Our biggest concern with the UE55C9000’s pictures had been that it wouldn’t produce a deep and consistent black colour. But while it’s certainly not perfect in this regard, with definite greyness and some cloudy patches at the screen’s edges if you don’t keep the brightness and backlight settings pretty low, nor is it remotely as bad as we’d feared.
One last point worth stressing is how excellent the UE55C9000’s standard definition processing is. A 55in screen will leave no hiding place for weak tuner and upscaling efforts, yet standard definition images remain consistently enjoyable, sharp and noiseless thanks to Samsung’s upscaling processing.
Turning to the UE55C9000’s 3D pictures, the news is more mixed. On the upside, we were hugely impressed by how bright and colour-rich pictures remain with Samsung’s adequately comfortable active shutter glasses perched on your nose. In this respect, the UE55C9000 is clearly ahead of Panasonic’s plasma 3D images – and arguably ahead of any other 3D brand using any technology.
The vastness of the UE55C9000’s screens plays its part, too, in immersing you in a 3D world, especially as its size and Samsung’s decent native motion handling combine to let you appreciate the extra detail and resolution afforded by full HD 3D Blu-rays. The set helps Sky’s 3D broadcasts look sharp too, but there’s a noticeable crispness gap between Sky’s ‘half HD’ 3D resolution and full HD 3D.
The problem with the UE55C9000’s 3D pictures is a predictable one: double ghosting around the edges of some objects during 3D viewing (AKA crosstalk noise), especially if they’re in the mid to extreme distance. This is visible to some extent with all 3D sources, giving you a general sense that things don’t always look quite in focus even if your eyes aren’t particularly drawn to the crosstalk areas that are creating the slightly soft overall appearance.
No 3D display we’ve seen is completely free of crosstalk, but Panasonic’s plasma models suffer from it less. So we guess you’re looking at a decision between the extra brightness, crispness and colour of the Samsung UE55C9000 vs the reduced crosstalk of the Panasonic. Personally, we find crosstalk noise more overtly distracting than reduced brightness and slightly more muted colours. But we’d suggest you audition both if 3D really matters to you.
Though of course, in the UE55C9000’s case, its 3D capabilities are unlikely to be as important to you as its astonishing form factor. In fact, having 3D probably just seems like a handy bonus to many of the 55C9000’s likely buyers.
Given the frankly ridiculous slimness of the UE55C9000, we expected its sound to suck. But surprisingly, it’s really not bad. The trick is that Samsung has built 2 x 15W speakers into the stand rather than the screen, and these produce rather impressive amounts of volume and dynamic range. There’s even a bit of bass, and this appears without muddying the mid-range or crowding out trebles. These trebles can become a little sibilant with dense soundstages, but this doesn’t alter the fact that the UE55C9000 is one of the better sounding flat TVs in town.
The UE55C9000 is tougher to stick a final mark on than any other TV we’ve reviewed. On the one hand, part of us says any 55in TV costing a minimum of £5,600 should be a near-perfect performer. Yet the UE55C9000 suffers some backlight inconsistency and 3D crosstalk. Plus the touchscreen remote is flawed at best.
On the other hand, the UE55C9000 is so stunning aesthetically that this is arguably all that matters, with its picture and sound quality just a nice, thick layer of icing on a cake that well-heeled aesthetes will already have been unable to resist.
In the end, it’s this sense of irresistibility to its target market that has persuaded us to lean towards giving the UE55C9000 a final mark of 9. It won’t be for everyone, but then it was never designed to be. It was clearly always intended to be a ‘statement’ product for designer homes, and even if you take the view that such products aren’t really any more than vanity projects, there’s no denying that Samsung has succeeded in achieving its aim with the UE55C9000 quite magnificently.