Editors' Note Jan 8, 2011: The Samsung UND8000 series was one of three nominees for CNET's Best of CES award in the TVs category.
Last year Samsung was the first TV maker to try local dimming of its LED backlight from an edge-lit configuration. The UNC8000 performed well enough in our review, but not up to the standards we've come to expect from the company's best LCD TVs.
Its successor, the UND8000 series, aims to improve upon that performance with a backlight scheme more like that of the full-array local-dimming UNB8500 models from late 2008. The D8000 is still edge-lit, but Samsung says its Micro Dimming Plus technology allows more precise control of the backlight, localizing it better than on the C8000. One big part of that improvement is that the edge-light elements are mounted on the sides, not on the top and bottom of the panel, so the black areas of letterbox bars, for example, will appear more uniform according to Samsung.
The UNC8000 was also a somewhat disappointing performer with 3D sources, evincing significant crosstalk (secondary ghost images). Samsung's engineers say they've improved that aspect of picture quality as well. In any case, we're looking forward to testing the new flagship with a full review.
In addition to the performance-related changes, the D8000 has one big feature boost over the step-down D7000: an included touch-screen remote control. Samsung's high-end, razor-thin C9000 models included a similar remote, and one of its most impressive capabilities, preserved on the D8000, is the capability to duplicate the contents of the TV, or even watch a different input or app, on the remote's screen. The remote's virtual QWERTY keypad also makes text entry easier.
Otherwise, the D8000 is very similar to the D7000, and includes the same 0.2-inch thin bezel--albeit in a metallic finish reminiscent of the UNC8000 from 2010.
Pricing wasn't announced at CES, and availability is listed as the first half of 2011.
Samsung UND8000 series features:
Edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming
Supports Bluetooth 3D active glasses
240Hz refresh rate
Samsung Apps with universal search and Web browser
Samsung UND8000 series models:
Samsung UN60D8000: 60 inch
Samsung UN55D8000: 55 inch
Samsung UN46D8000: 46 inch
Samsung UN46D8000: 40 inch
Editor's take: Samsung gave me a brief side-by-side demo of a preproduction D8000 compared with a C8000, and the new set's dimming scheme and 3D performance did look improved, for what it's worth. I've also seen the current touch-screen remote in action and it's pretty cool, but the bar is pretty high for touch-screen devices so I'm not sure if it will be worth the price increase. I'm hoping to see a less-expensive version of this TV that has micro dimming and a normal remote.