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Samsung UE55ES8000 - 3D picture quality and conclusion

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Samsung UE55ES8000

Summary

Our Score:

9

Yet more good news concerns the UE55ES8000’s sharpness. HD images look phenomenally detailed, crisp and replete with texture. Indeed, it’s hard to think of any other brand other than, perhaps, Philips that’s able to deliver such an emphatic sense of the ‘HD advantage’.

Not that the UE55ES8000 only likes an HD diet, mind you. It’s also one of the best 55in standard definition upscalers we’ve seen, managing to add sharpness and detail to the image while simultaneously suppressing noise and retaining colour integrity. Even notoriously poor-quality standard-def channels like Investigation on Sky manage to look genuinely enjoyable.

Contributing to the image’s sharpness is the screen’s excellent motion handling. There’s less blur than there was on last year’s Samsung screens, which by default means there’s also less of it than on the vast majority of LCD TVs generally. Even better, the extra processing power available to the UE55ES8000 means that Samsung’s motion processing systems are much more effective than they ever have been before, proving able to reduce blur and judder without causing nearly as many unwanted side effects as has previously been the case.

Samsung UE55ES8000

Certainly we found ourselves using the set’s MotionPlus system (albeit only on its relatively low-power Clear setting) much more than we ever have before.

We actually found MotionPlus particularly effective when watching 3D, now that the high-powered processing has made this possible. Having less judder in the image makes 3D viewing notably less tiring, as well as making the full HD advantage of the UE55ES8000’s active 3D system more instantly obvious.

It’s not actually the motion handling that’s the star attraction of the UE55ES8000’s 3D pictures, though. In fact, that honour could belong to any of three other 3D attributes.

First, crosstalk is massively reduced from Samsung’s 2011 3D TVs. In fact, it’s almost completely gone, generally only cropping up over very distant and very bright objects.

The impact this has on the UE55ES8000’s 3D pictures can’t be overstated, as it allows you to appreciate much more clearly the outstanding amounts of detail and sharpness in full HD pictures from 3D Blu-rays. With everything from Tangled to Avatar and Thor we saw details in the picture that we honestly hadn’t felt aware of before.

Also contributing to the amount of detail in the 3D image is their outstanding brightness and colour vibrancy. Putting on one of the two pairs of free, stylish - and light - 3D glasses results in much less of a reduction in brightness than we usually see with active 3D technology, enabling 3D images to deliver almost as much snap and punch as 2D images can. The fact that Samsung has been able to achieve this without compromising on crosstalk is pretty remarkable based on our previous experience with active 3D screens.

Aside from there still being room for a marginal further improvement where crosstalk is concerned, the UE55ES8000’s 3D pictures only suffer one real irritation. Which is that while watching dark scenes, the high brightness level the screen employs when in 3D mode causes quite obvious jets of light to appear in all four corners of the screen.

Samsung UE55ES8000

You can reduce the backlight level if you wish, just as you do to remove such consistency problems during 2D viewing. But of course, brightness is more important to the 3D picture on account of the active shutter glasses, so knocking down the backlight level feels like more of a sacrifice than it does in 2D mode. (see my comment below for an update on this issue)

We were also a little troubled by how exposed the new Samsung glasses are to light interference from either side of your head. This is easily avoided if you watch in the dark, though - and it’s been suggested to us that there may be a tweaked design of the glasses in the offing.

The last thing we tested on the UE55ES8000 was its input lag. And while we were satisfied as console gamers with the 38-40ms figure we measured during the majority of our tests, we were a little surprised to also register an occasional measurement of nearer 70ms. Since we had the screen in its Game mode (a mode that’s still bizarrely hidden within the ‘General’ section of the ‘System’ menu) and had all the screen’s processing turned off when we performed this test, it’s unclear where these occasional lag ‘spikes’ might be coming from. Samsung is investigating, and if they come up with anything interesting, we’ll let you know.

Let’s not let any of these negatives leave a sour taste in the mouth, though. The bottom line here is that with all the evidence duly weighed and considered, the UE55ES8000’s pictures - at least once you've calibrated them away from the often rather over-aggressive presets - can overall be considered outstanding, regardless of whether you’re watching 2D or 3D.

Sonically the UE55ES8000 is the best sounding ultra-thin TV Samsung has made. This does not mean, it must be said, that the UE55ES8000’s audio is particularly brilliant; it’s certainly very limited in terms of the volume levels it can attain. But there’s a decent sense of clarity and a pleasantly rounded tone that suffers noticeably less with shrillness and muddiness than last year’s ultra-thin Samsung screens.

Verdict

The UE55ES8000 marries ‘impossibly’ lovely looks with more ground-breaking features than we’ve arguably ever seen on a single TV before. And then it chucks in some superlative 2D and 3D picture quality for good measure.

