Samsung 65 Inch Curved UHD TV Review: A Princely Affair
• Commendable picture clarity, contrast and black levels
• Split screen viewing
• Improved Smart TV features
• Versatile remote control
• UHD content scarcity
At the launch of the Curved TVs at CES in the beginning of this year, they were one of the most criticized technological advancement. Partly due to their costing and partly due to their seeming ineffectiveness in what they were designed for- an immersive, cinematic experience, they sustained a lot of criticism. After the launch and in depth analysis, many people were of the view that curved TVs offer too little for too much; a small sweet spot for enjoying an immersive experience by a number of people.
After our firsthand experience with the TV we have many different feelings; some very similar to what many people think of them, some that we feel are under-rating TVs capabilities. Sure the curve is not cinematic for 10 people watching the TV but then flats don’t offer that immersive experience for even 4 of them. Agreed that the TV is available at a price of a small family hatchback, but aren’t all flat 3D UHD TVs priced this way? In fact LG was the first to bring out the technology and its curved TVs are priced much higher, approximately thrice.
It’s not much different from a flat TV when a group of 10 want to watch, the curve is only 13 feet in radius. And there are other benefits that a flat TV doesn’t enjoy; especially at the size of 65 inches and above. So why are they such a hot topic of criticism? You will know in this review.
Why bend the TV?
Things were going good, flat TVs were getting cheaper and one could think he could get his hands on the new for less. Out of nowhere, companies decide to bend the TV, just because it gives a better viewing experience, a cinema like wrapping. Who are they kidding? The TV companies (particularly Samsung and LG) have got the technology to do this. Would it necessarily mean it is useful?
Our eyes see sideways and a TV which is slightly closer to the eyes at the edges gives a better viewing experience. Agreed you need a sweet spot for that since the TV is small when compared to the cinema screen. But that’s not the only advantage of curving an LCD panel which is as wide as human wingspan
Contrary to common belief, it greatly enhances the viewing angle compared to a flat TV by cutting down on reflected light. But still retains the tighter viewing angle, all due to the ‘sweet spot’ that one needs to be in to get that ‘theatrical’ effect. Even in the advertisement you will notice the viewer sitting in the center and very close to the TV.
The immersive effect still is maintained at a distance where 4-5 people will be sitting in the center; makes more sense for a 65 inch TV than the 55 one. There’s always an option of spreading out to accommodate more people, losing out on the ‘immersive’ experience. I would say consider buying a projector if you are looking for such home theater experience.
The curve makes the TV look smaller (and pretty lighter) to its flat brethren. It’s lined with metal on the outer edges and back is superior quality plastic with brushed metallic finish. Thanks to One Connect there are no connections at the back except of the power cable and of One Connect box. There are handles to assist carrying of the TV.
The stand is one heavy part and designed simply in a flat round shape visible ahead of the TV; unlike the half-moon design on F9000 which made the TV look floating. The color combination might not appeal some people but it’s a very logical combination. Black would make it uniformly dull and some other light color would look childish.
The curve is approximately 13 feet in radius, a slight bend that brings the corners a few inches away from where they had been if the TV were to be flat. Though it looks no less marvelous but why really bend an elegant straight design and ruin the placid demeanor of a big slim TV.
Another design change is the speaker placement. Two front firing speakers with a woofer pumping 60W of sound are fitted on the TV that really make a difference compared to the ones fitted at the back. You would anyway need a home theater setup for powerful sound to complement the marvelous picture clarity.
The ‘4 times HD’ Panel
Curve equals immersive? They haven’t watched saas-bahu soaps that can get more than just immersive.
The UHD panel on Samsung is rendered by the same Quadmatic engine (with a slightly powerful Quad core plus processor) as in all of its UHD TV series. Apart from rendering the UHD content it does the job of up-scaling HD and SD content.
We started off with playing whatever UHD content we had, to be amazed of the picture clarity and colors that we had only seen on a UHD panel before; like kids I tell you. You are transported to another world, a world with sharp clarity and detail.
But eventually, whatever movies were to be watched and dishTV channels to be checked, none were UHD. The TV plays Full HD quite well. There are only few channels (NatGeo HD, Star Plus HD, Star Movies HD, Discovery HD were some running on our Tata Sky Box) that are broadcasted in 1080p and were really awesome. The football mode did help gain some clarity and sound.
FHD on other TV would differ from what the UHD TV plays. It not only the up scaling but the techniques like local diming that make the contrast appear so high. The black levels were literally amazing and everyone who saw the TV agreed on the fact.
There are color enhancing tools on board as well, one of them called the PurColor is said to enhance color. While watching UHD content is nothing to doubt about; along with the curve, a kind of reality hits you later when you realize you are not really standing there.
The curve also aids to an immersive viewing of 3D content. With the backlight control and inbuilt local dimming, the UHD panel can produce much brighter and detailed imagery. You will notice tiny details that you know didn’t reveal itself on a normal, smaller panel. On the downside is only a settings related aspect. You will need to optimize the screen before viewing the 3D content for brightness, contrast and backlight.
Bundled with the TV are four 3D glasses (active shutter) which are easily connected and synced to the TV using IR technology. Active 3D greatly reduces crosstalk.
Is it Really Smart?
Being a smart TV is not easy an easy job. There are expectations to be met, tricky things to be accomplished. Samsung 65HU9000 has got some serious upgrades and some petty ones and we list them all.
The best ones we like is the remote control and multi-link screen. Gesture control still needs a heads up and so does the voice control.
