Given that 3D sources are inevitably still limited, it's a relief to find that the 55D8000 is also a terrific 2D performer. Again, clearly better than 2010's Samsung equivalent models, in fact. HD fare looks superbly detailed and pin-sharp, as well as rich in colour, dynamic, and dripping in contrast - not least because the 55D8000 can produce a startlingly deep black colour by edge LED standards.
It even manages to do this without suffering the horrible backlight inconsistency issues noted with so many edge LED TVs. There's a minute drop off in brightness towards the centre of the screen, but this is only noticeable when the screen is filled by washes of a single colour shade - which, of course, happens very rarely in normal viewing conditions. And even when it does appear, it's hardly a big deal. In fact, many people will probably never clock it at all, which is just fine with us.
Motion is handled smoothly and cleanly, without the need for intrusive amounts of video processing, and 2D sources are upscaled with a keen eye for detail and an even keener talent for subduing source noise. Really, the only significant picture issue, aside from the residual 3D crosstalk, is the set's fairly limited viewing angle before contrast and colour are reduced. But this is also the case, of course, with pretty much every other LCD TV around except for Panasonic's IPS Alpha models.
While the 55D8000's pictures inevitably steal the show, we're rather surprised to also have positive things to say about the set's audio. For Samsung has finally managed to get some more than decent sound quality into one of its flat TVs, so that the 55D8000 delivers a genuinely rounded dialogue track, pleasingly clean treble information, a quite open and punchy mid-range, and even a bit of low frequency response. Who'd have thunk it.
Samsung has clearly piled an enormous amount of effort into the 55D8000, and the results speak for themselves. It's a TV that's as excellent as it is innovative. If this is the shape of things to come in 2011, you can consider us very excited indeed.