Samsung UE55HU8500: Picture Quality
For the most part the UE55HU8500’s pictures are glorious. They’re incredibly dynamic for a start, thanks to a superb combination of deep, believable black colours (if you follow the set-up tips in the previous section) and ultra-rich colours that clearly enjoy an extra ‘kick’ over cheaper Samsung TVs from the PurColour system and wide colour gamut panel. Saturations look richer and there’s markedly more tonal subtlety on offer.
This subtlety proves especially helpful with native UHD sources, as it joins with the 4x HD pixel count in bringing out every last tiny detail and nuance of UHD’s stunningly dense images. In this respect Samsung can now pretty much match the gorgeous 4K/UHD efforts of Sony, which uses Triluminos technology to deliver a similarly rich, 4K-friendly colourscape.
As with any high-quality UHD image, it’s not just more detail you notice. Images also have an enhanced sense of depth, and the lack of any visible pixel structure or colour ‘blocking’ means that watching good UHD images feels more like looking through a window than just watching TV.
Samsung’s default picture settings render native UHD with slightly more sharpness than most rivals (with the possible exception of Philips). This may suit some tastes, we guess, but to us the sharpness looks just a little forced at times. So it’s handy that this issue is easily fixed via the simple sharpness setting in the TV’s menus.
The UE55HU8500’s motion handling is first rate. LCD screens’ tendency to lose resolution over moving objects is particularly unwelcome when you’re enjoying images as otherwise sharp as those you get with UHD, so it’s great to find the UE55HU8000’s natively fast response time and powerful motion processing working together superbly to keep even the fastest motion looking crisp, clean and almost as ‘UHD’ as static material.
It’s worth noting, too, that you can run the UE55HU8500’s motion processing on a higher level of power without it causing unwanted digital side effects like flickering and haloing than you can with Samsung’s cheaper TVs. This is a sure sign of the benefits of that enormously fast processor at the UE55HU8500’s heart.
The processing power also reaps great rewards when it comes to upscaling. At first you’ll find upscaled images looking a bit artificial thanks to the appearance of some distracting shimmering noise over areas of very fine detail or very contrasty edges – especially during camera pans. But this is easily dealt with simply by reducing the TV’s sharpness setting – something you can do without making the upscaled images look soft or fuzzy. In fact, with this single issue with the upscaling sorted the set does a stunning job of quadrupling the pixel count of normal HD sources without causing the image to look noisy or processed.
Upscaled images aren’t as pristine and completely life-like as native UHD ones, but we’d definitely say they look better than they would on a Full HD set. Which is a big deal given the relative dearth of native UHD content right now.
Even standard definition pictures can look good on the 55HU8500 so long as they’re of a decent standard – ie, DVD – in the first place. Heavily compressed digital broadcasts don’t look too hot, but nor do they on any UHD TV, and frankly if you’ve gone to the trouble of buying a UHD TV already you’re probably also pretty well geared up to feed it at least HD for the majority of the time.
It’s high time now that we explore whether the 55HU8500’s curved screen harms or boosts the viewing experience.
If you’re sat in a fairly central position opposite the screen and quite close to it, the curve gives you a slightly enhanced sense of immersion as the edges of the image wrap round into your peripheral vision. However, as we’ve noted in previous reviews, the curve can be problematic to the image’s geometry if you have to watch from an angle of more than around 35 degrees, causing the near side to look foreshortened.
The relatively small (by curved TV standards) size of the 55HU8500’s screen means that the potential viewing position area from which you can watch the 55HU8500 without suffering geometry problems is smaller than it would be with a bigger screen. The sense of extra immersion the curve can deliver is also reduced by the relatively small screen unless you sit unusually close to it.
Even the impact of the native UHD pixel count is slightly less potent than it is on larger screens (though having said that you can still clearly tell from a perfectly normal viewing distance that the 55HU8500 is a UHD TV not a mere HD one).
It’s as a result of these factors that we only feel we can give the UE55HU8500 a score of 9 rather than the 10 we awarded its 65-inch UE65HU8500 sibling.
For more details on the pros and cons of the curved TV experience, check out our in-depth feature.