This is the second generation of Samsung's "SUHD TVs", a made-up term for Samsung's souped-up LCD displays. S for Super or Smart? Who knows, but the 2016 models come with a revamped version of Samsung's Tizen operating system. The KS models are the successors to last year's JS models and in 2016 Samsung has made improvements to HDR (high dynamic range) and expanded coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. There is also a new remote.
We have the KS8000, which is a flat panel with edge LED. Depending on your region the design of the base may differ slightly from ours but the hardware is the same. So, let us dig in and examine everything.
Price and retailers:
VA LCD panel (edge LED)
Ultra HD (3840x2160) HDR (HDR10) DCI-P3 color space UHD Premium certified
Samsung has decided to equip most of its 2016 LCD TVs with edge LED. Last year, Samsung offered some semi high-end models with direct LED and a flagship JS9500 with FALD (full-array local dimming). This year, only most expensive model (KS9800 in the US / KS9500 in Europe) will use FALD. KS8000 is one of the edge lit models, which obviously means that it is quite slim and elegant.
Samsung has scaled back a little on its plans to make TVs curved and as such KS8 is a flat TV. The back is slightly curved and V-shaped, which makes the TV look elegant from most angles. It also has a thin metal bezel around the LCD panel. The stand makes the TV tilt very slightly backwards - purely for design purposes we suspect.
Looking at the back of the TV reveals that Samsung has removed most ports. We found only a CI port, a USB port (for HDD recording), a LAN port, a service port, and a One Connect port. The latter is designed to connect the external One Connect Mini box that packs the rest of the ports, including four HDMI ports, SPDIF, two USB ports, and antenna ports. We are very pleased with Samsung's decision to move the antenna ports to the external box. Last year, you had to connect antenna cables directly to the TV.
This year, you only need to supply the TV with a power cable (located in the opposite side of the One Connect port). There is a plastic panel designed to hide the ports, giving the TV a clean and streamlined look. However, it is still a shame that Samsung has left some of the ports in the TV. We hope that someday Samsung will offer a full One Connect solution with all connections built in.
We also notice that Samsung has removed all analog ports from the TV. For some reason the TV industry has insisted on keeping these legacy ports alive until now. We must praise Samsung for this decision. Hopefully competitors will follow. There no place for legacy analog ports in a world of 4K / HDR TVs!
KS8000 has four holes for VESA wall brackets but be aware that the holes are not very deep, meaning that you have to use an "adaptor" (included) if you want to mount the TV on a standard VESA wall bracket. The TV also supports Samsung's wire solution but Samsung recommends that you use a real wall bracket to best support the weight of the TV.
In the box we found only one remote control, which is new but has many of the same traits of last year's version. More on that later.
Perhaps unsurprisingly KS8000 has a glossy panel coating that reflects especially bright objects in the room. We had last year’s Sony X85C placed next to Samsung's TV and the two were more or less alike, meaning that you will at times see reflections in a brightly lit living room. However, these HDR-capable LCD panels can reach quite high brightness levels, which means that they can easily "drown" reflections from your environment. We experienced no issues while watching Tour de France in a brightly lit living room with full sunshine outside.
User experience & features
Last year, Samsung introduced its in-house Tizen operating system in its TVs. This is the second generation of Tizen that in many ways resemble LG's webOS (which predates Tizen).
Operating system & smart TV
Compared to last year's Tizen user interface Samsung has made some visual changes and reduced clutter. It is certainly nice to see Samsung take away things instead of constantly bloating the interface. All the redundant extra menus that bloated last year's TVs have been removed and we like the change.
"Second generation Tizen"
Most things have now been moved to the bottom menu, including advanced settings options that can now be found in leftmost position. From this menu you can also switch between input ports from one icon. Samsung has even removed the confusing "Recent" icon, meaning that Samsung - like LG - no longer has an overview of running apps.
