Samsung KU7500 Review: 2016 4k UHD Smart Curved LED TV Series (UN49KU7500, UN55KU7500)
After first releasing their excellent and well-received 2016 SUHD Premium 4K UHD TV series with HDR recently as a replacement for the 2015 SUHD TVs, Samsung has now also offered up several new 4K UHD TV replacements to the 2015 JU-Series TVs. These are called the KU-Series 4K TVs and while these new TVs are more limited in terms of size ranges and model types than their 2015 predecessors, they still have plenty of powerful display specs to offer for a relatively affordable budget and even feature a limited form of HDR support that however doesn’t quite match the top-shelf high dynamic range specs of the SUHD KS-Series 2016 4K TVs .
The KU7500 represents what could be called the “top-shelf” TV among the KU-Series models and is comparable in many ways to 2015’s JU7100 or JU7500 4K UHD TV models, with a display quality that’s comparable to that of these slightly older TVs and a listing of specifications that almost completely matches that of the flat screened KU7000 which we have also reviewed. Overall. While available in relatively modest display sizes and much less decked out than the USH TVs of 2016 or 2015, the KU7500 still has plenty on offer for a serious home theater system, even if we’ve seen better display quality from more affordable 4K TVs like the Vizio 2016 P-Series HDR models.
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.
For starters, the KU7500 comes with the same refined new 2016 version of Samsung’s Tizen smart TV OS with SmartHub . This alone is one very positive feature of this and the rest of the company’s 2016 4K UHDTVs. Smart Hub and Tizen are now easier to use than ever, offer a wider range of apps and come with at least a couple of new user interface options and redesigns. Other improvements to Tizen include the ability to handle games without a console and some great, simplified new connectivity capacity for mobile devices or cloud storage. In 2015, we believed Tizen to be the second best smart TV platform among all the 4K TV brands and this still remains the case in 2016 with this OS.
Next up, overall picture quality in the KU7500 is for the most part excellent. This TV lacks the deep rich HDR specs of the 2016 SUHD models and doesn’t quite match their motion control specs but it still delivers mostly robust black levels, some very decent peak brightness and decent color accuracy. Furthermore, the quality of Samsung’s upscaling engine for non-4K content is as good as we’ve seen it in any other 4K TV from this brand. In this more than many other specs, the KU7500 presents the same quality as we’ve seen in even the best Samsung 4K TVs for this or other years.
Finally, the physical design of the KU7500 looks great. We’re not major fans of curvature in 4K TVs but the aesthetic appeal of this TVs appearance can’t be denied, curved display and all. With a slim elegant body, very narrow display bezels and some refinements from the 2015 JU-Series models that make this TV just slightly but notable more elegant looking still. In the look of its TVs, Samsung is a definite winner and the KU7500 represents this nicely.
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On the other hand, there are a few things to be unhappy about in the KU-Series TVs and the KU7500 among them. For starters, this model doesn’t come with the rich robust HDR specs of its SUHD cousins or of many competitor 4K TVs for this year. Considering that the 55 inch model costs just under $1600, this is an oversight that Samsung didn’t have to go with. While the company claims HDR support for the KU7500, it seems to be more of the same type that was supposedly included with the higher-end JU-Series 2015 4K TVs , which is to say that it isn’t really HDR of the now standardized kind as defined by metrics like those of Dolby or the UHD Alliance.
Furthermore, the color coverage of the KU7500, while including what Samsung calls “Active Crystal Color” --which seems to be more or less the same technology as quantum dot nanocrystal color in the SUHD models—doesn’t include the HDR-enhanced Wide Color Gamut found in the 2016 SUHD TVs or models like Vizio’s 2016 P-Series televisions. In other words, this is one more mark against the HDR chops of the KU7500.
Moving along, this particular 4K TV comes with a curved display. While some consumers may prefer this display style due to its aesthetic appeal, they shouldn’t fool themselves into buying the Samsung hype around it about “greater immersion”. Curvature in any normal-sized TV for the home makes little or no positive display quality difference in a TV and the KU7500 comes priced at a range at least a couple hundred dollars more expensive than that of the KU7100 flat screen 4K KU-Series TV mostly because of this purely cosmetic curvature.
