Samsung MU8500 4K HDR TV Review (UN55MU8500, UN65MU8000)
- Excellent motion handling
- 120Hz native refresh
- Very low gaming input lag in all resolution formats
- Great black levels and contrast
- Solid overall brightness specs
- HDR Brightness could be higher
- Only two sizes of TV models, 55 and 65 inches
- Typically weak VA panel viewing angles
- Better TVs at the same price available
- Curved display adds no particular practical improvements
The Bottom Line
The Samsung MU8500 is essentially the MU8000’s twin in terms of all performance specs and features. Its major distinguishing aspect is the curved display of the TV. Thus If you like the way curved screens look, go for the MU8500 and if you prefer a flat display, then the MU8000 is just as good. With that said, just as we liked the MU8000 very much, we also obviously like the MU8500 a great deal as well. It offers nearly the quality of some of Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TVs in some ways and most users will love its HDR/SDR display performance. On the other hand, Sony’s X900E 4K HDR TV does offer better overall quality per dollar spent.
The MU-Series 4K HDR TVs of Samsung’s 2017 lineup are Samsung’s replacements for the 2016 KU-Series models such as the KU7000, KU7500 and KU6300 or KU6500. They’re roughly comparable at the lower end of the price spectrum for these different sets of 4K HDR TVs but for the higher MU-Series models like the MU8500 and its pricier cousin the MU9000, which we reviewed here, quality in the 2017 televisions is considerably higher. In fact, they resemble the 2016 SUHD TVs more than the KU models in their overall performance. This is definitely the case for the MU8500 and as such it’s a 4K TV with full, robust HDR color performance, very decent peak brightness, great contrast and black levels but with the added benefit of some local dimming. On the other hand, it doesn’t get nearly as bright as its 2016 SUHD TV models or its 2017 premium Samsung QLED 4K HDR TV cousins.
In other words, this is a well-priced high-level mid-range 4K TV that sits right on the border of being a premium model except for a few absent cutting edge features. For this reason, it has lots of value to offer because it doesn’t cost a fortune while still being a very strong performer in most ways.
The Samsung MU8500 is generally one very good looking and more importantly very robust performer of a 4K HDR TV. It offers a level of picture quality, smart TV features and other performance metrics that make it definitively better than its predecessors the KU-Series TVs from 2016 and it’s also generally one of the better 2017 4K HDR TVs with mid-range pricing. There are better deals available from other brands but by any key measure, this particular model is a great 4K TV across the board and especially in several key regards. These are the things we like best about it:
First of all, there is the design of the MU8500. We love the look of this television and think that most people would as well. It’s handsomely built, elegant, sleek and relatively light-weight for its sizes. The body and support of the MU8500 as well as its backside and connectivity layout are identical to those of the MU8000 except for the general screen curvature. Thus, the same praise applies to this TVs sturdy stand construction, excellent cable management for connectivity and sleekly lovely appearance front and back. Furthermore, the edges of the TV offer very thin bezels, allowing for a more immersive viewing experience that’s especially pronounced in a darkened room in which the bezels are nearly invisible to the eye.
Overall Display Performance
The MU8500’s overall display performance is very good. It has some minor issues but in general terms this is one excellent high dynamic range television by the standards of most mid-range models. Users who buy it as their first ever HDR TV would almost certainly find its performance superb and it delivers well across all major metrics of display quality. No, the MU8500 doesn’t come with the truly stunning color vibrancy of quantum dot technology which you’ll find in Samsung’s QLED TVs and we’d argue that certain similarly priced rival 4K TVs from brands like Sony perform even better overall but that said, what the MU8500 does manage quite well is excellent wide color gamut performance, 10-bit color for HDR content sources and the delivery of some truly deep rich black levels and a very high contrast ratio. This model also delivers some very decent peak and sustained brightness, particularly when set to play back high dynamic range video.
We should also note that the black levels of the MU8500 are very uniform, with minimal clouding and remarkably low halo effect levels during high contrast display scenes. The MU8500 even comes with a limited level of local dimming technology which allows it to further enhance the level of contrast it gives to viewers. This local dimming is in fact one feature which gives this model a distinct benefit over its 2016 cousins the KU-Series models.