- Multilink screen
No fighting, just divide the 65 inch property
There’s a dedicated button for this on the teeny-weeny controller. What it does is split the screen into two. One on the left will keep running the feed from set-top box or HDMI (not USB) and the other screen can have almost anything. Options include web browser, YouTube and smart hub applications. The sound would switch to the screen you want but the sizes of the divided screen can’t be changed
- A curvaceous and vivacious controller
As the TV was getting its curves done, the controller wasn’t left behind. It in fact got some more enhancements. There’s only one remote now (instead of a normal remote and a smart one)
Like before, it has metallic buttons placed on its chic and polished plastic self and shaped according to their function they perform. Whenever you use the remote controller you feel it’s some old piece of art decorated with metallic engravings, small and oval enough to perfectly to fit your hands.
Best thing about the TV, other than the curve off course.
Well it’s not just passive artistry, there is some serious tech stuffed underneath like a high fidelity mic, NFC, multi directional infrared emitters and a touch sensitive pad. The first and best enhancement has to be the pointer.
Previous controller had a touchpad which would enable you to roll your fingers over it, take the pointer (visible on screen as soon as you touch) to desired location and tap to click. With this controller there’s none of this non-sense; just place your thumb over the big space you see between four arrows (it’s shaped perfectly for your thumb) and the pointer appears. Move the remote (even if not pointing at the screen) and the pointer moves on the screen.
This pointer thing makes the controlling so much easier. It’s like you just attached a mouse to your desktop which up till now had only a keyboard. Then there’s an onboard Mic that listens to voice commands. I know it’s illogical telling your TV to increase the volume but figure this-you looking for a particular setting for example sound connections and need a tutorial for it. Finding it in the menus can be tough where speaking two simple words can do the job. Just say sound help and menu will appear.
- Only one thing to connect- One Connect (setup)
I am sure you know about one connect already; Samsung Smart TVs are famous for this. It’s a metal box that keeps all the connections a TV can take- HDMIs, USBs, AVs, et al on to itself. How cool it is to just plug everything you want to a TV just like you do on a laptop.
Things that power big ones are generally very smallAnd it is not just a metal box bringing out TV ports to the table, your ticket to future proofing of the TV. Since the box has all the video processing engines that decode 0s/1s to TV signals or enhance/upscale other signal before they are applied to the TV, changing the box will be all needed in case a fault occurs or a worthy upgrade arrives. It already has 4 HDMI port two of which are HDMI 2.0; 2 composite AV in; a digital and a mini jack (3.5mm) Audio out, 3 USB ports with dongle support. Wireless screen mirroring is supported and it’s easy to beam the smartphone screen. It can also stream from media devices and computers wirelessly connected to same network.
- The camera and other stuff
Inspired from a turtle head, this camera hears and sees all
Mounted on a turtle like springy neck that comes out (and goes back inside) the TV with a slight push, the camera is a useful thing. Though the pictures clicked and videos recorded is nowhere even HD, they appear worse on so big a screen. But there are other applications, useful ones that rely on the camera and this makes it an important addition to the TV.
Buckle up before you do the hand gesture control. Bring up the camera and stand at a distance with your hand up straight in front of the camera; wave it and if you are lucky, a small hand with an index finger will appear on the screen. Now you can travel the screen and control volume, change source input and do virtually everything else by bringing up the on screen remote. You will not indulge in this unless the remote control is lost or your stubborn kid is not letting you take it.
Apps like Skype and Facebook use camera for obvious purposes. First it would be used for opening the account using face detection. Then while on a video call, the camera shows some amazing talent. It detects your face (you can toggle it OFF) and zooms in to reduce the screen area other person will see. Move around the room or bring another person and the camera will zooming out, follow by panning and zooming in again on the face(s).
- Smart apps
Smart Hub now appears in the strip at the bottom of the screen which doesn’t disturb your normal viewing. It keeps the latest apps used and further moves on to smart hub ecosystem when app is selected.
There’s a news section which keeps news updates, then there is social section containing all the social media applications. There’s also an entertainment section that has apps for kids like the one streaming video rhymes and cartoons.
All these require internet off course that the TV would connect to, either via Wi-Fi or LAN. We tested the TV on 2 MBPS and 8 MBPS connection speeds. The former works fine, even for streaming HD on YouTube. But apps that run videos worked seamlessly on the latter connection.
These apps can be run in the multi-link screen for the times when there’s difference in opinion and a single TV running.
Long way ahead
Though Samsung has been repeatedly saying that they would be pumping in UHD content, it’s not really in their hands. Many film-makers have started adopting this technology but it’s not until UHD recording gets cheaper and some compression codecs developed to put them in DVDs (I think the Blu-Ray UHD partnership might fail miserably, given the rebellious ignore both have got) that availability will be wide spread across genres.
But this is logically the next step. After HD we are treading in the era of Full HD (1080p). UHD is nascent, but it is arriving with a plan.
To pass judgment of a product that cannot be utilized fully to its capabilities as yet, but does, on the other hand wear many technological advancements and costs near to its older “straight” counterpart was not easy.
You would agree that its uncanny curve is not just a marketing gimmick; and that UHD resolution is the future of TV that this Samsung TV recreates with stunning clarity. Its gesture control still need more polishing but with things like multi-link screen, the coolest remote control for a TV ever, a box which brings all connections to the table and many other smart stuff, the curved TV has some worthy advancements. The curve being advantageous or not, the Samsung 65HU9000 is somewhat safer to buy-for one it has UHD resolution (and a curved screen) and two, it costs less than a third of its counterpart from LG.