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  • About the Samsung AU8000

  • Related content

  • What we like

  • What we don’t like

  • Should you buy it?

Pros

  • Excellent black levels

  • Attractive design

  • Reliable smart platform

Cons

  • Not bright enough for HDR

  • No local dimming

  • Motion judder

If you want a TV that truly showcases HDR, consider the alternatives.

The AU8000 features deep, steady black levels, a handsome design, and a smart platform that’s flexible and easy enough for folks who are upgrading to a 4K smart TV for the first time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get bright and colorful enough for even halfway-decent HDR and its panel lacks any sort of dimming software, which impacts screen uniformity in a pretty bad way.

While it’s true that there aren’t many entry-level-to-mid-range TVs in this price range right now, there are a handful of TVs that don’t cost very much more than the AU8000 that, frankly, offer far greater upside—both in terms of performance and features.

If you’re a Samsung brand loyalist who’s after an affordable 4K TV with a decent smart platform, this is the TV for you. That said, if you don’t mind spending up a bit to get more bang for your buck, there are a handful of competitively priced TVs out there that offer a lot of bang for a very reasonable amount of buck, and I highly recommend checking them out.

About the Samsung AU8000

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

There are six sizes in the AU8000 series ranging from 43 inches to 85 inches.

The Samsung AU8000 is available in six total sizes ranging from 43 inches all the way up to 85 inches. Our review unit is a 65-inch model we purchased ourselves.

Here’s the series at a glance:

  • 43-inch (Samsung UN43AU8000FXZA), MSRP $449.99
  • 50-inch (Samsung UN50AU8000FXZA), MSRP $529.99
  • 55-inch (Samsung UN55AU8000FXZA), MSRP $599.99
  • 65-inch (Samsung UN65AU8000FXZA), MSRP $699.99
  • 75-inch (Samsung UN75AU8000FXZA), MSRP $1,099.99
  • 85-inch (Samsung UN85AU8000FXZA), MSRP $1,799.99

Different sizes belonging to the same series tend to perform similarly, and we’re not aware of any significant hardware differences between sizes in the AU8000 series that would impact performance in a major way. However, it is very possible that the screen uniformity issues we noted on the 65-inch model are as bad or worse on the 75- and 85-inch models.

Here’s a rundown of specs and features shared by each model:

  • Resolution: 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
  • Display type: Edge-lit LED
  • HDR support: HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
  • Dolby Atmos: Yes (via eARC, no onboard decoding)
  • eARC support: Yes (HDMI 2)
  • Native refresh rate: 60Hz
  • Smart platform: Tizen Smart TV
  • Color: DCI-P3 color space/10-bit chroma resolution
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): No
  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Yes
  • Other features: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Bixby, Samsung Health
You’ll have to spend a bit more to secure VRR.

While the Samsung AU8000 supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), it does not support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). This feature improves the look and feel of games by preventing screen tearing, and If you consider yourself a serious gamer—especially if you own or plan on owning an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5—you’ll probably want to invest in a TV that offers such functionality. In all likelihood, you’ll have to spend a bit more to secure it.

Related content

Performance data

Before testing each TV, we make sure the panel is on and receiving a continuous signal for at least 24 hours, allowing the pixels plenty of time to warm up. Our 65-inch AU8000 received this standard warm-up time before any readings were taken. In addition, the TV received the latest firmware updates at the time of testing.

For both SDR and HDR tests, we used Samsung’s “Movie” picture mode. We’ve chosen this setting because of its accuracy, but performance may vary depending on which picture mode is enabled. For example, you’re likely to experience a brighter picture with different settings enabled, but it may interfere with color temperature and overall color accuracy.

To get a sense for the TV’s average performance, we use a standard ANSI checkerboard pattern for most of our basic contrast tests. We also use white and black windows ranging from 2% to 90% to test how well the contrast holds up while displaying varying degrees of brightness.

Our peak brightness measurements are taken with sustained windows to represent the TV’s peak brightness over a sustained period of time. Specular highlights (like brief flashes of reflected light) might reach higher brightness levels, but not for sustained periods of time.

