Samsung MU9000 4K HDR LCD TV Review: Almost As Good As QLED But Cheaper (UN55MU9000, UN65MU9000, UN75MU9000)
- Good overall performance
- Very high mid-range picture brightness
- Excellent Motion handling
- Great color delivery
- Wonderful TV for console and HDR gaming
- Excellent for HDR movies
- Weak local dimming that can’t be turned off
- bad viewing angles
- wide color gamut not as good as QLED
- crappy built-in speakers
The Bottom Line
We really like the MU9000 from Samsung. This is easily the company’s best all-around MU-Series 4K HDR TV and it gives many other high mid-range competitors from other brands a serious run for their money. Though we consider Vizio’s 2017 P-Series 4K HDR TVs to be a bit better in terms of specific features and Sony’s X850E models to be highly comparable to this model, the MU9000 is one damn fine alternative from a major brand. It’s only minor flaw is that we consider it to be slightly on the pricey side.
Samsung’s MU9000 not only represents the top of the line for the company’s 2017 non-QLED 4K HDR TVs, it’s also one remarkably good piece of home entertainment technology, with specs that would easily leave anyone impressed unless they’re already used to ultra-premium 4K TV technology like that found in Samsung’s QLED and Sony’s best 2017 4K televisions. All around, this is one extremely fine piece of TV technology and despite a few minor flaws, it almost makes the grade for being the very best mid-range 4K TV we’ve seen so far in 2017. It’s also worth mentioning that the MU9000 offers some definite specific improvements over its slightly cheaper next-in-line MU8000 cousin, which we also reviewed right here.
In essential terms, the MU9000 is an excellent, well-rounded and generally high performing 4K HDR LCD TV with the full range of major HDR color specs, high-quality connectivity specs and some very good peak brightness and black levels. It lacks some of the “wow” features found in Samsung’s 2017 QLED ultra-premium 4K TVs so you won’t get peak brightness of well over 1000 nits or quantum dot color enhancement in this model. However, the M9000 still performs remarkably well and comes with a surprising number of premium display specs.
The MU9000 is basically like a slightly souped up version of Samsung’s MU8000 and that’s definitely a good thing as far as liking this TV goes. We really liked the MU8000 and thus we like the MU9000 even more due to a couple of little things that it does slightly better while sticking to a fairly reasonable price. Overall, this 4K HDR TV performs well almost right across the board. Only a couple of relatively minor aspects don’t work so well in the 9000 and as long as you don’t measure some highly specific display performance specs up against those of the QLED TVs, the MU9000 is a superb piece of 4K HDR display technology. In some crucial ways it actually even outperforms or matches its QLED cousins and this is impressive indeed considering this model’s much lower price. Let’s get down to those specifics.
First and foremost, design-wise, Samsung has made one beautiful 4K TV with this model. We love the look of the MU9000 in all three of its sizes and especially the 55 inch UN55MU9000 we’re covering specifically here. This TV diverges from its 2016 KU-Series cousins in some key ways and definitely comes with some premium-looking components. The stand looks much more like those of the 2016 SUHD TVs than the KU-Series predecessors to the MU9000 and is decently sturdy while being small enough to fit on most supporting surfaces. A for the back of the TV, it’s nicely finished with very simple connectivity cable management in the form of a single cable leading out from the stand to to this TV’s One Connect box and only three other extra ports on the television itself: one for Ethernet connectivity, one USB port and an ex-link port.
We should also note that the MU9000 comes with one extremely narrow bezel along its display edges. It’s just 1 cm thick and this means one excellent display experience even in slightly dimmed rooms, which cause the bezel to be nearly invisible against the TV’s screen brightness. On a final note, the top half of the MU9000’S screen is wonderfully thin, allowing for a generally lighter and easier to move 4K HDR TV.
Color Performance and Picture Quality
As we alluded to above, the Samsung MU9000 performs remarkably robustly inn the picture quality department, It not only provides a generally excellent HDR display experience and fantastic motion handling, it also manages to match Samsung’s flagship QLED 4K HDR TVs based on our measurements in many ways and even outdo them in one particular manner. This is indeed impressive for a 4K TV that costs several hundred dollars less than its QLED cousins of the same size. Specifically, the MU9000 delivers excellent contrast that actually comes out as better than that of its QLED cousins and it also manages brightness levels that are very high. Peak brightness reaches nowhere near the levels we saw in the Q9F flagship Samsung TV but it does compete well with rival models like Sony’s X850E and Vizio’s 2017 P-Series TVs. Sony’s X900E howeve beats the MU9000 in many ways and costs less.
