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Samsung UN65HU8550

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Product Description

While unpacking the UN65HU8550, Cleveland Plasma/Cleveland AV remarked how lightweight and maneuverable today's 65" TVs were. Not only have the bezels and depth shrunk, but with the latest smart features and 4K resolution, overall sophistication has taken giant leaps forward as well.

The 8550's screen, though very glossy and susceptible to sharp reflections, soaks up ambient light very well, maintaining it's contrast in typical living room lighting. As with most other LED LCDs, viewing angle is quite sensitive; moving a couple feet off to the side can degrade the image slightly, so plan your room layout for an optimal "sweet spot."

With default sound settings, some may find the 8550's built in speakers adequate for casual TV viewing; but their compressed, soft sound accompanied by spitty sibilants and resonances with some music made the 8550 seem like a great candidate for an external surround system.

The picture using straight out of the box settings also seemed to be crying out for help, as etched detail in still images became artificially glazed over during motion, and skin tones appeared sunburnt. Switching to the more accurate Movie picture mode (measurements shown in "Before Calibration" column) gave a bright, smooth picture with overly fluid pans that could be enjoyable if it were not for the strong earthy toned haze that seemed to settle over the image. Selecting the Warm 1 white balance in the picture options can help alleviate that effect. For a quick path to a good picture while waiting for a real calibration, I'd select Movie mode, change to Warm 1, and adjust the motion settings.

Calibration:

The 8850 has a very complete, well engineered suite of calibration adjustments including a 10 point gamma and white balance control to adjust the ratio of Red, Green, and Blue at 10 different brightness increments; a 2 point white balance to get things close before fine tuning with the 10 point; and a CMS adjustment, which allows for precise color calibration. This was the first Samsung model I've seen that already had the CMS numbers at something other than 50 or 0 in untouched Movie mode, but they still needed adjustment just as with any other display. After calibration, the resulting gamma, grayscale, and color accuracy was more than just impressive; it was truly outstanding in every way with the exception of 5% gray, which leaned just a bit toward blue.

My worst case scenario contrast measurement is intended to be a torture test for LED dimming, with the black measurement taken with a 100% white surround along the edges of the picture and a large video black area in the middle occupying 50% of the screen area. With this measurement, the 8550's contrast ratio was 2,168:1. With the LED zone dimming on, that will be the minimum contrast ratio seen, with the effective contrast being higher but very program dependant.

My Jeti spectro synced with the 8550 at just under 120 Hz with both 1080P/60 and 1080P/24 HDMI scan rates.

Screen uniformity with video black was excellent, and with dark gray fields it was acceptable with a thin bright strip along the bottom and slightly brighter sides. With white it was very good, with just the slightly brighter sides visible.

Lip sync was just fine in both 2D and simulated 3D mode, getting the HDMI signal from a Blu Ray player going through an HDMI distribution amp. One time when viewing a normal HD Netflix program, lipsync was obviously off, but the next day viewing Breaking Bad in 4K it was back to normal.

The 8550 had excellent resolution at 480i/p and 720P, but vertical resolution was surprisingly just a bit soft with all 1080 scan rates via HDMI. The single pixel horizontal lines were visible, but they were not as clear or bright as 2 pixel wide horizontal lines or 1 pixel vertical lines. Chroma resolution was strong with 1080P/24 in either YCbCr or RGB HDMI color space.

I measured the 8550's off axis behavior by taking a simplified measurement run directly on axis, and then repeating it at approximately 45 degrees off axis. The off axis angle was judged by eye, so it should not be considered a scientific test; rather, just an indication of what changes and in what direction. The results can be seen in the "off axis" attachment.

Evaluation:

Being an edge lit LED LCD, I expected some of the normal pitfalls of that technology; but thankfully the 8550 was probably the most well behaved edge lit set I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I could tell Samsung had spent considerable effort fine tuning the zone dimming, which was as subtle as could be expected without sacrificing effectiveness. In addition, there was no hint of the Dirty Screen Effect, so the 8550 had not only graceful contrast enhancement from zone dimming but a remarkably clean image, even with panning shots.

The 8550 also excelled in color accuracy and skin tones, which looked natural with appropriate richness. Motion was good, as was shadow detail with Blu Ray material. The image was clean and natural, with moderately good contrast in dark scenes.

Allowing that streaming content can be variable according to the connection and source, there were times when watching the 4K stream of Breaking Bad where it seemed to have more black crush and graininess than on neighboring sets from Sony and LG. However, other streaming HD content, like Law & Order CI, was beautiful.

The 8550 proved to be an excellent example of it's chosen technology, showing how edge lit zone dimming should be done. The contrast, while not as strong as that of a full array local dimming set or the best plasmas, was satisfying; and I was drawn to it's color accuracy.

Pros:
rich, accurate colors
well behaved backlight
clean and natural image


Cons:
edge lit technology still can't match the contrast of FALD LEDs or the better plasmas.

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