Samsung 65KS9500

Key Features

  • 65-inch LCD screen
  • Native 4K UHD resolution
  • Ultra HD Premium ready
  • HDR playback
  • 1,000-nit brightness

Hands-on with the Samsung 65KS9500

Samsung normally makes the first big TV technology splash at every CES

by hosting an exclusive, invite-only event two nights before the show

actually begins. And it did the same again this year with an event at

the Keep Memory Alive Center in Las Vegas.

While the venue was

suitably swanky and the usual Samsung fighting talk evident, this time

round the product on show didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Watch our round-up of the best TVs at CES 2016

That

product was the 65KS9500: a new high-end LCD TV series that – while

certainly not without its charms – doesn’t deliver the same

benchmark-setting and ground-breaking thrills we’ve come to expect from

Samsung’s headline CES TV set.

Things

start off quite well, thanks to a design that returns to using a slim

screen frame in place of the slightly chunky look of Samsung’s 2015 TVs.

In fact, with a rivet- and screw-free rear, highlighted by a full-width

metal strip running across its centre, the 65KS9500 incorporates the

360-degree design that TV manufacturers are convinced we’re all looking

for.

Samsung 65KS9500

The 65KS9500 also managed to be the first of the TVs on

show at 2016’s CES to boast an Ultra HD Premium logo (covered in detail

in our dedicated feature). It sports a native resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels, while its peak brightness is capable of exceeding 1,000 nits.

In

addition, its colour performance is capable of delivering more than 90%

of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) P3 spectrum. These are all

crucial specifications for delivering high dynamic range (HDR) 4K

content to the sort of standard the AV industry believes we should be

viewing it.

A number of other TVs at the CES 2016 also meet the

Ultra HD Premium performance requirements, but the striking thing here

is that the 65KS9500 does so while using an edge LED lighting system.

I’d

strongly expected 2016 to be the year where direct LED lighting – where

the LEDs are positioned directly behind a TV’s screen – became almost

de rigueur where HDR-capable TVs are concerned. However, here Samsung is

leading the charge with an edge-lit model.

Samsung does have a

flagship direct LED model lined up in its 2016 plans: the 65KS9800

series. However, it wasn’t close enough to completion to make a debut at

CES.

Samsung 65KS9500

The 65KS9500 also sees a return to using Quantum Dot technology. Although some might perceive it to be an older technology, the reason for the return

is that a specially modified version of Quantum Dot makes it easier for

Samsung to deliver the significant  30% or so jump in brightness you

get with the 65KS9500s versus 2015’s JS9000 edge-LED HDR TV models.

This

brightness is delivered on the 65KS9500s, claims Samsung, at the same

time that the screen’s native black-level response has been improved – and

without leading to significantly more energy usage. The 65KS9500 also

apparently uses improved reflection filtering to aid its contrast

performance, as well as hopefully reducing the extent to which

reflected light distorts across curved screens.

Aside from its

mostly HDR-focused picture advances, the main new tricks of the 65KS9500

are based around its smart features.

Particularly welcome is a much-improved, two-tier Tizen-based smart interface. The bottom tier shows up

to 40 apps in any order of your choosing – the “apps” include

external sources and the tuners, as well as streaming services and

games. The tier above displays links to content from within the app

you have highlighted in the bottom tier. So if you highlight Netflix,

recommended shows from Netflix appear for instant access in the tier

above.

It’s slick, well presented, and really does provide you with fast access to a huge amount of content.

Also

pretty cool on the smart TV front is the ability of the 65KS9500 to

automatically recognise any equipment you attach to it and then have its

remote control take over the operation of that external gear. It’s like

having your own instant universal remote without the usual setup

headaches.

The system works using a combination of identification

data sent via HDMI, analysis of external device metadata, and even logo

recognition – Samsung claims it can recognise around 90% of

all external devices on the market.
Samsung 65KS9500
We

do wonder how effectively control of a device as complex as, say, a

Sky box will translate to a new Samsung smart remote that has only

five or six buttons. In principal, however, Samsung’s bid to reduce

your remote count is a great idea.

Last but not least on the

smart TV front, the 65KS9500 supports the Internet of Things. A hub

built into the TV will work with a free USB dongle to enable the TV to

hook up with more than 200 other “SmartThings” devices – for a full

list, head to the SmartThings website).

Samsung was running demos

showing how switching the 65KS9500 to its Cinema mode could

automatically turn down your smart lamps. In another example Samsung showed how someone ringing your

connected doorbell could result in video from your connected security camera

appearing on the TV, along with the option to unlock your connected

door!

First impressions of the 65KS9500’s picture quality are

positive – to a point. Playback of a variety of HDR UHD sources –

including footage of Mad Max Fury Road delivered by Samsung’s new Ultra

HD Blu-ray player – revealed a picture of remarkable brightness for an

edge Edge LED model.

Pictures are driven out of the screen far more

forcefully than they were even by the impressive JS9000 models of 2015. This helped to bring out the HDR highlights of all those explosions and

flaming car exhausts in Mad Max, while also making colours look generally

punchier.

There also appears to be more subtle shading in dark

areas than we’ve seen previously from any edge LED TV, along with less

obvious signs of light blocking and haloing around the brightest

highlights in the image. Black levels appear markedly deeper too; the

screen has to be capable of hitting 0.05nits to earn the Ultra HD

Premium badge.

However, note that it’s difficult to truly judge the 65KS9500’s light handling until I get to view it

in a much darker environment than that of the Keep Memory Alive Center!

I should also add that subtle light-blocking artefacts were evident on occasion, even under the event’s bright lights, as well as one

or two motion-processing glitches. Hopefully, both can be resolved via calibration – once we get a 65KS9500 in for proper

testing.

There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to like about the

65KS9500 in terms of features and performance. And yes,

there are a few genuine innovations tucked away in there. However, I also can’t deny that it didn’t deliver the sense of awe felt having seen something truly ground-breaking, which is something I experienced at the

launch of the original SUHD TVs last year.

Score