The bottom menu is still built on the concept of small "cards" but this year Samsung has added an extra layer that can pop up above any of the icons (if the given service supports deep integration). From here you can - like on LG's webOS and Apple's tvOS - access content directly without having to open the app first. So if you are, for example, watching House of Cards on Netflix you can start playback of the next episode directly from this menu. It will also recommend new content for you. Sadly, only a few services support deep integration on Tizen but we hope that more will update their apps to support it.
There is a "Live TV" card where you can place shortcuts to your favorite channels. The same submenu also gives access to the TV guide and recordings. For TV channel selection you also have a side menu. A short or long press on the channel button on the remote control will open the TV Guide or side menu, respectively.
In the new settings menu you can quickly switch between picture and audio modes. It also includes a shortcut to the picture-in-picture function, which was one area that we commented on last year so it is nice to see that Samsung is listening to feedback.
The menus generally feel faster, and faster than last year's TVs. We experienced less lag during navigation. However, it is still possible to stress the system by pressing buttons too fast. Check our video demonstration below that offers a tour of Tizen on Samsung's 2016 TVs. Also notice how when connecting a USB device the TV struggles to keep up. These are not critical issues but do not expect buttery smooth navigation all the time.
Once an app has been opened it keeps running in the background, making it possible to switch between apps without waiting. Of course, every time you turn off the TV the apps will be erased from memory, so it is not as useful as it sounds. You should be more concerned about how long it takes to launch apps and luckily it usually takes less than 10 seconds.
The TV is very eager to "configure" every device that you connect via HDMI so every time we connected a new device via HDMI (we often do that while testing) the TV would switch to this HDMI port and continue to prompt us to set up remote codes (for universal remote control) for this particular device.
Samsung promoted this feature heavily when it announced the TVs back in January and the company made it sound like it would support pretty much any popular device. Unfortunately the TV failed to recognize a single device that we connected via HDMI so the list of supported devices is clearly not very extensive. Samsung has a long way before it can match Bang & Olufsen or Logitech in this area. On the plus side, the TV automatically added a fancy icon on the HDMI port that our Chromecast 2 was connected to...
A search function can be accessed from the bottom menu or a dedicated button on the remote control. Unfortunately it failed to include search results from most of our apps. We had expected it to at least include results from Netflix but that was not the case. Developers have to integrate support first. LG's E6 OLED that we recently reviewed had Netflix results added to webOS’ universal search feature while we tested the TV so we hope to see Netflix support Tizen soon, too.
We have a recorded a video of Tizen on Samsung’s 2016 TVs below.
Samsung offers a fair selection of apps, including Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube, PlayStation Now and others. However, it is also missing many key apps as well as many niche apps. When comparing Tizen to for example Apple tvOS that has been available for less than a year it is clear that Tizen has a relatively small selection of apps.
To sum up, we find that the revamped Tizen user interface is a step in the right direction. Samsung has removed most of the bloat and Tizen now has a more streamlined interface on TVs.
Remote control and operation
Samsung has "only" included one remote control in the box for its 2016 TVs and curiously enough it is the minimalistic version. The remote has no number pad buttons, no ridiculous "football" button, and no dedicated Netflix button. There is a navigation pad in the center, buttons for volume and channels, a "Home" bottom (for the bottom menu), and four flat buttons around the navigation pad to control some of the "missing" functions via an on-screen menu. Lastly, there is a button for the search function and a power button, which is also flat.
We have encouraged manufacturers to take this step for years; to drastically reduce the number of buttons and simplify the experience of using a TV. Samsung is one of the first TV manufacturer who has dared to strip the remote of pretty much all redundant buttons and not include a backup remote in the box. Nice move.
The new remote is Bluetooth based and even though the TV screen has an infrared receiver (to support universal remote) the remote insists on using Bluetooth at all times. Again, we have encouraged manufacturers to switch to Bluetooth remotes for years as we believe it can improve the user experience quite significantly. You can now wave around Samsung's remote and point in any direction to control the TV. You can also choose to use an IR universal remote instead, including Logitech's universal remotes or an old Samsung remote.
