Samsung KS9800 Review – SUHD 4K Ultra HD 240MR Smart LED TV (UN65KS9800, UN78KS9500, UN88KS9500)
We thought that Samsung’s KS9500 and KS9000 2016 SUHD TVs (they’re identical except for the curve of the KS9500) were pretty stunning models of LCD 4K TV technology with HDR but that was before the KS9800 came along. Without a doubt, this is the single best 4K LCD TV of 2016 and its specs show this in deeply impressive power almost entirely across the board. The KS9800 isn’t just a 4K ultra high definition LCD TV, it’s an absolutely amazing 4K ultra high definition LCD TV like none other produced by any brand this year, at least among any of the models we’ve seen so far. Only the LG G6 Signature OLED 4K TV or perhaps it’s close cousin the E6 could beat this particular Samsung model in terms of sheer overall display quality and we are definitely impressed.
The KS9800 features the very best of current LCD HDR technology as we know it and in terms of color performance, stunning peak brightness, quantum dot technology enhancements, motion control specs and even the quality of its smart TV platform, the KS9800 is superb. Furthermore, as Samsung’s only full-array 4K HDR SUHD TV for 2016, it offers a level of peak brightness that’s the highest we’ve seen in a consumer market 4K TV so far, beating even the very, very bright KS9500 or Sony’s XBR-X940D flagship TV in overall contrast and brightness by a comfortable margin. Samsung has really delivered the goods with this model and despite its very steep price, if you can afford it, it will impress your household and anyone who visits on movie or game night.
Where to start? There are so many stunning aspects to the KS9800 that it’s hard to decide what to mention first. This is sincerely the single best LCD 4K TV we’ve yet reviewed in terms of picture quality specs and there are plenty of things to point out for their superb quality. Thus, we’ll focus on the core features that make this particular SUHD flagship TV really stand out for its quality.
First and foremost, the KS9800 offers up the dual technologies of Peak Illuminator Ultimate and HDR1000, and in combining both, it takes it peak brightness to a level that not even the KS9500 can match. Furthermore, while the 2015 flagship TV, the JS9500 also had Peak Illuminator Ultimate built into it along with full-array LED backlighting like the KS9800, this 2016 model beats its 2015 cousin by almost three-fold in terms of how bright its display can get in concentrated areas or over a large portion of the screen. The combination of HDR1000 technology, Samsung’s fantastically bright LEDs and full-array LED backlighting makes the KS98000 take its ability to render high peak brightness to a level we haven’t yet seen in any other 4K TV this year, not even Sony’s also full-array X940D flagship HDR TV.
On the other side of this peak brightness coin, the KS9800’s darkest possible black level is also impressive. Though more closely matched to the black level of the other 2016 SUHD TVs, the deeper and deepest possible blacks in the KS9800 stand out even better due to the higher display brightness power of this model. As a result contrast in the KS9800 is also the best we’ve yet seen in any LCD 4K TV to-date. Overall, the effect crated by all that rich inky blackness is one of stunning dynamic range that really lives up to the hype around HDR and a degree of realism for movie content that is stunning. The vibrancy of native 4K HDR movies and other content is something you have to see to appreciate on the KS9800 and we can’t imagine it disappointing anyone in this regard.
Next, this 4K TV comes with wide color gamut as part of its HDR specs and also offers the added benefit of Samsung’s most advanced version of quantum dot technology. The combination of the two is something that results in a color vibrancy which is nothing short of superb. The KS9500 and KS9000 both deliver the same high degree of color performance and coverage of the DCI-P3 color spectrum but the KS9800 still seems to one up both of these other SUHD models by at least a bit and we think that what makes these specs stand out slightly more in this model is the elevated maximum brightness, or possibly Samsung’s own greater attention to color performance design in their flagship TV.