Overall, from what we’ve seen of the KU7500 so far, we like this new 2016 “HDR” 4K TV from Samsung. It delivers solid display, some great specs and offers enough of Samsung’s high quality technology to nearly guarantee a superb display performance at a mostly reasonable price. However, we also think that the Vizio P-Series for 2016 might actually offer superior overall value and definitively broader HDR specs while costing a decent chunk of change less than this model does.
• Screen size: 54.6 diagonal inches: UN55KU7500 and 49 diagonal inches: UN49KU7500
• 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 13.1 x 31 inches (55 inch model)
Active Crystal Color: While the Samsung KU7500 does not have the Wide Color Gamut technology which comes with more robust HDR specs, it does manage to include Active Crystal Color and this is a good thing for the display. In essence, this is the quantum dot technology of Samsung’s SUHD TVs but with a slightly different name and more or less the same function: using nano crystal filter technology to change the tones of LED light from the TVs backlight array into several primary colors which then further expand the color gamut delivered by the TV’s pixels. In basic terms, this means that the KU7500 and the other 2016 KU TVs deliver a broader range of color values and greater color accuracy than their 2015 non-SUHD cousins. As a result, realism and vibrancy look better in this 4K TV and its new companions.
HDR: The KU7500 doesn’t offer the same full range of 4K HDR technology as the 2016 SUHD TVs do . In other words, Samsung hasn’t given this model the extremely high peak luminance of the HDR1000 in the SUHD TVs and thus the TV can’t manage the same 1100 nit+ peak brightness as those models. Furthermore, there is no inclusion of Wide Color Gamut technology for HDR standards and we suspect that the black levels are also a bit weaker than in the SUHD TVs. Nonetheless, the KU7500 does offer Samsung’s “HDR Premium” spec and this means a level of high dynamic range mostly comparable to that offered by the lower-end 2015 SUHD TVs or the top shelf 2015 JU-Series models like the JU7500. This isn’t true standardized HDR but it does impart a level of overall dynamic range and contrast which is superior to what you’d see in an ordinary SDR 4K TV.
Tizen & Smart Hub: 2016’s Tizen smart TV platform is better than it was in 2015 and the 2015 version was the second best we saw in 4K TVs for that year. The new refinements and extra features of Tizen for 2016 definitely improve its usability, with additional console-free gaming ability, the ability to play games right from the cloud and a newly improved and simplified capacity for connecting your TV to mobile devices and streaming online content. Additionally, switching back and forth between cable and streaming video content in the 2016 version of Tizen and its Smart Hub is easier than it was last year.
Smart Remote: Samsung’s new Smart Remote isn’t quite as improved from 2015 as we’d like but it’s worth noting due to the ease with which it controls the KU7500’s smart OS with a little practice. The touch pad on the remote is also a bit tricky to get the hang of but with some practice, controlling the TV and selecting options through it becomes very efficient. We also like the way in which the smart remote lets users control other home entertainment devices directly.
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The KU7500 and its 2016 KU UHD TV cousins don’t quite match the picture quality of the SUHD TVs from this year or even last year but they do deliver what is nonetheless superb display quality by the standards of any mid-range 4K TV on the market. Contrast is great, colors look robust and technologies like Ultra Clear Panel and Auto Depth Enhancer from Samsung don’t simply offer marketing-inflated hype –they actually do enhance both the depth and clarity of content on the screen in the KU7500.
Additionally, this TV line comes with Vertical Alignment (VA) panel technology, meaning that while viewing angles are more narrow than we’d like (contrast and color fade rapidly beyond 65 degrees from dead center facing the TV screen (0 degrees), the VA display does deliver excellent contrast by the standards of mid-range 4K TVs without full-blown robust HDR specs. The black uniformity of the KU7500 is also excellent, with rich uniform blacks across the full display space.
