Samsung KU7000 Series 2016 4K UHD Smart Flat LED TV Review (UN49KU7000, UN55KU7000)
UPDATE: Earlier we had stated in this review that the Samsung KU7000 lacks wide color gamut. After further examination of this model we found that we were wrong. The TV does indeed feature Wide Color Gamut even though it lacks the also important spec of 10-bit color, for 1.07 billion colors instead of the 16.7 million colors of 8-bit color which this TV comes with.
In the follow-up to their superb new 2016 SUHD HDR 4K TVs, which replaced the 2015 SUHD models as the brand’s premium 4K TVs, Samsung has now also put up a whole but slightly limited series of 4K UHD TVs as a replacement to the 2015 JU-Series 4KK models. These are the 2016 KU-Series models and consist of the KU7500, KU7000, KU6500 and KU6300. With the KU TVs, Samsung has created a line of slightly more conservative 4K UHD models with limited HDR support which doesn’t match what’s on offer with their SUHD cousins for this year or last year. On the other hand, these TVs do still offer some great display specs, smart TV features and other key benefits that we’ve liked in nearly every 2015 and 2016 Samsung 4K TV we’ve reviewed so far.
The KU7000 is itself almost identical to the KU7500 we’ve already reviewed but lacks the same screen curvature of its pricier twin and as such can’t quite be called the “top-shelf” model among the KU-Series televisions. Despite this, the KU7000 actually provides superior value to that of its 7500 cousin due to its more reasonable price and what are essentially the same display specs as its pricier curved brother TV. Also comparable to the 2015 JU7100 4K UHD TV, the KU7000 comes with very similar levels of contrast, color accuracy and other key aspects of display quality. Furthermore, because this TV includes the 2016 Tizen smart TV platform and Samsung’s typically excellent content upscaling engine, there’s plenty of high quality to be found here. On the other hand, a lack of the top-shelf high dynamic range specs of the SUHD KS-Series 2016 4K TVs does spoil the KU7000’s high dynamic range technology, which might be of most interest to potential buyers.
Note: This particular review of the KU7500 is not based on hands-on revision of this TV and is more of a preliminary overview based on everything we could find about the TV. We will however be updating it robustly with specific details once we had a chance to look at the TV in live detail.
First and foremost in our opinion, the KU7000 comes with the same superb new 2016 version of the Tizen smart TV platform with SmartHub that has been included in all of this year’s 4K TVs from the company. This is one very positive aspect of the KU7000 that we can’t help but appreciate. Tizen 2016 comes with all the same benefits and usability of its 2015 predecessor but with the further refinement of some new aspects. These include an even better level of user friendliness, access to a wider range of 4K and other streaming media apps and a few new key user interface and content access options that definitely simplify things.
Some of the improvements to Tizen 2016 include an easier level of game handling without the need for a console and a simplified mechanism for connectivity between KU7000 and external streaming content sources like set-top boxes, cloud storage systems and mobile devices most of all. In 2015 we considered Tizen to be the second best smart TV platform of the year and our opinion remains the same in 2016.
Next along, the overall picture quality in the KU7000 is for the most part superb. While the TV lacks the more robust UHD Alliance-certified high dynamic range specs of SUHD cousins such as the KS9000 2016 HDR TV model , it does still deliver very robust black levels, a high level of peak luminosity and some very solid (but not HDR-level) color accuracy and range. Furthermore, the quality of the KU7000’s motion control technologies is good for the most part. On top of this, the 4K UHD upscaling engine in the KU7000 is as good as anything you’ll see in any other 2016 Samsung 4K model, so this is a worry-free bonus to have available.
Finally, in physical terms, the KU7000 shares the same lovely aesthetic appeal of its other 2016 4K TV cousins. Samsung is particularly good at putting together 4K TVs with a very handsome physical design and the KU7000 is no exception to this, with an elegant nearly bezel-free display, a minimalist but sturdy supporting stand and a very good looking silver-grey tone throughout its body and base. What we also like about this model is its lack of display curvature. Samsung designed the KU7500 with this feature and despite that model and the KU7000 having essentially identical display specs, the KU7500 costs a couple hundred dollars more, due almost entirely to its curved screen. Thus, with the KU7000, you can cut this pointless expense out of the picture (literally in part) and without worry about display quality, since as we’ve carefully explained before, curved displays are little more than a gimmick with little or no practical value to offer.
-.- - 0 Reviews
While the KU7000 is definitely a great piece of home entertainment technology, it’s also not without its imperfections. Thus, a few key things keep this 4K TV from being as good as it could have been with a bit of price and specs tweaking.
