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Samsung UE55F9000 review

John Archer

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Editors choice
Samsung UE55F9000

Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Pros

  • Spectacular 4K picture quality
  • 4K looks amazing
  • Upscaled HD is brilliant too

Cons

  • No Cinema Black feature
  • Audio is not as good as the Sony 4K TV
  • Motion with 3D can be tricky to get right

Key Features

  • 55-inch LCD TV with edge LED lighting
  • native UHD resolution
  • Active 3D playback (2 pairs of glasses included)
  • Smart TV platform with extensive online video support
  • Local Dimming
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £3,999.00

What is the Samsung UE55F9000?

The Samsung UE55F9000 is Samsung’s first ‘mainstream’ Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K TV, packing a 3,840 x 2,160 native pixel resolution together with Samsung’s most powerful quad-core processing engine, active 3D playback and arguably the world’s most advanced Smart TV system. In other words, it’s one of the year’s most exciting and eagerly awaited TVs.

The UE55F9000 is not, of course, the first (just about) affordable 4K/Ultra HD resolution TV we’ve tested. First out of the traps was the mighty Sony KDL-65X9005A. And given what a mightily high bar Sony’s TV has set, there’s no doubt that the 55-inch Samsung UE55F9000 is going to have its work cut out to keep pace with its Japanese rival.

Read more: What is 4K TV? 10 reasons why you should care

Samsung UE55F9000

Samsung 4K TV: Design and Connections

Not that the Samsung UE55F9000 shows any outward signs of being phased by this Sony pressure. On the contrary, it presents a very confident face to the world with its quietly classy, glass-fronted, slim-bezelled design.

The design isn’t as showy as that of the Sony 65X9005A, and its trim bezel is a million miles from the flagrant enormity of Sony’s set. But that doesn’t make the UE55F9000 aesthetically inferior to Sony’s model; it just makes it different. And when you’re trying to offer audiences a unique experience, different is good.

Another way in which the Samsung 4K TV's exterior is different is its connections. Instead of putting all its connections on its rear as you might expect, it instead puts almost all of them onto an external connections box. Connections on this long, thin, elegant box include four HDMIs, three USBs, a LAN port and built-in Wi-Fi, while connection with the TV is achieved via a single proprietary cable.

One interesting connection point about the UE55F9000, however, is that unlike the Samsung F8000 and F7000 ranges, it doesn’t feature a slot for one of Samsung’s Evolution Kits. Thankfully, Samsung categorically assures us that its F9000 series will be upgradable to handle the upcoming, UHD-friendly HDMI 2.0 connection format when it comes online. In fact, it’s even told us how this upgrade will likely happen. It’s also told us that it doesn’t want us to reveal the method yet; hopefully we’ll be able to discuss it publicly at the IFA technology show in Berlin in September.

Samsung’s willingness to confirm the upgradability of its Ultra HD set stands in contrast to Sony’s initially rather noncommittal comments regarding the upgradability of its 65X9005A. Sony has thankfully since significantly upped the strength of its upgradability promises, but it hasn’t yet supplied any technical backup for this statement of intent.

Aside from the rather important matter of its UHD native resolution, one other potentially massively significant spec advantage the Samsung UE55F9000 delivers over Samsung’s step-down, ‘normal’ HD F8000 models is its use of local dimming technology in its edge LED lighting array.

Given how good the contrast of Samsung’s F8000 models is, the thought of what the brand might be able to achieve with the addition of local dimming is positively mouthwatering. So long as it can keep a lid on that pesky light blocking problem around bright objects that still plagues the local dimming systems of some LG and Panasonic TVs.

Samsung UE55F9000

Samsung UE55F9000: Smart TV

Elsewhere, the Samsung's 4K TV is extremely similar in feature terms to the F8000 models. It’s got all of Samsung’s Smart functionality for a start, including gesture control, voice control, the same five-hub content-dividing onscreen interface, the same facility to learn your viewing habits and make recommendations accordingly, and the same brilliantly extensive collection of video streaming apps.

