OLED TV vs. 4K LED TV; Which is better? 10-point Test

For 2017 there may be a few OLED TVs left from LG on the market with less than 4K resolution. That will change shortly, with all new models containing 4K UHD resolution. LED backlit 4K UHD TVs (including Samsung’s new QLED line) are technically really still LCD TVs with a higher resolution and are taking the name 4K UHD or 4K Ultra HD. 4K LCD TV is a more appropriate name. OLED TVs will always have OLED (whether 4K or 1080p) in the title due to the panel being self-lit by Organic Light Emitting DIodes and not using an LCD panel.

Update for 2017: While Samsung and other manufacturers are sticking with 4K LED backlit Quantum Dot (QLED) TVs for 2017, LG continues to reap the reward of the premier picture quality technology in the market. The new LG models also have 40W of speaker power, LG’s excellent Magic Remote control, 4K UHD resolution, and one of the best Smart TV platforms Web OS 3.0. Sony will join LG in producing OLED TVs in 2017, however they will purchase the OLED panels from LG in order to do so, which likely means their models will be slightly more expensive than LGs. Sony’s excellent processing technologies may make them worth extra money. While OLED TVs are still more expensive than good 4K LED TVs, the gap has narrowed. LG has 4 new OLED TV models and if there is one weakness to the technology aside from some motion artifacts, it’s that there is a lack of size choices. 55 and 65 inch are the two dominant sizes. This will continue to be the case due to scale in production.

Last year we heard from Sony and other manufacturers that there were too many problems with production of OLED technology in terms of reliability and high costs. We believe this was also the case with Samsung though they did not specifically state this when we interviewed them. These reliability issues combined with higher costs of ramping up production has most manufacturers treading sand to improve 4K UHD technology by widening the color gamut and employing either Quantum Dot or a similar film technology (Nano-Crystal and QLED in Samsung’s case) to enhance and solidify color.

OLED TV still has all the advantages listed in this article (including best overall picture quality) and since the 4K UHD resolution is now included, from a qualitative standpoint it will be very difficult for LED backlit 4K UHD TVs to compete with 4K OLED TVs. Samsung still has number one share and their marketing machine will stout LED 4K. However, professional reviewers (us included) will continue to point out that OLED is the better visual display technology. Sometimes the marketers win – just as they did with LED over Plasma. However, in terms of reliability and potential problems we will keep you updated by way of individual LG OLED TV and Sony OLED TV reviews as well as Samsung UHD TV Reviews. We have viewed OLED 4K side by side with LED 4K and everything else being equal (processing engine) we give a big nod to OLED 4K.

First let’s delve into the technologies to find hints of which technology might win out. I certainly doubt there is room for two high price tag TV technologies.

Samsung OLED
Samsung’s curved UN65JS9500 SUHD

 

Sony 4K UHD LED TV
This shot shows off the amazing color and detail the Sony 4K UHD TV is capable of producing

Definitions:
OLED – Organic Light Emitting Diode
4K – (UHD or Ultra High Definition) defined as something around (3840 x 2160 pixel resolution) or 8,294,400 pixels or 4K progressive or 4 X HD resolution.

A lit organic light emitting diode cell
A lit organic light emitting diode cell

1) Color Rendition / Accuracy

WINNER: OLED TV

While LED TVs have improved significantly over the years, I have always felt there is something lacking in the richness of color in LED backlit LCD Televisions. Colors do not have the depth that previous plasma TVs or now OLED TVs offer.

Samsung OLED TV

In OLED displays, each pixel contains red, green, and blue elements, which work in conjunction to create the millions of colors. Insofar as each pixel contains all the elements needed to produce every color in the spectrum, color information is more accurately reproduced with OLED technology than it is with LCD. We anticipate that the chromaticity coordinates will be more accurate with OLED than with 4K TV. From the OLED TVs that we have seen, color information is richer, deeper and more realistic than 4K TV (LCD TVs).

2) Sharpness Image Clarity

WINNER: LED 4K TV

This is what the new 4K TV is all about. Incredible clarity. How well they do in this area depends upon how well these TVs up-convert a 1080p signal to 4K resolution – 4 times. This is very important due to the limited or virtually non-existent content available for 4K TVs in that native resolution. Some OEMs are better than others at this crucial element of processing and often offer their latest chip set (picture engine) as their advertisement for this important consideration. Sony is best in my opinion, while Samsung and LG are both good.

