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Samsung UN85HU8550

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Product Description

I had previously evaluated the 65" version of this display in a mini comparison at Cleveland AV, and the HU8550 gave a very strong showing. Fortunately, today another HU8550 came my way and helped answer questions about differing performance among screen sizes of the same model. The 85" HU8550 is suitably sleek and attractive, with the very slim bezel nicely complimenting the large screen.

Before Calibration:

The most accurate picture mode for the HU8550 is Movie. However, Samsung does not ship it in Movie mode; instead, you are treated to the notoriously bad but Energy Star friendly Standard mode. Upon switching to Movie, the HU8550's picture became very natural, with just slightly too ruddy skin tones but impressive punch and brightness. Shadow detail, and dark objects in general, was strong, though slightly emphasized and off color. However, detail and sharpness did not wow me; I got the impression that some images were not as sharp as they could be. Despite this, I was very impressed that the 85HU8550 did not exhibit the same ugly greenish tinge in untouched Movie mode that the 65" version did; colors looked much more natural than I normally see before calibration. The impressive color along with pleasing brightness and punch gave the HU8550 one of the best pre-calibration images I've ever seen.


I was pleasantly surprised to see that the HU8550's 10 point white balance adjustment's tracking was not heavily dependant on the contrast setting; any setting above 60 exhibited minimal to no displacement of the 10 point adjustments. In addition, the 10 point adjustments are very fine and work well, allowing precise control when used with the proper test equipment.

I made several contrast ratio measurements, with the Smart LED zone dimming at various settings and using different combinations of black, white, and gray. The worst case scenario CR with Smart LED on standard was 3371:1, with black at .0174 and white at 58.7. This was measured with a thick full white border around a black center. This is similar to a modified ANSI CR measurement, and surprisingly is about 50% better than what I measured on the 65" using the same method. With a 25% APL 5% size window pattern, the CR improved to 8412:1 (.0055/46.4 fL), and with 18% APL windows it measured 12105:1 (.0038/46 fL). Full on/off CR measurements were unmeasurable, since the screen became totally dark with a black field. Turning smart LED to high did not change the CR numbers significantly. With smart LED off, CR measured 3044:1 (.0193/58.7 fL). The Smart LED did not crush white on small bright objects, as it does on the HU9000.

The HU8850 has a full, well behaved CMS adjustment. The red CMS control needed careful adjustment to ensure skin tones were not too ruddy, most likely due to the HU8550's very slight tendency for red to be oversaturated at pale pink shades and undersaturated with full puriity reds. This characteristic is common among the latest Samsungs and can be seen in the attached calibration report. Because of this, the HU8550's CMS should not be calibrated solely with normal full saturation colors.

Like most LED LCDs, the HU8550 is very sensitive to viewing angle. In fact, sitting 8 feet away from the 85" screen put me off axis enough to each side of the screen that slight compromises in color, shadow detail, and contrast were visible at the sides in comparison to the center of the screen.

As with other 4K Samsung displays, single pixel wide horizontal lines in a 1080 resolution pattern were a little softened, and some 1080P to 4K upscaling artifacts were visible in the opening chapter of The Dark Knight in the panning buildings. Running the signal through a Pioneer SC-77 receiver and having the Pioneer upscale to 4K eliminated the softness in the resolution pattern and slightly reduced the artifacts. After seeing the improvement, I let the SC-77 upscale to 4K for the remainder of the evaluation.

Black uniformity with Smart LED off was very good, with just a slight cloud visible at the extreme lower left corner. Gray uniformity was excellent, provided viewing distance was sufficient. At close viewing distances, a 5% gray field looked brighter around the edges and sides due to the viewing angle.

Turning Smart LED on dramatically increased perceived contrast in dark movie scenes, though 2.40:1 movies showed some black bar fluctuation. Overall, I felt the HU8550's zone dimming worked remarkably well.

After Calibration:

I was impressed by the HU8550's excellent contrast, even in a room with moderate ambient light. It's screen, though glossy, does an excellent job of resisting washout in bright rooms, and the Smart LED took a panel with an already respectable contrast ratio and brought it to new heights. However, as with most LED dimming circuits, the side effect of fluctuating blacks may bother some viewers. I was able to look past it easily, though I do know some viewers who most likely would not be able to.

The HU8550's color reproduction was excellent, among the best in the industry. The only color flaws were very minor or could be alleviated with careful calibration. In addition, depth was impressive, and detail and resolution did not disappoint. Thankfully, the HU8550 was free from the infamous "effects", with no Dirty Screen Effect or Soap Opera Effect to detract from the image.

Shadow detail was very good, but highly dependent on viewing angle and distance. From a viewing position 8 feet away and about 1/5 of the way up from screen bottom, shadow detail was darker in the center of the screen than at the sides and top.

Compared to other large LED sets I've done from Sharp and Vizio, the HU8550 comes out on top in color naturalness and pop. For those viewers who like things over the top, it can get blazingly bright while retaining it's accuracy. It's a great choice for enthusiasts who want a near movie theater experience with the versatility to look good in any room and any situation.


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