The remote is made from hard plastic and personally I found the “feel” a downgrade from the remote that was included with last year's TVs. It still has some weight but the plastic feels cheap. It would have been nice if it had had a softer bottom and metal on top - and a few extra grams on the belly.
The layout of the buttons is also logical. Besides the plastic feel the new remote easy and comfortable to use. However, the flat buttons are a little hard to operate so it is a good thing that you rarely need to use them (except for the back button).
Last year, Samsung introduced a Wii-like pointer function in its remote that made it possible to point and click in the user interface. Only one year later the company has decided to remove it again so you can only operate the TV through the small ring and "OK" button on the remote. Samsung explains that customers were confused over the fact that some apps did not support motion controls and that is why they have abandoned it again.
The three flat buttons around the navigation pad (123, Extra and play/pause) open extra menus that offer a numerical keypad for channel switching, the four classic color codes used in many regions, and a menu with playback controls. The Play/Pause function is probably the one that people use most often and as said you have to first open one of the extra menus to operate it.
Sometimes the "OK" button has a double function, meaning that you can hold it down to switch between a PiP window and full-screen.
TV channels, recording & sound
Samsung has polished the TV channel menus to make them appear more stylish and clean. If you still love to cycle through all your TV channels you will be happy to know that the +/- buttons are still easy to find on the remote and that you can access the EPG directly from the remote. If you hold down the button instead you can access a side menu with a channel overview.
The TV switches between channels without much delay but if you have a few favorite channels it is probably easier to place shortcuts under "Live TV" in the bottom menu.
If you connect a USB HDD or USB stick to the TV you can also time shift (pause live TV) and record channels. KS8000 is, in Europe, equipped with a twin tuner (unlike the cheaper KS7000) allowing you to record one channel while watching another - or watch two channels with picture-in-picture. However, be aware that the TV only has one CI slot so if you need a decoder card to watch encrypted channels you may not be able to take full advantage of the twin tuner. You can access your recordings easily from the bottom menu.
Samsung says that KS8000 has more powerful speakers than the cheaper models and yes sound is quite good. It still lacks bass so if you want powerful sound you still need separate speakers but for casual all-round use the speakers are decent.
The Standard mode is, unsurprisingly, too cold and blueish so we quickly switched to the Movie mode. With the dynamic backlight setting set to its most aggressive mode the TV alters the gamma curve quite significantly making dark tones appear too dark and bright tones too bright. We therefore set Smart LED to "Low", which is a more acceptable compromise.
The Movie mode per default has some color deviations in the bright end of the scale and you have to do a little tweaking with the 2-point IRE settings to get colors below dE 1. However, it required only relatively minor adjustments as evidenced by our suggested calibration settings in the next section.
8K (7680x4320 pixels) – variable frame rate – 8 bit colors - YUV color space – 4:2:0 subsampling – 20.7 Mbps bitrate – AVC - .mp4 file
Use picture settings
Digital clean view
Auto Motion Plus
HDMI UHD Color
On for UHD BD
HDMI Black level
Note: We did not use the automatic light sensor during our review but if you wish you can engage it from the menu to ensure that the TV automatically compensates for the light intensity levels in your surroundings.
Samsung says that all of its 2016 "SUHDs", including KS8000, are UHD Premium certified and that they should cover almost the full DCI-P3 color space. The TVs also support VP9-Profile2, which is required to stream HDR from YouTube. Our test pattern generator did not produce a small enough window to confirm Samsung's claim of +1000 nits peak brightness so in our 10% window we hit "only" 766 cd/m2. However, the black level was lower than the required 0.05 cd/m2.
