Samsung UN55ES8000 Review

55" 1080p 3D LED HDTV with Google TV, Smart TV

by , Senior Editor

Picture Quality Rating: 9.3/10

Micro Dimming Ultimate

The UN55ES8000 includes Samsung's new Micro Dimming Ultimate Panel Package which is a feature to describe edge lit local dimming. This creates a finer more detailed picture by brightening areas of the screen with light. Overall the effects are tremendous and make a more colorful 3 dimensional image even from 2D programming. This is due to separating the picture into hundreds of parts and pieces and changing the amount of backlighting from the LEDs. UN55ES8000 local dimming technology also helps eliminate and reduce any "halo" effect that might have been there before as a result of the powerful LED lighting. What we found in testing, however is that this technology is best suited to a darker room environment. Actually, very dark as the feature tends to darken areas of the screen in such as way that dark shadow detail can be lost.

Color

Samsung ES8000 LED TVThis is Samsung's top of the line for 2012, the 55 inch UN55ES8000. Tons of new features include a cool new remote which includes a QWERTY keyboard and Google's new TV search function. 3D viewing is awesome with a smooth, vibrant picture void of any problems from past years - no flicker from the glasses, no crosstalk, no blurring etc. It's also got that very cool styling and super thin screen depth. We wish Samsung could inlude more than 1 or 2 pair of the active shutter 3D glasses. Samsung has been working hard on their Smart Hub Smart TV offering for 2012 with more Apps and full search. Brightness on the UN55ES8000 LED backlit LCD TV is extreme and so is contrast. We absolutely love the contrast and black level. Watch out for washing out your colors with too much Brightness. Keep this setting set to moderate.

Colors in this 55" LED Televisions are plenty bright but the backlighting from the edge lit LEDs can overwhelm color information and wash them out if you are not careful with the backlight setting. Certainly with 1080p broadcast programming they will be super vivid. This is a great time to test our calibration settings for this model or its predecessor (either should work). You will see a marked improvement in realism with these color calibrations.

Back Light

Generally, it's important to tone down the backlighting in the UN55ES8000 to around 70% capacity so that they dont overpower the colors and cause screen uniformity issues. Background light in scene images from the sun or other sources present an excellent contrast in the UN55ES8000 due to the great light throughput caused by the LED backlighting combined with Samsung's newer LCD panel overlays. This is also assisted by the clear coat screen.

Contrast

Samsung's UND8000 series from last year included some of the best contrast ratio levels we experienced all year. Depending on the sensitivity of the light meter, contrast for this TV will be at the very top range. This Samsung TV is also be a top performer in brightness levels. We measure peak brightness from a quick review at CES, the UN55ES8000 has just as strong a performance. In torch mode (peak brightness) whites measure over 100 footlamberts.

Samsung ES8000 LED TV Active 3D Glasses
Samsung's new 2012 active 3D glasses are light and comfortable

3D Viewing Quality

3D Viewing Quality has improved drastically on this years and last years Samsung offerings. Samsung uses active shutter glasses in it's 3D offerings and continues to espouse that technology. Samsung has one of the widest arrays of 3D glasses available with the introduction of the (SSG-3300GR) model 3D glasses. The new 3D glasses are light and comfortable. The ES8000's active 3D display has great depth, detail and none of the crosstalk and bottom edge blurring that it once had. I've also noticed a marked decrease in eye strain/fatigue due to watching 3D on this TV and others like it. The only negative we have recently noted is some glare from the inside lenses of the glasses from surrounding room lights. Other than turning off the lights, I have not figured out a way around this problem.

2D to 3D Conversion

This feature which we had almost written off in prior years surprised us on the upside in the D8000 series. It's a viable option for viewing your 2D content now and will certainly immerse you in the picture more. It's controllable via the small 3D button on the remote. One press of this button gives you the option to convert the material to 3D.

Features Rating: 9.1/10


Samsung ES8000 Series 3D LED TV
This shot shows the fine detail the ES8000 is capable of.

Appearance

The striking appearance of the Samsung UN55ES8000 is characterized by a "window" effect with a .2" bezel frame design which increases visible screen area without increasing the size of the overall TV dimensions. The depth is around .5" as well so super slim. These features are similar to the successful D8000 from 2012. The color of the barely noticeable frame is silver chrome. The accompanying metal stand with this TV is U-shaped and is matte finish on the tops while the edges are a shiny chrome. It will stand out as a modern design in any case and is designed to complement the TV.

Optional Mount: Samsung offers an optional wall mount to help keep the TV as tight as possible to the wall.