In doing all this it delivers a much bigger leap forward from last year’s Samsung models than we’d expected, as well as setting the bar intimidatingly high for the rest of the 2012 TV jetset.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • 2D Quality 9
  • 3D Quality 9
  • Design 10
  • Features 10
  • Sound Quality 7
  • Value 8

David Horn

February 12, 2012, 3:42 am

I'll believe it when I see it. Even the most expensive Samsung LCDs struggle with flesh tones and require incredibly careful calibration to achieve anything remotely passable.

I'm staggered that they're not set up properly at the factory - after all, the LCDs can't differ from each other that much and it wouldn't kill Samsung to at least come up with a passable calibration out of the box.

Came very close to taking one of their £1000+ LCDs back to the shop and claiming against the credit card as not fit for purpose because it was so bad, not inclined to think they've improved in the six weeks since.

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 12, 2012, 7:47 pm

is it possible to stream MKV bluray videos to this Samsung UE55ES8000 HDTV ? could you elaborate more on the options of how this would work. I don't mind saving up to buy this kind of TV, but i don't want to be screwed over to find out it can't do that. I have a QNAP NAS where my backup media is located which i've encoded into MKV. So i want to stream it to possibly this HDTV using this setup QNAP NAS < router < homeplug < 2nd homeplug < the Samsung HDTV

Is this possible ?

Goodmane

February 13, 2012, 4:07 am

@ Moogle Stiltzkin

I don't know sorry. But I've tried so many combinations of media center. None of them are upgradeable and flexible out of the box. I feel heartache for anyone still trying to find a one box solution that isn't a PC. My point is even if the TV can do it all, in 5 years, what if you need it to do something else?

The only way you can win in the long run ( I believe) is bite the bullet and put in a HTPC with wired gigabit (running outside the house if necessary). My 200Mb homeplugs couldn't transfer files faster than 20Mbps! With wire I get speeds 20-40x faster. I can play blu-rays over the network without converting, and it obviously plays all sorts of mkv and any future file will be okay too.

If you go this route, I'd recommend Media Portal (free) for TV, mkv movie playback, music, radio, news, iplayer, youtube, itunes trailers, remote control management and photos. TotalMediaTheatre for blu ray playback over network or disc, and obviously you can stick in Skype and a (e.g. Logitech) web cam. Also don't forget the possibility of emulator software so your HTPC acts as a console.

End result is you spend say £500 on the pc but get a cheaper TV since you only need the image quality not the network features.

Ed

February 13, 2012, 3:11 pm

Trouble with that logic is that the TVs with the best image quality also tend to be the ones with all the extra features too.

As for media boxes in general. A PS3 is a good start but there are plenty of other boxes that'll play most of your files, and they only cost £100 or less. HTPCs are great but they're a lot of work and plenty of other solutions offer close to the functionality.

I agree about wiring up your home, though speaking from personal experience, it can set back your decorating schedule by quite some time. Also, homeplugs are fine for most people - fast enough for HD video and reasonably fast file transfers.

John Archer

February 13, 2012, 3:23 pm

Just thought I'd mention here that Samsung has already been in touch to say that it believes it can improve the backlight bleed issue with 3D and the gesture control system before the TVs formally go on sale in the next couple of weeks or so.

If we can get one of these updated TVs, we will update this review based on what we find.

John Archer

Betheleni

February 13, 2012, 6:15 pm

@ Moogle Stiltzkin

Hi Moogle, I don't know much about NAS etc but I do know from my Samsung UE55D8000 which I purchased last year that it does not support wirelessly streamed mkv files. It accepts MP4 and avi but refuses to play when it receives the mkv files. I have to copy the mkv files to a usb thumb drive and plug it in to the tv then it works fine. I use twonky for everything else streamed wirelessly from my mac, video, music & pics etc. I'm not sure whether this newest one has been updated for wireless mkv, I know a lot of people were asking for it on the forums.

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 13, 2012, 6:30 pm

well the review says it has a dualcore cpu so i assume that would be sufficient to play 720p and 1080p content (for a 51'' screen though 1080p will be the more preferable choice). Also you mentioned the future, well i also noticed it was mentioned about being able to upgrade to quad core cpu in a future kit :X sounds future proofed to me in terms of horse power.

You don't need a NAS to test what i'm suggesting. Try and setup media share on your desktop PC, using say windows media for example to create a shared media.

You also don't need a homeplug to try out this theory either. plugging directly from your desktop, or router into the hdtv will be pretty much the same even (except for the wired performance of course, but i can worry about that later).

Can it access the media shares on the PC ? and can it play MKV blurays ?

