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Samsung C8000 (UE55C8000) review: Samsung C8000 (UE55C8000)

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The Good Stunning styling; excellent high-definition picture quality; USB media playback; can record to USB-connected hard drives; integrated Freeview HD tuner.

The Bad Steep price; 2D-to-3D conversion feature is pretty awful.

The Bottom Line The Samsung UE55C8000 is a ground-breaking TV. Not only is it one of the first 3D TVs to arrive in the UK, but it's also styled to perfection, offers incredible picture quality and sports a range of excellent features. Although it costs £3,000, we think this is one of the most exciting TVs we've ever seen, and we'd suggest it's worth that kind of money

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8.8 Overall

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Whether you like it or not, 3D TV is the technology of the year. With movies like Avatar, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and Monsters vs Aliens wooing a family audience, it's not hard to see why.

To enjoy 3D at home, you'll need a 3D-ready TV and a 3D Blu-ray player or a Sky+HD subscription. Samsung offers one of the most comprehensive 3D TV ranges for you to choose from. The range includes both plasma and LED-illuminated LCD TVs, which means you can choose whichever technology you prefer.

The flagship, 55-inch, 1080p, 3D-ready UE55C8000 LCD TV with LED edge lights isn't cheap, but we'd consider coughing up for its array of awesome features and new technology. Read this review and we'll help you decide if you're ready for a £3,000 credit-card bill.

Beauty and the bezel
There's only one way to describe the UE55C8000's appearance: stunning. It really is a triumph of design. The brushed-metal, ultra-thin bezel looks great, and the TV is wafer-thin, which means it will hardly protrude into your living space at all if you mount it on a wall.

The remote control is silver, with flat buttons that look great but don't always respond with the positive feel that we're fond of. Still, it's backlit, which makes it an absolute doddle to use the TV in the dark or while wearing 3D glasses.

The UE55C8000 sports a stunning design. We'd recommend mounting it on the wall to take full advantage of its wafer-thin construction

On the back of the TV, you'll find a host of inputs, including four HDMI sockets, aerial and Scart inputs, and an optical digital out for audio. Because the UE55C8000 is so thin, some of these sockets require break-out connections, but these seem to work just fine, and shouldn't present any problems.

Let's talk about specs
The UE55C8000 has tonnes of nifty features. As well as Samsung's most advanced LED-illuminated LCD panel, and all of the company's new filters and picture-processing software, the TV also features some pretty cool extras that you might not expect.

The two USB sockets on the TV can be used for multiple purposes. If you want to connect to the Internet wirelessly, then you can do so with an optional Wi-Fi dongle. You can use the USB sockets to watch video, look at photos and listen to music too. Unlike most TVs we see, the UE55C8000 is also happy playing MKV files. That's great news for Internet geeks with a mountain of cat videos to watch.

The USB sockets also offer a new skill -- they can be used to enable makeshift recording functionality. Plugging in a hard drive lets you to record your favourite shows without a separate PVR. Recordings are only playable on this TV, though, so don't get excited about watching them on a laptop during your long commute to work. You could take the TV on the train with you instead but you'll need to remember to pack a power generator too.

The TV also features Samsung's Internet@TV platform, which allows access to online content like Skype, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Most exciting of all though is that LoveFilm and BBC iPlayer are also going to be available on the TV.

Standard-def looks decent
There aren't many 55-inch TVs on the market that can do a decent job of stretching a standard-definition Freeview image to fill the massive screen. Sadly, the UE55C8000 is no exception. That's hardly Samsung's fault, though, and the inclusion of a Freeview HD tuner means that at least there's some high-quality content available to people who buy this TV.

For the most part, SD Freeview is watchable enough. You'll really notice the lack of detail in the lower-budget channels that use much-reduced bandwidth, though. We tested ITV2, More4 and Dave, and all of them looked pretty bad. On the plus side, most of what airs on BBC One and Two, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five will look okay.

Hi-def high jinks
As the UE55C8000 includes a Freeview HD tuner, you'll get access to BBC HD, ITV1 HD and 4HD for free, assuming you live in an HD-enabled area (find out with the Freeview HD coverage checker). Fifty per cent of the UK will have access to Freeview HD transmissions by the time of the World Cup in June. Assuming all goes to plan, the other 50 per cent will have access by the time the Olympics happen in 2012.

We watched a selection of high-definition content on these channels, and it looked pretty impressive. The colours and detail levels were remarkable, and the images, when viewed from a sensible distance, were generally spot-on.

We did notice, however, that sometimes there was plenty of grain, and the quality didn't hold up with certain material. This can't all be blamed on the TV, though -- the source quality of any content is what governs the overall picture quality. For the most part, though, we loved watching Freeview HD material on this set.

The UE55C8000's performance with Blu-ray discs is a different ball game altogether. This TV absolutely knocks the ball out of the park when it comes to playing 1080p video from HD discs. We watched Casino Royale and District 9 and were blown away by the stunning picture quality.

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