Samsung KS8000 SUHD 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV Review (UN49KS8000,UN55KS8000, UN65KS8000)
Samsung’s 4K SUHD HDR TVs with quantum dot color technology in its second generation name are here and they are looking like excellent purchase choices, as we saw with our earlier review of the top-shelf KS9000 2016 SUHD HDR 4K TV. Here we’re going to look carefully at the KS8000, which is one of the “lower-end” cousins of the KS9000 and KS9500 flagship models. In the case of this particular model however, the “lower-end” aspect is definitely muted, with mostly minor differences between the core display and smart TV specs in the KS8000 and its pricier cousins the KS9500/KS9000 TVs.
Most notably, a few extra features for local dimming, motion rate technology and speaker power are what’s a bit weaker in the case of this particular model. The majority of the other differences are either aesthetic or superficial. Furthermore, unlike the KS9500, some versions of the KS9000 (apparently) and the KS8500, the KS8000 is a flat screen 4K TV, something which we ourselves appreciate more than the gimmick that is screen curvature in normal-sized 4K TVs of any kind.
Unlike the KS9000 2016 SUHD TV, which could mostly be considered a close successor to last year’s JS9000 SUHD model, the KS8000 doesn’t quite have a straightforward 2015 counterpart. However, this is largely unimportant anyhow since this particular lower-priced model easily outshines 2015 SUHD versions like the JS8500 and even the highly acclaimed JS9000 in terms of some crucial display specs.
Despite its smaller price, the KS8000 still offers the same essential HDR technology as its pricier 2016 cousins and easily outdoes any of the 2015 SUHD models (except maybe the flagship JS9500) in terms of how well it renders peak brightness and black levels. Other key features like quantum dot color, which was called Nano Crystal color in 2015’s SUHD TVs, are superb in this particular TV and arguably perform as well as they do in even the 2016 flagship SUHD TV, the JS9500.
Furthermore, like all of the 2016 SUHD TVs, the KS8000 complies with the “Ultra HD Premium” standards for both color and HDR from the UHD Alliance , so regardless of this model’s lower price, you’re going to get 10-bit color, superb 1000+ nit peak brightness and some deep rich black tones by LCD TV standards. This is a major bonus of all the 2016 SUHD TVs which was lacking in the 2015 lineup, even though some of those older models did have a lower grade species of HDR technology in their displays as well.
Additionally, the KS8000 benefits from a mix of Samsung’s better than ever before upscaling technology for non-4K content, augmented still further from 2015 by an ability to also impart exceptional brightness and black level enhancements to conventional non-4K SDR video sources of most types. In other words, all that majority of Full HD, 720p and even some well-mastered SD content you watch on the KS8000 will likely look much richer and crisper than it would on any normal HDTV or even on many 4K TVs for that matter.
Some other final strengths of the KS8000 which we also have to like include a great functionality in its Game mode, a better than ever Tizen smart TV platform with great intuitiveness and ease-of-use and a physical design that’s quite beautiful, front and back, with elegance and minimal quarter inch bezeling along the display edges.
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On the other hand, being a far from completely perfect 4K LCD TV, the KS8000 has its share of flaws, though none of them are in any way major deal breakers by any means.
For starters, while some consumers won’t care about this it all, other potential users might seriously be bothered by the fact that Samsung hasn’t included any 3D support of either the passive or active type in any of its 2016 SUHD TVs, the KS8000 being no exception. If you’re used to enjoying some 3D in your home entertainment and can’t live without the technology in your 4K TV, stay away from the 2016 SUHD models then.
Secondly, like its pricier cousin the KS9000, the KS8000 also comes with problems with viewing angles. We personally don’t think the angle viewing is as bad as some have claimed it to be but it’s certainly not great, with the TV’s non-IPS display panel causing a notable amount of color and contrast loss at wider off-center angles. Additionally, some of the display “enhancement” technologies crammed into this and other newer 4K TVs, like Samsung’s AutoMotion Plus, don’t so much improve picture quality as they simply saturate it with odd gimmicks that sound better in marketing language than they do in actual practice. It’s a shame that these technologies are often turned on by default, but it’s often better to manually deactivate them after taking the KS8000 out of its box.
We should also note that the KS8000, being the “lower-end” edition of the new 2016 SUHD KS models, does not feature the slightly superior “Supreme UHD Dimming” or “Supreme Motion Rate 240Hz” technologies of the KS9500 or KS9000. These are minor absences though and even without Supreme UHD Dimming, the TV still performs superbly at local dimming and contrast richness.