Moving along into high quality characteristics that the KS9800 shares with the rest of the SUHD TVs for this year, this flagship television comes packed with a powerfully fast new quad-core processor, Samsung’s latest version of their excellent Tizen smart TV platform and the connectivity specs needed for a 4K TV that’s fully up to par with the latest in 4K and non-4K content technology. Furthermore, the motion control, upscaling, judder control and overall HDR specs of the KS9800 are excellent or even downright perfect in some cases. Judder control for 24p content in particular is superb, with no detectable flaws that we could see when the TV performs 3:2 pulldown and motion enhancement on non-60fps content sources. Motion blur control is also great across the board for virtually all content sources, especially those which consist of well-formatted high resolution or UHD content delivered at 60Hz to the TV.
Finally, the KS9800 is as beautiful as we’ve come to expect of a Samsung 4K TV in their premium range. Its elegant sleek design is minimalist, remarkably light for the size of this particular model and the display size options (if you can afford them) all consist of massive displays of 65, 78 and 88 inch screens which will truly immerse their viewers and dominate almost any size of living room or den.
3.3 - 3 Reviews
Even a 4K TV as impressive as the KS9800 isn’t perfect and despite its overwhelmingly stunning specs and features, this model also isn’t without some minor flaws. None of them are by any means deal breakers for anyone who’s willing to pay the price for a TV like this but they are all worth mentioning.
First and foremost, there’s the curve of the KS9800. As we’ve covered before in a whole guide to the pros and cons of curved vs. flat screen TVs, curvature in any normal sized 4K Television (yes even the giant 78 inch models) is almost entirely a gimmick which really doesn’t impart any practical picture quality enhancements. Some buyers may simply prefer the way a curved TV looks and this is a highly subjective preference but they are definitely not getting any extra value from a curved screen. Thus, the curved display of the KS9800 is purely decorative. It doesn’t contribute to the TVs superb performance even if Samsung might be aiming for this impression. In the KS9500 and its cousin the KS9000, we got to see two TVs with essentially identical specs but with the KS9500 costing roughly $200 more simply because it’s curved. This is silly and made us want to recommend that viewers who don’t care about how curve looks simply forego the KS9500 in favor of the KS9000 while getting the exact same display performance. With the KS9800 there exists no flat screened version with identical specs so we can’t make the same suggestion, though we suspect that at least part of the KS9800’s rather steep price is being justified by the screen curve of the TV.
Next, the KS9800 and all the rest of the 2016 SUHD TVs don’t come with 3D support. Many viewers will find this omission to be irrelevant since 3D isn’t extremely popular to begin with, but for those of you who need a 4K TV with 3D of some kind, the 2016 SUHD models aren’t going to be your preferred choice, despite their otherwise stunning display specs. The KS9800,despite being the best that Samsung has to offer for this year, offers no 3D support of any kind, either of the active or passive kind.
Finally, despite offering up a full-array LED backlighting system behind its screen, the KS9800 could still use some improvement in the quality of its local dimming technology. Yes, the local dimming of this TV is quite good and definitely far better than the local dimming of the edge-lit KS9500 but we expected even better than what the KS9800 delivers, especially when we compare the quality of this spec in this TV to the local dimming of the much cheaper 2016 Vizio P-Series 4K HDR TV models, which also come with full-array LED backlighting. For truly rich deep blacks, local dimming is in fact best left turned off in the KS9800 since it heavily reduced black level maximums.
The Samsung KS9800 SUHD TV with HDR is the single best LCD 4K TV we've seen in 2016. If you can afford this model's steep price tags, then go for it. Nothing except for LG's flagship OLED TVs matches the picture quality of this TV.
• Screen size: 65 diagonal inches -UN65KS9800, 78 diagonal inches - UN78KS9500 and 88 diagonal inches - UN88KS9500
• 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 (Supreme MR 240Hz)
• Screen Lighting: full-array LED backighting with Supreme UHD 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 Component, 1 composite, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Sound: 70W (70W (20Wx2 + 15Wx2)) Down Firing Down Firing w/Tweeter (4.2CH) speakers with Dolby Digital Plus
• Contrast Ratio: 6,842:1
• Other Display Features: Curved display, Auto Depth Enhancer and Ultra Clear Panel technology
• Processor: Quad-core
Quantum Dot Color: Just as 2015’s SUHD 4K TVs came with what Samsung called Nano crystal color, the 2016 models come with what’s now called Quantum Dot Color. Both are the same technology by different names and in either case, the technology in question does work to enhance display performance by augmenting the 10-bit color reproduction delivered by the KS9800’s HDR display specs. The result is an even richer than normal color palette on the screen. The way in which Quantum Dot Color works is essentially by interposing a layer of ultra-thin screens with quantum dot nanocrystals of different sizes impregnated into them. When the white light from the TV’s LEDs passes through these nanocrystals it polarizes them into shining different primary colors based on their specific size. The result blends with color technology in the pixels on the screen for deeper, more varied and thus richer color space coverage.
