Samsung UE55H8000: 3D Performance
Samsung only uses the active 3D system on its TVs, a decision which pays off handsomely on the UE55H8000 in the form of an impressively detailed, crisp 3D Blu-ray image free from the jagged edges and visible horizontal line structure flaws you get with passive 3D.
It’s also striking how bright 3D images look. The active shutter glasses you have to use for active 3D viewing tend to remove quite a lot of brightness from the image, but with this Samsung the brightness and colour saturation are scarcely reduced at all by donning one of the two pairs of free 3D glasses you get free with the set.
In fact colours look nothing short of spectacular by 3D standards, which as well as being pleasing in itself also helps create a convincing sense of solidity and depth in the 3D world.
Samsung sets have previously tended to suffer quite a lot of judder with 3D, but thanks to the power of the Quad Core Plus processing you can tackle this quite nicely on the UE55H8000 by setting the Motion Plus system to its medium power level without having to suffer too many haloing or flickering processing distractions. We’d still recommend you stick with the low processing setting if you can, though, so that you get a slightly more natural if not completely smooth effect.
The UE55H8000’s superb contrast performance plays a part in its mostly excellent 3D performance too, helping emphasise the sense of depth, especially with dark scenes.
Finally in the plus column here, the set’s curve gently boosts the sense of depth to anyone sat directly opposite and close to the screen.
There is still room for 3D improvement, though. The 3D preset, for instance, pushes brightness a bit too hard, leading to some visible backlight clouding until you reduce the backlight setting.
The 3D preset also pushes sharpness too much, causing details to look harsh and bright object edges to glow. Reducing the sharpness to around the 20-25 level largely solves this issue, as well as greatly reducing a strange shimmery look to very bright areas of the picture when using the 3D picture preset.
Finally there is a little crosstalk ghosting noise from time to time – but it’s subtle when it appears and it doesn’t appear that often. So it feels a fair price to pay for the full HD resolution of the UE55H8000’s active 3D pictures.
Samsung UE55H8000: Sound Quality
As with the UE65HU8500, the UE55H8000 delivers a big step forward in sound quality versus previous Samsung TVs. Its speakers can go impressively loud without starting to sound compressed, thanks to a strong dynamic range, and without treble details starting to sound harsh.
There’s a good sense of depth and width to the soundstage too, and voices remain superbly clear. Even when the voice is Bane’s in The Dark Knight Rises…
There’s a strong sense of bass in the mix as well, and while there’s not the same sense of directness you get with a front-firing speaker system, there certainly were plenty of times where we forgot that the UE55H8500 uses downfiring speakers. Particularly impressive in this respect is how well voices seem to be locked to the screen rather than feeling like they’re coming from below it.
Other things to consider
After the rather disappointing 60ms-plus input lag reading recorded on the UE65HU8500, it’s great to see the UE55H8000 only hitting a much more gaming-friendly figure of 33ms.
This suggests that Samsung’s impressive curve-related auto depth enhancement processing is not adding significant input lag to the image, meaning that the lag on the UHD model is more likely a result of the UHD upscaling engine.
The ‘smart’ remote you get with the UE55H8000 (alongside a rather cheap and cheerful ‘standard’ option) is as comfortable to hold as it is stylish to look at. It’s a flexible beast too, providing within its diminutive frame touch pad, point and click, normal cursor button and (via a mic) voice control options.
Actually, perhaps a bit too much flexibility is squeezed into the remote’s heart, as initially it’s quite easy to accidentally mix up the ‘style’ of control you want to use, with confusing results.
You should eventually get the hang of it, though, and when you do you start to find that different control approaches work well for different aspects of the TV’s functionality.
Should I buy a Samsung UE55H8000?
While the curved screen contributes less to this 55-inch TV than it did to the 4K Samsung UE65HU8500, it still feels like a state of the art HD TV. Its picture quality is an advance over the already excellent efforts of its 2013 8000 series, which pretty much by default makes it a superior performer to any of the older HD sets still out there until rival brands start to launch their 2014 offerings.
Of course, state of the art HD no longer equates to state of the art TV generally, now that UHD TVs are here. So as with all high-end TVs this year there’s a potential issue over whether the sort of AV enthusiast who might previously have bought a flagship HD TV might now be tempted instead by the increasingly affordable ‘flock’ of UHD sets.
But if the lure of 4K / UHD is of no interest to you, and considering the lack of content available right now that’s understandable, then this is without doubt a hugely impressive TV that will immensely please anyone who buys it.
We’re less convinced by the curve at this size, but there’s no mistaking that the UE55H8000 is an outstanding TV that delivers in every department.
Score in detail
3D Quality 9
Smart TV 9
2D Quality 9
Sound Quality 9