Samsung F8000 Series information: This review is based on our hands-on experience with the 55-inch UN55F8000 TV. However, our observations also apply to the 46-inch UN46F8000, 60-inch UN60F8000, 65-inch UN65F8000 and the 75-inch UN75F8000. According to Samsung, the five sets differ only in dimension and weight and offer identical features and performance.
As LED TVs go, Samsung’s F8000 is one of the best. If your heart is set on LED and you’re wondering if you should pull the trigger on one of the five sizes available (46 – 75-inches) in this series, let us save you some time and suggest now that you go for it. You will not be displeased. This is an excellent television. If, however, this TV is on your short list and you want to know how it stacks up, or if you’re just wondering what it’s like to live with this TV day to day, read on. We’ve got all the vital details below.Consumers on the hunt for the thinnest, brightest, smartest, 3D-iest television available will invariably run into Samsung’s top-of-the-line F8000 series. While organic LED (OLED) televisions best LED-based LCD TVs in almost every measurable way, they remain prohibitively expensive, making F8000 the next best thing (if thin, bezel free, ultra-light TVs are your bag – plasma is still the most affordable technology for the best picture performance.)
Out of the box
Once you pull the F8000 from its box and pry away its coffin of protective foam, it slaps you in the face (in the best possible way, of course) with how beautiful it is. Its 0.2-inch bezel disappears into the panel, and its profile is thin in much the same way a communion wafer is thin, only this TV is much more … fulfilling.
We received a 55-inch model for this review, which weighs a waifish 37.1 pounds without its stand attached; bump that up to 40.3 pounds with the stand. At its deepest points, the F8000 measures 1.4 inches, but the majority of the TV is just 5/8-inch thick. It is that thinness which seemed to grab the attention of onlookers who saw the TV in our testing room and routinely commented on its conspicuous lack of girth.
Samsung’s TV stand design for this series is one of our favorites from an aesthetic point of view. Looking at the TV straight on, all you see are two arched chrome feet peeking out from the extreme left and right of the panel. The rest of the stand (which is particularly stable) mostly hides from sight in a continuing arch behind the TV. Our only gripe with this stand is that it spans nearly the full width of the TV. Those considering a sound console as an alternative to a sound bar will find that the stand exceeds the width of most of those products. We were unable to test the AudioXperts 4TV along with our 55-inch model for that reason.
Otherwise, we do like the way this TV sits down low. And it doesn’t hurt that Samsung’s illuminated logo is extremely small and can be turned off, making it all but invisible. All things considered, this is the most beautifully-designed TV we’ve ever tested.
In the box with the television, we found four pair of Samsung’s active 3D spectacles packaged in their own box, a power cable, Samsung’s smart touch remote control, batteries, some breakout cables for legacy connections, and a user manual. An online version of the manual is also available.
As is often the case with top-of-the-line televisions, going through each and every feature in a review in impractical. With that in mind, here are some of the highlights. If you just want to know about how well the F8000’s picture quality fared, skip ahead to the next section.
Like Samsung’s spectacular F8500 plasma, the F8000 LED TVs feature Samsung’s latest Smart Hub smart TV interface, which we consider to be one of the best available. The interface is broken down into five sections, including On TV, Movies and TV shows, Apps, Photos Videos and Music, and Social.
All things considered, this is the most beautifully-designed TV we’ve ever tested.
One of the most notable points of Samsung’s interface is its ability to integrate your cable or satellite service and control the associated set-top box. Once you tell the TV what service you have and in what area, the TV will not only control your cable or satellite box, but it will also display programming options on the screen using a graphical interface superior to that of most cable/sat platforms. Further, Samsung’s “S recommendation” software clams to learn your viewing preferences and adjust the content suggestions it makes accordingly. It’s a stellar idea, however since the software doesn’t yet take individual programming packages into account, it may recommend shows you can’t watch. If you don’t get the SyFy channel, for instance, but you often watch science fiction shows, you’re likely to get a lot of recommendations you can’t take advantage of. Our other gripe with this system is that we find controlling the cable/satellite box’s more advanced functions – DVR and VOD functions, for example – to be more complicated using Samsung’s trackpad style remote and associated on-screen virtual remote than just picking up the service provider’s clicker and operating that way.
Speaking of the remote, we have yet to really warm up to Samsung’s trackpad oriented approach. Getting used to the swiping and clicking wasn’t a problem, but we never did get used to the lack of command buttons. Samsung places a virtual remote on-screen for controlling other devices or allowing access to more advanced functions, but it is here that the swiping and clicking got tiresome. By comparison, LG’s Magic motion remote is a point and click affair, which we prefer, though only slightly. You may disagree, though. We suggest giving it a test run at a retailer first if you can.
Going back to the Smart Hub, we appreciate Samsung’s wide selection of VOD apps, and we found sharing content from our mobile devices to be quick and easy. We had less luck, however, with playing some network content back through our Plex media server, which is DLNA compliant. Access to our stored TV shows and movies through Plex was sluggish, and sometimes we were unable to connect at all. This was only moderately bothersome, since we prefer using a set-top box like Roku or Apple TV for that sort of thing. If, however, you intend to use the Smart TV as your sole method of accessing stored content on a local server, be aware that some media server applications may not work seamlessly. We didn’t have any trouble accessing media stored on local computers by navigating directly to the computer’s shared media folders, though. It’s all in the set-up type, apparently.
Navigating this TV’s menus is a pleasure. The use of a quad-core processor here makes executing commands and navigating menus super-quick. We never found ourselves waiting for the TV to catch up with our remote commands. The experience was always snappy.