Samsung provided us with a nice selection of UHD Blu-ray movies for the UBD-K8500 player so we had a chance to examine several different movie genres in glorious HDR. A nice detail is that Samsung's TVs automatically detect HDR signals coming from the K8500 player. If you have read our other 2016 reviews you may recall that we manually had to set them up to expect HDR signals via HDMI. This means that K8000 automatically switches to HDR mode and the correct color space. So let us start with talking about KS8000's HDR picture quality.
HDR picture quality is held back by the fact that KS8000 cannot control light locally. The TV is utilizing edge LED and the diodes are placed on top and bottom of the LCD panel so the TV has very limited control. What it can do is to control light output in vertical bands (that do not extend all the way from top to bottom), which in practice causes bright elements to "bleed" over into parts of the image that were not intended to be illuminated. This in turns affects HDR picture quality negatively. You can always discuss whether it is an advantage to control light output in bands compared to having rows, which is the case for Sony X93D and Panasonic CX800. In our opinion the difference is negligible. The problem is edge LED and the lack of zone control.
The results is - like most other LCD TVs - that the HDR picture at times start to look somewhat washed out because the backlight is blowing out at full intensity while the LCD panel is incapable of blocking the light in dark areas of the picture. Samsung has made it possible to reduce the backlight intensity in HDR mode, which allowed us to counter the issue to some extent without having to give up the expanded color gamut that HDR offers. Some other TV manufacturers lock brightness to the max setting in HDR mode so it is certainly positive that Samsung offers at least some flexibility in HDR picture settings.
Edge lit LCD panels often suffer from issues with light "bleeding" in from the edges of the panel when in HDR mode, and the same is true for KS8000. However, we rarely noticed these issues with regular content so it is mostly a concern while watching HDR.
It may be an unfair comparison but the before KS8000 I had LG's E6 OLED on the test bench and as said before OLEDs set the bar for HDR picture quality. KS8000 is a much cheaper TV and obviously cannot match the LG E6 in HDR picture quality. I am not saying that HDR on KS8000 does not look impressive at times but most of the time (because of its technical shortcomings) the most significant visual improvements come from 4K resolution and the expanded color space. The lack of local dimming on KS8000 means that highlights/shadows that were meant to look distinctive in HDR never really look satisfying. However, as you can see in our measurements section KS8000 reaches almost the full DCI-P3 color space and it has visibly better color saturation than last year's "SUHD" models, especially in the green and red tones.
Samsung's picture processing engine in the 2016 TVs is more or less the same as the one in last year's TVs and it continues to be excellent for many tasks, including HD and SD processing. However, as always, be aware that no amount of picture processing can make a compressed SD signal look good. If you primarily feed your TV with low-quality signals from TV broadcasters a 65-inch UHD TV is probably not what you should be looking for.
For a few years now, we have complained about micro-stutter (on motion) on Samsung's TVs, which is a special type of motion stutter that cannot be attributed to the native frequency of the source material. Instead it occurs randomly. Unfortunately, KS8000 continues to suffer from micro-stutter and it gets worse if you try to engage the Auto Motion Plus system or feed the TV with low-quality content. The use of Auto Motion Plus is relevant when talking about motion reproduction in general and while KS8000 performs much like last year's TVs when Auto Motion Plus is deactivated it is possible to boost it to the same level of Sony's excellent Motion Flow system if you set it to "Auto" on Samsung's TV. However, this setting gives a very significant soap opera look to pictures.
There exists a compromise if you are prepared to manually adjust the system but you have to choose between two evils: micro-stutter or reduced motion resolution. Without Auto Motion Plus engaged we also experienced some stutter on all sources so we preferred to activate the scanning backlight system and adjust the "Judder" setting a few steps up to improve motion reproduction. Before you freak out please be advised that we generally prefer to completely deactivate the motion system or only use the least aggressive settings on TVs so every TV we test will to some extend have issues with motion resolution.