UHD Premium High Dynamic Range: The KS9800 has been certified for Ultra HD Premium high dynamic range by the UHD Alliance, along with the other 2016 SUHD TVs as a TV that matches their rather specific color and contrast specs. This means that the TV has to comply with minimums and maximums of color space coverage, peak brightness and black level in particular. These specs and their certification in the KS9800 mean that the TV is capable of reaching at least 1100 cd/m2 of peak brightness and can manage black levels no higher than 0.05 nits. As we’ll soon see, the KS9800 more than meets these standards and uses its own internal technologies in the form of Supreme UHD Dimming, Peak Illuminator Ultimate and Precision Black Pro, all working along with Samsung’s “HDR 1000” technology, to essentially ensure that the television display delivers at least 1100 nits of peak brightness and 0.05 nits of black along with 10-bit color (The KS9800 in fact far exceeds both of these specs for brightness and black level). The effect on HDR 4K content is downright stunning to behold and really does make a difference from what you’d get with even the best non-HDR 4K LCD TVs.
Full-array LED backlighting and Peak Illuminator Ultimate The 2016 KS9800 is the only SUHD TV among this year’s models which offers full-array LED backlighting. Along with this technology, this TV is also the only 2016 model with Peak Illuminator Ultimate instead of the Peak Illuminator Pro of the KS9500 and other SUHD TVs. As a result, the peak brightness capacity of the KS9800 is second to none. Not only is it better than that of the other 2016 SUHD models, it’s also better than the peak brightness of any 4K TV we’ve seen in 2016.
Smart TV Improvements: The 2016 version of the Tizen smart TV platform and its Smart Hub interface has definitely been streamlined still further from the great smart OS we saw in 2015’s Samsung 4K TVs. Tizen was in our opinion the second best smart TV system after LG’s WebOS in the 2015 TV lineups by brand and in 2016, the same is the case, but with further improvements to Tizen in this year. Now Tizen offers all of the most popular 4K and other media apps while also having expanded its selection of choices still further. Furthermore, navigation between different app menus and different other sections of the smart platform is easier than ever. We also love the aesthetic and design changes to the menus on the 2016 platform’s interface. They’re better looking and more usable than they were in the 2015 version of this smart platform. Furthermore, the smart TV remote of the KS9800 and the rest of the 2016 SUHD TVs is pretty well built. It’s simple, easy to use and offers great smart platform usability. On the other hand though, the remote for 2016 now lacks the ability to work as a pointer and not all of its buttons offer tactile feedback.
3.3 - 3 Reviews
As we have already said repeatedly above, the KS9800 offers some absolutely stunning visual specs almost across the board. In terms of color performance, black level, contrast, peak brightness, color accuracy, and all major motion control parameters along with the quality of its upscaling technology for non-4K content, this 4K TV is a stunner. Here are the actual numbers for these major specs.
Color-wise, the performance of the KS9800 is superb. As one of Samsung’s Ultra HD Premium 4K HDR TVs as certified by the UHD Alliance, the KS9800 has to deliver above 90% DCI-P3 color performance and it more than meets this standard by offering up a wide color gamut coverage that covers just over 96% (96.2%) of the DCI-P3 color space. Even Rec 2020 color space coverage in the KS9800 is excellent by current standards, with 74.1% coverage of this massive next-generation color space for digital video content. As a result, the color gradient for 10 bit color in the KS9800 is very smooth, with no visible banding between different color grades. Furthermore, these high caliber color performance specs can be best appreciated when this TV is displaying the native 4K HDR content the TV was really built to show off in its full glory.
