Samsung UN65HU7250 4K LED TV Review
4K? Check. Curved screen? Check. Spectacular picture? Not at all.
As 4K TVs slowly become more prolific, manufacturers are learning that four times the pixels does not a great TV make. This is precisely the case with the Samsung UN65HU7250 (MSRP $3,999.99, online for $2,599.99).
This 65-inch beast (also available in a 55-inch model) boasts four times the resolution of full-HD (1080p) televisions, but can't produce a picture worthy of the label "ultra-high definition." If you're expecting the future, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
And though the curved screen might wow friends and family at first, the futuristic shape of this panel comes at a cost. Quite literally, in fact, as it's ultimately inflating the price by a couple thousand dollars more than equivalent flat 4K TVs on the market.
Even Bo Jackson could have learned to love these curves.
For Samsung, 2014 has been the year of the curve; the company's outfitted a swath of its TVs this year with the controversial contour, hoping to provide a more immersive, eye-catching display that'll have you desperate to upgrade all your TVs. It's sleek, it's sexy... and it has no positive effect on a TV's performance whatsoever (but more on that later). From a purely aesthetic standpoint, however, I find the HU7250 to be quite attractive.
The gargantuan 65-inch display rests atop a rather basic stand that marries hard angles and gentle curves. On the back of the HU7250 you'll find a square cut-out featuring four HDMI ports, shared composite/component inputs, a digital audio output, an ethernet port, a coaxial jack, three USB ports, an analog audio output, and an RS-232C serial port.
The HU7250 ships with Samsung's "Smart Control" remote. Its oval shape is similar to LG's Magic Remote and fits comfortably in hand, allowing your thumb easy access to just about every button.
Unfortunately, the Smart Control remote we received with our HU7250 is either defective or unpaired with the TV, and there doesn't seem to be a way to pair it via the menu software. Instead, we ended up using one of Samsung's universal remotes to get to know the HU7250. It's worth noting that previous Smart Control remotes we've tested have treated us very well, so it's likely a one-off defect.
Smart, savvy, and packed with value
These days there are no end of ways to get content onto your TV. Though most Americans will still rely on an antenna or a cable box, smart features give you access to a world of content that's ready at the push of a button.
And as far as smart platforms go, Samsung's Smart Hub is near the top in both value and usability. Users can access the main app menu with the press of a button, and the hub itself is organized in an easy-to-learn, straightforward manner. Navigating content is as simple as choosing a section (Movies & TV Shows, Games, Apps, or Multimedia) and following your heart.
Of course, finding 4K content can still be something of a challenge. Cable doesn't offer much 4K yet, and depending on your streaming service of choice it might end up costing you extra. Blu-ray owners will be happy to hear that this TV upscales full-HD content quite well, with minimal noise and almost no artifacts to speak of.
Television techies interested in getting their hands dirty in the TV's picture settings will find 2- and 10-point white balance controls, an extensive color management system, and a slew of secondary options–like dynamic contrast and Auto Motion Plus–to play around with.
A crushing disappointment
The words "ultra-high definition" immediately conjure up breathtaking vistas and stunning cinematography rendered in glorious 4K—a near-perfect reproduction of a director's vision. And yet, despite its stunning 3840x2160 resolution and hefty price tag, the HU7250 performs like a second-string athlete.
A rich, deep black level and contrasting highlights are the foundation of an immersive picture. The HU7250 has no problem delivering bright, dazzling whites, but its darker tones fail to achieve the same level of depth. The result is a dearth of detail: Well-lit scenes are a joy to behold, but dark, low-lit scenes are stark and flat. There's simply no richness to this picture.
Worse still is the HU7250's motion performance. Samsung's outfitted this model with something called Clear Motion Rate 960, which, as best as I can tell, is just a very high number attached to a vaguely-named feature that has little positive effect on image quality. The HU7250 judders its way through camera pans and tracking shots. Action sequences in The Hobbit play out like a flip book, and when the camera rises above an artist's rendering of a map, the landmarks and demarcations of Middle Earth pass through the frame with the smoothness of a flooded engine.
Thankfully, like several Samsung TVs we've seen this year, the HU7250 produces accurate, well-saturated colors right out of the box. There was almost no discernible difference in color between the HU7250 and our in-house reference monitor. Given that most people (understandably) won't be bothered to adjust their picture quality to the _n_th degree, this is a great point in Samsung's favor.
Curved TVs: There's a sucker born every minute.
As you'd expect given how ubiquitous the design has become, Samsung has repeatedly extolled the virtues of its curved screen, talking up its immersive qualities as well as its "improved field of view." Aesthetically, the curve is gorgeous, but we haven't seen a shred of evidence (objective or subjective) that demonstrates any advantages the curve might have.
In fact, the HU7250 any supposed improvement in viewing angle seems like complete bunk. You don't have to stray too far from a head-on angle before experiencing a serious dip in picture quality. Does the curve look nice? Sure, but don't expect every person in your living room to experience the same picture as the lucky person who sits front-and-center.
For everything the HU7250 does right, there's two things it does wrong. There's no denying that UHD is a spectacular prospect, but if the TV doesn't handle the basics well, what's the point? More pixels are nice—the image does look quite sharp, when not moving—but not at the expense of black levels and motion performance. It's incredibly disappointing to gaze at the future of television, let alone a future that costs this much right now, and greet it with a shrug.
Good news! Better 4K values are already here.
Although the 65-inch HU7250 is listed online for well below its MSRP of $3,999, the discounted online price is still $400 more than the 65-inch, 4K P Series from Vizio. Moreover, the P Series is a full array TV that packs a much better picture than the HU7250. The Vizio is, without question, an uglier TV, but just about everything you'll want to watch will simply look better on Vizio's set.
Sure, the P Series' screen isn't curved, but given the fact the curved screen doesn't offer any tangible upside in picture quality, do you really want to shell out more money for a worse picture? Novelty only lasts so long.
Now, don't get us wrong: Compared to most TVs, Samsung's H7250 looks just fine. Saunter up to this thing at your local box store and it'll look great next to all those (way, way cheaper) full-HD sets. But compared to other 4K TVs, however, it's in the bottom tier. If you're looking to get a 4K TV today, there are simply better places to spend your money. After all, what's the fun of being an early adopter if all you're buying into is regret?
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