Samsung UND8000 review: Samsung UND8000

When this review first posted we wrote that picture settings can't be adjusted in Netflix, but that's incorrect. Calling up the Tools menu and then pressing the main menu button brings up picture adjustments in Netflix. Vudu's picture can also be adjusted, although we didn't try other services.

3D settings are the same as last year, and provide plenty of control as well. You can use the 2D-to-3D conversion system with streaming services and other sources we tried.

Local dimming on the UND8000 comes in three strengths.

HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 1
Composite video input(s) 1 VGA-style PC input(s) 1
USB ports 3 Ethernet (LAN) port Yes

Like past superthin Samsung TVs, the D8000 is light on analog connections and those it does have require breakout cables (included). We'd like to see a headphone jack, but the third USB might make up for the lack if you're using the Wi-Fi dongle and you like to stream media via USB.

HDMI gets precedence while analog connections are scarce and require breakout cables.

(How we test TVs)

The Samsung UND8000 doesn't deliver the kind of picture quality we expected from a flagship HDTV at this price level. Its Achilles' heel is poor uniformity, which affects many categories of performance by unevenly lighting the screen. Black levels and color in the central screen area subject to calibration and measurement were excellent, but if you consider the entire screen this thin TV falls short of other edge-lit LED models, including Samsung's own UND6400 series.

While Samsung's Movie mode delivered the most accurate picture prior to our adjustments, it was still overly blue with too-bright gamma and crushed shadow detail, albeit with extremely dark blacks. In the course of our calibration we were able to basically nail color accuracy, even in near-black, and improve shadow detail and gamma somewhat, the former at the expense of some black level. The TV's excellent showing in our tests, as with previous Samsungs (and LGs for that matter), is mostly a result of superb picture control options. Too bad there's no control for screen uniformity.

Our image quality tests involved watching a Blu-ray copy of "Tron: Legacy" on the following lineup.

Comparison models (details)
Samsung UN55C8000 55-inch edge-lit LED with local dimming
Samsung UN46D6400 46-inch edge-lit LED
LG 47LW5600 47-inch edge-lit LED with local dimming
Sony Bravia XBR-52HX909 52-inch full-array LED with local dimming
Vizio XVT553SV 55-inch full-array LED with local dimming
Panasonic TC-P50GT30 50-inch plasma
Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-111FD 50-inch plasma

Black level: The UND8000 is certainly capable of producing some of the deepest black levels of any TV we've tested in the middle of its screen--which is, again, where we perform all of our measurements--but its poor screen uniformity causes the outer edges to be significantly brighter. Overall it still ranked among the darker displays to our eyes, for example in dim scenes like the push toward the televisions in Chapter 2, falling short of only the Sony and the Kuro and outdoing the others, including the local-dimming Vizio.

We noticed the loss in black level on the outer portions of the screen quite often in program material. During the bike chase later in the chapter, for example, the edges were brighter and tinged bluer in numerous areas, most noticeably in the shadows under the overpass and the truck, the night sky, and Sam's leather jacket. A similar effect was visible in the dark canyon walls of Chapter 8. Blacks and dark areas on the outer thirds of the UND8000's screen were significantly lighter than on most of the other sets in our lineup.

The UND8000's Cinema Black setting, which basically turns off the top and bottom sections of the screen that correspond to the horizontal letterbox bars in 2.35:1 aspect ratio (CinemaScope) movies, worked well. It improved perceived contrast while masking (pun intended) uniformity issues--indeed, letterbox bars on the Samsung were darker than on any other comparison model.

In short, the UNC8000's black-level performance depended, more than with any TV we've tested in the last few years, on where we were looking on the screen. See the "Uniformity" section below for more.

Despite solid gamma measurements, overall shadow detail in the central area of the screen was still among the worst in our lineup. Near-black areas like Sam's jacket at the 13:39 mark appeared obscured somewhat, although some detail was still visible. We didn't play too much with the various local-dimming modes, except to verify that they didn't affect uniformity much, but in the end we preferred the significantly deeper blacks afforded by leaving them on versus the shadow detail gains made by disabling them.

Like the D6400, the D8000 turned off its entire backlight completely at times, but we didn't find the effect as distracting because it took longer to do so. The black screen at the beginning of Chapter 10, for example, caused the D6400 to turn off while the D8000's backlight stayed active.

