- Review Date: 1/23/2014
- Bottom line: The Samsung UNF8000 series of LED backlit HDTVs offer solid performance and loads of features in a beautiful streamlined cabinet, but its black levels are mediocre and its ports are awkwardly placed.
- Pros: Slim, stylish design. Bright, detailed picture. Generous feature set.
- Cons: Blacks could be darker. Ports are hard to reach. Motion commands are erratic.
The Samsung UNF8000 series represents the company's flagship line of 1080p LED-backlit HDTVs, offering a well-balanced blend of style and performance. These sets, available in sizes from 46 to 75 inches, deliver a bright, uniform picture with excellent highlight detail and wide viewing angles. We reviewed the UN46F8000BF, a 46-inch model with a moderately high $1,899.99 (direct) price tag and lots of features like voice control, motion control, a webcam, and 3D support. Port access can be difficult when the set is hung on a wall, however, and black levels are not as dark as we've seen from similar midrange models like the Editors' Choice Panasonic TC-L55ET60 (and not anywhere near high-end plasma screens like Samsung's own PN60F8500).
Design and Features
The UN46F8000BF is a beautifully designed HDTV. The 1,920-by-1,080 panel sits inside a svelte cabinet that is only half an inch thick at the top and 1.25 inches thick at the bottom. The black bezels are only a quarter inch wide and are capped off with a band of brushed sliver trim. The 28.2-pound cabinet is supported by a shiny silver semi-circular base that adds to the aesthetics, but doesn't swivel. Beneath the bottom bezel is a set of down-firing speakers that get satisfyingly loud and offer decent bass response for an HDTV-based sound system.
On the back of the cabinet, facing right, sit one HDMI port with MHL, three USB ports, and digital and analog audio outputs. They're easy enough to reach if you're using the stand, but since they're recessed in the back panel and surrounded by plastic on all sides they're much more difficult to access if you mount the set on the wall. Down-facing ports are also recessed and hard to reach, and include three more HDMI ports, shared component/composite A/V inputs, an IR output, a LAN port, and a coax antenna/cable jack. A flip-up webcam at top of the cabinet lets you use Skype, face recognition, and motion commands. As was the case with the PN60F8500, the motion command feature doesn't always work, and still has a ways to go before it can be considered a useful feature.
The F8000 comes with Samsung's 16-button Smart Touch remote, which offers both touchpad control and physical Smart Hub (Web apps and online services), 3D, Menu, Volume Up/Down, and Channel Up/Down buttons. It also has a microphone that lets you search for content using the voice command feature. The screen also includes a standard 9-inch wand remote with 50 buttons including dedicated Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Smart Hub keys. The buttons are faintly illuminated.
Basic picture settings include Brightness, Contrast, Backlight, Sharpness, Color, and Tint, and there are four picture presets (Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie). The advanced settings let you fine-tune the picture with basic White Balance and 10-point White Balance, Gamma, Black Tone, Flesh Tone, and Dynamic Contrast settings.
The Smart Hub is your control center for Web apps and multimedia services, accessible through the built-in Wi-Fi or a wired connection. It has tabs for social media apps, movies, TV shows, photos, videos, and music. You get the full collection of social networking apps including Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, and streaming video apps like Vudu, Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Amazon Instant Video. Samsung offers scores of other free and subscription-based entertainment, news, education, and sports apps through the Smart Hub as well.
The F8000 features Samsung's AllShare (wireless content sharing) and ConnectShare Movie (USB content sharing) technologies and is Smart Evolution capable, which means you can install kits to upgrade software, processing hardware, and features as they become available. The set features a quad-core processor to help deliver content without lag, built-in Wi-Fi networking, and is 3D-capable.
We use a Klein K10-A colorimeter, DisplayMate HDTV diagnostics, and SpectraCal's CalMan5 software to measure peak brightness, black level, and color accuracy. The F8000 turned in a very respectable peak brightness reading of 397.58 cd/m2 and a decidedly mediocre black level reading of 0.068 cd/m2. Despite the so-so black level, the panel delivered good overall image detail and a solid contrast ratio of 5,846:1, but shadow detail was not as intricate as what we saw on the Panasonic TC-L55ET60, the LG 55LA7400 or the plasma-based Samsung PN60F8500, which respectively offered black levels of 0.0232, 0.028, and 0.0054 cd/m2. This was evident while watching Planet Earth on Blu-ray; dark background detail in the Caves segment was not quite as sharp as it should have been.
As seen in the CIE chromaticity chart above, green and blue color accuracy was generally good, while reds were just outside of their ideal zone. Although the reds ran a bit warm, they were not so heavy as to cause tinting. Colors appeared rich and uniform on the DisplayMate Color Scales test and while watching The Big Lebowski on Blu-ray.
The F8000 is an active 3D HDTV and comes with four sets of lightweight, battery-operated glasses, with additional pairs available from Samsung for $20 each. The 3D effect looked great while watching Sharks 3D, with very little crosstalk and good depth. However, the glasses, while comfortable, let a little too much light in from the sides.
The F8000 used 88 watts of power in Movie mode and 113 watts in Standard mode, which is a tad high but not unreasonable for an LED-backlit LCD HDTV. The 50-inch Toshiba 50L7300U used 103 watts in Standard mode, while the 46-inch TCL LE46FHDE5300 used only 53 watts. However, enabling the F8000's three-tier energy saving feature reduced the wattage to 78 (low), 64 (medium), and 43 (high), but the highest setting was too dim and virtually unwatchable under normal lighting conditions.
The Samsung UN46F8000 is an all-around solid HDTV available at a near-premium price, with very good picture quality and physical design. Its black level performance could be better and its port placement is awkward, but its overall solid 2D and 3D picture quality and abundance of features help make up for those flaws. That said, if you want a picture with really dark, inky blacks and a very good contrast ratio for around the same money, check out our Editors' Choice for midrange HDTVs, the Panasonic TC-L55ET60. It too offers a nice blend of style and performance, and it has a larger (55-inch) screen.