First of all, there is the simple fact that the KU7000 and all the rest of the KU-Series TVs don’t come with the full package of UHD Alliance-certified specs for Ultra HD Premium levels of dynamic range. The KU7000 does come with what Samsung calls HDR Premium technology but this isn’t the same as the superior brightness, black levels and color of HDR1000 that are found in the SUHD TVs. In other words, for viewing the latest high dynamic range content from sources like 4K Blu-ray and Netflix, the KU7000 and other KU TVs won’t deliver quite the impressive quality we’ve seen in the KS TVs in the 2016 SUHD lineup. Because of this, considering the price of this 49 inch and 55 inch 4K TV, the KU7000 actually offers slightly less overall value than a similarly priced model like the 2016 P-Series from Vizio, which does indeed come with Wide Color Gamut and exceptional brightness specs while being slightly more affordable.
Going into more detail on the KU7000’s visual deficiencies and lower-caliber HDR, the major sticking point is the lack of 10-bit color in this model. The KU7000 does come with Wide Color Gamut at about 94% DCI-P3 spectrum coverage and includes what Samsung calls Active Crystal Color, which is as far as we can tell the same technology as Quantum Dot Color in the 2016 SUHD TVs. In the KU7000 and it's cousin the KU7500, Samsung did indeed includ 10-bit color for a total of 1.07 billion color values.
Finally, in terms of connectivity specs, the KU7000 and the rest of the 2016 KU-Series 4K TVs are all oddly deficient on the number of key connectivity ports they have. In this model and the rest of the KU-Series lineup, we get only a total of 3 HDMI 2.0a ports and 2 USB ports. This is in contrast to the 4 HDMI and 3 USB ports of the 2016 SUHD TVs, the 2015 SUHD TVs and even the otherwise comparable 2015 JU-Series 4K TVs from Samsung. This was a bit of an odd decision on Samsung’s part to say the least.
Overall, the Samsung KU7000 offers a superior value to the company’s KU7500 curved but otherwise nearly identical 4K TV for 2016. Because of this, we recommend this model even more and consider its display specs to be quite good for the most part. Furthermore, the Tizen smart platform and UHD Upscaling engine in the KU7000 are as good as they are in almost any other major Samsung 4K TV. On the other hand, if you want even better value for your money, go for Vizio’s 2016 P-series 4K TVs with many even better specs and a slightly better price .
• Screen size: 54.6 diagonal inches - UN55KU7000 and 49 diagonal inches - UN48KU7000
• 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: 60Hz native refresh rate (Motion Rate 120Hz)
• Screen Lighting: Edge-lit LED backlighting with UHD Dimming
• 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: 3 HDMI 2.0a ports, 2 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Component, 1 composite, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Sound: 60W (20W x 2, Woofer 10W x 2) Down Firing Down Firing w/Tweeter (4.1CH) speakers with Dolby Digital Plus
• Contrast Ratio: 3,600:1
• Other Display Features: Curved display, Auto Depth Enhancer and Ultra Clear Panel technology
• Processor: Quad-core
• Weight: 43.4 pounds (55 inch model)
• Dimensions: 48.6" x 31" x 13.1" (55 inch model, with stand)
Active Crystal Color: While the KU7000 doesn’t include the Wide Color Gamut of the 2016 SUHD 4K TVs, it does come with Samsung’s Active Crystal Color technology and this is a useful addition to its overall display output quality. This technology, which is essentially the same thing as Quantum Dot Color in the SUHD TVs as far as we can tell, uses filter screens of nanocrystal particles which are then polarized into displaying certain primary colors as the light from the backlight LEDs passes through them. In turn, the colored light mixes with the color capacity of the TVs pixels to create a more broadly mixed palette of colors for broader vibrancy and greater display realism that’s definitely superior to what we’ve seen in a majority of non-HDR 4K TVs for this year and last year.
HDR: Once again, the KU7000 doesn’t offer the same full range of 4K high dynamic technology as its 2016 SUHD cousins with their compatibility to HDR10 standards. This means that the TV doesn’t deliver the peak luminance of 1100 nits or more and same Wide Color Gamut as those top-shelf 4K HDR TV models do. Furthermore, its color coverage doesn’t offer quite the same realistic richness we’ve seen in models like the KS9500 2016 HDR television. However, the KU7000, like the KU7500, does come with HDR Premium capacity and this does offer up a level of dynamic range that’s at least comparable to high dynamic range as we’ve seen it in some 2015 4K TV models with this technology. It’s not the best in HDR that you’ll find in the KU7000 but the TV still delivers a range of contrast that’s better than what you’ll find in any SDR 4K TV.
Tizen & Smart Hub: Tizen in the 2016 4K TVs of all types from Samsung is even better than it was in 2015. Last year we called this the second best smart TV platform on the market and we stand by that view in 2016. The new additions in Tizen and Smart Hub for this year definitely work to the platforms favor, with console-free gaming, the ability to access games from a cloud server and simplified access to streaming media from external mobile devices and content sources in the TV itself. The Tizen user interface is also wonderfully clean and user-friendly.
