A selection of picture modes is available so that you can fine-tune the image to your taste. We liked the movie mode, but tweaked the backlight intensity to improve the black levels.
Living on the edge light
LED-illuminated TVs either use an array of LEDs behind the panel, or strips of LEDs at the side with reflective material that diffuses the light evenly behind the LCD screen. The UE55C8000 uses the latter method, which often has some disadvantages.
Some TVs with LED edge lights suffer from bright spots at the four corners of the screen. Happily, this issue isn't too noticeable on the UE55C8000. There's some bleeding at the four corners and some patchiness in the middle, but, when the TV is in normal operation, you'll almost certainly never notice.
Passes on glasses
Despite this TV's price, a set of 3D glasses isn't included. Samsung is, however, currently offering a voucher with all of its 3D TVs that allows you to claim a set of glasses when you redeem it. The same is true of its 3D Blu-ray players. If you buy both a TV and a Blu-ray player at the same time, you'll get a 3D movie -- Monsters vs Aliens, at time of writing -- and two pairs of glasses.
These offers will change over time, so it's well worth checking what's on offer before you splash out. We understand that Samsung may start including glasses in the boxes of its 3D products at a later date, but we haven't had official confirmation.
At the time of writing, there wasn't a massive amount of 3D material on the market to test. But we watched some content from Monsters vs Aliens and some Samsung demo loops, and this gave us a decent amount of footage with which to assess the capability of this TV's 3D mode.
For the most part, we were impressed. But the 3D functionality isn't perfect, and there are some specific problems, as well as more general issues, that you should be aware of before you spend £3,000.
Firstly, there's the problem of ghosting. The TV makes the 3D image by quickly displaying one picture to the left eye, and then one to the right -- the glasses shut off light to whichever eye isn't supposed to be seeing an image. All of this happens so quickly that you shouldn't be aware of it, but an inherent problem with LCD panels is that they don't always refresh quickly enough. That means you can see with your left eye, for example, traces of a frame intended for the right eye. The end result is that we could clearly see ghosting around hard edges when we watched Monsters vs Aliens. It's worth noting that plasma TVs have a faster response time, so ghosting should be less of a problem.
The more general problem with 3D TV is simply that evolution has trained us to flinch, duck or try to focus on something that's flying towards our heads. If you do the latter when watching 3D TV, you'll be attempting to focus on something that isn't where your brain thinks it is. This will result in you losing all ability to see a meaningful picture on your TV.
One of this TV's party tricks is that it can convert 2D to 3D on the fly. We tested this feature with countless TV shows, such as Neighbours and The Jeremy Kyle Show, and Blu-ray movies, like District 9. Our conclusion is: if you want a massive headache, turn this feature on. Aside from that, it's almost totally useless.
As we understand it, the TV converts 2D to 3D by looking at what's on the screen and making a decision about where it should appear in the '3D space'. Its decisions in this regard are generally quite poor. We noticed background objects appearing in the foreground and vice versa.
If you're so totally addicted to 3D that movies and TV shows made in the format are no longer enough for you, we suggest you go outside for a walk. The world, after all, is almost entirely 3D, and provides a treat for the eyes.
Even if you hate 3D and want nothing to do with it, the Samsung UE55C8000 is still a great TV. Although it's expensive, you get one of the largest LCD panels available, a stunning-looking set, and pretty astonishing HD picture quality.
If you do want 3D capability, then the TV will prove decent enough, although we urge you to try it in a store before you buy it. Make sure that you don't get headaches from 3D, and check for the ghosting around certain 3D images too -- it's not a deal-breaker, but this issue might affect your enjoyment.
We love this TV, and we think you will too. Just make sure you've got a good relationship with your credit-card company before you make that trip to buy one.
Edited by Charles Kloet