Finally, while the contrast on the KS8000 is as good as it is in most 2016 HDR TVs and quite a bit better than almost any levels of HDR we’ve seen in nearly any 2015 4K UHD TV, LCD technology still has a ways to go before it matches the perfect blacks of OLED TVs like LG’s 4K models. The KS8000 may excel at brightness but neither it nor any other LCD 4K TV can yet match what OLED offers for precision local dimming and perfect black.
Our final thoughts on the KS8000 are the same as those we had for the KS9000. If you haven’t yet bought an HDR TV and were thinking of going for one of Samsung’s SUHD models, then definitely go for this one or its slightly more expensive KS9500/KS9000 cousins. They’re a definite improvement over their 2015 cousins in terms of color and contrast display. However, if you already have a 2015 SUHD or other high-end 4K TV and don’t care too much about having the latest in “Ultra HD Premium” HDR technology quite yet, you can forego this particular model comfortably. It’s nearly identical to its 2015 cousins when it comes to non-display specs.
• Screen size: 48.5 diagonal inches, 54.6 diagonal inches (UN55KS8000FXZA) and 64.5 diagonal inches (UN65KS8000FXZA)
• Smart TV: Tizen OS, Smart Hub, Smart TV with Apps and Full Web Browser
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate (Motion Rate 120Hz)
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting with Supreme Dimming tech
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Samsung smart button remote
• Connectivity: 4 HDMI 2.0a ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Sound: 40W (10W x 2, Woofer 10W x 2) Down Firing w/Bass Reflex (2.1CH) speakers with Dolby Digital Plus
• Contrast Ratio: 4,998:1
• Black Level maximum: 0.022 cd/m2
• Other Display Features: Auto Depth Enhancer and Ultra Clear Panel technology
• Processor: Quad-core
Quantum Dot Color: Like its 2015 SUHD cousins, the KS8000 and the rest of the 2016 SUHD models all offer Quantum Dot color technology once again. Samsung has changed its name from NanoCrystal Color to the more descriptive Quantum Dot Color this year but its essentially the same system of ultra-thin layers of quantum dot crystal particles inserted between LED backlight and LCD screen for polarizing light from the LEDs themselves into different broad color patterns, which then further augment the color palette created by the KS8000’s pixels for deeper vibrancy and color realism. The QD color technology of the KS8000 nicely complements the color enhancements of the TV’s HDR specs.
UHD Premium High Dynamic Range: All of the 2016 SUHD TVs offer up HDR capacity that matches the standards set out by the UHD Alliance. This means that with the KS8000 and all of the other TVs in the series, you get your hands on peak brightness levels of 1000 nits, rich black levels of at least 0.05 nits (great by LCD TV standards) and full-blown 10-bit color processing. Of the 2015 SUHD TVs, only the JS9500 was able to match these brightness and black level specs, with the other HDR SUHD TVs like the JS9000 and JS8500 offering a much more limited form of HDR. This is in fact the single most stand-out aspect of the KS8000 and its cousins and what most makes them worth buying over their 2015 counterparts. HDR1000 is the main name that Samsung has given to this technology, though it also includes enhancements like Peak Illuminator Pro and Ultra Black, as well as UHD Dimming technology.
Peak Illuminator Pro and Ultra Black: While not quite as great as the Peak Illuminator Ultimate found in the KS9500 and KS9000 TVs, the Peak Illuminator Pro of the KS8000 is what most works at creating the peaks of nit brightness the TV is capable of. With the KS9000 we saw spot peak brightness hit as many as 1450 nits thanks to Peak Illuminator Ultimate and in the KS8000, while not reaching quite that high, spot brightness can still hit well above 1100 nits. In any case, this is the minimal peak brightness standard for effective “premium” HDR from the UHD Alliance. As for Ultra Black, it works with the TV’s UHD Dimming technology to create the riches possible black levels currently possible in an LCD TV like this model. In the case of the KS8000, those blacks are good indeed, capable of reaching below 0.05 nits of darkness.
Smart TV Improvement:s The 2016 version of the Tizen Smart TV OS is definitely at least a bit better than it was in 2015, and we liked the 2015 Smart Platform, considering it to be the second best on the market today. Now, in the KS8000 and other 2016 SUHD models, Tizen offers a slightly more intuitive user interface, superior point and click capacity in the still somewhat limited “smart” remote and we think that the quad core processor for this year has done a good job of enhancing the speed at which the whole smart platform operates.