Sharp 4K UHD TV
A shot of this Sharp 4K LED TV shows great detail and depth

One aspect I have noticed with OLED TVs both 4K and 1080p, is that there are often motion artifacts. It’s not too distracting, but is reminiscent of early plasma TVs. Motion artifacts create a little blur sometimes around image edges. I believe OLED OEMs will get better at eliminating motion artifacts, but it will remain an issue.

3) Black Level/Contrast

WINNER: OLED TV

OLED TV technology is more like plasma technology with individually lit pixel cells and therefore offers deeper blacks and unlimited gray scale. Blacks are inky and perfect in the new OLED TVs, while they will never be in LED TVs.

Samsung 55ES9500 OLED TV
This is probably the best shot we’ve ever taken of a TV on the Samsung 55-inch OLED showing great dark shadow detail in the shaded areas, colors and light that pops, and exceptional contrast and detail

LED TVs by contrast are resolution enhanced but rely on the same LCD front panel (twisting crystals) with a backlight source (LED). While there have been incredible improvements in LED TV black levels, they will never match OLED TVs in this crucially important area.

There are two ways to increase contrast, by producing deeper darker blacks, or brighter whites. Producing darker richer blacks as OLEDs do, increases contrast in the best way and creates a deeper picture with colors that pop more. Brighter whites are primarily good for light room environments and HDR content.

4) Brightness/Peak White

WINNER: LED 4K TV

The brightness and peak whites produced by LED TVs are unlimited because brighter LEDs can be produced in the future. OLED TVs by contrast are somewhat limited by the organic light emitting diode size of the pixel and organic structure of the material. There is no backlight in OLED TVs, but instead individual pixels.

Therefore if you need a super bright TV for daytime viewing for say a patio, an LED TV would be your best choice. I believe 4K will be hard to beat in this area with the constantly evolving LED technology.

5) Screen Uniformity

WINNER: OLED TV

Screen uniformity is a drawback specifically related to LED backlight TVs (and CCFL). It really has to do with having backlights rather than lit pixels on the front of the panel. Edge Lit LED TVs (the new 4K TVs entering the market are edge lit or full array backlit) have even more problems with picture screen uniformity sometimes showing brighter background light at the edges of the screen or in bar formations across the screen. Turning the backlight setting down usually alleviates the problem.

OLED TVs by contrast have an extremely even spread of light across the picture due to each pixel cell being lit individually. It really enhances the beauty of the entire image.

6) Side Angle Viewing Quality

WINNER: OLED TV

OLED TVs exhibit the same perfect side angle viewing as good plasma TVs do. This is also due to even lighting from each individually lit pixel. The lighting is close to the front of the screen panel than with LED backlit TVs.

LED 4K TVs with edge lit or even full array backlighting should be equivalent to the best LED TVs in side angle viewing quality. While they are getting better, they lag behind plasma and OLED.

LG 55EM9600
The LG 55EM9600 OLED TV boasts amazing black levels and color accuracy.

7) Overall Picture Quality

WINNER: OLED 4K TV

OLED 4K TVs get my vote here because the categories they are best in are the most important for picture quality. Deepest blacks creates the best contrast, picture depth, and color that pops. Plus perfect side angle viewing quality. I can put up with a bit of motion artifacts and a picture that does not get as bright.

8) Longevity or Lifespan

WINNER: LED 4K TV

OLED 4K TV technology is fairly untested, and therefore unknown. This gives rise to some concern – especially when remembering what happened with early Plasma TVs (then called gas plasma display technology). It was not pretty. Early plasma models developed burn in easily, and the green phosphors did not last long enough.

LED 4K TVs use long lasting LED backlights (edge lit or full array) and tried and true LCD front panels which are composed of twisting crystals. So this technology should last as long as 60,000 viewing hours; which when you break it down to 4 hours a day of viewing is 41 years. The LED bulbs will fade over time, however, and after many years the screen uniformity will get worse. And just in case your curious, the LED backlights cannot be economically replaced.

Sony 4K TV
The Sony 4K TV displays bright colors and outstanding clarity

9) Price

WINNER: LED 4K TV

OLED 4K TVs are still sold at premium prices and they vary a lot by size. The lowest price new LG 65” models are $3997 and are $1500 more than the 55” model. The previous year’s models sold at a big discount. As of this writing I found one for $2488.

A top notch 8-Series Samsung LED 4K TV sells for under $2000. That’s only one step below their top model for the year. It has most of their best picture technology and there is a lot of compensation built in for some of LCD/LED technology weaknesses.

