Having covered a lot so far, I’ll try and wrap up the rest of the Samsung’s picture performance assessment as succinctly as possible. Starting with its black level response, which is good.
Crucially there’s much less sign of the backlight inconsistency I noted on the preview sample of the cheaper Samsung UE46C7000 in my 3D TV: First Impressions feature. This is good news but it’s particularly welcome where 3D is concerned, since seeing this essentially 2D distraction lying across the ‘surface’ of a 3D picture would have been very distracting.
I suspect that some of the reason for the UE55C8000’s superior backlight uniformity has to do with its move to only having LED lights along the top and bottom edges of the screen. Not putting them down the sides as well clearly tackles the common problem of too much brightness in the corners of the picture, where the LED light paths would have had to cross over.
Rather less successful is the local dimming aspect of the edge LED lighting. Although it’s a little cleverer than the similar system found on the LG 42LE7900, even at its lowest setting it can still cause some clear and distracting ‘boxing’ around bright image elements – as well as generally leaving the image looking slightly unstable. So personally, I’d say leave the feature turned off. This is a slight pity, since turning local dimming off does reduce the UE55C8000’s general black level response a touch, leaving it looking merely good rather than great.
Nonetheless, the picture’s brightness is spectacular – especially remarkable considering the screen only uses top and bottom LED lights. Colours are fearsomely intense too, yet aside from some slightly monotone peak reds, they’re also extremely natural in tone and really subtle in blend.
Provided you avoid the set’s noise reduction systems as much as possible, you’ll also be seriously impressed by how sharp its pictures look when showing HD. And this sharpness holds good even during motion-packed action sequences thanks to Samsung’s latest 200Hz processing.
The 200Hz engine is clean too, provided you only run it on its ‘Clear’ setting, reducing both the judder and blur commonly found to some degree with LCD TVs without generating nasty artefacts. I’d say the UE55C8000’s motion talents prove a big help, moreover, in making its 3D pictures look clearer, cleaner and punchier than those of the preview UE46C7000 I assessed.
Samsung also continues to make huge improvements with its standard definition upscaling engine. If there were serious weaknesses in Samsung’s upscaling engine, they’d stand out like a sore thumb on the UE55C8000’s colossal screen. But actually its standard def pictures look clean, sharp and colour-rich to a degree few if any other king-sized TVs can match.
Really, the only significant annoyance I found with the UE55C8000’s non-3D pictures concerns its viewing angle. For watching it from even as little as 35 degrees off axis can lead to a significant drop-off in black level response, and a marked increase in the screen’s backlight inconsistency.
Focusing finally on the UE55C8000’s audio, it’s definitely an improvement on the pretty feeble efforts of Samsung’s 2009 LCD/LED models. Though it’s still only adequate rather than truly exciting.
So my first experience of a fully functioning 3D TV has come to an end – and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. In fact, were it not for the crosstalk issue, I’d be totally convinced that 3D is going to become as big in its own ‘events-based’ way as HD has. Even as it stands, I think it’s got far more legs than I or many of my fellow journalists perhaps expected.
It remains to be seen how the UE55C8000’s 3D abilities might compare with other brands of 3D TV. But my gut instinct is that they will actually hold up very well against other LCD and LED TVs, with Panasonic’s imminent 3D plasma models probably likely to provide the toughest challenge.
Importantly, though, the UE55C8000 is also a stunningly attractive, feature-heavy star with non-3D footage. So provided you can swallow its price, it’s a seriously impressive TV even if you only decide to use its 3D talents every now and then.