Samsung MU8000 / MU8500 TV Review
These TVs deliver serious polish, but don't entirely stand out
If you're looking for a 4K/HDR TV that will satisfy your desires for the latest in flashy TV tech and provide a premium all-around experience, might I suggest the Samsung MU8000 / Samsung MU8500 series?
This 2017 series is available in a wide range of sizes at decent price points, and each TV delivers 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range compatibility, smart features, and Samsung's signature level of attention to detail and design. The MU8500 is essentially just a curved version of the MU8000.
Both TVs offer terrific picture quality, though they're not the most knockout HDR sets this year. The prices are very fair, however, and they deliver that signature Samsung polish. Just note that in some sizes, there are more valuable TVs to be had.
Design & Details
Samsung's MU8000 series is available in five screen sizes:
• 49-inch (Samsung UN49MU8000), ~$700 on Amazon
• 55-inch (Samsung UN55MU8000), ~$900 on Amazon
• 65-inch (Samsung UN65MU8000), ~$1,300 on Amazon
• 75-inch (Samsung UN75MU8000), ~$2,300 on Amazon
• 82-inch (Samsung UN82MU8000), ~$3,300 on Amazon
The MU8000 TVs are by no means "cheap," but the prices have dropped considerably since the series launched earlier this year. With any of the MU8000 or MU8500 TVs, you'll get 4K resolution, HDR compatibility, and smart features.
Both series use the OneConnect box, which externalizes their connectivity, and as well as Samsung's "OneRemote" remote control, a minimalist little controller that is fairly stylish compared to average remote controls.
The curved MU8500 series is available in two screen sizes:
• 55-inch (Samsung UN55MU8500), ~$1,000 on Amazon
• 65-inch (Samsung UN65MU8500), ~$1,500 on Amazon
Other than more limited availability and curved screens, the MU8500 TVs are otherwise identical to the MU8000 series. We received 65-inch versions of the MU8000 and MU8500 TVs on loan from Samsung. We used the MU8000 for primary testing and evaluation, and gave it 24 hours of warm up/break-in time prior to review and evaluation.
What We Like
Overall, picture quality is excellent
While it's not the most valuable TV series in 2017 from a budget buyer perspectively, the MU8000/MU8500 TVs do deliver very good all-around picture quality. Testing revealed good brightness (around 250 nits in Movie mode), an OK black level (around 0.07 nits), and rich, mostly accurate colors.
Because you're getting a 120 Hz refresh rate, you also don't generally need to worry about motion performance. All of the MU8000 and MU8500 TVs deliver native 120 Hz refresh rates, and also utilize Samsung's suite of motion enhancement/compensation, such as de-judder and de-blur modes.
The MU8000/MU8500 TVs don't get as bright and colorful as the step-up MU9000 series—which I reviewed recently—but they still make for solid HDR TVs. I measured peak brightnesses around 525 nits (compared to the MU9000's 650) and better wide-color coverage than the average HDR TV in this price range.
This means you can expect most things you watch—your favorite TV show on Hulu, HDR content on Netflix, Blu-rays, video games—to look pretty darn excellent on the MU8000 or MU8500 TVs. They don't deliver the jaw-dropping HDR of the year's OLEDs or Samsung's premium QLED models, but they won't disappoint.
Of course, the picture quality isn't flawless. I'll go over the hurdles in the next section.
Simple, clean, and effective smart features
While we tend to prefer standalone streaming options like Roku or Apple TV, a well-crafted or at least minimalist smart platform included on a TV is still very welcome. Especially where 4K and HDR streaming is concerned, having a TV with the built-in ability to play that content is still valuable.
Samsung's "Smart Hub" isn't a revelation (it hasn't changed much from last year), but we reckon most viewers won't mind its addition here. The smart hub presents a clean UI and easy-to-identify apps, featuring pre-installed favorites like Netflix, Amazon Video, and HBO Now.
It's pretty easy to connect your MU8000 or MU8500 to your WiFi network, log into Netflix, and get to watching whatever you like. Just note that with streaming apps, whether you're using a built-in TV smart platform, an Xbox, or a Roku, you usually have to pay for the top-tier subscription to get access to 4K/HDR content.
One of the best-looking TVs we've seen this year
Samsung TVs tend to be pretty heavily polished in the looks department, and the MU8000/MU8500 TVs are no exception. In fact, compared to most TVs in this price range, this lineup is downright fancy.
Silver, narrow bezels wrap the screen, which is given the front-and-center treatment, supported by two minimalist, wide-set silver feet. These details match whether you've got the flat MU8000 TVs or the curved MU8500 TVs.
One of Samsung's big focuses this year is on minimalism in design and presentation, so the MU8/MU85 TVs utilize the "OneConnect" box, too. This is an externalized box that houses all of the series' ports. You get four HDMI inputs, three USB inputs, and the standard array of component/composite, ethernet, optical audio output, and LAN (ethernet) inputs.
The main allure of the OneConnect is that it allows you to hide it away in a TV stand or cabinet, leaving only two cables running to the back of the TV: the OneConnect cable, and the TV's power cable. This seriously minimizes clutter, and will definitely please people who like a simplified, streamlines approach to their electronics.
What We Don't Like
Flat or curved, these TVs don't offer great viewing flexibility
While I wish I could say that only the curved MU8500 TVs have limited horizontal viewing angles, the truth is that neither series offers very good off-axis viewing. The curved screens may up immersion for the front-and-center viewer, but everyone else gets short shrift, usually dealing with exacerbated ambient glare or distorted geometry.
However, I tested a total viewing angle of only 16.45° on the MU8000, or ±8.22° from the center to either side of the screen. This isn't very generous at all, meaning viewers watching from the ends of a larger couch may experience less contrast or a slightly degraded picture quality.
This shouldn't be an issue for most viewers, but it does mean you should probably avoid wall-mounting either of these TVs.
The TV's black levels could stand to be darker
While the MU8000/MU8500 TVs won't disappoint anyone with their contrast performance, their shadow production is not quite on par with many of the 4K/HDR TVs we've tested this year, some of which are much cheaper.
These TVs average around 0.07 or 0.08 for black levels during most scenes, which is a good result, but is still a good bit "brighter" than many of the TVs we've tested this year. I don't expect most viewers to notice this without some kind of side-by-side comparison, but as one of the MU8000's only drawbacks, it's worth mentioning.
We'd like a little more color during HDR, but it's a nitpick
Last and least, something we and other reviewers have noticed about the MU80/MU85 TVs is that they don't live up to the lofty color standards that Samsung set its sight on with its high-end QLED TVs, which almost match 100% of the "wide-color" standard for High Dynamic Range.
These series fall short of even the step-up MU9000 models, but compared to the average TV they're still plenty colorful.
Should You Buy It?
Maybe—if you value design as much as picture quality
Whether it's one of the flat MU8000s or one of the curved MU8500s, you can be sure you're getting a good-looking TV, both inside and out. The highly refined materials and stylistic polish featured on these TVs are lived up to by their reliable picture quality. Other than a couple small nitpicks, we couldn't be happier with how the MU8000/MU8500 TVs look.
Of course, they're also in a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, master of none situation. They don't have any major flaws, but neither are they as bright or colorful as the TCL P Series, nor do they do contrast with the same efficacy as the Vizio M Series. Both of those series are cheaper as 55-inch sets, too.
However, neither of those series offers the same minimalist polish as the handsome, swarthy MU8000 TVs. My final takeaway is this: if you're going to pick one of these up, it's a great value on sale, and we'd avoid the curved ones unless you just really, really dig curved screens.
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