Edge lit LCD TVs have, historically, been more predisposed to backlight homogeneity issues (clouding / bleeding) but this is not really an issue with our sample of KS8000, which is great news taken the 65-inch size into account. We had to take very long exposure shots with our camera on our test patterns to reveal issues with backlight homogeneity. A very good result. The TV is not free of issues, though, and as mentioned earlier bleeding starts to plague the TV once you feed it with HDR content. At times, we also spotted a little bleeding on top and bottom with certain colors (black not included). It resembles what we last year spotted on Sony X85C (left/right sides instead of top/bottom).
With some of our full-screen color patterns we also noticed that Samsung KS8000 has some minor issues with yellow tint in the center and red tint close to the edges of the panel. We spotted it when using full-screen grey tone patterns but rarely saw it with "real" content. KS8000 had no issues with "vertical banding", which many people complain about when watching football matches. The black level is more or less identical to last year's TVs, so quite good but not pitch-black as on OLED.
None of Samsung's 2016 TVs support 3D. The company has completely abandoned the trend that it helped start only a few years ago.
Measuring input lag on KS8000 proved a little problematic when Auto Motion Plus was engaged but we managed to measure 120 ms in the Movie profile, which is of course far too high for game console use. Activate the Game mode and things start to look completely different. In the Game mode KS8000 has just 20 ms of input lag, which is very impressive and one of the lowest numbers we have measured on any TV. It also matches last year's TVs and Samsung continues to lead in this area. You can see how other TVs compare in our input lag applet here.
KS8000 is, like all TVs from Samsung, based on a VA LCD panel, which is characterized by having relatively deep blacks but narrow viewing angles. And even though the viewing angles are not as narrow as on for example Panasonic's LCD TVs, it cannot match IPS LCD panels (LG, some Philips, Sony and Panasonic) or OLED.
Samsung KS8000 represents upper mid-range in Samsung's "SUHD" line and boasts picture features such as HDR (high dynamic range) and close to full coverage of the DCI-P3 color space. The TV’s slim profile looks great and it will surely fit into most living rooms.
HDR is a major selling point for Samsung in 2016 but KS8000, like most other LCD TVs without true local dimming, has mediocre HDR picture quality. You get high peak brightness but at the expense of other things. The picture often looks washed out because with the brightness setting set to max (default). It is possible to turn down the brightness setting, which means that you get lower peak brightness but can still benefit from the expanded color space.
Besides HDR we saw the same convincing picture quality that we found on last year's Samsung TVs and the switch from backlit LED (compared to last year's JU7) to edge LED does not appear to have affected light homogeneity in any significant way. Unfortunately Samsung has yet to fix the issues with micro-stutter on its 2016 TVs.
Samsung has introduced a revamped Tizen user interface in its 2016 TVs along with a new remote control. The result is a streamlined and less bloated user experience. The TVs come with several key apps but Tizen's app selection is still not great and most apps have yet to add support for Tizen's new fast-launch menu. In addition, the TV is equipped with a twin tuner (in Europe) and has decent speakers.
Last year, we did not give Samsung JU7 an award because the company offered a significantly cheaper flat version of the TV but looking at Samsung's 2016 TV line-up it is clear that the flat KS8000 offers great value-for-money in several size classes. KS8000 is not without faults but it deserves our Highly Recommended Award.
Picture quality is assessed as overall picture quality, including color reproduction, image processing, contrast, motion etc. Features is an evaluation of the built-in functionality such as apps, connector ports, tuners, recording capabilities, decoder formats, and how useful they are, as well as sound quality. User experience is evaluated on the basis of user friendliness, speed, build quality, and day-to-day use of the TV Total score is weighted: 50% Picture quality, 25% Features, 25% User experience. All scores are calculated based on a moving maximum target, defined by what we currently consider the best on market. It is then presented as a percentage. This means that a score will fall over time as new and better TVs set new standards. This allows you to compare scores across years. A score of 100% in a given category means that it is consider the best available product in this category to date.