Review: Samsung 55-inch ES8000 Smart TV

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We initially did a in-depth hands on before on Samsung’s Smart TV offering, the 55-inch ES8000 that could almost be called a review, but in truth it lacked a few important details. Stuff like picture quality, color reproduction and all-around performance wasn’t included in the original article because we didn’t have the right tools to evaluate those things (no Blu-ray player or disks were offered during our brief stay, nor did we have HD content on hand). In light of this, Samsung graciously invited us back to Maxims to finish the review, which we accepted. We trotted back to Maxims last Sunday to once again spend the night with the ES8000, now armed with Blu-ray discs and HD movies. This review is best enjoyed by reading our hands-on first, located here.

We’re not going to waste your time talking in-depth about all the other features we’ve covered about in our previous outing with the ES8000, though we will refresh your memory a bit. The ES8000 is Samsung’s top of the line Smart TV offering, and as such has a multitude of new features crammed into it, including voice control and gesture control (ala Kinect). The ES8000 also features a very thin bezel that almost disappears when you’re in the correct viewing distance.

We were initially a bit disappointed to hear that the ES8000 uses an edge-lit LED array (with Micro Dimming Ultimate) instead of a full array with local dimming (like what LG did with their Smart TV, the LM9600). For people who are not aware, edge-lit displays have their backlights near the edge of the bezel, instead of directly behind the panel. This particular arrangement gives TVs an overall thinner profile though some have said that picture quality suffers somewhat. The edge-lit array is paired with a picture technology they’ve dubbed as Micro Dimming Ultimate. Samsung claims the new tech “enhances picture quality with threefold adjustments – optimization of contrast, colours and details – offering viewers a rich and delicate viewing pleasure while maximising the potential of the TV.”

For our test, we used the provided Blu-ray titles of Samsung (the Shrek Trilogy and some scenes from Monsters Vs. Aliens) as well as our own 1080p copy of Ironman II. After performing the requisite calibration requirements, we fired up the Blu-ray player and started the test.

One of the things we noticed the most was that the ES8000 had excellent color reproduction and gradation. Our initial worries about the edge-lit array not being able to deliver adequate backlight was unfounded – the black levels on the ES8000 was extremely good. There was also no motion judder or any kind of overdrive trailing (halos moving around fast moving objects), something that older HD TVs are susceptible to. Scenes from Shrek II was bright and colorful, and really looked fantastic. The climactic battle between Ironman, Warmachine and Whiplash was particularly epic, and shows how good the black levels of the ES8000 really is.

We managed to talk about this before but it bears repeating – the ES8000 still uses active shutter lenses for its 3D, though there’s a few differences this time around.

First is that the glasses are pretty cheap – a Samsung exec told us that the glasses would retail for around 500 pesos per pair, which makes it one of the cheapest active shutter glasses around. The glasses are powered by a single battery though we have no idea how long these things last before the batteries need to be changed. Though we’re not a huge fan of the overall design, Php 500 for a pair is extremely cheap, and you probably won’t mind very much when one of these things get lost.

Overall, the 55-inch ES8000 Samsung Smart TV is an excellent buy. While there may be a few issues with the voice and gesture control, those little niggles can probably be fixed by software updates down the line from the Korean manufacturer. In addition, the Evolution Kit feature allows people who have already bought the TV to upgrade its functionality easily, without needing to buy a new set.

 

What’s Hot:

Voice and Gesture Control

Access to apps and ability to surf the internet

Streaming content via Vicki Premiere

Excellent picture quality and color reproduction

Slim Bezel

Ability to be upgraded every year via the Evolution Kit

 

What’s Not:

Voice and gesture control is sometimes a hit and a miss

Pricey

 

Bottomline:

Samsung’s 55-inch ES8000 Smart TV is a sexy and innovative evolution of the lowly boob tube. You won’t regret buying one – that’s assuming you’ll be able to afford it, that is.

 

Buymeter: 4.5/5

 

Tech Specs

  • Technology: Edge lit LED
  • Screen size: 55-inches
  • Picture technologies:  Ultra Clear Panel, 800Hz Clear Motion Rate, Ultimate Micro Dimming, Digital Noise Filter, Wide Color Enhancer (Plus)
  • Physical Dimensions: 1230.3 x 761.6 x 210mm (with stand)