On color, the MU9000 delivers the full HDR wide color gamut experience with 10-bit color included but these features only really shine when this television is being used to display HDR content (HDR10 only, no Dolby Vision support for Samsung quite yet). Samsung’s QLED TVs deliver considerably more vibrant HDR color output due to their metallic quantum dot technology but the MU9000 produces colors of a vibrancy that’s remarkably close to what we saw in the flagship 2016 SUHD TVs such as the KS9000 or KS9500.
Motion handling in this 4K HDR TV is downright superb. In terms of motion blur control, 24p content playback and motion interpolation of lower frame rate content on its native 120Hz panel, the MU9000 performs admirably. We’d say it’s actually even better in these areas than Samsung’s 2016 SUHD models and it’s definitely a slightly better performer at motion handling than Sony’s or LG’s mid-range 4K HDR TVs for 2017. We’ll cover this aspect of the 65MU9000’s performance in greater detail further below.
Smart TV features
The Samsung 2017 Tizen smart TV platform –also called “Smart Hub– is something we definitely like about these 4K HDR TVs. In the MU9000 it works smoothly and with little lag, and as is the case with the Smart Hub in all of the Samsung 4K TV lines, Tizen is highly intuitive and very easy to navigate, even for almost complete newcomers to smart TV technology. In this particular, more premium-oriented HDR TV Tizen also comes with a great voice command capability that works remarkably well at interpreting verbal instructions.
Furthermore, Tizen lets you easily navigate through apps like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others which come pre-installed, and it also lets you easily download new additional apps to your preference. Other cool and easy-to-handle aspects of Tizen are its TV settings menus and its ability to quickly let you access external content sources like USB drives, set-top boxes and even streamed or USB-wired content from smartphones, tablets and other devices. In the MU9000, Tizen is completely free of advertising, though some third party apps might come with this annoying “feature”.
Finally, we can’t complete an overview of what we like in any Samsung TV we’ve covered in the last three years without mentioning its excellent gaming input specs. Samsung’s televions are extremely consistent on these aspects of performance and we thus recommend them above most other 4K TVs for console gaming fans. The MU9000 is no exception and its multiple HDMI inputs are superb at handling even fast-paced games in 1080p or 4K resolutions extremely smoothly and with different additional graphics like HDR, expanded color sampling and so forth enabled.
4.7 – 4 Reviews
We can sincerely say that the Samsung UN55MU9000 model we’re reviewing here, and presumably its un65MU9000 and 75MU9000 cousins, have very little that we don’t like about them. In fact, we’d even argue that they offer better overall value than their ultra-premium QLED cousins from this brand simply because they’re so close to QLED quality in overall performance while costing quite a bit less. The two main things in which the MU9000 loses out to its QLED cousins are color delivery and peak brightness, but in both cases it still delivers excellent levels for both specs but at a much lower price. This is an important consideration to keep in mind if you’re not extremely picky about the very best TV display specs.
That said, these are the MU9000 line’s few minor but noteworthy flaws.
Like virtually all 4K TVs released this year (except for maybe the Sony flagship A1E 4K HDR TV with speakers inside its display) the MU9000 delivers pretty crappy native audio performance. It could definitely use an external sound system with Dolby Digital or DTS sound integration if you want to really enjoy your movies and shows to their audio maximum.
Moving along, the MU9000 comes with Vertical Alignment display technology in its screen. This I the case with all Samsung 4K TVs we’ve reviewed since at least 2015 and while this design means some truly superb black levels and contrast ratios in this television, it also results in narrow viewing angles. Watching the MU9000 models from anything beyond a viewing angle of 29 degrees to either side off center will mean bad contrast and color distortions. We think that the superb black levels of VA technology make up for this defect but if you want a TV that lets you watch movies comfortably even from way off to one side, go for one of LG’s LCD 4K HDR TVs like the UH8500 or the 2017 SJ8500. Or if you want to spend some more, buy an OLED TV like the reasonably priced LG C7. Their viewing angles are perfect.
Color volume issues
The MU9000 delivers superb overall color performance by the standards of 4K TVs in its price range and specs profile but it falls well short of what the QLED TVs or Sony’s top-shelf LCD models for 2017 can do. Thus, while color delivery is plenty vibrant, some colors don’t quite shine as much as others due to some limitations on this model’s color volume.
We love the Samsung MU9000 4K HDR TV lineup from Samsung. We have to applaud the company for making their mid-range 4K TVs in this class so damn good in 2017 and for anyone who wants to save a bit but still get great premium picture performance, the MU9000 delivers the goods with better overall value than even a model like Samsung’s cheapest QLED, the Q7F. However, there are rival models such as the Sony X900E which really give this television a run for its money. The X900E not only costs less in each size category, it also performs almost exactly as well in most regards while delivering better color performance and higher peak brightness levels, as well as far superior local dimming technology for deeper contrast ratios.
