Curved is still the watchword for Samsung’s 2016 TV line-up, even if you can get a KS8000 flat version of this, the flagship edge-lit SUHD TV featuring a shopping list of desirable technologies including Quantum Dot tech for a wider colour gamut (basically delivering more colours than conventional Ultra HD TVs), HDR (High Dynamic Range able to reach 1,000 nits of peak brightness) and a 10-bit panel.
We got up close and personal with the the 55-inch UE55KS9000, though there’s also a 65-inch variant, the UE65KS9000. The 55-inch SUHD TV sits at the sweet spot in terms of screen size and is an awesome platform for 4K content. We looked at it in tandem with Samsung’s UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player and we checked out some superb content on disc including The Martian, Salt, Hancock and, er, Smurfs 2. HDR is part of the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec, so it’s getting easier to access content.
There’s a lot to admire about the design and we loved spending time with it. There’s such a small bezel - around 5mm around the top and sides - flanked with silver trim that it’s barely noticeable. The bottom of the TV houses the speakers and it’s only around 20mm thick. Of course, the sound isn’t top drawer, but Pointless will sound just fine.
There’s a new Smart Controller remote for 2016 which eschews motion control. Samsung’s Smart Hub TV software will automatically ensure the remote works with your other devices, too (or you can use Samsung’s Smart View app for your phone).
The Smart TV platform has had a spruce-up this year and there’s now a more sensible system of launching apps and other features along the bottom of the screen. Selecting something from the launcher opens a second layer of options above. If you don’t have a separate set-top box from the likes of BT, TalkTalk, Virgin or Sky, there’s support for all the streaming services you’d expect.
There are twin Freeview HD and Freesat tuners and four HDMI ports (HDCP 2.2) via Samsung’s One Connect Mini box - designed so there’s only ‘one’ connection into the TV. The box doesn’t have connectors for some wired connectivity options like Ethernet and USB (although the TV naturally has Wi-Fi, anyway).
These connections are hidden behind a vanity panel, however, and it’s perfectly possible to stick to just having two connectors in the back of the TV - power and the One Connect cable. However, the One Connect cable isn't very long so if you're wall-mounting you will need to get hold of a longer version.
As you can see here, the rear panel is designed to be as clean as possible (and it works). The panel (also below) is in the bottom left.
The One Connect Mini box also boasts two USB 2.0 ports of its own, the aerial connectors and optical digital out. One feature that is missing from Samsung’s 2016 TVs is 3D. Yes, the technology that people just didn’t care about has finally departed. 3D’s demise - due in no small part to practicality and lack of content - remains a warning to all. Unless technologies are easy-to-adopt, consumers just don’t care.
Picture quality is absolutely superb - blacks are very black (especially if we set Local Dimming to low), while there was no noticeable evidence of any poor light distribution (the LEDs are along the bottom of the panel). HDR makes natural scenes look superb.
Stepping down from 4K, Full HD images were impressive while SD pictures also looked surprisingly OK. At least it is possible to watch them without feeling annoyed that you’re being forced into a low-def corner, which is somewhat of a bonus.
The only genuine negative we have around this TV is the stand. The bottom bit is fine; good quality and sturdy, but where the main part of the single stem connects to the back of the TV is a little, well, flimsy. The TV’s rear panel isn’t exactly the most rigid thing we’ve ever seen and we found the stand didn’t fit that well. Indeed, when we dismantled the thing after our review we thought we were going to cause some serious damage. Of course, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll dismantle yours, but still….
Despite our little niggle with the stand this is one sweet TV. The whole experience is refined, and the picture is superb in every respect. The addition of HDR makes the package even more compelling. It’s hard not to be impressed by this premium TV that’s one of the very best around.
Now why not check out our guide to the best Ultra HD Blu-ray discs