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Samsung UE40F8000 - Interface and Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

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Samsung UE40F8000

Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Samsung UE40F8000 - Control Systems

The UE40F8000’s also supports both control by and content sharing with second screens in the shape of Android and iOS apps. These let you share what’s showing on your TV – or even what’s on the TV’s built-in second tuner in Android’s case – on your second device, as well as letting you share multimedia on your portable device to the TV screen.

Samsung UE40F8000

Finally where the interface is concerned, while we quickly became fans of Samsung’s latest touch-pad remote control (provided free with the UE40F8000), we still didn’t find ourselves often feeling compelled to use Samsung’s gesture and voice controls, thanks to the former being too tiring and the latter being too prone to ‘hearing errors’. Despite the fact that both systems are actually considerably improved in effectiveness from their debut states last year.

Tucked away in a more straightforward set of onscreen menus is an outstanding collection of picture adjustments, including the colour management, white balance and gamma controls that would surely have been enough to earn the TV the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) had Samsung wanted to secure it.

Samsung UE40F8000 - Picture Quality

All the adjustment tools in the world wouldn’t matter, though, if using them didn’t result in excellent pictures. So it’s a relief to find the UE40F8000 rewarding your set up efforts spectacularly well, with what we’d argue are the finest pictures seen from any 40-inch LCD TV to date.

Samsung UE40F8000

The most immediately striking aspect of the 40F8000’s performance is its outstanding contrast. We’re accustomed now to Samsung’s top-end TVs delivering spectacular colours and brightness, but while Samsung has also previously been able to produce a strong black level colour, it’s always come with a rider attached in the form of backlight clouding, whereby some parts of dark scenes look unnaturally brighter than others.

Previously, dodging this distraction has required you to take out a fairly hefty chunk of backlight brightness from Samsung’s TVs. But this year Samsung’s engineers have pretty much completely removed backlight inconsistency, so that the UE40F8000 can deliver startlingly deep black colours with almost total consistency even when you’re using one of the TV’s far-too-aggressive picture presets.

Samsung UE40F8000

To get the best black levels, colours and detail response from the UE40F8000 we’d still recommend that you reduce the backlight to as low as between six and eight using Samsung’s scale. However, the key point here is that you don’t HAVE to use such a low-brightness set up on the UE40F8000. So if you prefer to watch pictures with colour and brightness levels ramped up – as Samsung’s presets seem to think you do – then dammit, you can, without dark scenes turning into a distracting, uneven mess as a result.

Perhaps because of its improved black level response, the 40F8000 turns out to also be a terrific colour performer, achieving that dream combination of extremely punchy colours and superb tonal subtlety. Even peak whites manage to contain subtle shading differences rather than ‘flaring out’. Colours can be made to look very accurate too – once you’ve calmed the backlight and contrast settings down from the levels used in the presets - for film fans keen on trying to get a TV which produces pictures as close to the established video industry standards as possible.

Samsung UE40F8000

The Samsung UE40F8000’s sharpness, meanwhile, is nothing short of sensational, thanks to a brilliant mix of an almost uncannily accurate approach to detail portrayal and one of the finest motion handling systems we’ve seen from an LCD to date. Even without calling into play Samsung’s motion compensation processing the ‘1000Hz’ engine exhibits scarcely a trace of the resolution loss over moving objects you still get to some extent with almost every other LCD TV.

Actually, the image’s sharpness is so aggressive in the TV’s out of the box state that we toned the sharpness setting down a bit when we first started using the TV to stop things looking a little noisy and ‘forced’.

David Horn

April 9, 2013, 9:37 am

Unfortunately, I've never been able to trust your reviews of Samsung TVs. They look - undeniably - fantastic when fed with an HD source but when given an SD picture to deal with they struggle with the colours, especially flesh tones. It's instantly obvious from thirty feet away whether a TV is a Samsung or not simply because skin colour is so badly wrong.

I bought your last 10/10 Samsung and ended up taking it back to the shop because of this issue (oh, and massively inconsistent backlighting).

John Archer

April 9, 2013, 11:26 am

Hi David

Sorry you feel that way about my previous Samsung TV reviews! Your message does raise a number of questions, though.

First, did you calibrate the Samsung TV you bought along the lines I suggest in my reviews? As in, reducing the contrast and especially backlight settings well below the settings provided by Samsung's presets?

If you don't do this, you would indeed see backlight inconsistency and over-ripe colours on previous Samsung LCD generations. I always point out in my reviews that Samsung's LCD picture presets are very poor, and that you need to commit to calibrating the set yourself before you'll get anything like the best picture quality.

With this in mind, there are also extensive colour management tools available on Samsung's top-end TVs that I'd argue enable you to get colours - including skin tones - to pretty much wherever you want to get them. Did you attempt to use these adjustment tools in conjunction with a readily available calibration aid like the Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray?

It's not just me who thinks that a calibrated Samsung TV - even last year's model - can be made to look outstanding. As well as countless other very positive reviews on other sites, I recently had an in-depth discussion with an ISF/THX qualified calibration expert who said he found he was able to achieve better - 'brilliant', was his word - results from Samsung's top-end LCD TVs than the LCD TVs of any other manufacturer. A finding which I agree with wholeheartedly based on my own calibration efforts with Samsung's high-end TVs.