Color accuracy: The UND8000 performed well overall in this category. The skin tones of Sam and Alan in Chapter 3 and Chapter 19, for example, looked as accurate as on our reference, as did the green trees and the pale face of Quorra in Chapter 19. Saturation was very good and we appreciated that near-black areas didn't veer far into blue. The exception, again, came toward the edges of the screen, where blue crept in and tainted colors in midbright and darker ranges.

Video processing: The UND8000 evinced excellent performance in this category. We really appreciated its ability to adjust dejudder to preserve the cadence of film while reducing blurring. In our tests it handled 1080p/24 properly in Custom mode with Judder reduction set at zero and delivered full motion resolution with blur reduction at 10. A variety of other settings are available if you like some smoothing introduced, and all of them preserved the excellent motion resolution (although, as usual, the visible benefits of said preservation were very difficult to see in most material).

As usual with Samsung we needed to place the UND8000 in Auto 1 Film Mode to get it to deinterlace 1080i film-based material properly.

Uniformity: Apparently Samsung had to make some serious uniformity sacrifices to achieve the UND8000's amazing design. In dark and even midbright scenes roughly the left and right thirds of the screen appeared significantly brighter then the middle third, becoming gradually brighter toward the edge. They showed a cloudy look in dark scenes, while the extreme edge of our review sample had particularly bright lines about a third of the way up the left side and again along the bottom.

We also noticed faint vertical and horizontal bands across most of the screen, particularly in middark raster patterns (10 percent to 45 percent). These issues were visible in some scenes as well, such as the canyon walls in Chapter 8 or the dark background as the camera moves at 52:49, 1:11:28, and 1:55:50.

The other edge-lit LEDs, namely the Samsung UNC8000 and UND6400, as well as the LG LW5600, looked significantly more uniform overall. We noticed more blooming on the full-array Sony and Vizio sets than on the UND8000, but the other uniformity flaws on the latter were much more noticeable. We've heard similar complaints about the UND8000's uniformity from readers and professional reviewers, so we doubt they're restricted to our review sample.

From off-angle the UND8000 lost black level and thus color fidelity at about the same rate as the other Samsungs and the Vizio, while the LG performed worse and the Sony performed better.

Bright lighting: The glossy screen of the UND8000 appeared identical to that of the UND6400, and both were worse than any of the others in our lineup at reducing glare from bright reflections. On the other hand the UND8000 excelled at preserving black levels under the overhead lights, beating the rest of the TVs in that category. As usual the matte LCDs, namely the LG and Vizio, were the best overall at bright-room performance.

PC: The Samsung was basically flawless in this category. Via VGA edge enhancement was nonexistent after auto adjustment, resolution was perfect, and there was no flicker visible.

3D: The 3D image quality of the UND8000 was very good overall and a night-and-day improvement over last year's UNC8000. In fact, as far as 3D goes it outperformed all of the other sets in our lineup, including the Panasonic TC-PGT30 plasma.

Watching "Tron: Legacy" we noticed that crosstalk was less prevalent overall on the UND8000 than on the others. In difficult white-on-black areas like the superimposed "1989" in Chapter 1, and in Chapter 9 with the bright piping against Quorra's dark suit as she looks in the mirror, and the legs of the table in Sam's room, the double-image of crosstalk on the GT30 was a bit more obvious than on the D8000. Note that in the GT30 review we originally gave the Panasonic the nod, but further viewing swayed us toward the Samsung.

Black levels and contrast when viewed through the 3D glasses were superb, again outclassing any of the other displays. The TV's uniformity issues were also less apparent when viewed through the dimmer glasses.

We did notice that smoothing appeared despite setting Auto Motion Plus to Custom/Dejudder Off; to eliminate smoothing we had to disable AMP completely.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.004 Good
Avg. gamma 2.1577 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.3116/0.3294 Good
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3116/0.3301 Good
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3126/0.3298 Good
Before avg. color temp. 6815 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6491 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 0.0491 Good
Green lum. error (de94_L) 0.6731 Good
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 0.3917 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2265/0.3305 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3207/0.1532 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.4182/0.5064 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1200 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 1200 Good
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 pixels Good

Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of this size in the Samsung UND8000 series, but we did test the 55-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Samsung UN55D8000.

Samsung UN55D8000 CNET review calibration results

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