All of our tests are created with a Murideo Seven 8K signal generator and tabulated via Portrait Displays’ Calman Ultimate color calibration software. I'll expand on our test results throughout the review, but for now, here are some key takeaways:

• HDR contrast (brightness/black level): 314 nits/0.077 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• SDR contrast (brightness/black level): 257.8 nits/0.063 nits (ANSI checkerboard)
• HDR peak brightness (sustained): 324.6 nits (10% white window)
• HDR color gamut coverage (DCI-P3/10-bit): 83%
• SDR color gamut coverage (Rec.709): 97%

These tests were carried out with the AU8000’s “Picture Clarity” settings (“Judder Reduction,” “LED Clear Motion,” and “Noise Reduction”) disabled. In addition, its gamma was set to “2.2” for SDR tests, “Contrast Enhancer” was disabled, and the “Color Tone” selector was set to “Warm2.”

Connectivity

A close-up of the inputs on the back of the Samsung AU8000's panel
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

There are three HDMI 2.0 ports in a cutout on the back of the panel.

This mid-range Samsung is equipped with a very mid-range selection of ports. There’s enough flexibility for casual viewers, but power users will be disappointed with the lack of HDMI 2.1—and perhaps the lack of a fourth HDMI port altogether.

Here’s what you’ll find in a cutout on the back of the panel:

  • 3x HDMI 2.0 (1x eARC)
  • 2x USB 2.0
  • RF connection (cable/antenna)
  • Ethernet (LAN) input
  • Digital audio output (optical)

What we like

Impressive black levels

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The AU8000's black levels are consistently deep.

The AU8000 is carrying some contrast issues that I’ll break down further in the review, but it’s worth calling out the TV’s ability to get dark when it matters. I measured black levels in the 0.05 to 0.08 range, with the higher end of that range happening while the TV was at its brightest in HDR.

It’s not quite as dark as a higher-end LED TV with a VA-style panel—and can’t come close to the perfect black levels of an OLED TV—but it performs better in this regard than most TVs in this price range. To put it directly: you’d never see a mid-range 4K TV hitting 0.05 black levels half a decade ago.

Deep black levels enrich darker scenes, particularly in dimly lit viewing environments. The story of the AU8000’s contrast isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but the TV’s consistently dark shadow tones go a long way in delivering a generally good-looking picture across SDR and HDR content.

Fetching design

A close-up of the Samsung AU8000's stand design
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The feet that prop up the Samsung AU8000's panel are seriously slim.

It goes without saying that the AU8000 isn’t as flashy as a top-tier Samsung flagship, but it plays the part of a higher-end TV thanks to its sleek design.

The panel is quite thin on account of the AU8000’s relatively simplistic hardware, which makes it a good candidate for wall mounting.

A close-up of the Samsung AU8000's remote control
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The included remote control features dedicated app buttons and a built-in microphone for select commands.

Should you opt for a tabletop setup, the AU8000 will blend right into most living rooms, as its design is both modern and minimalist. The panel is propped up by two super-narrow, rod-shaped feet that sit flat on a surface—a nice change of pace from the ubiquitous boomerang-shaped feet we so often encounter. The feet slot into the back of the panel with ease.

The remote control is slim and its buttons are nice and clicky. There’s a microphone built in for select voice control functionality, and I suspect it’ll be easy for most people to pick it up and familiarize themselves with it.

A smart platform that gets the job done

The Samsung AU8000 displaying its smart platform's home screen in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Samsung's smart platform isn't our favorite, but it's easy enough to use and offers a wide range of apps, making it a good fit for casual users.

A good mid-range TV should pack a smart platform that stands on its own, and the AU8000 meets this all-important criteria. The TV’s Tizen-powered smart platform will be familiar to anyone who’s owned a Samsung TV in the last few years, and if you’re upgrading to a smart TV for the first time, the software is a great way to dip your toes in the streaming water.