Perhaps one of the best aspects of how well the Samsung MU8500’s display performs is its strong motion handling capacity. This 4K TV handles motion for a wide range of content sources admirably and is definitely a superior model to any of Samsung’s 2016 mid-range TVs. The TV’s native display refresh rate is set at 120Hz (something that none of the 2016 KU-Series models offered) and this TV delivers some superb motion blur handling for sources of 4K or non-4k content from streaming, cable or OTT sources. It’s a particularly good LCD TV model for playback of live sportscasts and fast-paced action movie content. It also handles 24p movie sources from set-top boxes or streaming media apps smoothly, with no noticeable judder.
Samsung’s 4K TVs since at least 2016 and even to some extent for 2015 all have consistently shown excellent performance at connectivity for console and PC gaming. The MU8500 is no exception to this and along with the rest of this company’s 2017 TVs delivers the best gaming connectivity specs we’ve yet seen from Samsung’s TVs. If you own a gaming console and especially a 4K HDR console like the PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One S or Xbox One X, the MU8500 will make for a superb television. It delivers fantastic input lag across several resolution and HDR settings and can be sued wonderfully as a PC monitor if that’s your thing as well. We also love this TVs overall cable management setup. Instead of hard-to-reach ports along the back of the MU8000’s own body, you get a single slim cable that descends from one of the TV feet into one of Samsung’s now-famous One Connect Mini boxes. This definitely a more consumer-friendly arrangement.
The Tizen Smart platform of the entire Samsung TV lineup is one that we’ve frequently commented on positively here at 4K.com and our praise holds just as true with this TV. It’s highly user-friendly, easy to navigate and rarely freezes up. While some rival platforms like Roku TV and Android TV (Found in all of Sony’s 4K TVs) offer better access to a wide range of third party apps, Tizen isn’t a slouch in this area and core entertainment apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Vudu and others are all present right out of the box. More can be downloaded from the Samsung App search feature of the Smart Hub. TV adjustment and external device connectivity options are also easy to manage in Tizen.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
There isn’t much that we could really call bad about the Samsung MU8500. For a mid-range 4K HDR TV, this model offers plenty of powerful specs and a great smart TV platform as well. However a few things are worth mentioning for their slightly disappointing qualities and ultimately one fundamental problem with the MU8500 has to be discussed briefly. Let’s start with this TV’s moderate defects.
First and foremost, there is the issue of peak brightness. The MU8500 is a full HDR 4K TV but it isn’t rated to match UHD Alliance UHD Premium brightness levels. It delivers the superb black levels stipulated for HDR10 standards but its peak HDR brightness absolutely peaks at well below 700 nits. This is still great by most mid-range TV standards but there are rival options (most notably the Sony X900E) which are priced almost the same as the MU8000 while offering considerably higher brightness capacity. Samsung could have done better on this.
Secondly, the MU8500 comes with local dimming technology but because it only offers an edge-lit backlight array, the quality of this local dimming is pretty crappy. In fact it’s so weak that even the edge-lit backlight array doesn’t excuse it since we’ve seen other edge-lit 4K TVs such as Sony’s X930E with similar backlight setups but with far superior local dimming precision. There is some slight contrast enhancement with this feature in the MU8500 but it’s so poor that we’d nearly call it negligible.
Third, while this model offers up wide color gamut coverage of more than 90% of the DCI-P3 color spectrum, overall vibrancy and color volume could still be improved further. We’re not expecting the MU8500 to perform anywhere near as well as its pricier QLED cousins from Samsung in this area but it could have been built to match at least some other cheaper or equally priced rival TVs from other brands which perform notably better in their own rendering of HDR color performance. The difference is basically large enough that it’s noticeable to the naked eye if this model is put up next to, say, a Sony X900E or even one of TCL’s excellently priced P-Series TVs.
Finally, this is a very minor issue but it’s worth mentioning quickly. The MU8500 comes with a Vertical Alignment (VA) display panel. On the one hand, this is what gives this TV its superbly deep, rich black levels and high contrast but on the other hand, it also means pretty narrow viewing angles. Watching the screen from anything beyond about 20 degrees off to either side of the TV will cause a visible reduction in color vibrancy and contrast level.
