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Samsung UE55C9000 - 3D Performance, Audio and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Samsung UE55C9000

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

Our biggest concern with the UE55C9000’s pictures had been that it wouldn’t produce a deep and consistent black colour. But while it’s certainly not perfect in this regard, with definite greyness and some cloudy patches at the screen’s edges if you don’t keep the brightness and backlight settings pretty low, nor is it remotely as bad as we’d feared.

One last point worth stressing is how excellent the UE55C9000’s standard definition processing is. A 55in screen will leave no hiding place for weak tuner and upscaling efforts, yet standard definition images remain consistently enjoyable, sharp and noiseless thanks to Samsung’s upscaling processing.

Turning to the UE55C9000’s 3D pictures, the news is more mixed. On the upside, we were hugely impressed by how bright and colour-rich pictures remain with Samsung’s adequately comfortable active shutter glasses perched on your nose. In this respect, the UE55C9000 is clearly ahead of Panasonic’s plasma 3D images - and arguably ahead of any other 3D brand using any technology.

The vastness of the UE55C9000’s screens plays its part, too, in immersing you in a 3D world, especially as its size and Samsung’s decent native motion handling combine to let you appreciate the extra detail and resolution afforded by full HD 3D Blu-rays. The set helps Sky’s 3D broadcasts look sharp too, but there’s a noticeable crispness gap between Sky’s 'half HD' 3D resolution and full HD 3D.

The problem with the UE55C9000’s 3D pictures is a predictable one: double ghosting around the edges of some objects during 3D viewing (AKA crosstalk noise), especially if they’re in the mid to extreme distance. This is visible to some extent with all 3D sources, giving you a general sense that things don’t always look quite in focus even if your eyes aren’t particularly drawn to the crosstalk areas that are creating the slightly soft overall appearance.

No 3D display we’ve seen is completely free of crosstalk, but Panasonic’s plasma models suffer from it less. So we guess you’re looking at a decision between the extra brightness, crispness and colour of the Samsung UE55C9000 vs the reduced crosstalk of the Panasonic. Personally, we find crosstalk noise more overtly distracting than reduced brightness and slightly more muted colours. But we’d suggest you audition both if 3D really matters to you.

Though of course, in the UE55C9000’s case, its 3D capabilities are unlikely to be as important to you as its astonishing form factor. In fact, having 3D probably just seems like a handy bonus to many of the 55C9000’s likely buyers.

Given the frankly ridiculous slimness of the UE55C9000, we expected its sound to suck. But surprisingly, it’s really not bad. The trick is that Samsung has built 2 x 15W speakers into the stand rather than the screen, and these produce rather impressive amounts of volume and dynamic range. There’s even a bit of bass, and this appears without muddying the mid-range or crowding out trebles. These trebles can become a little sibilant with dense soundstages, but this doesn’t alter the fact that the UE55C9000 is one of the better sounding flat TVs in town.

Verdict

The UE55C9000 is tougher to stick a final mark on than any other TV we’ve reviewed. On the one hand, part of us says any 55in TV costing a minimum of £5,600 should be a near-perfect performer. Yet the UE55C9000 suffers some backlight inconsistency and 3D crosstalk. Plus the touchscreen remote is flawed at best.

On the other hand, the UE55C9000 is so stunning aesthetically that this is arguably all that matters, with its picture and sound quality just a nice, thick layer of icing on a cake that well-heeled aesthetes will already have been unable to resist.

In the end, it’s this sense of irresistibility to its target market that has persuaded us to lean towards giving the UE55C9000 a final mark of 9. It won’t be for everyone, but then it was never designed to be. It was clearly always intended to be a 'statement' product for designer homes, and even if you take the view that such products aren’t really any more than vanity projects, there’s no denying that Samsung has succeeded in achieving its aim with the UE55C9000 quite magnificently.