10) Value and Overall Perfomance

WINNER: PICK IT

As a value oriented guy it’s difficult to pay up for the significant increase in cost for today’s OLED TVs. I was always a fan of plasma TVs over LCD/LED TVs though and if I could pay the same amount for either top quality OLED 4K TV or an LED 4K TV, there is no question I would choose the better picture quality of the OLED TV.

With today’s price difference, I have to confess I would probably get a good LED 4K TV, or wait until the price differential narrows and get the OLED TV. A really good 55” LED 4K TV can be had for under $1000. That’s very compelling.

Overall Score

OLED TV – 5

LED 4K TV – 4

Tie – 1

 


LG 55EM9600 Video

 

Samsung 55 inch OLED TV Video

 

Samsung KS8000 Review

First, a note on the differences of the 8-series models. The KS8000 models are flat, while the KS8500 is a curved screen. All else in this review should be the same except the dimensions and prices. Differences between the KS8000 and 8500 models and the top of the line KS9000 and 9500 models are UHD Dimming rather than Supreme UHD Dimming, Motion Rate 240Hz rather than Supreme Motion Rate 240Hz, lower watt speakers in the 8-series, and aesthetic differences.

This year’s KS8000 series TVs from Samsung are receiving a verbal makeover. Samsung, the ever vigilant master of sleight of term has new appellations, handles, and sobriquets by which to call their visual magic. Some might call it eyewash, because the features are pretty much the same.

A FEW CHANGES FOR THIS YEAR ARE:

 Current Term 2015/2016New Term 2016/2017
Color SystemNano Crystal TechnologyQuantum Dot Color
ProcessorOcta-Core ProcessorQuad Core Processor
PanelUltra Clear ProUltra Clear Ultimate

Strengths

  • Contrast, Color, Black Levels are excellent for an LED TV
  • Clarity and depth from Ultra Clear panel
  • Strong LED edge lighting produces top notch light flow-through for dynamic images
  • HD programming upconversion looks great in 4K
  • Minimal input lag in Game mode
  • Quad Core core processor makes the Smart Hub run very smooth and fast
  • Tizen OS Smart TV is fast, has essential Apps
  • Appearance Both the curved and flat screen look great
  • Smart remote now has point and click functionality

Weaknesses

  • Side angle viewing angle contrast and saturation loss
  • Not crazy about the branch style stand feet
  • AutoMotion Plus really highlights unnatural effects to 2D shows and movies
  • Less saturated blacks than OLEDs
  • No 3D

Picture Quality Rating: 92/100

Strong LED Lighting/Brightness

Though there are inherent weaknesses with Edge-Lit LED lighting, Samsung has maybe the brightest LEDs in the market. The 8-Series passed the test on the new UHD Alliance brightness standard of at least 1000 nits. The powerful LEDs really give the KS8000 a step up in terms of contrast due to those peak whites. It shows up in light flow through on the screen. You will notice this standout feature when viewing onscreen scenes with natural light coming into rooms. Also with onscreen in room lighting. Contrast is also very strong with these SUHD Samsung TVs with deep black levels. The KS8000 can get brighter than OLED TVs. Read more about that and color below in the Quantum Dot Color section.

UHD Dimming

Samsung’s term for the (“local”) dimming feature in the 8-series. UHD Dimming offers some increased precision regarding contrast, color, and detail levels needed for each part of the screen to coordinate and excellent overall image. Since the dimming mechanism on the KS8000 is from the edges, we cant really call it true local dimming – a term that describes a TVs ability to brighten or darken specific areas of the screen independently from one another. This feature is effectively supposed to increase contrast in various areas of the picture. At times, it darkens the screen a lot, especially on the higher settings. Edge Lit dimming has never been one of the best features to me. I like the full boat full array micro dimming much better which has a major impact on contrast. The manipulation of the edge lighting as in the KS8000 to my eyes only marginally impacts contrast in the picture and is not much of an improvement.

HDR Compatible

The big focus TV feature for 2016/2017 is HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects, or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. This picture quality improvement varies quite a lot with the HDR content being viewed. I’m not going as far as to say it’s a gimmick, but from what I’ve seen I wonder how much of an improvement it really is. HDR content is and will be in short supply for a while.

The studios, distributors (Netflix, Amazon) and TV manufacturer must all be on the same page for you to see HDR content. Some Amazon Original series are currently offered.