With all of the above in mind, we come down to our most fundamental problem with the Samsung MU8500. Quite simply, at its current average price tag it simply doesn’t deliver the same level of value as more than a couple other TVs we’ve looked at from rival brands. Most notably, Sony’s X900E will deliver visibly better display performance at nearly the same price and Vizio’s 2017 P-series also in particular offer distinctly better overall performance, better HDR range, superior color and much better local dimming than the MU8500 while costing nearly the same as well. Even TCL’s 2017 P-Series (only available as a 55 inch model unfortunately) gives the MU8000 a run for its money on HDR performance, local dimming display quality and gaming connectivity while costing a lot less than this Samsung TV. The MU8500 does however come with a curved display, which all of these other models lack, if that’s something you really like.
Overall, we love the Samsung MU8500 4K HDR TV. This model is priced fairly reasonably and delivers some genuine premium display performance despite its mid-range status. This particular TV is a definite improvement over any of the 2016 KU-Series 4K TV models and we’d even argue that it’s almost a premium 4K HDR TV as far as some of its performance metrics are concerned. However, despite these different point of praise, as we mentioned just above, several other 4K HDR TVs from the 2017 lineup offer better quality for similar or even lower prices.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
Key TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 inch UN55MU8500, 65 inch UN65MU8000. Model being reviewed is 55 inches.
- Smart TV: Tizen Smart TV platform with
- HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
- VP9 Included. Yes
- HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
- HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
- HDR Support: Yes, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma
- Refresh Rate: 120Hz native refresh rate
- Screen Lighting: edge-lit LED backlighting (top and bottom) with local dimming
- Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
- Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
- Remotes: Samsung OneRemote Smart Remote
- Connectivity (all in One Connect Mini box): 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out
- Sound: 40W (10W x 2, Woofer 10W x 2) with Dolby™ Digital Plus, Woofer, DTS Premium Sound 5.1
- Contrast Ratio: 4,754 : 1 (native, real contrast)
- Black Level maximum: 0.020 cd/m2
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48.3″ x 28.0″ x 2.2″ inches w/o stand, 48.3″ x 30.8″ x 9.7″ w stand
- TV weight (55 inch model): 39.5 lb lbs w/ Stand, 38.4 lb. without stand
- Processor: Quad-Core Processor
Some Important Highlights
Local Dimming: Unlike Samsung’s entire 2016 KU-Series 4K HDR TV lineup, the MU8500 and its pricier cousins such as the MU9000 come with local dimming. Because these are bottom-lit edge-lit LCD TV models, the precision of their local dimming technology is less than stellar but even limited local dimming noticeably enhances black levels and contrast during content playback over what’s possible in TVs without this technology. Specifically, in a TV with this feature, sections of backlight LEDs are actually deactivated to give areas of the display deeper darkness during black scenes in a movie. TVs without local dimming in on the other hand simply leave the backlight array fully lit but block out light via filters in the pixels themselves. This however always produces at least some backlight leakage leading to weaker black levels in dark scenes.
120Hz Refresh: The entire 2016 KU-Series lineup of Samsung mid-range 4K TVs came with native 60Hz panels for a maximum native refresh rate of 60 frames per second. The MU8500 and some of the other MU-Series HDR TVs however come with a native refresh rate of 120Hz, which is the same as that of premium Samsung SUHD and QLED TVs as well as many other premium Sony, LG and Vizio 4K HDR TV models. This ceates a distinctly improved level of motion handling and motion interpolation for fast-paced action content in particular.
Key Display Specs
In terms of display performance, the MU8500 is a great 4K TV with excellent motion handling, very good color performance overall and some truly superb black levels and contrast. On the other hand, its wide color gamut levels and color volume at some ends of the bright-dark content spectrum could be better while the TV’s local dimming performance is downright weak. That said, buyers who’ve never before owned a 4K HDR TV and who have little experience with premium 4K TV quality will without a doubt be impressed by the MU8500’s display quality.
Black Level and Contrast:
The MU8500 line of HDR TVs doesn’t quite match what some other Samsung 4K TV contrast we’ve reviewed can do. Some of the SUHD models and even some of the KU-Series TVs managed levels well above 5000 or even 6000:1 contrast ratios. However, at a native contrast ratio of 4,754:1, the MU8500 is still an excellent performer by LCD TV standards. Its contrast is reduced a bit by a slightly lowered white brightness level of just 94 nits instead of the more usual 101 to 102 nits but the black level delivered by the MU8500 is quite good at 0.02 nits, making it fully HDR10 standards compliant in this spec. Overall black uniformity in the 8000 series is also generally quite good with only minimal clouding in the lower portions of the screen we looked at. This aspect of display performance can however vary considerably from unit to unit, so our measurement of it cannot be taken as a fixed thing. Generally however, black levels, black uniformity and contrast ratio in the UN55MU8500 and UN65MU8500 models are genuinely great by most measures.