Ahlan

September 9, 2010, 12:44 pm

Wait a min, So this has a decent Image quality of 8/10


and this sony bravia has a perfect Image quality of 10/10





http://www.trustedreviews.com/...





and this Samsung cost 2300£ more than the KDL-52HX903 yet you gave a 7/10 for the value





and the KDL-52HX903 which has a way better image quality a 6/10





then you say this Samsung UE55C9000 is "Trustedreview Recommended"





and the KDL-52HX903 is not Recommended.





So much for "Trusted" reviews.

darkcamel

September 9, 2010, 2:54 pm

I saw this the other day and found Avatar running on it spellbinding. The 3D cross-talk is of concern with leds though, which points me in the direction of Samsung's large panel plasma 63C7000 - can we expect a review soon?

Chris

September 9, 2010, 4:10 pm

@Ahlan: You're not the first to point out discrepancies like this, so I'll just re-iterate the reasoning that TR give every time someone makes this particular observation.





The scores are just a pointer. There's more to a TV review than can be adequately expressed with a few numbers. If you don't understand the reasoning behind the scores, just read the review.

Ripsnorter

September 9, 2010, 4:22 pm

@Ahlan


I wonder sometimes at TR's inconsistencies, perceived or otherwise, too. Having viewed the Samsung at the just finished IFA in Berlin, yes it is stunning to behold, but for that money, if it were my own, I would go for one of the new LGs (I have no connection with the company whatsoever, by the way: I was shopping for a new TV) or, as you say, the Sony. In Germany, one factor which is often taken into account in reviews is known as the Preis-Leistung Verhältnis. This translates as price-performance ratio, what Americans might call bang for your buck. It's notonly about how good a product is, but relates that amount of goodness to the price you have to pay to get it. At the same time, reviews are always subjective, although why the Sony does not get the TR Recommended label and the Samsung does, judged purely on their performance, is beyond me.

Chris Beach

September 9, 2010, 4:30 pm

What's the backlight consistency like? A friend had the 8000 series for about a week before he took it back, the edge led's gave a very inconsistent backlight.

Geoff Richards

September 9, 2010, 5:49 pm

John is taking a well-earned break following the IFA show in Berlin. Your comments have been noted, and he'll respond next week when he's back at his desk. Hopefully all will be clear then.

Neil Richardson

September 9, 2010, 11:01 pm

More info on the 'ingenious wall mount' would have been nice.

Enigma

September 11, 2010, 4:08 am

@Ahlan et al TOTALLY agree with your VERY logical critique.





I had a look at one of Samsung's LED 3D 46" TVs today but can't recall the model. If the 3D TV broadcasts are anything like the specially produced 3D-BD demo trailers, which included shots of, Ussain Bolt at the Beijing Olympics, Black Eyed Peas concert, an Aquarium, Chelsea's footballers training etc. My first reaction was, yes 3D consumer TVs definitely work; BUT my second reaction was I WANT a 70" 3D TV for £2000 to get a proper immersive 3D experience. Otherwise its a case of Gulliver's world where he is a giant.





Otherwise I think 3D is for those the rich, on DWP benefits (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new... or the Creditholics!

Ripsnorter

September 11, 2010, 3:47 pm

One of the Berlin branches of Saturn (a very large chain of brown and white goods retailers) has really gone to town with 3D demos, featuring various areas for manufacturers such as LG, Panasonic and Samsung, including fixed glasses on stands and appropriate demo material. Thing is, this is still novelty stuff and in more than one case the material viewable still appeared greyed down and obviously 2D upped to 3D.





The Samsung UE55C9000 does 3D pretty much as well as others, although ghosting is a factor, but I have also read about this set having backlight inconsistencies. In any event, as TR points out, this set is aimed at the designer market who wish to make domestic statements, and it fulfills that role beautifully.





I remain unconvinced about 3Ds eventual success, especially given the cinema films that are supposed to drive it, are too often post-produced to create the effect and higher admission prices are putting audiences off. Everyone talks about Avatar. Fine: but how many times do you want to watch just the one flagship film?