Side Angle Viewing

From off center the KS8000 and KS8500 have the normal problems associated with LCD TVs. Black levels fade as does color saturation. The 8-series panel’s beautiful picture presentation loses a lot of it’s luster. Since this is not an IPS panel (in-plane-switching), it suffers more from side angles than that variety, but presents better black levels during straight on viewing.

HD to UHD Upscaling and Conversion

Ever wonder if the picture quality is better on a 4K UHD TV with a standard definition or HD signal pumped into it? The answer is yes ONLY if the TV has a stellar upscaling and conversion technology built in. The KS8000 analyzes the incoming signal, applies video noise reduction techniques, and scales up the lower resolution signal. Lastly, it enhances the detail which may be the most important bit. Anyway, the end result is that yes, you get a much better picture. I would place Samsung second behind only Sony in this regard, but it also depends on which model of TV. This is one of the big differences of the very top end TVs. Better processing produces a great picture quality even with streaming video signals. The KS8000 and KS8500 are at the very top echelon in this regard.

What Makes an UHD TV an SUHD TV?

Alright, here are the particulars on what makes an SUHD. First, there is a new color system used called DCI P3 which has a wider color gamut or spectrum or pallet – call it what you will it’s a bigger range of colors, more Crayolas in the box. That color is dispersed and enhanced further by Quantum Dot film which is placed in one of the layers of the panel. The combination of the two does improve the color. It comes across more refined, cleaner and more defined than the previous 4K TVs. To me, it’s a 10% improvement in color representation. Next, the SUHD lineup has a brighter backlight which is capable of hitting 1000 nits at peak brightness and produce deeper blacks as well, though this is more difficult to discern. Last, all SUHD TVs in Samsung’s lineup have the proprietary Samsung developed Tizen operating system for Smart TV though that’s not part of what differentiates an SUHD. SUHD is all about those upgraded picture quality features, especially the wider color gamut.

Color Performance/Quantum Dot Color

The previously dubbed Nano Crystal Technology which is now called Quantum Dot Color is at the heart of improvements in color for the KS8000. All SUHD models by Samsung for 2016 and 2017 enjoy this technology. The QDEF layer is a stack of ultra thin film located between the LCDs (liquid crystals) and the front protective glass or plexi layer. The benefits of the technology are a wider color gamut (more colors) produced by better disbursement through the QDEF Diffuser Film. Think of the Quantum Dot layer as a color converter which assists the LCDs in creating more colors. Quantum Dot technology is thought of as competing technology with OLED TVs (organic light emitting diodes) which carry their own color to the surface of the panel.

Finally, it works, I’ve seen the side by side demonstrations. It produces a cleaner, clearer and more defined color representation especially in the greens and yellows. With a 4K UHD signal I would say the color production is 5% to 10% better. Samsung, of course, puts the figure higher at 20% to 30%.

Motion Rate 240/ Fast Motion/Gaming

This figure represents an enhanced Hz rate for the 120Hz panel. By manipulating the powerful LEDs Samsung is able to produce an “effectively” faster refresh rate. The input lag is a little slower than most new TVs on the market at around 40ms in Game mode, but it’s almost unnoticeable during gaming. The KS8000 does a great job with fast motion images on screen. Good for sports.

Picture Calibration and Settings

The Samsung KS8000 comes with only 5 preset picture modes which are Movie, Natural, Standard, Vivid, and then the separate Game mode. Obviously, Game mode is your choice to cut down on motion lag from games.

Quick Picture Calibration Settings

Quick Calibration:The following settings are for a medium to dark room light. Since calibrations can vary among different TVs even from the same model number, we no longer post the advanced 10 point White balance calibration settings. However, TV manufacturers have improved at providing a preset picture setting that is pretty close to D65 out of the box. The settings below will get you close. Try the Warm 2 setting and for a couple days to get used to it. If after a couple days picture images still seems to warm (reddish tones), change it to the Warm 1 mode. Also, if you are viewing in a brighter room environment, you may prefer the Warm 1 mode.

Picture Mode: Movie
Backlight16Sharpness10
Contrast97Color50
Brightness45TintG50/R50
Expert Settings
Digital Clean ViewOffGamma0
AutoMotion PlusOffRGB OnlyOff
Film ModeOffColor SpaceAuto
HDMI ColorMPEG Noise FilterOff
HDMI Black LevelNormalFilm ModeOff
Dynamic ContrastOffSmart LEDOn
Color ToneWarm 2

Notes:The Backlight setting is the easiest and quickest way to adjust for room light conditions. For brighter rooms move the setting up and darker rooms down. Game Mode may be enabled under Special Viewing Mode. The Digital Clean View mode may be utilized for lower quality and lower resolution content like 480p DVDs, non-HD cable, and streaming TV that is not HD quality.

