When the 3D TV left our offices, we had a little cry. We hate to see winners of our Editors' Choice award leave the building. But that grim cumulonimbus had a silver lining: Samsung promised to let us see a similar but larger TV from its D8000 range.
The 55-inch, 1080p, LED-illuminated UE55D8000 LCD TV is built around the same technology as the D7000 model. But it has a slightly different design and the larger screen affects its 3D and Freeview performance, so it's well worth a proper look, especially as it costs a whopping £2,500 or thereabouts.
The main difference between the D8000 and D7000 ranges is the design. We loved the D7000's thin bezel and clear plastic edge -- they made the TV look like it was floating in the air. But some may prefer the D8000's design, which offers a silver metal bezel instead. Although the D8000's silver bezel makes it look very different to the D7000, we were still utterly blown away by the impact that the thin edge has on this television's pictures.
Below the screen, there's an illuminated Samsung logo. The company tells us that some people love this feature. We assume they're all Samsung employees, though -- we can't see any normal person getting excited about it. We're glad you can turn off the illumination but it didn't distract us enough to warrant hunting through the menus for the off button.
Samsung's old online portal bore the appallingly ugly moniker Internet@TV, which gave no real information on what the telly actually did with the Internet. Now the company's TVs have a 'Smart Hub' instead, which makes fractionally more sense. The Smart Hub is where the telly makes recommendations about online content and programmes that might appeal to you.
The Smart Hub is home to apps too. These are either provided for free or for a small charge. At this point, there are a few games, various information apps, and tools like Skype and Facebook to get you networking in a sociable fashion.
The TV also features built-in Wi-Fi. We managed to connect the TV to our network easily, so we could access all of the online services without messing about with an Ethernet cable. This is a blessing, especially as most people won't have a router behind their TV. The only downside is that, when streaming content, the Wi-Fi connection is another thing that can go wrong, and the speeds will probably never be brilliant.
Every kind of broadcast covered
Both the D7000 and D8000 range have built-in Freeview HD and freesat HD tuners. This is great, as, if you don't live in a Freeview HD area, you'll still be able to get high-definition services via satellite.
Freeview HD will prove the easiest service to use for most people, though. It offers easy access to hi-def channels in HD-enabled areas, requiring nothing more complicated than a normal aerial and the TV's standard tune-in service.
When you come to set up the TV, it will ask which services you want to tune in. We really like this approach, because it enables you to opt out of analogue tuning, which is now a waste of valuable tuning time in many parts of the country.
Stonking image quality
As with the smaller D7000 TV we saw, the UE55D8000 offers among the best picture quality we've seen from an LCD set. The problem is, however, that this TV's larger size shows up more flaws in Freeview and even Freeview HD material.