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Samsung 4K TV - Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer



  • Editors choice
Samsung UE55F9000


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Samsung 4K TV: Full HD to Ultra HD upscaling

We seem to have rather stumbled into discussing the Samsung's 4K upscaling, so even though you’re probably salivating to hear about its native Ultra HD playback capabilities, we might as well go on now to take a look at how the upscaling performs.

The short answer is that it’s absolutely outstanding, opting for a somewhat different approach to that of Sony’s 65X9005A, but delivering it so brilliantly that deciding which one is best is futile. It’s just a matter of taste.

The first thing that hits you about HD pictures upscaled to Ultra HD (4K) by the Sansung UE55F9000 is their truly stunning level of detail and sharpness. Running the Samsung UE55F9000 right alongside a Sony 65X9005A, it’s very clear that Samsung’s upscaling approach delivers a more detailed finish.

With the set’s Natural and especially Dynamic picture presets this extreme detail embellishment is unfortunately accompanied by some pretty overt and thus distracting noise, such as excessive grain and stressy object edges.

But with the provided Movie and even, critically (since it’s the UE55F9000’s default setting), Standard presets, the sensational amount of detail Samsung’s processing adds to the picture is delivered with practically no nasty side effects at all. In short, you’re left staring agog at HD sources that have suddenly become 4K. Which is a pretty incredible achievement when you stop to think about just how many pixels the upscaling processing is having to calculate.

Samsung UE55F9000

So why might anyone prefer the Sony’s upscaling? Because some may feel its less spectacular, gentler approach (it seems to focus on adding more pixel density rather than trying to greatly ramp up picture detail) is easier to become lost in, and the Sony model also has Triluminos technology on hand to help it deliver a visibly more richly saturated and finely nuanced colour palette.

So as we said, when it comes to upscaling, picking between the Sony and Samsung UHD/4K magicians is a matter of choice between incredible extra definition from the Samsung, and richer colours and a less showy, denser look from the Sony.

All that really matters, though, is that in their different ways, both upscaling approaches are far better than we could have imagined possible from the first generation of UHD/4K TVs.

As a side point here, we should also mention that we managed to get a startling and unexpected boost from the UE55F9000’s upscaling picture quality when we fed it Blu-rays from the Samsung BD-F7500 ‘UHD/4K’ Blu-ray player. Although we have to confess that we don’t fully understand how it happens, apparently the TV and the Blu-ray player join forces in upscaling terms when they recognise each other’s presence. And the results are remarkable, as pictures look cleaner, more precise, more richly coloured and most surprisingly of all, possessed of better black level response and contrast.

Samsung Ultra HD TV: 4K Picture Quality

While upscaled HD footage will make up the vast majority of content you watch on the Samsung UE55F9000 as we sit patiently waiting for true UHD/4K sources to arrive, what you doubtless really want to know is how it handles proper 4K/Ultra HD content.

Feeding the set a Samsung native Ultra HD showreel of pretty locations and odd but surprisingly effective close-ups of beautifully prepared food immediately delivered that same instant thrill we’ve experienced to some extent with every Ultra HD/4K experience we’ve had to date.

The amount of detail on show is mesmerising, giving pictures a level of precision and depth miles beyond anything possible with a normal HD image. Colours also look more natural in tone and blend, and the way the extra pixels make it possible for the screen to resolve colour blends with greater precision also helps the picture achieve a greater sense of depth and solidity.

Helicopter shots of city skylines provide a potent reminder, too, of the ability of Ultra HD-resolution footage to resolve a much deeper ‘horizon’ before the onset of softness and loss of pixel definition causes the image to flatten out. In fact, it’s when studying these sort of ultra-large scale shots that it becomes most apparent that, as with its upscaled HD pictures, the Samsung UE55F9000’s native Ultra HD pictures actually look slightly more rich in detail and sharpness than those of the Sony 65X9005A. The sense of extreme depth is just that little bit more profound on the Samsung set.

The fact that you can clearly appreciate both the sharpness and depth of the Samsung's 4K TV images is made all the more impressive by the fact that it’s only a 55-inch screen. A size at which, some would have you believe, you shouldn’t be able to really see any benefit from Ultra HD playback over HD at all. And no, we weren’t watching the set from a stupidly short viewing distance during our tests.

Samsung UE55F9000

Samsung UE55F9000: Motion and Contrast

Watching native Ultra HD on the Samsung UE55F9000 also brings to our attention a strength of its pictures we hadn’t really thought about while testing its upscaled shots: some excellent motion handling.

Set the Samsung 4K TV's motion processing to its Clear or Standard settings and Ultra HD footage retains its incredible clarity at pretty much all times. Normally we wouldn’t necessary recommend using motion processing systems, but not using any motion processing with Ultra HD footage led to some noticeable loss in the sense of sharpness when it contained lots of motion. Also, we found - surprisingly considering the vast amounts of processing power involved - that Ultra HD seemed better able to look natural with motion processing applied to it than is normally the case with HD content on lesser TVs.

It also became clearer to us while watching 4K sources that Samsung’s set is more comfortable when it comes to handling dark scenes than the Sony 65X9005A. It’s able to reach deeper native black levels, and dark scenes tend to look slightly more stable too. The set achieves this, moreover, while suffering only very rarely with any of the light blocking we were worried about earlier in the review.

The only slight disappointment with the Samsung UE55F9000’s contrast performance is that the set’s local dimming system isn’t able to emulate the Cinema Black feature sported by Samsung’s F8000 and F7000 models.

This means the brightness of black bars on ultra-wide aspect ratio films will vary a little as the set goes about its dynamic contrast/local dimming business in a bid to keep the contrast at its optimum, which may prove distracting. It's a small price to pay for the outstanding picture quality, however.

Samsung 4K TV: Colours

While the Samsung UE55F9000‘s Ultra HD pictures are slightly sharper and higher contrast than those of the Sony 65X9005A, though, head-to-head tests reveal that the Sony has a UHD/4K ace of its own: colour intensity.

Compared to the Sony, the Samsung UE55F9000’s colours look a little washed out, and while edges tend to look slightly crisper and more defined on the Samsung, the Sony 65X9005 delivers more colour resolution, presumably thanks to the set’s Triluminos edge lighting technology. This can actually make some types of content - especially stuff with almost infinitely subtle colour mixes, like grass and sandy beaches - look slightly more 'Ultra' HD on the Sony.

Overall, though, as with the upscaled pictures, it’s more a matter of taste when judging the Sony and Samsung native Ultra HD images, rather than one approach being clearly better than the other. In fact, both screens make Ultra HD/4K look so good it’s hard to go back to watching anything else.


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"


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.


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.


August 12, 2013, 8:21 pm

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


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?


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.


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


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!!!


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):


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


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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