Smart Remote: Samsung’s smart remote could have used still further improvements in 2016 and we think that LG’s smart remote control is definitely superior in its overall design and functionality but Samsung has at least made a remote which for 2016 offers an easy to use touchpad for smart TV manipulation, voice command and a comfortable design overall. Furthermore, this year’s model is extremely flexible when it comes to connectivity with other home theater devices, letting you broad amount of control with the comfort of a single control device.
-.- - 0 Reviews
In terms of visual specs, the KU7000 doesn’t quite match the truly impressive display quality we’ve seen in several different 2016 HDR 4K TV models, including Samsung’s own KS-Series SUHD TVs, Sony’s X930D model and even Vizio’s P-Series 4K HDR models for this year. However, this TV does deliver what is a definitely solid display quality by the standards of any name brand mid-range 4K TV today. Contrast looks rich and varied, colors are robust and reasonably accurate and technologies like Ultra Clear Panel, Auto Depth Enhancer and Active Crystal Color all do their part to deliver a high quality of realism and vibrancy to the KU7000’s screen in almost any lighting conditions.
The black levels aren’t OLED-perfect and don’t even quite match the black levels we like in the KS-Series premium Samsung TVs but unless you put the two kinds of TVs side by side for a direct comparison, you’re not likely to notice much of a quality decrease here. Furthermore, peak brightness is still good, even if it doesn’t come close to matching the 1400 nits that the KS9000 or KS9500 are capable of.
Furthermore, the KU7000 comes with a Vertical Alignment panel technology which allows for contrast levels to be delivered to their maximum potential even if VA display does also spoil viewing angles to some degree. In the case of the KU7000 and other KU-Series TVs, watching the TV from more than about 65 degrees off dead center will create a notable decrease in contrast and color quality.
Now, to go into this TV’s HDR specs in further detail, the lack of key HDR10 display specs like those in the SUHD cousins of the KU7000 means that this TV can’t manage the profoundly bright peak luminance of the top-shelf 4K TVs for 2016. Thus, instead of delivering 10% window brightness of more than 1200 nits, this model offers something closer to 500 nits and while its black level is fairly close to that of the SUHD models, overall contrast sits at around 3,600:1 instead of the more than 6000:1 we saw in the KS8500 or the KS9500 TVs.
Furthermore, the KU7000 does come with 10-bit color and thus manages the same smooth 1.07 billion color values worth of gradient we've seen in the more robust HDR 4K TVs of 2016. The TV also offers Wide Color Gamut and this means a 94.1% DCI-P3 color space coverage. This at least is an important inclusion in the KU-Series 4K TVs because this level of DCI-P3 color space coverage is key to being able to deliver the level of HDR color saturation that has been standardized with Ultra HD Premium from the UHD Alliance and HDR10 standards. Nonetheless, without the excpetional peak brightness levels of its SUHD cousins, the KU7000 doesn't quite deliver the stunning realism we’ve seen in a number of major 2016 HDR TVs like the X940D from Sony .
Finally, in terms of motion control and upscaling technologies, the KU7000 performs mostly well on the first of these and superbly on the second, non-4K content upscaling. Specs for judder control, motion blur control and motion interpolation in the form of Motion Rate 120 technology are solid performers and the KU7000’s upscaling engine does a great job of cleaning up and refining Full HD content in particular while also deliver high quality 480p and 720P upscaling for well formatted content sources.
Samsung’s 4K TVs come with either the One Connect or One Connect Mini external connectivity box for better future-proofing and expanded connectivity options as needed. That said, the number of built in connectivity options in this and other KU-Series TVs is rather limited with only 3 HDMI 2.0a ports and just 2 USB ports. On the other hand, this TV does offer full Ethernet connectivity, built-in WiFi and a full web browser as well as all the 4K and non-4K digital media apps you could expect from any major name brand 4K TV for 2016.
Also, the KU7000, like all Samsung 4K TVs for this year and last year, come with the latest specs like HDCP 2.2, H.265 and VP9 content encoding support.
Samsung’s KU7000 comes in four sizes for the time being. These are the 43 inch, 49 inch range, 55 inch and the 65 inch range, with retail prices on Amazon.com of $921.15 for the 43 inch, $1,099.99 for the 49 inch, $1,399.99 for the 55 inch and $2,277.82 for the 65 inch model TV.
-.- - 0 Reviews
To summarize briefly, we dislike the following aspects of the KU7000 4K “HDR” TV: It lacks a wider array of HDMI and USB ports, it offers somewhat limited viewing angles due to its VA panel technology and it doesn’t offer the full HDR of other major 2016 4K TVs with the particularly notable absence of 10-bit color being a weakness in this model and the other KU-Series 4K TVs for 2016.
• Tizen smart OS is even better than in 2015
• Great screen brightness
• Samsung’s great upscaling engine
• Robust contrast
• Beautiful physical design
• Decent price
• no full HDR
• fewer HDMI, USB ports than other TVs
• contrast could improve