Samsung UN60D8000YF Review
Samsung's action-packed flagship LCD retails for a whopping $4299 (MSRP).
The Samsung UN60D8000, the company's flagship LCD for 2011, retails for $4299 (MSRP). That's well over $1000 more than the equivalently-sized plasma from Panasonic that includes nearly all the same features.
Believe us, there are a lot of features on this TV. Samsung pulled out all the stops to make this the ultimate cinema experience for 2011.
Breaking tradition with the ever-popular black rectangle
The Samsung D8000 eschews the traditional TV design for a far more original take. First of all, the TV is remarkably thin, like iPhone thin. It’s weird, especially if you’re dealing with the 60 or 65-inch screen. The panel actually bends and wobbles a little as you move it around. The bezel is also incredibly slim. When you look at it from the front, you see almost nothing except the screen and that sweet, 4-legged stand.
The Samsung UN60D8000 has a robust selection of ports, but it definitely falls on the side of modernity. Those with older AV devices like VCRs, standard definition DVD players, and older or cheaper camcorders may be hard pressed to find safe harbor here.
Around back, you’ll find four HDMI ports, one shared component/composite AV input, one dedicated composite AV input, a VGA, and a matching audio input. Outgoing AV ports include analog and digital audio outs. For extending beyond traditional AV devices, the Samsung UN60D8000 offers three USB ports, one of which can read full-fledged hard drives (the other two are limited to USB mass storage devices). There’s also a LAN port and built-in WiFi for connecting to Samsung’s impressive selection of streaming content and apps.
Smart TV Features
Samsung has the best multimedia interface of any TV manufacturer today.
This year, Samsung introduced a new concept called the Smart Hub. This is what you see every time you hit the dedicated button on the remote. No longer is the TV simply a receptacle for one input at a time. This is the future—all things at once. The Smart Hub is a mission control, of sorts. The streaming content selection is impressive, though in this capacity, the playing field is leveled, for the most part. Nearly all “smart” TVs have Netflix, Pandora, Facebook, Skype, etc. They’re the obvious choices for partnership (though their inclusion is no less important). What separates Samsung is the integration of these partnerships into the whole.
The menu is one of the best things about the Samsung UN60D8000, thanks to this new platform. From the Smart Hub, you can access content from a variety of sources. The organization is smart, clean, and efficient. The keyword search for video content is particularly clever. It would be great if there was a way it could interact with your cable provider, as well.
The D8000 sports an impressive contrast ratio for an LCD, and accurate colors too, but the viewing angle is tiny.
Color, contrast, motion, and viewing angle—each are important, in their own right, to a television's picture quality. For the most part, the D8000 is a solid performer. It showcased decently dark blacks, bright whites, and mostly accurate colors.
The motion performance was quite strong as well, though it’s thanks to a feature we can only recommend for limited circumstances; Samsung calls it Auto Motion Plus, but other manufacturers name it differently. Essentially, it works by inserting extra, interpolated frames in between the original frames. The result is a much smoother motion performance than what you’d see otherwise. This method is, of course, a technical way of saying that the TV “guesses” what the inserted frames should look like. In most cases, the guessing is pretty good. However, some patterns gave the TV more trouble. A face set in front of a mantel became a blur, resulting in a face with lines shooting through it, for example. Yet much of the normal problems associated with LCD motion—judder, trailing, and slanting of straight lines—disappear with the help of this technique.
Overall, this is among the best 3D experiences we’ve seen on an LCD television.
Let’s get this straight, before we start: We don’t really like 3D. Even at its best it hurts your eyes and your brain. It’s expensive and the content choices are terrible.
With that said, we can examine the Samsung UN60D8000 in the context of other 3D TVs. We were impressed, for the most part, with how much progress Samsung made since last year’s first-generation models. The flickering is less frequent and there’s significantly less crosstalk to ruin the illusion.
Even better, Samsung gives you something to watch. If you dig around in the streaming content choices, there’s a whole channel for 3D content. Granted, it’s not exactly the Netflix of 3D (the Newport Jazz Festival was by far the most interesting free content we could find), but it’s a start.
The Samsung UN60D8000 ($4299 MSRP) packs in every feature we’ve ever heard of, along with quite a few we’d never heard of.
There's a ton that's great about the D8000. First, it's as thin as they come, with the panel measuring only 1.2 inches. The gleaming, 4-legged pedestal is also a pleasant change from the black box aesthetic. The TV includes support for 3D display, two pairs of 3D glasses, built-in Wi-Fi, a web browser, a remote with QWERTY keyboard, all sorts of contrast and local dimming features, connection to the Samsung app store, Skype, and a bunch of local networking options. It's just a flood of features.
On the downside, the color performance was good, but not perfect, and the viewing angle is abysmal—something that Samsung continues to struggle with on its LCDs. As with many of these ultra-thin TVs, luminance uniformity is a problem too. The blotchiness of the backlight is visible in any dark scene.
The biggest obstacle, though, is the price.
Overall, this is a monster of a TV; you won't be disappointed. But prices like this require an understanding of exactly what you’re getting for your money, and of whether you need every single feature. If not, there are very good TVs out there for less.
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