The UE55B7020 even manages to look pretty decent with standard definition material, despite the unforgiving venue created by its 55in screen. Sure, there’s a touch more colour blotching around than I noticed with the UE40B7020, and noise – including stressy edges caused by the upscaling process – is more evident. But I’d still say it’s a good effort overall for such a big screen.
So why in the name of all things AV have I only given the UE55B7020 a score of 7 for its pictures when everything I’ve described so far points towards a 9 at least? The answer comes in two dreaded words: backlight inconsistency.
For it’s a sad fact that on numerous occasions while playing games and especially watching films on the UE55B7020, my attention was caught – no, make that grabbed – by some really quite overt shoots of light coming in from each of the TV’s corners.
A particularly distracting example of this can be seen, for instance, at various moments throughout the black and white sequence at the start of ”Casino Royale”, from the moment the MGM lion roars through to the credit sequence beginning. But it crops up again to a greater or lesser extent during any predominantly dark shot that happens to have bright elements within it.
So disturbed was I by this issue that I actually sent the UE55B7020 back to Samsung for them to have a look at. They checked it, found a problem with the diffuser plate, and sent the TV back to me. Only for it to still show the same problem.
Given that I didn’t notice the same problem on the UE40B7020 or the larger 46in UE46B8000, I can only imagine that it’s caused on the UE55B7020 by the extra light intensity needed to drive the LED lights across the back of such a large expanse of screen. Understandable, then – but no less ugly.
The UE55B7020’s extra size, meanwhile, doesn’t help it sound any better sonically than the UE40B7020. Which means that while straightforward TV shows sound fine, the soundstage has nowhere to go when pushed harder, staying as resolutely flat and thin as the TV’s bodywork.
There were numerous times in the course of putting this review together that I wondered if I was being too harsh on the UE55B7020 by giving it a 7 for image quality. For let’s be clear about this – for the vast majority of your viewing time the UE55B7020’s images are nothing short of stunning.
But in the end I couldn’t help but think that anyone buying such a huge and potent TV would almost certainly be looking forward to watching a heck of a lot of Blu-rays on it. And if there’s one thing that nobody wants when watching a good film, it’s to be suddenly and reasonably regularly distracted by an obvious reminder of the technology that’s producing the picture.