Samsung always has to go one better.
While every other manufacturer seems happy sticking ‘UHD’ (‘ultra high definition’) loud and proud on its 4K TVs, Samsung’s flagship sets gain an extra letter to form ‘SUHD’. Officially, the ‘S’ is arbitrary, but ‘super’ and ‘sublime’ certainly spring to mind, for this curved, super-slim beauty is just that.
What's in a name?
What sets the SUHD range apart from the lower-ranging ‘UHD’ sets is the use of nano-crystal technology: a thin film layer of tiny crystals in the display panel that emit light in various colours according to their size, which allegedly offer 64x more colour expression and 2.5x more brightness than typical tellies. Fancy figures, indeed. But is it all talk and no trousers? It seems not.
Across resolutions (Ultra HD to DVD), the Samsung produces an intoxicating picture that’ll surely silence any sceptics. With 4K, it’s like looking through a newly-washed window. Play Marvel’s awesome Daredevil and each of the 8.3million pixels is put to good use, filling the screen’s handsome real estate with pin-sharp outlines, potent contrast and eye-popping (yet truth-telling) colours – more subtle and nuanced than those of its closest rival, the LG 55UF950V. It’s all too easy to slip into nose-to-screen viewing habits.
Everything that isn't 4K
It doesn’t make gruntwork of upscaling, either. With Blu-ray and DVD alike, sharpness is never an issue, and colours are bold as brass. Any unmasked motion blur can simply be silenced by activating its motion processing mode.
3D advocates get it in the active (rather than passive) flavour, but will need to use that change from £3000 to fork out extra for the specs. Miserly? You bet. But seeing as the vast majority of 3D glasses do nothing but gather dust it doesn’t seem the end of the world.
Charming the ears too, the Samsung has a sound that’s gobs fuller, richer and more powerful than your average flatscreen, so your favourite Die Hard explosions don’t merely sound like a car backfiring.
Getting all in a Tizen
Fresh for 2015 TVs is Tizen: not a fizzy drink, but in fact Samsung’s own gorgeous open-source platform. It’s like LG’s WebOS but, well, not. Pop-up tiles gift shortcuts to live TV, recent and recommended content, and a sea of apps.
Last year Samsung set the benchmark for catch-up TV services and this year’s no different: it’s got Netflix and Amazon Instant Video (which provide over 90 hours of 4K thrills between them) – there’s a gazillion clips on YouTube too – and BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and Demand5 (more are due to punch the clock soon, we’re told) fend for more orthodox viewing.
Inputs and menu settings run handily along a bar at the top of screen, where you’ll also find newbie feature, Multi-link: a split-screen mode that lets you watch Match of the Day and get your Candy Crush fix in chorus.
Look to the telly’s rear and you might double-take at the absence of HDMI inputs. But don’t pull a face: unusually, the lion’s share of connections (four HDMIs, two of its three USB inputs and an optical output) are housed in a roughly A5-sized plug-in ‘One Connect Mini’ box that can be hidden way, keeping the screen itself nice and neat.
Last but not least, remotes. Joining the safe vanilla wand is the new banana-shaped smart one, combining proddable buttons with an obliging on-screen cursor that comes to life when your thumb rests on the middle button. We like it.
Samsung UE55JS8500 verdict
On reflection, maybe ‘S’ should stand for ‘special.’ £2600 might be a high price to pay, but if ever there was a telly worth selling a kidney for (there isn’t, of course) this would be it.
Samsung has served up a screamer, and amazingly it’s not even at the very top of the 2015 range. That position’s occupied by the JS9500 series - we can’t wait to get our hands on one of those but it’ll have to go some to be worth more than this already awesome 4K telly.
Picture credit: What Hi-Fi?