I do agree with you that backlight inconsistency has been a problem on the past three or four Samsung LCD generations, but only to the extent - on the past couple of generations, at least - that it requires you to take a lot of luminance out of pictures to get round it.

In any case, the new F8000 series reviewed here almost completely get rids of the previous backlight consistency problems, allowing users to stick with a punchier, brighter picture if they want to. Personally I'd still recommend reducing the backlight and contrast quite considerably from any of the preset levels, to get closer to the sort of colour accuracy you're after (before additionally tweaking colour balances if you want to go further).

As for your point about standard definition on Samsung TVs, I find this strange, as I believe that Samsung's top-end TVs are among the best at upscaling standard definition. Again, though, this is only true if you dodge Samsung's presets, as their high contrast, backlight and sharpness default levels - as well as some OTT noise reduction routines - invariably leave standard definition pictures 'out of the box' looking like an over-ripe, noisy mess. Post calibration, though, I honestly believe Samsung's high-end TVs can deliver some of the best standard definition images available on a full HD TV.

I might also argue that you really don't have to watch standard definition much nowadays, anyway. Nearly everyone in the UK can get Freeview HD, Blu-rays are 10 a penny, and even the best online services are now offering HD streaming. Samsung's latest high-end TVs additionally offer Freesat HD tuners built-in, should Freeview HD not be available in your area.

My main point in all this, though, is simply that I maintain - as would many, many others with plenty of experience in the TV world - that a properly calibrated high-end Samsung TV from the past couple of years can deliver outstanding picture quality, albeit at the expense of much of that aggressive brightness Samsung for some reason likes to push with its presets.

Even if I still haven't convinced you about all this, the fact remains that the new Samsung F8000 TVs deliver a big leap forward in terms of backlight consistency, which in turn gives users much more flexibility when it comes to figuring out the picture settings that best suit their individual tastes.

Also, of course, we'll soon - very soon, actually - be posting reviews on Samsung and Panasonic's extremely exciting new plasma TVs, which could well be the answer if you really can't see LCD ever truly satisfying you.

Best wishes

John Archer

Vivek Bhalla

April 10, 2013, 10:58 am

Hi John,

Thank you for a very detailed and comprehensive review.

As a purchaser of the equivalent 2012 model there are two aspects I'd be very interested to get your perspective on:

1. In terms of comparison between this year's model and last year's - what would you say are the biggest areas of improvement and would you say these are significant?

2. Do you know how close Samsung's Evolution Kit will bring their 2012 models to the level of their 2013 counterparts?

If you are intending to review the Evolution Kit then please do ensure this aspect is covered in terms of improved picture quality (the issue with back-lighting was one that I had to contend with for some time until I got it just right), as well as online features and the slightly annoying gesture and voice controls.

With regard to the latter, I found that with the 2012 model, the voice commands would be unintentionally be initiated when conversing in the room. This can get a little annoying and I'm wondering how well this may be addressed were I to opt for the upgrade kit.

Thanks for any input you can offer.

dave

April 10, 2013, 11:39 am

Hi, John any chance you'll review the new Samsung UE40F6800 40-inch?

I'm stuck between getting a 2012 one, or paying a £100 more for the new model.

Thanks.

Philip Smith

April 11, 2013, 2:15 pm

Thanks for the review. One problem I've always had with Samsung sets has been their relatively narrow viewing angle, with blacks fading more markedly when viewed off-centre compared to the likes IPS panels etc. Have things improved with this set?

Mark Colit

April 11, 2013, 8:59 pm

In a word, samsung are a cut above the competition, picture-wise (even on standard def), but the onboard speakers on some sets leave a lot to be desired.

theweAkinpolitics

April 12, 2013, 5:45 pm

That is a crazy amount of work to have to do on a new tv.
Prefer the days when you set your brightness and contrast
and away you went!

Matthew Salmon

April 14, 2013, 9:12 am

Well said John

Matthew Salmon

April 14, 2013, 9:14 am

Samsung's are so pricey these days tho..its a great TV but £1500??? Come on.. Many people would prob look at the price of the competitors - esp LG and go for something 1/3 of the price that offers similar features.

Nick G

May 20, 2013, 12:50 pm

Do you have a calibration guide somewhere? Are there any other tools/techniques you'd recommend David?

Mikael Chuaungo

August 4, 2013, 12:43 pm

I prefer the days when we didn't even modify the brightness and contrast.. good picture quality forever

Clive

September 3, 2013, 7:34 pm

After 16 months of trouble free watching, my samsung has developed a horizontal line down the right hand side of the display, this is not a problem with the input as the self-diagnostic option also displays the fault. Having googled this issue I'm not alone and I'm currently waiting for the samsung support team to get back to me. So good TV when they work, but there does seem to be a design fault.

Mark

October 8, 2013, 11:24 am

Looking to buy this TV but do not use AV but rely solely on a Sky Box to watch all TV. Does this allow the apps home page to still work with catch up TV? I understand the Smart elements and recommendations will only work of the AV input.

Rina

October 5, 2014, 8:43 pm

Hi, I was just wondering if anyone else has this problem. My tv is less than a year old and tonight it suddenly started to have red lines all over the screen. Heres a photo.

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