The brightness performance of Samsung’s MU8500 TVs is very good and on par with the average among high-level mid-range 4K HDR TVs for 2017 and even 2016. That said, there are models with even better performance at similar prices and this should be kept in mind because brightness is a crucial display quality metric. That said, again, these particular models deliver very solid peak brightness for all display coverage percentages. The specific specs are as follows:
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal movie/TV content: 435 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 574 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 1121 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 462 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 550 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 452 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal movie/TV content: 424 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 572 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 655 nits
- Peak 50% display area HDR brightness: 469 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 453 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 559 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 432 nits
These figures aren’t bad by mid-range HDR TV standards but they come nowhere close to what the QLED TVs and the 2016 SUHD TVs were capable of. They also don’t match what Sony’s X900E can do or even Vizio’s 2017 P-Series in some specific metrics. A model like the MMU8500 could have been outfitted to do better even though most users will be perfectly happy with the above settings.
The MU8500 delivers full HDR color in the form of support for both wide color gamut at 92.5% DCI-P3 color space coverage and 10-bit color for a total of 1.05 billion RGB color values. However, where this TV does fall a bit flat is on extremes of color vibrancy such as those we’ve seen in comparable models like the Sony X900E or Samsung’s SUHD TVs from last year. Color volume overall, despite wide color gamut coverage doesn’t rally allow for vibrant rich representation of deeper darker colors or extremely bright high vibrancy colors.
Motion Handling and Upscaling Performance:
The motion handling of this particular Samsung 4K TV model is quite frankly excellent and represents the 8000 TVs biggest improvement over their 2016 KU-Series predecessors. For starters, the MU8500 comes with a native 120Hz display panel and partly as a result of this, it can deliver some very low motion blur in onscreen content, with a minimal response time of just 11.2 milliseconds with almost no overshoot. In simpler terms, fast-paced objects moving across the screen will not look annoyingly blurry with long trails behind them. Motion interpolation of content sources playing at frame rates below the 120Hz of this TV’s panel is also superb in the MU8500, with great playback of 24p, 30p and 60p content formats if settings in the TV’s Custom control menus such as “De-judder” and “De-blur” are activated and played with a bit. Samsung has also made the MU8500 deliver 24p movie formats from discs and streaming systems wonderfully, with full support for judder-free 24p playback.
Below are the connectivity options of the Samsung MU8500 4K HDR TV. All major advanced content connectivity specs are included and this model is fully and superbly capable of console gaming and PC monitor use in all major resolution formats, frame rates and color subsampling modes, with the exception of support for 1080p content at 120Hz, which is lacking if this model is used for PC display. Most importantly, for console gaming, the two MU8500 models robustly support all content, color sampling and major resolution formats from game consoles and within Game mode do all this with excellently low input lag. The specific readings below show what we’re referring to:
- 4k @ 60Hz: 22.9 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz: 23 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz + HDR: 23.1 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz + HDR: 22.7 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz Outside Game Mode : 76 ms
- 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4: 22.2 ms
- 1080p @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4 + HDR: 21.8 ms
Now. Here are the MU8500’s inputs, all of them located within the TV’s OneConnect Mini box:
- HDMI : 4 (All come with HDCP 2.2 and full HDMI 2.0a capacity)
- USB : 3 (USB 3.0)
- Digital Optical Audio Out : 1
- Analog Audio Out RCA : 1
- Tuner (Cable/Ant) : 1
- Ethernet : 1
The MU8500 TV models also offer audio connectivity in the following types
- 1 Passthrough ARC Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough ARC DTS
- 1 Passthrough Optical Dolby Digital
- 1 Passthrough Optical DTS
Samsung has priced their MU8500 4K HDR TV models much more affordably than any of its QLED 4K TV models, in some cases absurdly since the cheapest of the QLEDs, the Q7F performs only slightly better than the MU8000 for most specs (except color where it excels). That said, the following are the prices as of late 2017, though we suggest clicking the below Amazon links to check them for discounts, sale offerings and general price reductions which can happen at any time.
UN55MU8500 4K HDR LCD Smart TV: $ $1,097.99
UN65MU8500 4K HDR LCD Smart TV: $1,597.99
4.7 – 4 Reviews