Key TV Specs
- Screen sizes: 55 inch UN55MU9000, 65 inch UN65MU9000, 75 inch UN55MU9000
- 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, 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 in external One Connect box
- Remotes: Samsung Smart Remote
- Connectivity: 4 HDMI (all of them 2.0a and HDCP 2.2) ports, 3 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Digital Audio Out, all located in external One Connect box
- Sound: 20W (10W x 2) with Dolby™ Digital Plus, DTS Premium Sound 5.1
- Contrast Ratio: 6,102 : 1 (native, real contrast)
- Black Level maximum: 0.019 cd/m2
- 3D Technology: N/A
- TV dimensions (55 inch model): 48.4″ x 28″ x 1.8″ inches w/o stand, 48.4″ x 31.3″ x 13.8″ w stand
- TV weight (65 inch model): 39.2 lbs w/ Stand, 44.1 lbs without stand
- Processor: Quad-Core Processor
4.7 – 4 Reviews
The following are the key display performance metrics of the Samsung MU9000 4K LCD HDR TV in all of its versions. They’re based off the 55 inch model and barring slight variations between individual units and different display sizes (larger displays tend to deliver slightly better black levels), the following specs will stay close to these exact numbers across most Samsung units.
To briefly give a rundown of how well the MU9000 performs, this is an excellent overall 4K HDR TV with very good color performance, excellent contrast ratios, superb motion handling for assorted content types and some very good display brightness.
Black Level, Local Dimming and Contrast:
The black level of the MU9000 measures out at 0.018 nits, which is well within the parameters of HDR10 standards for black level. Furthermore, the black uniformity of the total display is very good if activated, with only minor clouding along the middle bottom part of the television. Oddly, Samsung doesn’t allow local dimming to be deactivated in the MU9000, so for deep blacks, it’s best to play with this feature by moving it from low to high in the picture settings. We should note that the quality of the MU9000’s local dimming is pretty low, with lots of vertical blooming in really dark scenes of certain types. This is because this is an edge-lit model.
Contrast in the MU9000 is also oddly BETTER than it is in any of the pricier QLED TVs we reviewed. Native contrast in this model sits at 6,102:1, which is essentially excellent and a solid 1000 points above what we saw in the flagship Q9F QLED TV.
The following are the brightness specs for the MU9000 measured at different percentages of the display illuminated to full power briefly or for a sustained period. There’s also a measurement for overall average brightness for ordinary viewing of both SDR and HDR content.
Also, to clarify, peak brightness is the maximum possible spot HDR or SDR luminosity of the display or a section of it measured in nits (or cd/m2, which is the same thing) under different conditions. Sustained brightness is the highest possible sustained HDR or SDR brightness that the TV screen can manage over different conditions or areas of illuminated display.
- Overall SDR peak brightness for normal content: 409 nits
- Peak 2% display area display SDR brightness: 555 nits
- Peak 10% display area SDR brightness: 894 nits
- Peak 100% display area SDR brightness: 430 nits
- Sustained 10% SDR Brightness: 495 nits
- Sustained 100% SDR brightness: 432 nits
- Overall HDR peak brightness for normal content: 438 nits
- Peak 2% display area display HDR brightness: 592 nits
- Peak 10% display area HDR brightness: 625 nits
- Peak 100% display area HDR brightness: 426 nits
- Sustained 10% HDR Brightness: 540 nits
- Sustained 100% HDR brightness: 437 nits
The MU9000 delivers excellent SDR conventional color and also manages very good HDR color in all measurements by the standards of most mid-range 4K TVs with HDR wide color gamut and 10-bit color.
Overall wide color gamut coverage and color volume: 91.8% WCG coverage and the MU9000 handles it wonderfully for almost any content you throw at it. Only with some sources of really dark video does the TV slightly screw up on showing fine tones of dark colors. Additionally, its crappy local dimming doesn’t help with fine dark color blending. In its maximum brightness range, the MU9000 delivers vibrant, rich colors without problems.
10-Bit Color: yes and with very good gradation between RGB tones and black and white tones as well. Some darker colors do show a tiny bit of banding but it’s barely noticeable during viewing of high dynamic range video sources.
Gamma and delta E measurements: The MU9000 delivers some excellent color delta E after calibration, with a measured level of 1.05 and a Gamma of 2.11.
Motion Handling & Upscaling:
Finally, for motion handling, the MU9000 delivers excellent results. Its response time sits at about 12.15 milliseconds for some very low blur during fast action content. This model also supports the full range of 24p content sources with judder-free playback and motion interpolation of lower-frame rate content is excellent inside this model’s native 120Hz refresh panel.
- 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 MU9000 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 is selling the MU9000 for the following prices at the time of this writing. Bear in mind that these are subject to sometimes frequent downward change and it’s a good idea to click the following Amazon link(s) for real-time pricing and all available discounts on this excellent 4K HDR television model.
4.7 – 4 Reviews