In terms of contrast, black level and peak brightness, the KS9800 impresses more than any other 4K TV we’ve seen yet. Peak brightness as per the standards of Ultra HD Premium has to reach at least 1000 nits of brightness on a segment of a TV screen. In the case of the KS9800 it more than exceeds this base level with a brightness measurement of 1455 nits, which is even higher than the 1415 nits that we had previously registered as the highest peak brightness measurement we’d ever seen, in the edge-lit ks9500 SUHD TV. Correspondingly, the maximum black level of the KS9800 sits at a very inky 0.011 nits and overall black uniformity across the screen is nearly perfect, with rich black covering the entire display if needed. Due to the black level in particular, the KS9800 also delivers the best maximum contrast ratio we’ve ever seen in an LCD 4K TV, offering up a stunningly broad contrast ratio of 6,842:1, which is also the best we’ve yet seen in a non-OLED 4K TV so far.
Finally, as far as motion control ant upscaling specs go, the KS9800 is also a top-notch performer. It delivers superb upscaling of all well formatted content in 480p and 720p resolutions and when it comes to displaying Full HD content or native 4K video sources, the quality of the resolution is downright superb. In fact, Full HD hard media video from sources like Blu-ray discs upscales so well on the KS9800 that it displays as well as or even sometimes better than native 4K video that has been streamed to the TV.
Motion control specs are generally superb in the KS9800. It offers excellent, essentially perfect judder control for 24p content of all types and the motion interpolation technology of this Samsung flagship 4K TV is excellent as well, with great smoothing power for 30fps content or even for higher fps content sources. Additionally, the motion blur factor of the KS9800’s display is minimal for the most part, with only minor blur appearing, especially when motion interpolation and Auto Motion Plus are kept active.
Finally, the local dimming quality of the KS9800’s full-array LED backlighting system is a definite improvement over the mediocre local dimming we saw in the KS9500, KS9000 and other 2016 SUHD TVs. However, we expected still better local dimming from such a robust and massive 4K television and thus would say that the local dimming of this model is only moderately good. In this area, LG’s OLED 4K TVs like the flagship G6 completely blow the KS9800 out of the water in terms of quality, but that’s to be expected from TVs in which each individual pixel among millions acts as its own local dimming zone.
Connectivity-wise, the KS9800 offers pretty much all of the essentials that come with any 4K TV in 2016 and all of the Samsung models as well.
This means a total of 4 HDMI 2.0a ports with full HDCP 2.2 and HEVC/VP9 support integrated into this TV’s required One Connect box for external connectivity, along with HDR encoded content reading capacity (the “a” in HDMI 2.0a). Furthermore, the KS9800’s One Connect box includes 3 USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet connection and built-in WiFi for streaming content to and from mobile devices in non-4K resolutions.
Of course, the smart Platform also offers up wide access to many media apps with 4K content streams and music or non-4K video media and there is also a full web browser built into Tizen. Just remember however that the KS9800 will only be able to stream online 4K video if it’s connected to a high-speed internet connection of at least 15 to 20Mbps through its Ethernet connection.
The Samsung KS9800 is definitely not an affordable 4K TV and the three models released are possibly some of the most expensive 4K LCD TVs on sale today. The 65 inch model retails for $4,497.99, the 78 inch model for $9,997.99 and the giant 88 inch version of this TV is selling for a whopping $19,999.00. The 65 inch and 78 inch models are all available on Amazon.com.
3.3 - 3 Reviews
Most of all, we’re not fans of this model’s curved display and think it adds pointless cost to the retail price. Furthermore, the viewing angles of the KS9800 are weak due to the VA panel design and the lack of 3D support might not please some consumers.
• stunning peak brightness
• Superb High Dynamic Range
• Tizen smart OS is superb
• The TV looks beautiful
• Incredible color specs
• Fantastic black level
• Some of the best LCD contrast we’ve yet seen
• Nearly perfect motion control specs
• Full-array LED backlighting
• VA display panel offers weak viewing angles
• No 3D support
• Local dimming could be better
• Curved screen is pointless