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Quite frankly, all of the occasional above complaints about it aside, the visual specs of the KS8000 are nothing short of excellent, not just for an LCD TV but also even when compared to OLED if its peak brightness is taken into account.
For starters, the KS8000 has that handy Ultra HD Premium certification from the UHD Alliance behind it, so you can be fairly sure that it will deliver on the HDR quality for both contrast levels and color realism. However, it’s one thing to read that and its another thing to actually see the quality of the KS8000’s (and other 2016 SUHD TVs) high dynamic range at work when compared to what was available in the 2015 SUHD TVs. With possible peak brightness of more than 1100 nits and black levels capable of going as low as 0.02 nits against average white levels of 98 cd/m2 and even manage blacks as dark as 0.009 nits with UHD local dimming technology activated as well, this TV really creates a wide amount of dynamic range scales for all sorts of fine degrees of bright and dark in onscreen content. The resulting effect is stunning in native 4K ultra HD content with HDR mastering built into it and the HDR specs in the screen also work at making non-HDR or even non-4K content look quite impressive.
Furthermore, color performance in the KS8000 is downright great. The 2016 SUHD models have all seen their color capacities improve from how they were in 2015’s SUHD TVs and those older models were already excellent at creating vibrant color. While Samsung has been a bit tricky in not mentioning this TV’s Rec.2020 color bin coverage (it sits at only about 72%), the TV does still effectively cover more than 93% of the DCI-P3 color space and this is good enough for HDR certification and for the ability to genuinely claim that it offers up 10-bit color, with its 1.06 billion values instead of the 16.8 million of 8-bit color.
We should also note that the native refresh rate of the KS8000 is the same 120Hz of all the other SUHD TVs. Samsung has gone ahead with a “Motion Rate 240” label and in the KS9000 models it even claims “Supreme Motion Rate 240”, though we can hardly tell a difference between the two in action. While not as exaggerated as we’ve seen before, these added artificial refresh rate claims don’t impress us all that much. Native refresh is the important thing to keep in mind.
Finally, as we’d mentioned earlier, the upscaling technology in the KS8000 is downright superb, and now offers the added twist of working to enhance both non-4K content wonderfully but also native 4K content without HDR, since the TV not only upscales lower resolutions but also gives SDR video sources a slight to moderate makeover in contrast quality. The whole 2016 SUHD lineup does this well.
Connectivity specs in the KS8000 and the rest of its 2016 family of 4K TVs is just about identical to what was offered in the 2015 models. There is a total of 4 HDMI 2.0a ports with full HDCP 2.2, HDR and HEVC/VP9 capacity. There is also the added benefit of Samsung’s One Connect mini box available for this TV, which externalizes connectivity ports for easy replacement as new standards come along. The KS8000 also offers 3 USB ports and in this we see ourselves disappointed with the company for continuing to offer only USB 2.0 even in 2016. Would it really cost them that much more time and money to upgrade those ports to the more powerful USB 3.0?
Finally, there are the built-in WiFi and Ethernet connectivity of the KS8000, both of which are important for sharing content from the web to other devices and making sure the TV’s smart features, smart TV content apps and full web browsing capabilities all work smoothly.
Also, the KS8000 offers full compatibility with the H.265 and VP9 4K content compression codecs, meaning that access to pretty much all of today’s main sources of streaming web-based 4K content is a given as long as you have an internet connection of 15 to 25 Mbps.
The Samsung KS8000 2016 SUHD TV sells on Amazon.com for $1,497.99 for the 55 inch model, $2,297.99 for the 65 inch model and for some odd reason, the 49 inch model has no price or availability listings either on the Amazon website or the Samsung TV website either. For the Curved version (KS8500) Click Here for Review.
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To quickly summarize, the KS8000’s main defects are minor, consisting mostly of a lack of 3D support of any kind, poor viewing angles due to the lack of IPS Panel technology, and black performance that isn’t quite as impressive as we’d like in a 2016 SUHD TV. We also wish Samsung would add in USB 3.0 ports to their TVs and the addition of full-array LED backlighting would have been a great feature too.
• Excellent HDR specs
• Superb peak brightness
• Tizen has improved
• Physically beautiful
• Solid color performance
• Weak viewing angles
• No 3D support
• Lacks USB 3.0
• We’d like full-array LED backlighting