Samsung UN55JS8500 Review
55 INCH 4K SUHD 3D LED TV
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
This more affordable 4K LED backlit offering from Samsung has some excellent features. The difference between the JS9000 series is that the screen is curved on the JS9000 and flat on the JS8500. The JS9500 has higher Clear Motion Rate, full array LED backlighting, higher LED peak brightness, a Webcam, and a Chamfered design framing. Whether you really believe in 4K UHD or not, the best picture quality features are now only found on 4K TVs.
- Contrast, Color, Black Levels are excellent for an LED TVStrong LED edge lighting produces top notch light flow-through for more three-dimensional images images
- 4K Up scaling and conversion from HD signals
- Game Mode does a great job cutting input lag
- Octa-Core core processor runs Smart TV operation better
- Tizen Operating system is an improvement, works faster
- Appearance/Design is very impressive
- Smart touch remote now has point and click functionality
- Side angle viewing for 2D content (degrades at 25 degrees)
- Even worse side angle viewing for 3D content
- AutoMotion Plus really causes elimination of too much natural background blur (but at least it can be turned off)
- Smart Touch Remote lacks many button functions and is not user friendly
Picture Quality Rating: 92/100
Color and contrast look wonderful on the JS8500.
Strong LED Lighting
Though there are inherent weaknesses with Edge-Lit LED lighting, Samsung has the brightest LEDs in the market. The powerful LEDs really give the JS8500 a step up in terms of black levels and especially peak whites and light flow through colors. While it does not compare to the top tier full array backlight options from Samsung or Sony, it's all you probably will need. Light flow through is the most exceptional aspect of Samsung's LED TVs and you will see this standout feauture when viewing onscreen scenes with natual light coming into rooms. Contrast is also very strong with these SUHD Samsung TVs. Read more about that and color below in the Nano Crystal section.
Samsung's new term for edge lit dimming is UHD Dimming a replacement for 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. It's 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 JS8500 to my eyes only marginally impacts color and contrast in the picture.
Clean lines seen in this shot demonstrate the clarity of detail the display is capable of
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 JS8500 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 differences from the very top end TVs.
What Makes an UHD TV an SUHD TV?
For 2015 and 2016 Samsung has a new moniker for it's 4K TVs. Why be plain when you can spice things up a bit? It's SUHD! And the “S” stands for Super. 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 Nano Crystal Technology which is a competing technology to Quantum Dot technology used by some of the other OEMs.
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.
Nano Crystal Technology is at the heart of improvements in color for the JS8500. All SUHD models by Samsung for 2015 and 2016 enjoy this new technology. This is Samsung's version of Quantum Dot technology. The Nano crystal layer (called the QDEF layer) is a stack of ultra thin film located between the LCDs (liquid crystals) or LEDs 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 Nano Crystal Diffuser Film. Think of the Nano Cystal layer as a color converter which assists the LCDs in creating more colors. Nano Crystal and Quantum Dot technology are thought of as competing technologies with OLEDs (organic light emitting diodes) which carry their own color to the surface of the panel.
We were impressed with the color rendition provided by the Nano crystal layer
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%.
Features Rating: 87/100
Tizen Operating Smart TV
Here is the new Tizen Operating system. All apps are laid out clearly and easily accessed
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 lickety split 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. Also, it does not include Spotify nor is there any way to load it.
The included black touchpad Remote Control is light, and easy to operate whizzing around the Tizen Smart Hub menu system.
This year's touch remote has plenty of surface for swiping your thumb to move the cursor
3D TV Compatible
3D looks amazing with incredible depth and little crosstalk on the JS8500. A quick look at Avatar in 3D had me glued to my seat. The picture settings automatically change when switching to 3D viewing, but just leave it in the preset juiced 3D picture settings as this is the best way to watch it. The JS8500 comes with 1 pair of 3D glasses at the ready. The 3D on a 4K (oh excuse me, SUHD) TV is excellent. It's one of the only TVs in the market that includes 3D functionality. It seems chintzy to force people to purchase glasses (by including just one pair). For those needing extra glasses, the SSG-5150GB are compatible and sell for around $18 – not too bad.
Samsung includes their fastest highest grade processor with the JS9000. The faster processor helps deliver better download and selection loading speeds in the Apps house.
As you might imagine from such a thin TV (with little housing for inbuilt speakers), the audio quality is not great. There are some enhancements that attempt to keep the speakers from sounding tinny and hollow, but a sound bar might be needed if you are sensitive to low quality audio or want a better sound.
Appearance and Design
The brushed silver frame of around a quarter of an inch is very attractive. The accompanying T-shaped stand is also brushed silver and has a modern touch. In order to keep the super slim 1.2” depth, the TV ships with a One Connect Mini box which is your input connection for HDMI and USB inputs. For me, 2” or even 2.5” is fine depth-wise on a TV. I dont need 1”. I would rather have more depth and better speakers. But the external box does somewhat simplify connection if you have multiple inputs with longer runs and are wall mounting the TV.
Value Rating: 84/100
For $1995 the 55JS8500 is a feature packed very solid performing 4K UHD TV. You may not like the sound quality, upconversion from poorer low res content, or the remote functions, but the TV has great picture quality from the ultra clear pro panel with enhanced color and contrast. It's not as good as the JS9500 picture but this TV sells for a big discount. Best competition for this model is the high end Sony's like the XBR55X900C.
- Backlight: LED
- Smart Functionality: Yes - Built in Wi-Fi
- Dimensions TV w/ stand: 49.1"W x 30"H x 9.1"D
- TV Only: 49.1" x 28.1" x 1.2"
- Inputs: 4 HDMI, 3 USB
- Native Refresh Rate 120Hz (240 Motion Rate)
- HEVC for watching streamed 4K content from sources like Netflix® and Amazon Instant Video (requires Internet speed of at least 20Mbps)
- DIRECTV 4K Ready — DIRECTV subscribers with the Genie Whole-Home HD DVR can enjoy 4K service and full DVR features without an additional receiver (available soon)
Overall Rating: 88/100
|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|