Auto Motion Plus – Know When to Use this Feature

The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse. By default it is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. You will likely want to turn it off for streaming content, DVDs, Blu-rays, and TV shows. The feature gives you a dreadful “Telenovela Effect”, making images look unrealistic by eliminating too much natural background blur. Turn it off in the Expert Settings menu and everything will be fine again. You’ll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. The features does not hurt good quality live sports programming so you may want to use it there. Another experiment you may want to try is using it with poor quality DVDs. It can help the viewing experience there, bringing these old movies to life. Just be familiar with how to s and it won’t be a problem.

Another possibly acceptable setting is enabling the feature using the Custom setting and using a low value on the De-Blur portion of the setting.

(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll down to Expert Settings and scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)

Features Rating: 87/100

Tizen Operating Smart TV

This Samsung developed system is included only on SUHD TVs for now and is much faster and more responsive than previous Samsung Smart TV/Smart Hub menu systems. It’s instantaneous response time operation impressed me. Aside from the increased speed it remembers where users are in a program rather than having to fast forward from the beginning like last years models. The Smart Hub menu has also been revamped and upgraded for easier organization of your favorite Program and Apps options. Overall, the Tizen system is pretty strong but not as smooth or interface friendly as the Android TV system included on Sony and Sharp’s best models. The Android system also has a little better offerings.

The included black touchpad Remote Control is light, and easy to operate whizzing around the Tizen Smart Hub menu system. The point and click operation is a plus. On the negative side, the remote is small and takes a lot of getting used to. The functions on the remote itself are very limited.

Sound Quality

Speakers have total 40 watts of audio output, 10w from each speaker and 10w each from 2 subs. In a very large room you might find the 65” model lacking. But the subs do help lay off some of the tininess, and present more full sound. With a TV this nice looking you hate to have to add a bulky unattractive soundbar especially in a modern or minimalist setting, so a decent inbuilt speaker system is necessary.

Appearance and Design

The Samsung 8-series is very attractive although I’m not crazy about the branch style stand feet. The silver color stand and frame I do like a lot though. The non-curved KS8000 version has only 1.8” of depth. Some say the curved screen (KS8500) helps with side angle viewing quality. Others think the curved screen can be worse of in-room ambient light. We are of the opinion that it does not help much, but the look is novel and somewhat more enveloping from front and center. If the curved screen appearance appeals to you then go for it. The price difference is around $500 more for the curved variety. The included One Connect box keeps your cables nice and tidy. It can also be upgraded later in the future if needed, without having to replace the whole TV.

Picture of One Connect Box
Picture of One Connect Box

Value Rating 88/100

UN65KS8500 – $2999

UN55KS8500 – $1999

UN65KS8000 – $2799

UN55KS8000 – $1799

Prices have really come down nicely on the curved variety if that’s your taste. For a very small step down from the KS9000 and KS95000 you save a good chunk of change around $250 to $500 depending on the model. For one of the best LCD TVs on the market for 2016/2017 these prices look very reasonable for a nice living room TV.

Overall Rating 90/100

Quick Specs

  • Backlight: Edge Lit LED
  • Smart Functionality: Yes – Built in Wi-Fi
  • Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 USB
  • Native Refresh Rate 120Hz (240 Supreme Motion Rate)
  • HEVC for watching streamed 4K content from sources like Netflix® and Amazon Instant Video (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps)
  • Quad Core Processor
  • HDR 1000 (UHD Alliance)
  • 4K UHD Certified
  • Full Web Browser (of marginal utility)
  • Audio Output 60W 20W X 2 Speakers, 10W X 2 Subwoofers
  • Dimensions:
    • UN65KS8500 56.8″ x 32.7″ x 4.1″ Curved Screen
    • UN65KS8500 56.8″ x 35.7″ x 11.6″ with stand Curved Screen
    • UN55KS8500 48.2″ x 27.8″ x 3.5″ , TV Only/ 48.2″ x 30.6″ x 9.2″ with stand
    • UN65KS9000 56.8″ x 32.8″ x 1.8″ TV Only/ 56.8″ x 35.7″ x 11.6″ with stand
    • UN55KS9000 48.2″ x 28.0″ x 1.7″ TV Only/ 48.2″ x 30.5″ x 9.2″ with stand

Samsung UN55KS9000 Review

First, a note on the differences of the 9-series models. The KS9000 models are flat, while the KS9500 is a curved screen. All else in this review should be the same except the dimensions and prices.

