting that gleaming metallic finish, it stands

some distance proud of the screen at its edges and angles back towards

the display. This creates quite a severe, angular effect in stark

contrast to both the gentle curvature of the screen and the boomerang

shape of the physics-defying silver stand.

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The main issue with

the design is that the angled bezel can distractingly catch any strong

light sources in your room – especially if you have ceiling lights.

Plus, of course, some people will not like the fact that the

UE65JS9500’s screen is curved…

We’re not going to get into all the pros and cons of curved screens here, as we’ve done it all before in a separate feature.

But you should know that if you want the highest level of picture

performance from a Samsung TV this year, you’ll need to get the

UE65JS9500, curves and all. There’s not going to be a flat equivalent.

Though if it helps we can say right away that one of the biggest

problems with curved TVs – distorted onscreen reflections – is certainly

greatly reduced on the 65JS9500 versus last year’s models. More on

this later.

After what felt like a relatively small evolution

with its 2014 TV range, Samsung has pulled out all the feature stops for

the JS9500 series – also available in 78-inch and 88-inch sizes – to

deliver a genuinely huge leap forward.

The undoubted star of the

show is its high dynamic range capability, which is a way of filming and

then showing content that delivers a much wider luminance range, with

brighter whites, deeper blacks, and a far more extensive greyscale and

colour range in between.

Demos of HDR have consistently looked

remarkable, so even though there’s still a debate over the best industry

standard for HDR in the living room, we’re hugely excited to be able to

experience it already on the first TV of 2015. It’s interesting to

note, too, that while other brands are hinting at HDR compatibility with

their 2015 flagship TVs, no other brand has formally confirmed it – at

least not for any models with a fairly imminent launch date. So it could

be that Samsung opens up quite a lead over its rivals in HDR terms.

SEE ALSO: What is HDR TV?

To

deliver on its HDR promise, the UE65JS9500 claims a huge native

brightness output of 1000 nits – versus a typical 300-500 nits – and

claims to be able to deliver up to 93 per cent of the Digital Cinema

Initiative (DCI) colour range you see at commercial cinemas.

How

has Samsung achieved this? First it’s developed a new proprietary

nanocrystal take on Quantum Dot colour technology. Second, it’s

developed a new 10-bit – versus the normal 8-bit – panel with high light

transmittance capabilities. Third, it’s employed a new type of light

source, which in the JS9500’s case is positioned directly behind the

screen and driven by local dimming for enhanced contrast. And finally

it’s developed a new processing engine focused on optimising the new

Quantum colour engine, better controlling the lights and darks in the

HDR image range, and being cleverer about recognising and then

accurately dealing with different types of picture content.

It

also, of course, has the processing knowhow to both recognise HDR

content when it’s fed in, and potentially “scale” that HDR to fit its

screen’s parameters and capabilities. Arguably even more importantly,

given that HDR content is currently non-existent to consumers, is that

the UE65JS9500 has the processing power to upgrade non-HDR content to

fit with the expanded brightness and colour range its panel can deliver.

This is potentially as controversial as it is intriguing, with a

certain type of videophile likely arguing that they want to see things

that look faithful to the format they were created in – usually the Rec

709 image standard – rather than material that’s gone through some sort

of “expansion processing”. But fear not; if that sounds like you,

there’s a setting on the TV that lets you see images accurate to the Rec

709 standard. Our experience, though, has been that once you’ve seen

anything “HDR’d”, going back to a standard that was developed for CRTs

decades ago feels almost painful.

Returning briefly to the

current lack of native HDR content, there is some good news in that

Netflix is now mastering most, if not all, of its home-grown shows in

HDR, and intends to start streaming them this year. Samsung is in

discussions with Netflix to nail down the specifics of how this HDR

streaming will happen, but it assures us that the 65JS9500 will be

able to handle the HDR streams when they go live.

We also wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung launched some sort of HDR Video Pack, like the UHD Video Pack

launched for its 4K TVs last year – especially as it’s already able to

provide HDR showcase reels for The Life Of Pi and Exodus.

