A television, especially a big one, is more than just a screen to serve up video. It's furniture. And no TV maker crafts prettier furniture than Samsung.
The MU9000 is one of the nicest-looking TVs I've ever seen. It rivals the looks of Samsung's own Q7 "QLED" model, but costs hundreds less. Yes, it's still basically a big screen, but its thin shape, metallic finish and hidden wiring take its looks to a level beyond anything in its price range.
And in typical Samsung fashion the MU9000 is packed with extras, including an innovative home theater control system that automatically programs its remote to command your gear, no universal remote required. And of course that TV remote is a looker. Heck, even Samsung's menu and Smart TV design is sleeker than the competition, if not quite as packed with apps.
If your priority is getting the best picture quality for your dollar, this isn't the television for you. Its performance was very good in my tests, and in some ways it matched or even exceeded that of the QLED TV, but overall it didn't beat the competition from Sony and Vizio, especially in a demanding home theater environment.
But if you've got a modern designer living room and want a TV to match, a high-end Samsung is a great bet. Despite the MU9000's lack of QLED technology, it delivered very similar image quality to the Q7 in our direct comparison. The Q showed better HDR and a brighter image, while the MU9000 was slightly superior in dark rooms, with better black levels and less blooming (see below for details). Whether it's worth paying extra for the Q comes down to its even-slicker styling, "invisible" fiber-optic wiring and cabinet-friendly OneConnect box. The price gap is pretty, wide, however, so the MU9000 is a better overall value.
So what does high style in a TV look like? Ultra-minimalist thin black edges with metallic trim, a positively tiny Samsung logo and a slim profile are the highlights, and slick touches like a ribbed backside and subtly reflective bottom edge help differentiate this TV from the masses.
I also love the stand, a splayed triangle of metal at once less aggressively modern and more stable-seeming than the one on the Q7. A couple of years ago it would have allowed the TV to swivel, but not these days. Pressure on the top corners caused it to wobble a bit, so it seemed less stable than the splayed-leg stands used by most competitors, but I had no fears of it actually toppling.
The MU9000 does more to make cables disappear than just about any TV aside from the Q7. There's a separate One Connect breakout box into which you plug your gear, connected to the TV by a 9-foot cable. The umbilical is standard thickness, not the Q7's super-thin strand of fiber optics, but it still allows you to minimize the number of things you need to plug into the TV itself.
An innovative wiring channel in the stand spits the only two cables you need -- that umbilical and power -- out the back to keep even casual tabletop installations looking super-clean. For wall mounts you'll have to rely on a standard VESA bracket since the MU9000 won't work with the company's nifty no-gap wall mount, so it doesn't sit as flush against the wall.
Beyond those differences the MU9000 has pretty much the same laundry list of extras as the Q7. The coolest is the ability to control your gear using the remote. It worked very well, automatically recognizing most gear I plugged in, setting it up for control with the remote and even creating a home page shortcut.
Since the infrared commands come from the remote itself and not the One Connect box, as they do on the Q7, you'll need to have line of sight between the clicker and your stuff. Of course a good universal remote could do the job better, but it probably won't look as sleek as Samsung's remote, or be as easy to set up.
Carrying over the same design from 2016, Samsung's homegrown Tizen-based smart TV system is very good for a TV, but its app coverage isn't as comprehensive as that of Android TV (on Sony sets) or Roku TV.
4K streaming with HDR is available from Netflix and Amazon, as well as the Fandango-powered TV Plus app. Samsung added 4K to its Vudu app, but no HDR (Vudu is still currently Dolby Vision-only, which isn't supported on Samsung). The UltraFlix app has some niche 4K content and there's 4K support on the YouTube app. Other major apps like Google Play Movies and TV (no 4K though), Hulu, Plex and both HBOs (Go and Now) are on-board too, but if you want more you'll probably still need to connect an external device like a Roku or Apple TV.
New for 2017 you can perform simple voice commands like launching apps by saying their names or changing TV settings. "Movie Mode" and "Game Mode" worked, for example, and even specific settings like "Backlight 8" can be adjusted via voice.
