Another great result of the local dimming system can be seen in the image’s stability during dark scenes. There’s far less evidence of the sort of brightness jumps and shifts that you tend to see with dynamic contrast systems that have to adjust all of their edge LED lights in tandem when trying to respond to changing source content.
In short, Samsung’s local dimming system is nearly as sophisticated and effective as that used by Sony this year on its ground-breaking Sony KDL-40HX853 model. The only major area where Sony’s system betters Samsung’s is when it comes to shadow detail reproduction, as the post-calibration Samsung UE75ES9000 crushes out more information in dark scenes than the Sony models do. This occasionally leaves dark scenes on the Samsung looking a touch hollow in places. But we found this surprisingly easy to live with given the extra dynamism the Samsung UE75ES9000 delivers.
The improved black levels of the Samsung UE75ES9000 also help it produce better colours than Samsung’s already impressive ES7000 and ES8000 models. This is particularly the case in dark scenes, where the better black colours reduce almost to nothing the slight infusion of blue that can affect the ES7000 and ES8000s. Elsewhere, colours combine exceptional dynamism and range with just the sort of tonal subtleties that we hope to see on very high-end TVs.
Also startling is how sharp the Samsung UE75ES9000’s pictures are. All those lovely pixels that go into making a good HD picture are so much easier to appreciate on a screen of this magnitude, especially when that screen also suffers impressively little with LCD’s common motion resolution loss problems - especially if you use the provided motion processing (though we’d recommend only doing this on its relatively mild ‘Clear’ setting).
One thing we really didn’t expect to enjoy on the Samsung UE75ES9000 was standard definition. But actually, it doesn’t look bad at all. Samsung has put a lot of effort into its upscaling processing in recent years, and the results have never been more evident than they are in the way the UE75ES9000’s standard def sources look sharp without being noisy, and punchy while suffering hardly any of the colour accuracy reduction we often see with cheaper LCD TVs in standard def mode.
Having said all that, there were occasions during our tests when we questioned whether 75-inches is a bit of a stretch even for HD sources. We occasionally saw a touch of jaggedness around some bright edges, for instance, while if an HD source is particularly grainy - such as the Harry Potter Blu-ray - then the grain can start to look rather aggressive. So much so that we even tried doing something we never usually would: using the set’s noise reduction systems to calm the ‘fizzing’ down. This did work, but unfortunately it also caused a bit of image lag during shots containing a lot of motion - especially camera pans.
Of course, this issue isn’t the Samsung UE75ES9000’s fault. But the issue of just how far even HD can stretch on a TV has certainly been given added momentum by recent time spent with Sony’s 4K-resolution 84X9005.
Shifting our gaze to 3D, the Samsung UE75ES9000 continues to impress. For it manages to combine the positive 3D traits already identified in ES7000 and ES8000 reviews - relatively minor crosstalk, impressive brightness, excellent levels of sharpness/detail, and vibrant colour reproduction - with the sort of immersive impact you can only really get from a huge screen. There’s a little judder in motion at times, especially vertical motion, but overall 3D on the Samsung UE75ES9000 is about as much fun as it’s ever going to get.
And before anyone starts saying ‘ah, but passive 3D would have got rid of the crosstalk’, passive 3D would also have shown up some pretty severe visible line structure and jagged-edge problems on a screen of this magnitude. Unless it was using a 4k native screen resolution, as with the LG 84LM9600 or Sony KDL-84X9005.
Before tuning our ears into the Samsung UE75ES9000’s audio, we must just stress what an outstanding gaming monitor Samsung’s big boy is. As well as its contrast, colour and motion strengths all serving the likes of Borderlands 2 and Halo 4 brilliantly well, we measured an input lag figure of just under 30ms using the set’s Game mode, which is low by TV standards and so shouldn’t hamper your gaming skills.
Experience suggests that a TV as obsessed with slender design as the Samsung UE75ES9000 will struggle to deliver a satisfying audio performance. But actually its sound performance is one of the finest we’ve heard from any TV, taking a startlingly open, powerful and rich mid-range as its starting point and adding in some good - but never stressy - treble detailing and even a convincing amount of bass. Outstanding.
We were initially a bit suspicious about the Samsung UE75ES9000. In particular we had our doubts about how effective its locally dimmed edge LED engine would be, and whether it could really justify its £7,500 price.
But we’re pleased to say Samsung’s flagship set has thoroughly quashed our concerns, making a far more convincing case for its price than we’d ever expected by combining a peerless feature count with a show-boating design and arguably the most spectacular and immersive 3D and 2D pictures we’ve ever seen outside the megabucks native 4K world.
Now, if Samsung could just bring its local dimming tech to next year’s more affordable ES8000 and ES7000 models...