GoldenGuy

September 11, 2010, 9:28 pm

@Enigma





Error 666 : Journalistic integrity not found.





Please try another news source.

John Archer

September 14, 2010, 3:21 pm

Howdy chaps.





Good to get back from holiday to find another shitstorm surrounding my work! ;-)





In this case, though, aside from wondering why GoldenGuy might question my integrity considering that Samsung doesn't pay me a penny (I just love all these sort of conspiracy theories), I have to wonder if the people complaining about my scoring on this TV have actually read the review at all, or just looked at the final marks and 'gone ape'?





In my conclusion, in particular, I believe I explain my reasoning behind the Samsung scores in what seems to me a pretty clear and straightforward way. With any product we review we have to look at it within the context of its target market - the sort of person who is likely to buy it. If you don't do this, in my opinion it makes the reviewing process next to impossible and actually quite pointless.





Clearly target markets can sometimes be hard to define, and it can lead to some blurred boundaries at times that can give me final score headaches - especially if a product is on the borderline between an 8 and a 9 final score. However, funnily enough, in this Samsung's case, while I pretty much expected to get some comments along the lines of the negative ones posted here, I actually felt it was quite easy to recommend it to the sort of money's-no-object, design-led. 'Grand Designs' crowd that Samsung is clearly aiming for.





I presume the people complaining about my marks for the TV are not infinitely flush with cash, and value performance quality above aesthetics and technological breakthroughs. Which is absolutely fine - in fact, that description could fit me too! But Samsung isn't targetting the likes of us with the C9000 series; the C8000 series is its 'mainstream' option. However, just because I personally wouldn't/couldn't buy a 55C9000 doesn't mean that I should get so bitter about it that I can't appreciate its unique appeal to the sort of buyer it's clearly meant for.





The 55C9000 isn't just expensive for the sake of it. It breaks genuinely new technological ground, and looks absolutely incredible in the process, to the point where it becomes pretty much one of a kind. If there was another TV around offering the same sort of design and technology for much less cash, then clearly this would cause the C9000 some problems - as was the case with the Sony 52HX903 review mentioned in one of the comments. But so long as the 55C9000 delivers something new and unique so successfully (have any of the strongest complainers actually seen a C9000 in the flesh?), I have no doubt that there will be people out there who consider it worth every solitary penny.





If that's not you, fine. Just go and buy a cheaper TV, spend any extra cash you might have on Blu-rays, and try and feel happy - maybe even smug, if you like!





Right, that'll do for now. Though I'm already looking forward to potentially doing all this again in a few weeks when I've looked at one of Loewe's new LED TVs...





John

Chris

September 14, 2010, 5:55 pm

@John Archer: I think GoldenGuy was quite rightly questioning the integrity of the Daily Mail, which Enigma referenced.





Rest assured that some of us take everything you just explained as a given. You really shouldn't have to explain it at all...

Ripsnorter

September 14, 2010, 8:04 pm

Welcome back, John. Hope you had a good holiday and the postcard and stick of rock are on their way to me, right?





I totally agree with you about the need to consider which market each TV is aimed at, and the C9000 series is very much about statement. I have seen it in the flesh, quite a few times in fact. (Just a personal opinion: even if I did have the cash, I wonder whether I could live with the design after a while. It stands out on first sight, but then it continued to stand out, sort of shouting 'Look at me! Look how wonderfully designer I am!').





It will be interesting to read your opinion on the new LG LEX8, if and when you get your mitts on one. I have no connection with that or any company, but this, for me, is the canine's testicles of TVs.





But going back to the scoring of the Sony 52HX903, that is also a superb set and, on this occasion, I feel it's been unfairly marked down and so appears less able than it actually is. Give me the 55C9000 and I'll love you, give me the Sony and I'd do the same, but if it were my money and I could afford the Samsung, I'd most likely still go for the Sony.

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