Update: Since our review, Samsung has informed us that the QWERTY remote is not a part of the retail package and is only shipped with the Series 8 models. It is available separately for AU$99. We apologise for any inconvenience
If you stop for a moment to think of stylish televisions, how many brands come to mind? Maybe Bang and Olufsen, perhaps even Sony. But odds are that you just thought of Samsung. This Korean company has had an enviable reputation for cutting-edge design, in addition to cutting-edge LCD performance.,
Following up last year's stunning — and stunningly expensive —, Samsung has brought us the D7000, one of the most distinctive televisions released by any manufacturer.
During our, we had to check that Samsung had got the model numbers right, for to us this TV is better looking than the more "traditional" .
The first thing that strikes you about the UA55D7000 while it's running is that there doesn't seem to be much there. The technology is almost at the point where there's not much left to design, apart from the stand — which in this case looks like the legs of a benevolent chrome monster. Nevertheless, the designers have persevered and encased the shallow 0.2-inch bezel in a crystal shell. The cumulative effect is that the television seemingly melts into your living space. It's quite stunning to behold.
Of course, this minimalism does have its price. Namely, with controls and something as simple as a power light. Samsung has put the controls behind the TV on the bottom right-hand corner. While it seems weird at first, touching them brings up an onscreen display, and soon manipulating the television becomes quite natural. The power light is an issue, though, and when the TV is on there are no indicator lights. The screen itself is quite black when set to an empty input, and as a result it can be quite difficult to tell whether it's on or off.
The Samsung QWERTY remote makes text entry easier, for some things (Credit: Samsung)
The Samsung we received came with two remote controls: a fairly standard model and a two-sided QWERTY remote. The QWERTY is a little different from the pre-production one in that the new one has a simple LCD screen instead of an LED one. Either way, the upshot is that it's designed to simplify text input on your new smart TV. The "regular" side is backlit, while the keyboard isn't. The directional pad on the QWERTY side is a little awkward, though, and we found that it's very easy to accidentally hit the Exit button.
Over half of, and the D7000 sits near the top of these, offering an embarrassment of features as a result. The big additions to last year's models, which already included video-on-demand and social media, are apps, integrated search and a Web browser that is helped enormously by the QWERTY remote. All of the many functions are bundled into a new homescreen called "Smart Hub", and most of the TV's functions can be accessed from there.
As part of Smart TV,is a focus of the Samsung, with a handful of Bigpond TV channels and Bigpond Movies on-demand. At the moment, no free-to-air channels offer catch-up services via Samsung, though ABC is reportedly in negotiations to offer up soon. Telstra also includes its AFL and NRL Game Analysers enabling sports fans to watch full games played in the past year or so; tennis is on the way.
Like a number of recent televisions, the D7000 offers a cut-down USBwith a built-in Electronic Program Guide (EPG).
In terms of picture, the TV offers a 1080p panel with 24p support and a renamed "100Hz mode" called Clear Motion Rate 600. Like most high-flyers, the TV also supports 3D and ships with a single set of lightweight shutter glasses (AU$149 separately).
Following the lead of LG, and the excellent automated setup routines featured on its TVs, Samsung has provided two "expert patterns" — but with no explanation of how to use them. One of them looks like it should use filters, but these won't work on an LCD.
Connections are a highlight of this television, with an almost-unheard of three USB ports in addition to four 3D-ready HDMI slots. Also, you'll receive a combined component/composite adaptor, but you'll need to push it in very firmly to get it to work. Finally, internet connectivity is provided courtesy of an Ethernet port and onboard Wi-Fi.
The NRL Game Analyser allows sports fans to get stuck into past games of their choosing (Credit: Samsung)
We've established that the Samsung has the looks and the features, but does it have the performance to match? We scooped up armfuls of disks and a remote or two in order to find out!
Setting up the TV to begin our tests was made that little bit more pleasurable thanks to the friendly new Settings menu. It consists of fluffy blue "clouds", and options are sensibly arranged.
Performance-wise, the Samsung was a little spotty, for while it performed amazingly in some, in others it was left lacking. But we'll begin with the overwhelmingly rosy news: this television is a stunner with HD content.
Looking back at the notes we took while watching Mission Impossible III on Blu-ray, we can say that there were some astonished expletives in there as we tried to grasp how good the images really were. One thing this disc ably demonstrated was how well the TV could clean up digital noise while still retaining picture detail. In Chapter 8 of Mission Impossible III, the rocket drone flies off into the distance after attacking Ethan's car. On most TVs, the sky is represented with varying degrees of digital noise or "grain". However, when viewed on the Samsung, we were dumb-founded as the sky looked like a sky and not a Pro Hart canvas for the first time. Taking this in, though, we were wary, as this may or may not appeal to cinephiles as a) it's not a true representation of what's on the disc (and not having a copy of the original film print, it's difficult to tell if the noise is film grain or unique to Blu-ray digital artefacts) and b) you can't turn the noise reduction off. Some may argue that the results are heavy-handed, but ... we loved it.