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Samsung slays with its curves
FROM 3D, curved screens, TV operating systems to quantum dot displays, no one can say that Samsung does not try its best at each generation of TV it makes, and this year's model is no different. Offering 1,000 nits brightness from an edge LED display, it is the first edge LED TV to achieve this level of brightness.
And it matters because of the new HDR content format that offers a wider gamut of colours in playback, to make videos closely replicate the life-like vibrancy of colours of the very first recording.
The UHD Alliance, a collective of TV makers and content creators, has decided that all 4K content should follow a string of criteria; and having a 1,000 nits display - which is the bare minimum of displaying HDR10 content (See related story) - is a foundation of obtaining the Ultra HD Premium certification.
That said, there are hardware capable of supporting the criteria that have not received certification, since it isn't mandatory.
The KS9000K is a quantum dot LED TV that improves on the old LED technology, by giving it a boost using nanotechnology. These nanocrystals in the display are capable of supplying light on demand, to produce deeper colours on screen. Since it was introduced by Samsung last year, the technology has been improved on and it clearly shows on its screen.
The quality of blacks has improved quite a bit, and gone are the grey hues that follow. However, the screen itself is not entirely black either, with just a tinge of grey and this can alter the perception of what the baseline black colour should be.
A lot of the differences in colours and brightness also depends on the type of content displayed, and the higher the video quality, the better the results, so do not expect your free-to-air or cable programmes to look better just because of this TV. While the upscaling feature augments regular content to something with more punch, the data embedded within those broadcasts are simply not capable of delivering on the 4K quality.
With support for ultra-high definition 4K and HDR, shows such as Netflix's Marco Polo offer a rich vibrancy one usually finds only on cinema screens.
Even without HDR, 4K shows such as Marvel's Daredevil offer a unique level of detail in its presentation, with strong contrast of darks and lighting details in the night-time scenes.
As one of the first few HDR10 compatible TVs, the implementation with Netflix is also seamless. 4K HDR content on the streaming service will display a HDR tag, and playback of HDR format is automatic. The only catch is that subscribers have to be on the most expensive Netflix subscription tier to enjoy HDR content.
Samsung has opted to stick with curved displays and while appreciation for it is a personal one, curved screens tend to look distorted if not viewed at the proper angle. While it has stuck with the curves, Samsung has given up on stereoscope and this model no longer offers 3D.
Another Samsung innovation, the Evolution Kit, has also been dropped. Introduced a while back, the idea was that the TV's processor and software can be upgraded easily with a removable component, since screen technology itself would remain virtually unchanged year-on-year. This allowed early adopters to have a modern TV in 12 months time, by simply changing one component, without replacing the TV itself.
But with swift changes in 4K and quantum dot displays, it seems that the TV industry is moving back into the annual hardware race.
Still, the company has kept the connector box as an external module, so that the TV can be made as slim as possible, but also continue to offer a wide number of connectivity options. This also makes switching off connected devices much easier, since there is no need to reach behind the TV to connect cables.
Samsung has also spent a lot of time redesigning the rear of the TV, making it look more elegant than most other TVs, though with it facing the wall at all times, the effort seems misguided.
Interface wise, Samsung has also improved on the Tizen operating system powering its smart TVs. Navigating the menus is much smoother, and even with just a simple controller that does not come with numerical buttons, it is easy to switch between apps and HDMI ports.
Where Samsung clearly wins is on price. While quantum dot LED technology is not as capable as OLED screens in terms of displaying blacks, it does a commendable job at a much cheaper price point compared to an OLED TV.
However, the price gap has narrowed considerably since last year, so it will only be a matter of time before OLED TV makers such as LG level the playing field even more.
Samsung SUHD 4K Curved Smart TV KS9000 Series 9
Price: 65-inch S$7,199; 55-inch S$5,199
Panel: Ultra High Definition (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), Quant om Dot, SUHD Remastering, HDR
Operating system: Tizen
Screen Curvature: 4,200R
Audio: 4.1 Channel, 60W
Connectors: HDMI x 4, USB x 3; Composite/Component In x 1 (Shared), Ethernet x 1, Optical x 1