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'Ultimate' Samsung LED TV still lacks full-array backlight

The Samsung UNES8000 series, the company's flagship model of LED-based LCD TV, delivers the company's best range of features in an LED TV, although it still doesn't have a full-array LED backlight.

Another distinguishing feature of Samsung's best 2012 LED: the wacky "U" shaped stand. Samsug

LAS VEGAS--On high-end LED-based TVs, our favorite picture quality extra is a full-array backlight with local dimming, which allows different areas of the screen to dim independently of one another.

Unlike the flagship LED TVs of LG, Sony, and Sharp Elite, Samsung's best LED, the UNES8000 still lacks the full-array part, but the company says its local dimming, despite relying on LEDs around the edge of the screen, has been improved over last year's version. Check out our breakdown of LED backlight schemes here for some background.

Dubbed "micro-dimming ultimate," the new feature divides the screen into more dimming "zones" than the step-down "micro-dimming plus" found on 2011's UND8000 and the 2012 UNES7100 and UNES7500 models. We've found that more zones equals generally better performance (see the Sharp Elite) but it's tough to say whether that truism will translate to edge-lit local dimming. In 2011 we liked Sony's edge-lit dimming scheme, seen in models like the NX720, better than similar schemes from LG and Samsug, so it will be interesting to see how "ultimate" the UNES8000's picture quality can be--and whether it can overcome the uniformity issues that plagued the 2011 UND8000.

Aside from picture quality, the UNES8000 piles on the extras. It offers the same Smart Interaction voice/gesture control (hence the little speakerphone/camera bulge along the top of the bezel) found on the UNES7500 but adds a specialized remote control with a touch pad for the thumb--described to CNET as similar to a laptop's touch pad. The company has ditched the full QWERTY keyboard found on the 2011 flagship remote, however, going with an onscreen keyboard instead. We assume the availability of voice command will make intensive keyboarding less frequent, however.

Design serves as the other differentiator between the UNES8000 and the 7500; the thin bezel on the former is all-metallic, and the stand is a new wide U-shaped affair that we find marginally cooler-looking than the four-legged spider Samsung has used in the past.

Pricing and availability were not announced, although I expect these and other Samsung LEDs to arrive as early as February 2012.

Samsung UNES8000 series features:

  • Micro-dimming "ultimate" local dimming
  • Edge-lit LED backlight
  • Touch-pad remote
  • Smart Interaction with voice/gesture control
  • Built-in speakerphone and camera
  • 0.2-inch thin bezel
  • Includes two pair of 3D glasses
  • 240Hz refresh rate
  • Smart Hub connected TV suite

Samsung UNES8000 series models:

  • Samsung UN46ES8000: 46-inch, available TK, $TBD
  • Samsung UN50ES8000: 50-inch, available TK, $TBD
  • Samsung UN55ES8000: 55-inch, available TK, $TBD
  • Samsung UN60ES8000: 60-inch, available TK, $TBD
  • Samsung UN65ES8000: 65-inch, available TK, $TBD
  • Samsung UN65ES8000: 75-inch, available TK, $TBD
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