This year’s KS series TVs from Samsung are receiving a verbal makeover. Samsung, the ever vigilant master of sleight of term has new appellations, handles, and sobriquets by which to call their visual magic. Some might call it eyewash, because the features are pretty much the same. Last year we wrote about What Makes a UHD TV and SUHD TV? (Samsung’s term)

A FEW CHANGES FOR THIS YEAR ARE:

 Current Term 2015/2016New Term 2016/2017
Color SystemNano Crystal TechnologyQuantum Dot Color
Backlight manipulated
motion rate
from 120Hz panel
240Hz Motion RateSupreme Motion Rate 240
ProcessorOcta-Core ProcessorQuad Core Processor
Dimming TechnologyUHD DimmingSupreme UHD Dimming
PanelUltra Clear ProUltra Clear Ultimate

Strengths

  • Contrast, Color, Black Levels are excellent for an LED TV
  • Clarity and depth from Ultra Clear panel
  • Strong LED edge lighting produces top notch light flow-through for dynamic images
  • HD programming upconversion looks great in 4K
  • Minimal input lag in Game mode
  • Quad Core core processor makes the Smart Hub run very smooth and fast
  • Tizen OS Smart TV is fast, has essential Apps
  • Appearance Both the curved and flat screen look great
  • Smart remote now has point and click functionality

Weaknesses

  • Side angle viewing angle contrast and saturation loss
  • AutoMotion Plus really highlights unnatural effects to 2D shows and movies
  • Less saturated blacks than OLEDs
  • No 3D

Picture Quality Rating: 92/100

Strong LED Lighting/Brightness

Though there are inherent weaknesses with Edge-Lit LED lighting, Samsung has maybe the brightest LEDs in the market. The 9-Series passed the test on the new UHD Alliance brightness standard of at least 1000 nits. The powerful LEDs really give the KS9000 a step up in terms of contrast due to those peak whites. It shows up in light flow through on the screen. You will notice this standout feature when viewing onscreen scenes with natural light coming into rooms. Also with on screen in room lighting. Contrast is also very strong with these SUHD Samsung TVs with deep black levels. The KS9000 can get brighter than OLED TVs. Read more about that and color below in the Quantum Dot Color section.

Supreme UHD Dimming

Samsung’s new term for edge lit dimming is Supreme UHD Dimming a replacement for last years UHD Dimming which is a replacement of Micro Dimming. There is a lot of precision regarding contrast, color, and detail levels needed for each part of the screen to coordinate and excellent overall image. Since the dimming mechanism on the KS9000 is from the edges, we cant really call it true local dimming – a term that describes a TVs ability to brighten or darken specific areas of the screen independently from one another. This feature is effectively supposed to increase contrast in various areas of the picture. At times, it darkens the screen a lot, especially on the higher settings. Edge Lit dimming has never been one of the best features to me. I like the full boat full array micro dimming much better which has a major impact on contrast. The manipulation of the edge lighting as in the KS9000 to my eyes only marginally impacts color and contrast in the picture.

HDR Compatible

The big focus TV feature for 2016/2017 is HDR (High Dynamic Range). HDR extends the range that a pixel in an LCD TV can show. This applies to the brightness and luminosity of images. Contrast is enhanced by increased brightness rather than deeper blacks. Rather than just increase the brightness of the picture overall though, the real purpose of HDR is to increase contrast in various image areas of the picture. It improves the presentation in the brighter parts of the picture and this creates more contrast with surrounding darker parts of the picture. Since picture contrast is one of the primary features in improving perceived depth, HDR is considered a major picture quality improvement even though it may not increase the overall contrast of the panel a lot. Bright colors receive enhanced purity. A good HDR image will show better shadow detail, and the scenes that you will notice the most are those with light illuminating images, especially outside sunlight effects, or a room that has sunlight coming in through a window and illuminating parts of the room. This picture quality improvement varies quite a lot with the HDR content being viewed. I’m not going as far as to say it’s a gimmick, but from what I’ve seen I wonder how much of an improvement it really is. HDR content is and will be in short supply for a while.