Inevitably

the UE65JS95000 sports a native UHD (aka 4K) pixel count of 3840 x

2160, to deliver four times HD levels of detail. And Samsung claims to

have improved the quality of its 4K upscaling engine from last year’s

already high level.

SEE ALSO: What are quantum dots?

As

for the curved screen, it features seemingly the same degree of

curvature that Samsung was using last year, though the brand claims to

have enhanced the depth enhancement processing it applies to images to

make them more suited to a curved environment.

This processing,

too, could be a source of controversy, given that you can’t turn it off.

But at least Samsung has genuinely improved the way it works, as we’ll

cover later.

Yet another key feature of the UE65JS9500 is its new

powered-by-Tizen Smart TV engine. As usual we’ll be covering this in

depth in a separate article, but here’s a flavour of it to keep you

going until then.

Powered, along with the video processing, by a

new Octa Core brain, the new Smart engine represents a substantial shift

from last year’s content-rich but long-winded and sometimes confusing

system, delivering a much more friendly, stripped down and useful

experience. Most of the Smart menus are now overlaid on a relatively

small part of the image, so they don’t disrupt your viewing, and they’re

much more focused on getting you faster to the content you want. A huge

part of this involves treating everything – including individual TV

channels and each input – as its own app, so that they can populate a

Recently Watched list that pops up as soon as you hit the Smart TV

button.

Samsung UA65JS9500

It’s all pretty reminiscent of the LG webOS

system, to be honest, but this is no bad thing. And Samsung has

introduced a few neat ideas of its own, including icons that crop up in

the centre of each side of the screen when using gesture control or the

remote’s point-and-click function as shortcuts to volume control, setup

menu access, Smart menu access and channel shifting/EPG access.

One

final thing worth stressing about Tizen – indeed, arguably its biggest

selling point – is the way it claims to hugely simplify integration with

your Smart devices, to the point where if you have a Samsung phone from

the S4/Note 3 onwards the TV will detect that phone’s presence as soon

as it enters the room, and automatically establish communications with

it. The feature wasn’t ready in time for this review, but it’s safe to

say that when it’s working, removing the usual manual labour from such

connectivity will make it much more likely that you’ll engage with

second-screen features such as video sharing between devices.

The

last key feature of the UE65JS9500 we need to cover is its

connectivity. As with the past couple of generations of Samsung’s

high-end TVs, the 65JS9500 ships with an external One Connect device

containing all of its sockets. These include four USB ports and four

HDMIs, but the most important point about using an external connections

box – which also houses the TV’s brains – is that it can be replaced

with an updated model as new chipsets and even, potentially, new

connections become available.
Samsung UA65JS9500
This

is a potentially very significant feature. After all, we’ve already

seen a recent shift from HDMI 1.4 to HDMI 2.0 to support UHD at 50/60Hz,

and there’s plenty of talk of a second wave of UHD quality requiring

yet another connection upgrade in the next two to three years. So

offering an easily upgradable connections system is a great future proof

touch that we’re frankly surprised other brands haven’t started to

copy.

Samsung UE65JS9500 – Setup

First, some really great

news: the 65JS9500 is much more forgiving in picture setup terms than

previous Samsung TVs. In fact, while once again we find ourselves

wishing Samsung would include more preset options than four – plus a

hidden game one – the Standard preset is now pretty usable without you

having to make wholesale changes to it.

That said, there are a

few settings we’d suggest you invest time in to really optimise things.

First, turn off all noise reduction systems for UHD, and arguably even

HD, sources. Drop the contrast level to between 85 and 90 from the 100

preset level. Set the Dynamic Contrast to Medium or even, at a push,

High – the new panel design supports and even relishes this in a way the

previous generation of panels never could. Leave the Black Tone feature

off – you just don’t need it, and it can suppress shadow detail – and

make sure you track down the Game preset in the General submenu of the

Systems menu when gaming.

Finally we’d recommend that you set up a

custom mode for the Auto Motion Plus processing that sets the Blur and

Judder reduction elements to around 4 each.

Even if you do

precisely none of these changes, though, the UE65JS9500’s pictures will

instantly have your mouth hanging open in awe. Especially if you’ve

managed to secure some native HDR content.

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