The biggest specification difference between the MU9000 and the Q7 is lack of quantum dots, microscopic molecules that, when hit by light, emit their own, differently colored light. And as a result it can't get as bright or achieve quite as wide of an HDR color gamut as the Q7.
|Display technology||LED LCD|
|LED backlight||Edge-lit with local dimming|
|Remote:||Universal with voice|
Otherwise the two are very similar, down to the local dimming, which can illuminate different areas of the screen independently to improve image quality. Unlike the dimming used by Vizio or TCL, however, the MU9000 uses an edge-lit array, which is a bit more subject to stray lighting known as blooming.
The set supports high dynamic range (HDR) content in the standard HDR10 and the upcoming HDR10+ formats only. It lacks the Dolby Vision HDR support found on most competitors' HDR TVs. I've seen no evidence that one HDR format is inherently "better" than the other, so I definitely don't consider lack of Dolby Vision a deal breaker on this TV -- instead it's just one more factor to consider.
Only three ports are on the TV itself -- Ethernet, EX-LINK and one of the three USB -- and if you have decent Wi-Fi you probably won't need to use any of them. The rest are housed in the separate OneConnect box. Unlike the bigger box used on the Q7, the MU9000 version doesn't require its own separate power supply.
The selection of jacks is mostly solid, unless you happen to own a legacy device that requires analog video (component or composite) or audio. This is one of the few TVs that doesn't at least offer one analog input, audio or video.
The MU9000's image is very good and most viewers will be perfectly satisfied, especially if they prioritize bright-room viewing over anything else. The more expensive Q7 has an even brighter image, along with better HDR, but actually performed a bit worse than the MU9000 in blooming and black levels.
Compared to the best sets at and even a bit below its price range, however, the MU9000's picture falls a bit short. Home theater fans looking for deep black levels and punchy HDR in a midrage TV will be better served by one of the competing Sony or Vizio sets in my comparison.
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.
Dim lighting: During my favorite black-level torture-test scenes, for example in Chapter 2 of "Gravity" when Ryan tumbles against a backdrop of stars, or in Chapter 12 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" when Voldemort attacks Hogwarts, the MU9000 held its own against the others. The black of the letterbox bars and dark areas was actually deeper than on the Q7 and very similar to the Sony and the Vizio M. The Vizio and TCL P series both showed deeper blacks, but they came at the expense of some details in dark shadows and the star field. Overall I still preferred the latter two, but the Samsung MU9000 was no slouch.
As expected it did evince some blooming, or stray illumination, for example when graphical elements appeared in the corners or the white of Ryan's spacesuit caused the letterbox bars to brighten. It was more controlled on the Vizios and TCL, perhaps because of their full-array dimming, but not bad on the MU9000, and again slightly less noticeable than blooming on the Q7.
In slightly brighter scenes, like Chapter 4 of "Wonder Woman," when she scales the tower, the black-level differences between the sets were more subtle. The M showed a slight advantage in shadows and letterbox bars over the Sony and the MU9000 but it would be invisible outside of a side-by-side comparison. More obvious was the difference in shadow detail, and the MU9000 made them slightly brighter than the others, for a bit less impactful look. Again it wasn't bad, however.
Bright lighting: Like the Q7 the MU9000 can get exceedingly bright, a boon in extremely bright rooms. It actually measured brighter in peaks than even that TV with SDR content, but with HDR the Q7 was brighter.
|TV||Mode (SDR)||10% window (SDR)||Full screen (SDR)||Mode (HDR)||10% window (HDR)|
|TCL 55P607||Vivid/dimming off||438||431||Brighter/Dark HDR||448|
And just like the Q7, the MU9000's peak light output fell precipitously after about 18 seconds, to around 700 nits in both HDR and SDR, or about the same as OLED TVs' maximum light output. In Movie mode, with much more accurate color, HDR light output on the MU9000 was quite a bit dimmer than on the Q7 (644 nits vs. 1044), and even fell short of the Vizio M series' equivalent mode. I consider 500 nits plenty for just about any lighting environment, although the ability to get brighter can help with HDR at times.