As well as Lovefilm, Blinkbox and Netflix, these streaming services include all four of the key UK catch-up TV services: the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4OD and Demand 5. Samsung is currently the only TV brand offering all these catch-up platforms, and by our estimation Samsung's smart TV system is the best around. You can read our full Samsung Smart TV review to find out why in more detail.

Samsung 4K TV: Setup

Samsung UE55F9000Also present and correct is the comprehensive suite of picture set-up tools found on the F8000 series, complete with full management of the picture’s gamma, white balance and colour settings.

There’s additionally a bounty of options for adjusting elements of the ultra-powerful picture processing engine that should live at the heart of any self-respecting 4K TV.

Some of these, such as the noise reduction and motion controls, should be used sparingly and carefully. But, as we’ll discover presently, the part of the processing system designed to work on the mammoth task of upscaling non-UHD footage to the screen’s UHD resolution is immensely accomplished.

The only surprise about the UE55F9000’s suite of picture setup tools is that there’s nothing specifically focussed on the set’s UHD capabilities.

Sony’s 4K TV has menu options that let you specifically tweak the sharpness and noise reduction elements of its 4K upscaling, as well as a ‘Mastered in 4K’ option designed to optimise the picture’s settings to get the best from Sony’s upcoming Mastered in 4K Blu-rays.

With the Samsung 4K TV, on the other hand, you just get the same calibration options no matter what sort of source you’re watching, arguably denying you a little of the finessing of 4K upscaling that you get with the Sony.

Having said that, it’s quickly apparent that the normal adjustments the Samsung UE55F9000 provides do actually give you plenty of say over how the set’s upscaled pictures look, with the Sharpness setting being particularly important when it comes to achieving your preferred balance between extreme detail and video noise.

House

August 12, 2013, 12:18 pm

"World Exclusive: Read the first review anywhere or Samsung's first 4K TV"

Is that meant to read "on"?! Doh!!!

Gareth Barber

August 12, 2013, 1:08 pm

Or maybe "for"

ly121688

August 12, 2013, 1:30 pm

I have seen this TV in the samsung store in Tottenham court road in London twice and i've been blown away by the picture quality. The Sony centre is right next door and the x900's short comings become clear as in detail lost in darker scenes and alternate gray lines on the 55 inch version. When viewing blu-ray on the 55f8000 the screen looks massive, but when viewing 4k on the f9000 the screen looks small for all the detail and resolution. At 2 and a half picture heights there is still definitely quite an improvement.

I didn't see any usb ports on the connections box but I'll double check, I wonder if samsung will replace the entire box for hdmi 2?

At £4000 which is less than double the 55f8000 rrp, I don't think 4k is beyond reach anymore and if I had the money I'd seriously consider buying this tv.

Power consumption at 157 watts is higher for a screen this size, most likely due to increased pixel density, but far less then a plasma.

I have seen LG's 55 inch Oled in Harrods and would like to see their curved version as well as samsungs version but early reviews already show their short comings such as image retention, stuck sub pixels and motion resolution. Oled maybe the tv of the future but it has lot of catching up to do with Lcd, Samsung have cut the price by 1/3 which is a step in the right direction.

andyvan

August 12, 2013, 1:41 pm

It's 'of' and thanks for the spot. My bad.

Daniel Ackbar

August 12, 2013, 3:03 pm

There's a difference between "exclusive" and "first." Unless no other publication will review this television, you cannot claim to be the former.

torjs99

August 12, 2013, 8:21 pm

how is it possible to judge a top end tv if they all get 10?

churchwa

August 13, 2013, 7:54 am

Still want to know if the HD picture is better than Panasonic's finest. I have my kuro still and attempted to upgrade but every time I see an LED TV I really dislike to motion blur and judder, especially when watching football. Any input on this would be great. Also are they both isf compliant?

MattMe

August 13, 2013, 7:55 am

No mention of SD up-scaling? Considering a lot of television is still broadcast in SD, I'd wager a lot of folk are more interested in that for day-to-day viewing than what the none-existent 4k footage would look like, should it exist.

