Samsung NU8500 TV Review
4K, PREMIUM UHD, HDR, Curved Screen
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
Samsung is really placing a lot more emphasis on the QLED line in 2018. In my opinion the QLED term is trying to blur the lines between an OLED TV and an Samsung LED TV. Nevertheless, what we end up with in the NU line of Samsungs for 2018/2019 is a lot less hype and advertising and some really great picture technology at a value price! The QLED models have a wider color gamut for HDR viewing, and some other advantages like better local dimming and better glare reduction filters in the panel. Other than that the NU8500 has very similar performance.
This year’s NU8500 series TVs from Samsung are receiving another 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. The new ones for this years models are Dynamic Crystal Color, HDR 10+, True HDR 4K Gaming, with a UHD Remastering Engine. All these names basically describe the chip sets used to sharpen color, contrast, and image quality. They provide another improvement to last year's MU model in picture quality, gaming, and fast action content.
- 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 version look great in black with clean cable solution
- Smart “Bixby” remote voice function works easily
- Black screen uniformity, no variations in corners
- Side angle viewing angle color saturation loss
- AutoMotion Plus really highlights unnatural effects to 2D shows and movies
- Local Dimming not effective
- Slight Screen Glare
- Smart Hub system works well, though it's not very friendly with outside brand streaming devices
- Sound Quality lacks lustre
Picture Quality Rating: 89/100
This shot demonstrates amazing clarity of detail and contrast.
Brightness/Light Flow through
Though there are inherent weaknesses with Edge-Lit LED lighting, Samsung compensates for some of this with good picture technology. Light flow through is one of the best characteristics of Samsung LED TVs and this is also the case with the NU8500. You will notice this standout feature when viewing onscreen scenes with natural light coming into rooms. However, the brightness level is not as bright as some competitors. The 8-Series passed the test on the new UHD Alliance brightness standard of at least 1000 nits last year and again this year.
Local Dimming (Precision Black) Performance
Samsung's term for the (“local”) dimming feature in the 8-series is Precision Black. Local dimming can offer 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 NU8500 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. In the NU8500, it at times darkens the screen a lot, especially on the higher settings. Unfortunately, the edge lit LED backlight is a major hindrance to good local dimming. 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 NU8500) to my eyes only marginally impacts contrast in the picture and is not much of an improvement. I recommend tuning the setting to low for this feature.
HDR Compatible – HDR 10+
The big focus TV feature for 2018/2019 is again 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. The NU8500 tested average with HDR. It does not have the widest color gamut and not as wide as the NU9000 and Q7F from Samsung this year. But it gets a passable “B” performance with HDR content. If you have an older LED TV though, this TV will blow you away.
Side Angle Viewing
From off center the NU8500 has the normal problems associated with LED backlit, LCD TVs. Black levels fade as does color saturation. This is one of the manor differences with the QLED TVs this year. Samsung really concentrated efforts to improve the QLED lines side angle viewing. 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 excellent black levels during straight on viewing. This is the tradeoff between a VA panel (the NU8500) and an IPS panel (many LGs).
Digital Clean View Feature/Upscaling HD and Standard Def Content
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 NU8500's new UHD remastering engine does a phenomenal job upscaling standard definition and lower resolution content. It 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 the NU8500 as good as any TV we have tested in this area. 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. Digital Clean View is a feature that works well to clean up image edges and create a sharper looking picture from poorer resolution content source. You can turn the feature off for good HD or 4K content.
The NU8000 is in the Premium UHD line
Alright, here are the particulars on what makes a “Premium UHD TV”. 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 (HDR), more Crayolas in the box. Last, all Premium UHD 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 Premium UHD TV. Premium UHD is all about those upgraded picture quality features, especially the wider color gamut for HDR, better black levels and uniformity, and the local dimming, which unfortunately does not work well.
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 excellent at around 20ms when the TV is in Game Mode. The NU8500 does a great job with fast motion images on screen. Good for sports and gaming and also has no image retention issues for gamers.
Picture Calibration and Settings
The Samsung NU8500 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 input 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.
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: 89/100
Tizen Operating System Smart TV
The Tizen operating system is very good. It's fast and well laid out for easy navigation.
This Samsung developed system is included only on Premium UHDs and up 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 One Remote Control is light, and easy to operate whizzing around the Tizen Smart Hub menu system. The new voice command feature called Bixby on the remote works well for searches.Samsung Smart Things App
Samsung wants space on your smart phone just like everyone else. The Smart Things App allows the user to control devices all over the house that also have smart capability. Of course, it works best with Samsung Smart fridges, washing machines, cameras, etc. For those that want the connected home, it's appealing.
One complaint is that the Samsung Smart Hub has glitchy handshake issues with some outside devices like Roku and Fire TV. When it does, it often requires reconnecting which is a pain. So while the Samsung Smart Hub system works well, it's not very friendly with outside brand devices.
Speakers have total 40 watts of audio output, 10w from each speaker and 10w each from 2 subs. In a 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. Sound Quality is very average, lacking lustre.
Appearance and Design
The Samsung 8-series is very attractive and I like the stand better than last year's branch style stand feet. There is also a nice clutter free cable routing solution in a stand leg. The black color stand and frame I like a lot – beautiful look. Dont forget the increased depth from the curved sreen. The 65NU8500 is 4.4” in depth. The included One Connect box also 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
Value Rating: 94/100
UN65MU8500 - $1699
UN55MU8500 - $1099
Bottom line, if If your coming from an older or cheaper 4k tv you will see a difference with the Dynamic Crystal Color and the HDR Plus technologies, while getting a great price. It's hard to beat the NU lineup for value. The 55” model price is especially attractive. The TV has great features and picture quality for a very reasonable price. We are raising the value rating to a 90 for this year's 8 series. If you are more inclined toward the curved screen look, this is a great option in a field become more scarce (curved screen that is).
Overall Rating: 90/100
- Backlight: Edge Lit LED
- Smart Functionality: Yes - Built in Wi-Fi
- Inputs: 4 HDMI, 2 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)
- Quad Core Processor
- HDR 1000 (UHD Alliance)
- 4K UHD Certified
- Full Web Browser (of marginal utility)
- Audio Output 40W 20W X 2 Speakers,
- Smart Remote
- Tizen Smart Operating System
- Dimensions: 55” Size
- 48.2 x 28" x 3.7" " without stand
- 48.2" x 31" x 13.3" with stand
- Dimensions: 65” Size
- 56.8" x 32.8" x 4.4" without stand
- 56.8 x 35.9" x 14.9" with stand
|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