Once again however, we return to this model’s HDR specs. Because the KU7500 lacks the HDR1000 technology which allows the 2016 SUHD TVs to deliver peak brightness well above 1100 nits and black levels of 0.02 nits or even slightly less, overall contrast in the KU7500 is well below that of the SUHD’s. Thus instead of 6,000:1+ contrast ratios like those of the KS9500 SUHD model or the KS8000 “lower-range” 2016 SUHD TV, the KU7500 offers a contrast ratio similar to those of the 2015 JU7500 or JU7100 4K UHD TVs, about 3,600:1.
Additionally the Wide Color Gamut technology of the SUHD lines and other premium HDR 4K TVs for 2016 isn’t found in the KU7500. This means that this model doesn’t offer the much smooth color gradients and 1.06 billion color values of 10-bit color or the color space coverage of Wide Color Gamut for HDR. As a result, DCI-P3 color space coverage (the color space codified by mainstream HDR certification standards like HDR10 and Dolby Vision) are not developed in the KU7500. On the other hand, Samsung’s LED backlights have always been exceptionally bright and this does allow for a very robust (though not quite HDR1000) level of peak brightness in the KU7500 and its KU-Series cousins.
Furthermore, Samsung has delivered the same excellent upscaling engine as we’ve seen in all other 2015 and 2016 Samsung 4K TVs and this means superb upscaling for detail in Full HD and 720p content with some very decent 480p SD content upscaling as well. On top of this, the motion control technologies of the KU7500 and its nearly identical cousin the KU7000 are also great for the most part, with some very good judder control, decent 24p content playback and excellent motion interpolation technology with a motion rate of 120Hz, over a native refresh rate of a decent 60Hz. In some 4K TV models from other brands, 60Hz native refresh results in less than stellar results for motion blur and motion control but Samsung usually makes these characteristics work very well and this they’ve pulled off in the KU7500.
The Connectivity specs in the KU7500 and the rest of the 2016 KU-Series 4K TVs come with the latest specs like HDCP 2.2, H.265 and VP9 but they are also rather oddly limited in their quantity by the standards of most name brand 4K TVs. This model offers only 3 HDMI 2.0a ports, 2 USB ports and the usual accompaniment of Ethernet, Audio, Digital Optical Audio and Component/composite ports. There is also built-in WiFi and the Tizen Smart OS offers both full web browsing and access to the broadest possible range of 4K content streaming and other media apps. In the case of Samsung 4K TVs, you also get access to a couple of 4K content services like the M-Go app, which offer limited but Samsung-exclusive 4K content sources.
Finally, we’d like to note that the arrangement of only 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB ports is an unusual choice for the 2016 KU-Series 4K UHD TVs. Even the 2015 predecessors to these TVs, the JU-Series models, all offered the same connectivity as their 2015 SUHD cousins, with 4 to 5 HDMI ports and 3 USB ports. Thus, while there are enough ports for all your essential needs in this 4K TV, its connectivity isn’t quite as robust as we expected. This can however be fixed with the purchase of Samsung’s One Connect external connectivity box, as pictured above.
There are two models of the KU7500 currently on sale, the 55 inch model (UN55KU7500) and the 49 inch model (UN49KU7500). They are both currently on sale on Amazon.com for $1,597.99 and $1,299.99 respectively.
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To summarize briefly, while we think the KU7500 is a generally excellent 4K TV for the mid-range price and specs level it’s been place into, it definitely lacks the Wow factor of its SUHD brethren. A lack of full HDR with wide color gamut and HDR10-level brightness/black level specs somewhat undermine the picture quality of this TV if you compare it to any true HDR model like the Vizio P-Series 2016 4K TV with HDR. Furthermore, we dislike the strange choice on Samsung’s part to considerably reduce connectivity ports in this and the other 2016 KU-Series 4K TVs.
• Same superb Tizen smart OS as ever
• Great display brightness
• Excellent upscaling engine
• Good contrast
• Vibrant colors and realism
• Great looking TV
• No full HDR
• Lacks Wide Color Gamut
• Fewer connectivity ports than last year’s models
• Contrast could be better
• Curvature adds pointless $$ to price