Mr Smith

August 13, 2013, 12:39 pm

Thanks for the review. The upscaling sounds very promising. Just one question, what are the viewing angles like? My experience with Samsung tellys is that the black depth is excellent when viewed straight on, but drops off when viewed off centre.

ly121688

August 13, 2013, 2:51 pm

you're probably better off with a panasonic plasma
If you frequently watch sports a plasma will do a much better job with motion and the panasonic st plasmas are good value for money, much cheaper than this tv

MrAnno1366

August 13, 2013, 6:38 pm

You mention "And no, we weren’t watching the set from a stupidly short viewing distance during our tests." in your review. I would be interested to know what kind of viewing distance you did use? Just to get an idea of what distance is appropriate for a 55" 4K.
Thanks. Sounds like a brilliant 1st gen TV.

MrAnno1366

August 13, 2013, 6:47 pm

Why would you be looking to replace a Kuro with an LED TV? I would think that would be a step backwards. As ly121688 has said. I would look towards the latest plasmas especially if you are sensitive to motion blur. I think i would wait a little longer if i already had a Kuro though.

RVM3

August 14, 2013, 9:13 am

Samsung apparently now admits their motion smoothing technology does not work with HD because HD is "too big" for the computations. But, they continue to get away with advertising it, and reviewers, like you, continue to claim it works. Why should anyone believe anything written these days?

brianmundt

August 14, 2013, 11:20 pm

Does manually naming the input "PC" reduce input lag? On earlier Samsung models, that was a nice little unadvertised workaround to reduce lag.

Ritzy51

August 17, 2013, 10:02 pm

Just a word on 3d crosstalk - there is a firmware update to version 06 that solves the 3d crosstalk issues totally. Once applied there is zero crosstalk as should be the case with 4k and the depth of 3d is now simply stunning. Can't tell you how good this tv is!!!

Johnc

September 16, 2013, 9:17 pm

Would not touch Samsung there quality control is utter garbage. Good luck in getting a tv that actually works

Mark Royer

January 31, 2014, 5:25 am

Don't get sucked into the 4K is too expensive and there is no content
dribble. GO LOOK AT A 4K TV! The picture is simply stunning and like
nothing you have ever seen before. Remember, when you went from standard
definition to HDTV? It's the same experience, if not better. See a 4K
TV and make up your mind with your own eyes and ears. ~Mark http://www.BuyBest4KTV.com

The one

February 3, 2014, 7:05 pm

Key words for other comments "cheaper and I would" The Kuro was an amazing TV but 4K completely blows plasma out the water. The only people that think otherwise are penny counters.

Rob C

March 7, 2014, 7:28 am

An update to the price from time to time would be OK, as would a mention of overseas pricing. People look at your Reviews from everywhere around the World because 16 months ago your Site was REALY great, recently less so (and not just for the price not current reason).

Canadian Model UN55F9000AFXZC CA$2999.99 (Pounds = 1630.23):
http://www.futureshop.ca/en-ca...

andyvan

March 7, 2014, 8:34 am

Thanks for the heads-up. It's quite hard for us to update reviews based on changing prices, we review a lot of products and the world is a big place, but we'll do our best.

Was there anything specific you wanted to comment about the site in general? All feedback greatly appreciated.

Dan C.

March 19, 2014, 8:42 pm

This an amazing TV with probably the most features found in any current 4K TV. Still, I cannot see how any part of this review warrants a perfect score.

Don Mega

June 1, 2014, 12:43 am

yes if u have the money to go for minimum of 65" and want to put it within 2 meters of watching distance. u won't really see the difference between 1080p and 4k in a 55" or smaller tv even if it's as close as 2 meters away. there's a beautiful chart that compares viewing distances to resolution and human eye sight (20/20). look it up from google and u'll see 4k is rather useless for most situations

Don Mega

June 1, 2014, 12:44 am

just like u can compare cars that all have 4 wheels. numbers aren't everything

Ry

June 24, 2014, 11:05 am

Maybe Panasonic's top of the line a year or two from now might be worthy, otherwise you'll be waiting for a OLED set.

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