Samsung UE65HU8500 review

Samsung UE65HU8500 review

Samsung is hailing the launch of its 65-inch curved flagship 4K TV as nothing less than the dawn of a new era of TV. The Samsung UE65HU8500 is certainly remarkable, and not just because of its unconventional Pringle-shaped panel. The set also boasts an integrated HEVC decoder, making it also the first 4K panel to support Netflix Ultra HD. Colour us very excited. See The 7 best Smart TVs: what is the best Smart TV of 2014.

If this particular second-generation Ultra HD set doesn't quite fit the bill, it's also available as the 55-inch UE55HU8500 and 78-inch UE78HU8500. All three come packed with oodles of functionality, including the latest iterations of the brand's so-so gesture- and voice-control tech. See all digital home reviews.

Interestingly, the HU8500 adopts a modular design. As 4K standards are far from cast in stone, Samsung has coupled the screen to an external Smart Evolution One Connect tuner box. It's here that all sources connect, including aerial and twin satellite feeds.

Input options comprise four HDMI (with 2.0 support for high frame-rate 4K and MHL 3.0 for mobile devices), three USB (one up-to-date as USB 3.0), Ethernet, component video via an adaptor, optical digital audio output and CI slot.

The unit also features high-speed 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The Smart Evolution box connects to the panel using a single, thick umbilical. No separate power supply is required.

Samsung UE65HU8500 review

A pebble-shaped Bluetooth cursor remote is supplied alongside the standard IR zapper. It's very similar to LG's Magic Remote, and supposedly makes browsing easier, although the need to call up a virtual onscreen keyboard for general menu inspection is a bit of a faff. Using it is something of an acquired discipline.

Samsung has made some minor changes to its Smart portal for 2014, adding a casual games slate plus split-screen Multi-View feature. You can also do more with the twin tuners this year, including watch non-tuner content (streaming media, Blu-ray, etc) while recording two channels.

With an eye on the World Cup, the brand has also updated its Soccer preset, which now auto-records match highlights onto an external USB HDD, triggered by crowd noise.

Samsung UE65HU8500 review

Image quality, both with full-HD and 4K content, is at its best stunning. The HU8500 offers dynamic, punchy contrast and vibrant colour fidelity. While upscaling is arguably not quite as refined and convincing as that seen on Sony 4K screens, all 1080p content clearly benefits from the panel's lack of visible pixel structure. Images appear smooth and photographic.

Truimphantly, the HU8500 really comes into its own with 4K content. Currently, Netflix is streaming House of Cards Season 2 in Ultra HD, along with a selection of travelogues. You'll need a fast fibre broadband connection to enjoy them though, given it pours forth at 15.6 Mb/s.

After watching Kevin Spacey cavort around Capitol Hill in 2160p, regular hi-def looks positively blurry. The screen also play backs YouTube 4K content, but here compression artefacts are generally rife, even if high-detail clips can be impressive.

Any benefit that the curved screen brings is debatable though. Samsung maintains that the curvature creates a more panoramic, cinematic viewing experience. Which is true if you sit close (less than 2 m). However, there's also an obvious viewing sweet spot; sit off to the side and the screen geometry appears to contract.

Samsung UE65HU8500 review

Additionally, any onscreen EPG, be it the set's own Smart portal or the Planner on a Sky box just looks warped and wonky. The curved affectation should be considered a design and style novelty more than a performance benefit.

The set Active Shutter 3D support, with two pairs of glasses supplied, and while this suffers from mild crosstalk double imaging, dimensional imaging is bright and immersive.

Motion handling is potentially excellent, provided you pick the right interpolation setting. Our preferred mix is the Motion Plus Custom mode with Blur reduction set to between 8-10, and Judder Reduction set to zero.

Audio performance is good, plumped by a welcome mid-range presence, however there's not an over abundance of volume.

Samsung UE65HU8500: Specs

  • 65-inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • 2x Freeview HD, 2x Freesat tuner
  • 7-day EPG
  • stereo speakers with 2 x 10W amplifier
  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x SCART, 1 x component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi built-in/Wi-Fi Direct
  • screen mirroring
  • 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
  • HEVC decoder
  • 84W specified power consumption
  • 234W measured power consumption (100 percent red field)
  • 1451 x 848 x 111 mm (whd, without stand)
  • 26.8 kg 
  • 65-inch LCD TV
  • 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • 2x Freeview HD, 2x Freesat tuner
  • 7-day EPG
  • stereo speakers with 2 x 10W amplifier
  • 4 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x SCART, 1 x component (YPbPr)/composite
  • stereo phono audio input
  • digital optical audio output
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • 10/100 ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi built-in/Wi-Fi Direct
  • screen mirroring
  • 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.0
  • HEVC decoder
  • 84W specified power consumption
  • 234W measured power consumption (100 percent red field)
  • 1451 x 848 x 111 mm (whd, without stand)
  • 26.8 kg 

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the HU8500 can be considered a head-turner of a TV. Although we are not entirely convinced by the value of the curve, we will concede it looks pretty cool. Picture performance is excellent, particularly with native 4K content streamed via Netflix. Once you've enjoyed UHD it's difficult to go back.