The studios, distributors (Netflix, Amazon) and TV manufacturer must all be on the same page for you to see HDR content. Some Amazon Original series are currently offered.

Side Angle Viewing

From off center the KS9000 and KS9500 have the normal problems associated with LCD TVs. Black levels fade as does color saturation. The 9-series panel’s beautiful presentation loses a lot of it’s luster. Since this is not an IPS panel (in-plane-switching), it suffers more from side angles than that variety, but presents better black levels from straight on viewing.

HD to UHD Upscaling and Conversion

Ever wonder if the picture quality is better on a 4K UHD TV with a standard definition or HD signal pumped into it? The answer is yes ONLY if the TV has a stellar upscaling and conversion technology built in. The KS9000 analyzes the incoming signal, applies video noise reduction techniques, and scales up the lower resolution signal. Lastly, it enhances the detail which may be the most important bit. Anyway, the end result is that yes, you get a much better picture. I would place Samsung second behind only Sony in this regard, but it also depends on which model of TV. This is one of the big differences of the very top end TVs. Better processing produces a great picture quality even with streaming video signals. The KS9000 and KS9500 are at the very top echelon in this regard.

What Makes an UHD TV an SUHD TV?

Alright, here are the particulars on what makes an SUHD. First, there is a new color system used called DCI P3 which has a wider color gamut or spectrum or pallet – call it what you will it’s a bigger range of colors, more Crayolas in the box. That color is dispersed and enhanced further by Quantum Dot film which is placed in one of the layers of the panel. The combination of the two does improve the color. It comes across more refined, cleaner and more defined than the previous 4K TVs. To me, it’s a 10% improvement in color representation. Next, the SUHD lineup has a brighter backlight which is capable of hitting 1000 nits at peak brightness and produce deeper blacks as well, though this is more difficult to discern. Last, all SUHD TVs in Samsung’s lineup have the proprietary Samsung developed Tizen operating system for Smart TV though that’s not part of what differentiates an SUHD. SUHD is all about those upgraded picture quality features, especially the wider color gamut.

Color Performance/Quantum Dot Color

The previously dubbed Nano Crystal Technology which is now called Quantum Dot Color is at the heart of improvements in color for the KS9000. All SUHD models by Samsung for 2016 and 2017 enjoy this technology. The QDEF layer is a stack of ultra thin film located between the LCDs (liquid crystals) and the front protective glass or plexi layer. The benefits of the technology are a wider color gamut (more colors) produced by better disbursement through the QDEF Diffuser Film. Think of the Quantum Dot layer as a color converter which assists the LCDs in creating more colors. Quantum Dot technology is thought of as competing technology with OLED TVs (organic light emitting diodes) which carry their own color to the surface of the panel.

Finally, it works, I’ve seen the side by side demonstrations. It produces a cleaner, clearer and more defined color representation especially in the greens and yellows. With a 4K UHD signal I would say the color production is 5% to 10% better. Samsung, of course, puts the figure higher at 20% to 30%.

Supreme Motion Rate 240

This figure represents an enhanced Hz rate for the 120Hz panel. By manipulating the powerful LEDs Samsung is able to produce an “effectively” faster refresh rate.

Picture Calibration and Settings

The Samsung KS9000 comes with only 4 preset picture modes which are Movie, Standard, Vivid, and Game. Obviously, Game mode is your choice to cut down on motion lag from games.

Quick Picture Calibration Settings

Quick Calibration:The following settings are for a medium to dark room light. Since calibrations can vary among different TVs even from the same model number, we no longer post the advanced 10 point White balance calibration settings. However, TV manufacturers have improved at providing a preset picture setting that is pretty close to D65 out of the box. The settings below will get you close. Try the Warm 2 setting and for a couple days to get used to it. If after a couple days picture images still seems to warm (reddish tones), change it to the Warm 1 mode. Also, if you are viewing in a brighter room environment, you may prefer the Warm 1 mode.

Picture Mode: Movie
Backlight16Sharpness10
Contrast99Color50
Brightness45TintG50/R50
Expert Settings
Digital Clean ViewOffGamma0
AutoMotion PlusOffRGB OnlyOff
Film ModeOffColor SpaceAuto
HDMI ColorFilm ModeOff
HDMI Black LevelNormalSmart LEDOn
Dynamic ContrastOffColor ToneWarm 2

Notes:The Backlight setting is the easiest and quickest way to adjust for room light conditions. For brighter rooms move the setting up and darker rooms down. Game Mode may be enabled under Special Viewing Mode. The Digital Clean View mode may be utilized for lower quality and lower resolution content like 480p DVDs, non-HD cable, and streaming TV that is not HD quality.