Please kindly test if it can do that :} thx.

james1000

February 13, 2012, 6:31 pm

Not sure Im comfortable having a tv that both watches and listens to me whilst hooked up to the net. If I purchased one of these first thing Id be doing is covering up the camera, doing the same for the mic may proove more problematic.

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 13, 2012, 6:33 pm

PS: you do realize there are newer homeplugs out than yours ? E.g. the newer 500 Mbps homeplugs

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com...

Even if it can't achieve the max 500 Mbps, as long as it streams fine without stutter, does it really matter ? All you need it for is just stream media so that it's watchable without stutter.

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 13, 2012, 7:02 pm

I was reading here
http://forums.whirlpool.net.au...

they seem to indicate that streaming directly to some samsung hdtv models without a media streamer seems possible, using dlna from say a NAS, directly to the hdtv.

if the tv doesn't support the format, some dlna software like servioo can perform the transcode.

However do you have the spec sheet for this tv, whether it supports h264 and mkv natively ? Because looking at the price tag, this should be something they ought to add if they haven't :x for it to truly be a good media streamer feature for HDTV. Otherwise that ethernet plug would just be a wasted if you end up having to use a HTPC and display whatever you want to watch via hdmi, rather than stream content over the ethernet from a NAS located in a different area :X via homeplug.

breathe

February 14, 2012, 3:40 pm

Moogle
I havent tested mkv files specifically, but the Samsung I bought last year (UE40D7000) streams files from my nas drive with no problems (wired) and I had it hooked up to test it over wifi for a while and it handlied everything i threw at it with no problems (web browsing was a little slow and clunky though but I dont wanna do that on my tv anyway).
I cant see this TV 'needing' a dual core processor specifically to stream HD but no doubt it will be useful for additional picture processing and other things. I think the file support is there
I like this TV!!

Just found some info for Samsungs All Share. Pages 259 to 261 of this manual shows the files types supported:

http://downloadcenter.samsung....

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 14, 2012, 6:32 pm

Good find breathe, this was exactly what i wanted to know.

MKV/h264/AC3/AAC/DTS !!!

the mp4 container doesn't support dts, then again who cares. mkv is better anyway :}

The worrying bit is regarding subtitle support. It doesn't mention SSA (sub station alpha) which is a popular subtitle type used by the anime fansub community :X hm .....

If you do run some tests, try test using an anime MKV with SSA subtitles :}

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 14, 2012, 6:34 pm

Interesting to note as well, for H264 it only supports upt Level 4.1 encoding quality. Something to note :X

Goodmane

February 15, 2012, 2:46 am

@ Moogle, sorry if I was overbearing. But that last point re: 4.1 h264 etc. That's the kind of thing I got fed up with. I'm not saying htpc is for everyone, just its good if you want to do a lot.

Other issues for me which were hard with everything else but easy with a pc were wake on lan, so the PC is awake when you want it to stream, the difficulties and questions with transcoding (e.g. if there's a problem, is it my CPU, my network or codecs?), transferrability of files / recorded tv (e.g. my Android phone plays the same recorded .ts tv files over the network from Media Portal with freewares ES File Explorer & MX Video player, whereas sharing Microsoft .wtv or dvr-ms files with a TV client is a no-go area. Finally, just take a look at what's possible re: your movie/music collections and fanart. Media Portal and xbmc are both good examples. Here are some from MP.

http://www.team-mediaportal.co...

http://www.team-mediaportal.co...

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 15, 2012, 6:48 pm

Well tbh i do agree with you that htpc for now remains the sure fire choice for codec and subtitle compatibility.

Sadly my family doesn't live having one in the living room :X no room anyway for it.

Currently i'm using homeplug > popcorn hour A100 > Yamaha A/V Receiver > HDTV LG (no it doesn't have the plex client. It's an older model just prior to the PMS goodies...)

the a100 is slow as hell :/ so just wanted to cut out a media streamer from the loop and just stream directly to tv.

Looking at the spec sheet Breathe kindly linked, everything seems okay except for

1. no SSA sub support
2. H264 support only up to LV4.1 encoding setting

I can most probly live with point 2, but point 1 is a real sore point, especially since i watch a lot of anime.

I wonder whether Samsung would be inclined to add SSA support sometime in the near future ? and if not, whether a Sony Bravia with a similar spec will have SSA support in addition to h264, mkv, mpeg4 and DTS as well :X

Moogle Stiltzkin

February 16, 2012, 3:07 pm

servio is a dlna software streamer which apparently can be installed on my QNAP, to stream content from my NAS directly to the Samsung HDTV.

Sadly it doesn't support SSA/ASS subtitles neither ....

converting SSA/ASS to txt, and remuxing is hardly a good solution -.-; as it's more work.

At this rate it's gonna be media streamers or a htpc in order to get the full spectrum of video/audio/subtitle support i need :{

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