Now let’s address the TV’s more flashy features, including gesture control and voice commands. To be blunt, we have no use for the gesture control feature. It’s fun to play with at first, but on a practical level it just doesn’t make sense to us yet. As for voice command: Were it not for the fact that it must be used to search for content across all apps using Samsung’s universal search feature, we might have avoided it entirely. With that said, we think Samsung’s voice recognition software is top-notch. We had no problem searching for content, even with non-specific commands. “Show me movies with Sean Connery,” for instance, returned a wide array of results. We just wish it wasn’t necessary to log into a Samsung-specific account in order to access content that is available with subscriptions to non-Samsung VOD services like Netflix. Sure you can navigate directly to the content with no problem, but if you want to use Samsung’s search feature to find what you want to watch, then access it from there, you’ll need to set up that Samsung Smart Account. And if it doesn’t creep you out too much, you can use facial recognition via the TV’s built-in camera to log you into your account.
Finally, we should note that Samsung’s Evolution Kit program is something that should appeal to those with predictable cases of upgradeitus. As improvements are made to processing chips and Samsung’s processing schemes evolve with it, users can purchase a kit that pluggs into the back of the TV, keeping it up-to-date for years to come.
Simply put, the F8000 offers the best picture quality we’ve seen this year from an LED-based LCD TV. We attribute its excellent performance to Samsung’s advanced backlight dimming technology and excellent screen uniformity. There’s just one hang-up: Black levels and shadow detail take a hit the further off-axis you move.
Before we made any adjustments to the F8000’s picture settings, we selected its Movie pre-set. This out-of-the-box setting is very good, but a few small adjustments can be made even better. We recommend selecting the Warm 2 color temperature setting and setting Smart LED to Standard (this is the micro dimming setting which helps the set achieve superior black levels.) We also suggest activating Cinema Black, a feature which darkens the bars on the top and bottom of the set when watching letterboxed content. A full list of our recommended settings can be found at the end of this review.
There’s just one hang-up: black levels and shadow detail take a hit the further off-axis you move.
We spent three weeks evaluating the F8000 using a mix of high-definition and standard-definition cable content, over-the-air broadcast HD, Blu-ray discs, and VOD content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, and VUDU. The experience we had was overwhelmingly positive, as were the comments we received from friends and family who saw the TV in action.
As previously mentioned, this TV exhibits excellent black levels for an LED-based LCD TV. Often, LED backlit televisions suffer from severe backlight blooming at the edges near corners, lackluster screen uniformity and poor shadow detail. Thanks to Samsung’s micro dimming backlight technology, the F8000 mostly avoids these pitfalls. While some blooming can be observed, the effect isn’t intensely bright and tends not to draw attention.
The F8000’s color accuracy is also excellent. While colors are vibrant and bright when called to be, they avoid appearing artificially vivid, instead contributing to natural, rich images that remain true to life. We were particularly impressed with the F8000’s ability to render convincing skin tones.
We also want to note that the anti-reflective coating applied to this TV’s screen is particularly effective. Even on the brightest of days, we had no problem with reflections washing out images. We also feel the coating helped keep blacks deeper, even with moderate amounts of ambient light in the room.
Our only picture-related criticism centers on the TV’s off-axis performance, which reveals its LCD panel’s limitations. At wider angles, both vertically and horizontally, the TV’s back-lights are more clearly visible, and blacks begin to lose their depth, turning a bit grey. The issue is more prevalent when viewing darker content, but is rarely an issue with bright programming. You might notice the problem when watching Prometheus or The Amazing Spiderman, but aren’t as likely to see the effect when watching a bright animated film.
Any minor quirks associated with Samsung’s ultra-rich Smart TV interface should be considered a by-product of aggressive efforts at improving the Smart TV experience. Future iterations will likely be even more refined, and that’s exciting to think about. However, this TV series would be worth every penny, even if it was as dumb as a post. The F8000’s stellar picture quality and beautiful aesthetic make it the top pick for an LED-based LCD television this year. Which leaves us to wonder: How much better could Samsung do next year?
- Excellent Black levels for an LED TV
- Superior brightness and color
- Most beautifully designed TV of the year
- Smooth fast-motion video resolution
- Super-fast user interface
- Poor off-axis performance
- TV stand is as wide as the TV itself
- Remote takes getting used to
|Digital Trends Picture Settings|
|The following settings were arrived at through a process of manual adjustment and further adjusted for preference. As indicated in our How we test televisions article, processing such as noise reduction and dynamic contrast are disabled for picture and testing purposes. They may or may not be re-engaged based on subjective preferences gained from observation during real-world performance scenarios. Though we arrived at these settings with a specific TV size, these settings can be used for any of the sizes in this TV series with consistent results.|
|Preferred SettingsPicture mode: MovieBacklight: 12Contrast: 78Brightness: 45Sharpness: 20Color: 50
Tint: G50 R50
Picture Size – Screen Fit
Dynamic Contrast: Low
Black Tone: Off
Flesh tone: 0
RGB only mode: Off
Color Space: Auto
White Balance: Default
10p White Balance: Off
Expert Pattern: Off
Motion Lighting: Off
Color Tone: Warm 2
Digital Clean View: Auto
MPEG Noise Filter: Auto
HDMI Black Level (Low if available)
Film Mode: Auto1
Auto Motion Plus: OFF
Blur Reduction: 0
Judder Reduction: 0
LED Clear Motion: Off
Smart LED: Standard
Cinema Black: On