Samsung UE65C8000 £5000
11th Oct 2010 | 15:00
The world's largest 3D LED TV may have a high price tag, but it's still great value
Samsung UE65C8000: Overview
The UE65C800 is the joint-largest domestic 3DTV in the world.
Samsung has long dominated the market for smaller screen sizes, but until now its only screens larger than 60in have been plasma, but that technology, for some reason, isn't something the brand seems too keen to push.
This LED-lit, 3D panel enables it to take on Panasonic's P65VT20 at the high end of the market.
Its brushed titanium-effect bezel and deliciously slim depth of 29.3mm certainly beats its main rival in the looks department. Get it out of the box (it'll take two of you, but it's not as heavy as you might expect) and set it down on its desktop stand, and you'll appreciate its simple beauty.
If your viewing space can't accommodate a screen of this size, there are equally alluring 40, 46 and 55in iterations.
Samsung UE65C8000: Features
The UE65C8000 is a state of the art TV. Almost every feature you could want is present, including a full HD (1,920 x 1,080-pixel) panel, built-in Freeview HD tuner, access to online services (in this case Samsung's rapidly improving Internet@TV portal), wired and wireless network hookup, media file playback and TV recording via USB.
It is also, of course, full HD 3D compatible and comes with real-time 2D-3D conversion. In fact, it's hard to think of a feature that this TV doesn't have; the major difference between it and the step-up C9000 models concern form factor and build quality.
Connectivity is impressive, with a few caveats. The design of the UE65C8000 is such that there isn't the space for conventional in and outputs on the rear panel, so you're provided with a bunch of cable adaptors for the RF, Scart, component, composite and Ethernet jacks.
The four HDMI inputs are side-mounted, which is good for those who like to swap hardware in and out on a regular basis, and will also help with wall-mounting.
You can dive into Samsung's Internet@TV portal via the Ethernet port, or an optional wireless adaptor. This is one of the brand's major selling points and is definitely worth investigating.
Access is via a direct button on the handset and the service is very fast.
The main page retains what you're watching in a picture window in the top left, so you won't miss out on anything while you're browsing the applications. These currently incude BBC iPlayer HD, Rovi TV listings, Google Maps, Twitter, Betfair, Muzu.TV, Facebook, LoveFilm.com, Facebook and YouTube. The quality of the video content sites obviously varies, but BBC HD, even with a bog-standard broadband connection, streams impressively.
Further interactivity can be accomplished by connecting the TV to a DLNA PC, or playing files direct from a USB device. Interestingly, the UE65C8000 can record from its TV tuner to USB. It's a neat touch, but can't compare to the simplicity and flexibility of, say, Sky+ or a dedicated Freeview HD PVR. It's a great feature to see on far more affordable TVs, but it seems a bit redundant at this rarefied end of the market.
Samsung UE65C8000: Picture quality
Fed the right sources and given a few tweaks, the UE65C8000 delivers a picture that is, at times, jaw-dropping. Contrast levels are excellent, colours are punchy and bright but still natural, and it resolves fine detailing with pin-point accuracy. HBO war drama, The Pacific (on Blu-ray), is an excellent test disc, and the Samsung lapped it up.
TV material it may be, but it's very cinematic in tone, and the UEC658000 displays every subtle colour tone, razor-sharp edge and shadow detail without imparting any unwelcome imprint of its own on the picture.
However, to get these results you will have to spend a few minutes fiddling around in the picture menus. Alarmingly, all the UE65C8000's picture presets (Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie) come with MotionPlus technology activated to a greater or lesser degree. This adds an artificial smoothness that film fans will spot straight away.
It can be switched off in the menus and while you're there you may as well turn off the glowing Samsung logo in the bezel, which despite looking neat, can be distracting when watching a movie in low-lighting.
Of course, if you are a fan of motion-smoothing technology, MotionPlus is very powerful and doesn't introduce much in the way of artefacting.
Another thing we noticed is that the UEC658000, out of the box, displays reds that are somewhat orangey. But altering the colour temperature in the advanced settings menu can rectify this somewhat.
It is also possible to see lighter patches around the edge of the screen when a bright, centralised image appears on a black background (the opening credits to a movie, say). This is caused by the side-firing LED backlight that enables the TV's eye-catching thinness.
TV broadcasts – including Freeview HD – from the in-built tuner are less impressive than full HD Blu-rays. It's not poor quality, and the tuner appears up to the job technically, but it will seem disappointing after you've feasted on 1080p. SD pictures are characterised by softness and colours that are less well resolved, but processing artefacts are kept to a minimum.
