Samsung D8000 - Angle View

There was a time that 29-inch’s were huge, now 40-inch’s are average, and 55-inch units are becoming mainstream. Samsung produces a huge range of TV’s, from small to massive, and their flagship the 55-inch D8000 is truly the business.  The D8000 ticks all of my videophile boxes, LED lit screen, innovative slim bezel, a super attractive design, 3D, internet connectivity, and reportedly the best picture currently available.

The first thing any new or prospective TV buyer would notice about the Samsung D8000 is that it is absolutely drop dead beautiful. I know tech should not be described that way, but this TV will do almost any setting proud. It is amazingly thin, and the bezel, which is the bit surrounding the screen, is around 1cm thick, and the whole TV is under 3 cm from front to back. The build quality is stellar and overall this is the best looking TV I have ever had gracing my lounge.

Once set up and fully connected to my various sources, and Audio systems, the time came to actually watch. The set up process included plugging in the included Wi-Fi dongle, which proved most useful, as the setup process included downloading the latest software for the TV. Just like your laptop the latest generation Samsung TV’s include the ability to download software updates directly from the internet which should keep your device right up to date. The guided set up was painless and fast and I was soon watching TV.

At first I was blown away. The D8000 is incredibly bright and sharp, and the colours were vivid and bright. After about 30 minutes I was feeling decidedly uncomfortable. The TV sets itself to the vivid setting by default, and though this may work in a store demo environment, and may, just may, work for games, the vivid setting is way too bright, dynamic, and over saturated for comfortable TV viewing. Changing to the standard setting was far more acceptable, especially in lower light during evening watching. There is an additional mode for watching movies, though in general I found this to be too warm and soft for general viewing.

The D8000 series includes a number of key technologies, from the insanely bright and sharp LCD panel to fully adaptive backlighting, which allows really deep blacks and incredibly bright whites. The D8000 is also fully internet connected, in addition to the ability to update its own software, there is a Smart Hub which allows the download of apps, even Skype, as well as a few 3D movies, YouTube, Videos, and all manner of Social apps, basically very similar functionality to your smartphone, just with a 55-inch screen. My experience with the Smart Hub over Wi-Fi which connected to our home ADSL 4 Meg line was very good. I was able to watch YouTube clips with minimal buffering, and playing games and other apps was smooth and fairly seamless. Web Browsing was a bit of a pain, mainly due to the mouse ability, or lack thereof, though the included QWERTY keyboard Remote helped a bit.

Watching 3D on the D8000 was an interesting experience, not because of the TV, but because of the family. Seven people were all trying to watch the 3D demo using two pairs of supplied 3D glasses and that was not fun. Overall the D8000 has excellent 3D performance. Key to amazing 3D is to sit fairly close to the TV, so the picture fills your field of view, and also not to sit off to the side of the TV which somewhat kills the experience, both from a 3D perspective, and also LED TV’s don’t have a very wide viewing angle, before the picture looses brightness.  For large families or with a bunch of friends this can be a bit of a problem. Overall 3D can be an incredibly immersive experience and the D8000 excels, both due to its brightness and its size, 3D is always better on a big screen.

Performance on HD signals and Blue Ray sources is amazing, with a fine grain level of detail and contrast with deep blacks that approaches the best of the reference Plasma TV’s, and is by far the best I have seen from LCD or LED TV’s to date. There is some moiré patterning, a form of banded interference, especially when panning away from a blue sky, or ocean vistas, but only the really fussy will notice. The Samsung D8000 is also very flattering to SD, or normal TV signals, as the level of detail and the clearly superior video processing allows these signals to stay relatively sharp and clear with good contrast.

Overall the D8000 is an incredible TV, as it should be for the premium price of around R40 000-00, there is one major caveat for me, and that is the standard picture settings, from Vivid, through standard, to Movie, are all a far cry from any reference monitor standard. Vivid can cause your eyes to bleed, by being super bright with colours that are completely oversaturated. The standard setting is better, but still way off what a professional would consider accurate. The movie setting was not much better. I decided to have the D8000 professionally calibrated to see what difference it would make.

Professional calibration sets the TV up based on ISF standards for the best quality picture. To cut a long process short, once set up the D8000 was unbelievable, in fact the best picture I have ever seen on any TV yet. The colours were spot on, not too bright or too dull, the brightness was now perfect with abundant detail in dark scenes, yet not overly bright and etched on beach or outdoor scenes, and the overall detail and picture quality has to be seen to be believed. As each source from your, DSTV decoder, to your Xbox, or Media player, needs to be set up individually, this can be a time consuming process.

Overall the Samsung D8000 is a state of the art TV, capable of staggering accuracy and picture quality. Unfortunately out of the box it is just a great looking and very decent TV. For the premium price it should be calibrated properly before it is sold, and failing that, a calibration service should be offered once the customer has the TV in their own home. The difference is not subtle and it’s not only for the fussy, as once properly set up the picture quality will amaze anyone who sees it.

Taking even the calibration issue into account I would still recommend this TV, as very few others can perform as well in all respects, as the D8000, the features, Smart Hub app functionality, and the overall build quality almost justify the price. Price is always subjective in many cases, if you can afford the fee then this set won’t disappoint. There are cheaper sets, but none with this level of picture and facilities. If you spend a little more on professional calibration then the D8000 sets the benchmark for home TV.

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Steven Ambrose – Executive Editor and major Gadget Geek. Father of 5, and as a result scared of nothing, except being bored. Ran and wrote for since 2006, and consults on Technology and its impact on Business via Strategy Worx Consulting. Find me everywhere there is a social platform, but mainly on Facebook and Twitter @ambio