Smart TV

Samsung Smart TVWith an entire new set of services, Samsung's Smart TVs allow the family a rich variety of options for their home viewing pleasure. Not only can families enjoy their TV shows and Blu-Ray movies, but they can view personal photos, organize their to-do lists, and manage their exercise regimens—all through the TV. There's no worry of this innovative technology fading into obscurity, either; with a Smart Evolution feature, the TV uploads the newest features each year through a kit.

Samsung's line of Smart LED TVs, such as the UN55ES8000 LED, features dual-core processors that allow for multi-tasking. Now users can pull up multiple apps at a time without having to exit out of any of them. Searching for movies and apps, browsing the web, and chatting with friends and family becomes easier with the Smart TV's improved speed and versatility. Parents can easily monitor their kids' movie and TV experience—and children won't mind because Samsung offers plenty of kid-friendly entertainment. The Media Hub app, one of Samsung's most successful programs, will expand in 2012, allowing users to access multiple web pages and apps at a time in a clean, well-organized interface.

Samsung ES8000 Series 3D LED TV
The Smart TV, Smart Hub selection in the ES8000 is second to none, but loading Apps takes patience.

On the negative side, loading the Apps is slow as is toggling from App to App. Once the Apps are running preformance is fine.

Along with the other Smart TV features, you currently get Bing's search function Samsung's Social TV feature which allows you to see facebook activity, Twitter feeds and other social media platforms on a side bar. Here's a review of several of the included, mostly free Apps:

Mtv Music Meter - Lists of musician/bands trending on the Internet. Click on one and the video plays. Listening to Bon Iver gave me another opportunity to test the speakers on the ES8000 – not bad, good guitar rendition for TV speakers. There are also tweets, photos, and news options aside from the videos. Rating 4 out of 5.

Family Story - Samsung wants this to be a prominent App for you and even includes a dedicated button on the remote control for it. It basically allows you to input photos, and videos from Samsung tablets, smartphones to play on the TV. Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Fitness VOD App - Videos of workouts such as the “Sexy Chair Workout.” That one is pretty good, Great for dancers. There is a pretty wide assortment including light weights and yoga. But load times are painfully slow. Some of the Apps in the Fitness section are for sale, while some are free from Exercise TV. The instructions is pretty good. Rating 3.5 out of 5.

MLB.tv - Major League baseball. There is a premium account option to be able to view video recaps of games. Otherwise, you just get a menu with today's games, and standings.

Explore 3D - A selection of free Samsung licensed 3D content. There are many categories of 3D content here including, kids, sports, documentaries, music videos. It's a much better selection than other manufacturers. Rating 4 out of 5.

Smart Interaction

Perhaps the greatest and most unbelievable feature on this TV is the facial recognition and voice and hand control in the ES8000. "Control" may be a strong word to use for the feature, but you can certainly turn the TV on just by saying, "Hi TV." Also, waving your hand in front of the ES8000 while it's running will prompt it to display menu control choices near the bottom of the screen. The tab choices are transparent so it does not interfere too much with the content you are watching on-screen. Controlling the on screen pointer with your hand motion, going to the control option you want, then closing your hand will tell the TV to open that option. The facial recognition part of the equation allows the TV to know which settings to set the TV to when you arrive to watch it and turn it on. See that little bulge atop the TV. All this is enabled by the small built in front facing camera located there. Now, that I've explained what “Smart Interaction” is how well does it work? Well, not too well. In fact, after playing with the novelty for a while, you will likely not use it much except maybe to turn on the TV. It's slow and cumbersome in general. But we do give Samsung a lot of credit for trying something new.

WiFi

Built in Wifi is included in the ES8000 and allows for easy connection to the Internet to enable the Smart TV Internet TV options.


Samsung's web browser in the D8000 will search the entire Internet, but it is rather slow to use. Above, we search for our site.

Web Browser

A full web browser allows full access to the Internet, which is very useful for searching today's wide selection of online free television programming or gaming. Unfortunately, it is slow to use, even though the search results come through fast enough. The delay is mainly in using the keyboard with a 5-way controller. I liked the QWERTY option from last year better.

Value Rating: 8.7

At $2500 or so the UN55ES8000 is certainly in the top echelon of price/quality offerings. In fact, it has more features than any other TV out there save for maybe the LG. Samsung's own PN60E8000 plasma sells for $500 less with the same features except the striking appearance. However, the recent service records on Samsung's top plasma TVs has not been encouraging for plasma technology. LG's 55LM8600 is a direct competitor and almost the same price. Sony's KDL55HX850 is also an edge-lit direct competitor at a $200 discount. But neither of these have Smart Interaction – not that it is needed or beneficial. What they really do not have is the Samsung Smart TV suite.

Overall Rating: 9.1/10



Robert Wiley Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert

 

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