Is Samsung's 55inch 9000 series the best LCD TV ever?
Sitting at the top of Samsung’s 2010 TV range, the 3D ready 9000 Series, the UE55C9000 has had us salivating since its unveiling at the January CES. With its wafer-thin design and aluminium chassis, just 33.9mm thin, it’s clearly a class above its Samsung UE46C7000 sibling, and an altogether flashier affair than the Panasonic P50VT20.
The Edge-lit LED TV even comes with a touch-screen remote control that begs you to reconsider the role of humble zapper.
Samsung 9000 Series: Build quality
Build quality is exquisite. Almost impossibly slim, yet substantially well-made, the set is guaranteed to turn heads. But there is a price to be paid for its stunning design. Too thin to host connection ports, all inputs (plus the TV’s sound system) are consigned to the pedestal stand. The TV comes with a selection of adaptors, which come with pinch-locks to secure them into place and fitting them is a fiddly job. At the side of the stand are USB ports, one for a supplied Wi-Fi dongle to take the set online and/or to connect the fancy remote for additional functionality.
The feature specification is generous. Like all of Samsung’s upmarket 2010 tellies, the set is network enabled and can pull content from any UPnP/DNLA devices, from PCs to NAS boxes and USB drives. You can also poke around Samsung’s Internet@TV portal, where you’ll get access to YouTube, Facebook, LoveFilm and a bunch of simple games. Samsung’s App store promises additional goodies over the months to come.
The user interface is smart and graphical. The main EPG guide for the Freeview HD tuner is dramatically better than the listings GUI offered by the Panasonic P50VT20, which is cramped and carries intrusive advertising.
Samsung 9000 Series: 3D picture quality
All of Samsung 3D sets convert 2D-to-3D on the fly, which theoretically means no shortage of content to watch with your 3D spex. However, the conversion results are unpredictable. The best bet is to use HD source material, ideally originally shot for 3D (such as Avatar). Naturally real 3D looks way better!
We auditioned the set with an assortment of 3D Blu-ray content and test footage from Sky 3D. Image depth and smoothness is eye-poppingly good, although it’s not difficult to spot crosstalk effects (this is where a double image is created when visual information in the left/right frames overlaps). Samsung’s SSG-2100AB 3D glasses are reasonably easy to wear, although prescription spectacle wearers may find face-space a bit tight.
Samsung 9000 Series: 2D picture quality and audio
2D image quality is often startling. The extreme sharpness of the Full HD picture is astounding. Black levels are good and hues vibrant. There’s some loss of detail during motion, but overall picture quality for both SD and HD sources is ruthlessly entertaining.
The screen’s sonic performance is a surprise. The 2 x 15w front-facing speakers deliver a well-rounded stereo spread.
Samsung 9000 Series Verdict:
Overall, the UE55C9000 is triumph of design and technology and arguably the best LED LCD Samsung has ever produced. Design and performance place it at the highest-end of the LED LCD market. And while its 3D performance isn’t as good as that of its Panasonic rival, the tale of the tape between the two models is far closer than you might imagine. But for the £7000 price tag - significantly more than its closest rivals - this could have been a five star product. But for most people it will be far too expensive, especially when you consider you can buy two of Samsung's excellent 8000 series for the same money.
Then again, if money is no object and you want a TV that screams style louder than any other model on the market, your front room will thank you for adorning it with Samsung's flagship model.
The Samsung 9000 Series is out June 14th, find out more from Samsung