The MU9000 also handles ambient light very well. It dealt with reflections and maintained black levels and dimming reflections better than any of the others with the exception of the Q7. It's not quite as good as the Q7 overall in bright rooms, but it's still excellent with the lights up.
Color accuracy: Both before and after calibration the MU9000 was quite accurate, with impressive objective measurements and a nice look to program material. In the early Amazon scenes from "Wonder Woman," for example, The grass and trees appeared lush while the ladies' skin tones looked warm and natural. Side-by-side the Sony and the Vizios, as well as the Q7, looked a tad more saturated and pleasing, but again the difference was anything but drastic.
Video processing: Just like the Q7, the MU9000 aced my tests in this category, delivering true 1080p/24 film cadence with film-based sources and full motion resolution (1,200 lines) with video-based sources. The TV achieved both results with an Auto Motion Plus setting of Custom with Blur Reduction at 10 and Judder Reduction, so if I had this TV I'd "set it and forget" it right there.
If you want to tinker you can always add more smoothing or soap opera effect by increasing Judder Reduction or choosing Auto instead of Custom. Meanwhile the LED Clear Motion option makes motion even sharper with the help of black frame insertion, at the expense of flicker and a dimmer image.
Input lag in Game mode earned an Average rating in my tests at 43ms, a bit worse than the Sony and slightly better than the Vizios.
Uniformity: The MU9000 is similar to the Q7 in this category, and both are somewhat less uniform than the others, with the exception of the TCL. It showed more brightness variations with dimmer full-field test patterns, namely a brighter band along the bottom middle and minor vertical bands across the middle. As mentioned above, blooming is also visible occasionally. That said, none of these issues are deal-breakers by any means, and they were difficult to spot with real moving video as opposed to test patterns.
The MU9000 was fine from off-angle, maintaining black level and color fidelity a bit better than the Q7, the Vizio M and the Sony. They were all quite close, however, and none really stood out.
HDR and 4K video:The MU9000 is very good at HDR, but it couldn't match any of the others overall, and the differences were more apparent than with non-HDR material.
Watching the 4K Blu-ray of Wonder Woman in HDR10, all of the TVs showed slightly more saturation and punch in colors and dynamic areas than the MU9000. The practice grounds (3:31), showed deeper green in the grass and pink in the flowers, and the highlights on the stones and buildings (4:54) looked more clear and brilliant. The Sony, Vizio M and TCL in particular looked better, and the Q7 did as well, especially in terms of color. The color difference was even more drastic during the yellowish airport scenes in Chapter 3, where the MU9000 looked a good deal duller.
In darker scenes like the tower ascent in Chapter 4, the MU9000 looked better. Its letterbox bars actually beat the black levels of the Sony and the Vizio M at times, and when she claims the sword (34:57) the reflections off the blade and the metal surround popped more. In most scenes, however, the MU9000 trailed the others.
The above comparisons were done in HDR10 from the 4K Blu-ray, but I was also curious to see how the MU9000 stacked up against the Dolby Vision of the Vizios and TCL (the latter streamed from an Apple TV 4K). The story was pretty much the same; those three looked better overall, like they did with HDR10, but then again so did the Sony and Q7, which weren't playing Dolby Vision. Once again, the TV seems to have a larger effect on what you see than the HDR format.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.014||Good|
|Peak white luminance (100%)||1410||Good|
|Avg. gamma (10-100%)||2.45||Good|
|Avg. grayscale error (10-100%)||1.445||Good|
|Dark gray error (20%)||0.715||Good|
|Bright gray error (70%)||2.121||Good|
|Avg. color error||1.235||Good|
|Avg. saturations error||1.59||Good|
|Avg. luminance error||1.43||Good|
|Avg. color checker error||1.41||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||1200||Good|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||1200||Good|
|Input lag (Game mode)||43||Average|
|Peak white luminance (10% win)||1435||Good|
|Gamut % DCI/P3 (CIE 1976)||91||Good|
|Avg. saturations error||5.2||Poor|
|Avg. color checker error||4.2||Average|