The Samsung's 3D performance, is, like its 2D playback, very impressive indeed. Monster House on full HD 3D Blu-ray is stunningly sharp, bright (even with the glasses on) and packed with detail and contrast.
The overall experience is a delight, as the sheer size of the panel really boosts the effect of 3D. With more of your field of vision filled by the image, it becomes so much more involving. Certain sequences in Monster House show real depth, especially in the background.
The 3D pictures are not without their flaws, though, with crosstalk obvious on some occasions. However, it's not entirely clear whether this is introduced by the TV's own 3D processing or by the source material. The effect is most visible when the image is paused – it's often less clear with the movie playing – and creates a general shimmering. It can be distracting, but not disastrously so.
While some will dismiss the 2D-3D conversion as a mere gimmick, it does have its benefits, providing you limit it to an HD diet. Standard-def material simply doesn't provide the TV's processing with enough to work with and the results are messy and barely resemble 3D.
However, it can reap rewards with Blu-ray. Planet Earth, for instance, proves a good match, with the Samsung adding a genuine sense of depth to the already breathtaking visuals. So, while it's a feature you shouldn't rely on too much, it's better to have the option than not.
Samsung UE65C8000: Sound, value and ease of use
If there's one area where the UE65C8000 really disappoints, it's with audio. A screen this big and impressive demands equally large scale sonics, but the Samsung's 15W speakers are hampered by the TV's thin chassis.
Dialogue is always intelligble, but the overall feel is trebly and compressed and there's a distinct lack of bass. Users can try to improve matters by experimenting with the five SRS TheaterSound modes (Standard, Music, Movie, Clear Voice and Amplify) but none of them can do much to widen the soundstage or increase the frequency response. The same is true of the equalizer function.
The UEC658000 also offers SRS TruSurround HD, which claims to provide a virtual 5.1 surround sound experience from the TV's stereo speakers, via something called Head Related Transfer Technology. This is something that, unsurprisingly, it completely fails to do.
At around £5,000, this TV certainly isn't a budget option. However, it's similarly priced to its main rival (Panasonic's TX-P65VT20) and is, you must remember, absolutely whopping in size. Stepping up from, say, a 50in display to a 65in one brings about nearly a 70 per cent increase in total screen size. If you're wallet is large enough to pack five thousand pounds, then this TV is worth every one of them.
Ease of use
The UE65C8000's remote control is a bit of a looker, and you might mistake it for a heavy-duty metal model until you pick it up and realise it's plastic. It's fairly straightforward to use (and definitely more intuitive than the touchscreen handset bundled with Samsung's UEC9000) but could be improved; some of the main buttons, such as the input selection key, are woefully small. Still, it's backlit, so you won't strain your eyes in darkened rooms.
The onscreen menus are attractive and very responsive, but may take some getting used to, as they work in a similar way to Sony's XMB interface. The animated graphics (particularly the booming loudspeaker icon for the audio section) are pleasing, but there a few niggles. Adjusting the volume, for example, takes you out of the main menus and the UE65C8000 doesn't remember where you were when you go back in.
Samsung UE65C8000: Verdict
You'll be giddy with excitement as soon as you clap eyes on the UEC65800; it's easily one of the most advanced, desirable flatscreens on the market and produces, at its best, some absolutely astonishing pictures.
Samsung's net TV service has come a long way since it first launched: it's quick and a doddle to get used to, and now has some genuinely useful features. Then there's the jaw-dropping neighbour-infuriating design of the TV itself.
And lastly, and most importantly, we liked the picture quality. 2D hi-def performance is top class, and 3D images pack a real punch. The bigger the screen, the better this new home entertainment format looks.
That £5K price tag will hurt all but the healthiest bank balances and Samsung ought to be ashamed to marry such excellent imagery to such underpowered sonics.
Then there's the occasional tell-tale light pooling from the screen's edge LEDs when viewing bright content on a dark screen. Motion Plus activating as standard is a mistake and wireless connectivity ought to be built into a premium screen such as this.
You will want Samsung's newest 3DTV as soon as you see it in action. The picture performance is first rate, the feature-set brilliant and it looks beautiful.
Audio performance may let it down somewhat, but if you've spent £5K on a monster-sized connected TV, you've got a few quid left over for a dedicated sound system, surely?
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