Auto Motion Plus – Know When to Use this Feature

The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse. By default it is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. You will likely want to turn it off for streaming content, DVDs, Blu-rays, and TV shows. The feature gives you a dreadful “Telenovela Effect”, making images look unrealistic by eliminating too much natural background blur. Turn it off in the Expert Settings menu and everything will be fine again. You’ll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. The features does not hurt good quality live sports programming so you may want to use it there. Another experiment you may want to try is using it with poor quality DVDs. It can help the viewing experience there, bringing these old movies to life. Just be familiar with how to s and it won’t be a problem.

Another possibly acceptable setting is enabling the feature using the Custom setting and using a low value on the De-Blur portion of the setting.

(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll down to Expert Settings and scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)

Features Rating: 88/100

Tizen Operating Smart TV

This Samsung developed system is included only on SUHD TVs for now and is much faster and more responsive than previous Samsung Smart TV/Smart Hub menu systems. It’s instantaneous response time operation impressed me. Aside from the increased speed it remembers where users are in a program rather than having to fast forward from the beginning like last years models. The Smart Hub menu has also been revamped and upgraded for easier organization of your favorite Program and Apps options. Overall, the Tizen system is pretty strong but not as smooth or interface friendly as the Android TV system included on Sony and Sharp’s best models. The Android system also has a little better offerings.

The included black touchpad Remote Control is light, and easy to operate whizzing around the Tizen Smart Hub menu system. The point and click operation is a plus. On the negative side, the remote is small and takes a lot of getting used to. The functions on the remote itself are very limited.

Sound Quality

Samsung put more energy in the sound quality this year with 60 watts of audio output, 20w from each speaker and 10w each from 2 subs. The effort pays off in less tinniness, and more full sound. Volume is plentiful. With a TV this nice looking you hate to have to add a bulky unattractive soundbar especially in a modern or minimalist setting, so the better speaker system is welcome.

Appearance and Design

Although Samsung calls the 9-series bezel-less, it does have a visible quarter inch bezel framing as usual. It’s super sleek and the silver stand and frame are very aesthetically pleasing. The non-curved KS9000 version has only 1.6” of depth. Some say the curved screen (KS9500) helps with side angle viewing quality. Others think the curved screen can be worse of in-room ambient light. We dont think it helps much, but the look is novel and somewhat more enveloping from front and center. If the curved screen appearance appeals to you then go for it. The price difference is around $200 more for the curved variety. The included One Connect box keeps your cables nice and tidy for the KS9500. It can also be upgraded in the future without having to replace the whole TV.

Value Rating 88/100

UN65KS8500 – $2999

UN55KS8500 – $1999

UN65KS8000 – $2799

UN55KS8000 – $1799

Prices have really come down nicely on the curved variety if that’s your taste. For a very small step down from the KS9000 and KS95000 you save a good chunk of change around $250 to $500 depending on the model. For one of the best LCD TVs on the market for 2016/2017 these prices look very reasonable for a nice living room TV.

Overall Rating 89/100

Quick Specs

  • Backlight: Edge Lit LED
  • Smart Functionality: Yes – Built in Wi-Fi
  • Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 USB
  • Native Refresh Rate 120Hz (240 Supreme Motion Rate)
  • HEVC for watching streamed 4K content from sources like Netflix® and Amazon Instant Video (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps)
  • Quad Core Processor
  • HDR 1000 (UHD Alliance)
  • 4K UHD Certified
  • Full Web Browser (of marginal utility)
  • Audio Output 60W 20W X 2 Speakers, 10W X 2 Subwoofers
  • Dimensions:
    • UN65KS8500 56.8″ x 32.7″ x 4.1″ Curved Screen
    • UN65KS8500 56.8″ x 35.7″ x 11.6″ with stand Curved Screen
    • UN55KS8500 48.2″ x 27.8″ x 3.5″ , TV Only/ 48.2″ x 30.6″ x 9.2″ with stand
    • UN65KS9000 56.8″ x 32.8″ x 1.8″ TV Only/ 56.8″ x 35.7″ x 11.6″ with stand
    • UN55KS9000 48.2″ x 28.0″ x 1.7″ TV Only/ 48.2″ x 30.5″ x 9.2″ with stand