Most of the streaming apps folks are expecting to find—Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Disney+, for example—are either pre-loaded out of the box or can be added via an app store. There are also a handful of extras to round out the experience, like a web browser and support for the Samsung Health software suite.

If you’re upgrading to a smart TV for the first time, the software is a great way to dip your toes in the streaming water.

The navigational experience is fairly straightforward, though I did notice some general sluggishness when jumping from one submenu to the next. In general, I suspect that most folks shopping in this price range will end up using Samsung’s Tizen-based platform as their main source of streaming content. If you want a faster, more flexible set of options, you can always pair the AU8000 with a dedicated streaming device.

What we don’t like

Doesn’t get bright or colorful enough for HDR

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Even in HDR, the AU8000 doesn't consistently crack the 350-nit mark, making it a not-so-great choice for folks who want a TV that showcases HDR.

If you’re on the hunt for a new TV that showcases High Dynamic Range, you may want to consider alternatives, as the AU8000 isn’t quite built for the format. Its panel just doesn’t get bright enough.

During SDR content (that is, cable TV broadcasts, most streaming shows and Blu-rays), the AU8000’s brightness levels top out at around 250 to 300 nits. This is fine for most viewing experiences, but when it comes to HDR—a format designed to harness and optimize higher brightness levels—the AU8000 can’t deliver. I measured peak brightness levels of around 300 to 350 nits while sending the TV an HDR signal, which, unfortunately, isn’t that much different than what the TV does during garden-variety SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) content.

Optimized brightness isn’t the only key to HDR’s success; the format also uses the increased brightness to further saturate a TV’s color. Ideally, an HDR TV would cover between 95% and 100% of an extra-wide HDR color gamut (DCI-P3). According to our lab tests, the AU8000 only covers about 83% of this expanded gamut.

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The AU8000 only offers about 83% coverage of the DCI-P3 HDR color gamut.

These test results can be seen in action, too—even to an untrained eye. When jumping from an HDR Blu-ray to SDR streaming content on Netflix, I noticed no appreciable difference in picture quality. Highlights didn’t pop the way they do on an HDR TV with considerable “horsepower,” and colors—while mostly accurate—remained somewhat flat during HDR content.

If what you seek is a relatively affordable TV with the necessary hardware to truly showcase HDR, something like the TCL 5-Series is a much better bet. Its display is powered by quantum dots, which give it the boost of brightness it needs for brighter highlights and richer color. It costs a little bit more than the AU8000, but I promise: It’s worth the modest investment if HDR is important to you.

A lack of local-dimming creates problems

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

While not visible in the above photo, darker scenes tend to glow at the TV's corners—an effect that gets worse during off-angle viewing.

The AU8000 is an edge-lit TV with no local dimming software. Essentially, this means that, unlike most LED TVs on the market today, the AU8000 does not have “zones” of LED backlights that brighten and dim in concert. Without these clusters of LEDs working in tandem, the AU8000 struggles to distribute its light evenly across the panel. The result is a picture that is often cloudy, with blue-tinted light bleed collecting at times on the corners of the panel.

The effect is significantly worse when viewed at off-angles. VA-style panels struggle with off-angle viewing to begin with, and when you add this type of panel lighting to the mix, the struggle is that much more real.

One seeming benefit of the lack of local dimming, however, is that I did not notice much light bleed around bright-on-dark picture elements (like subtitles, for example). Nevertheless, improved backlighting hardware would go a long way in smoothing out some of the AU8000’s uniformity issues.

You’ll probably need to tinker with motion settings

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

You can iron out some of the AU8000's juddery motion by adjusting the "Judder Reduction" slider in the "Picture Clarity" settings menu. It won't remove motion judder completely, however.

Typically, TVs in the AU8000’s price range feature a 60Hz refresh rate rather than a refresh rate of 120Hz. This means that the TV is only capable of refreshing its picture 60 times per second, which is usually fine but can feel limited during certain kinds of content.

The Samsung AU8000 and its native 60Hz refresh rate do an OK job displaying motion, but fast-paced content has the tendency to stutter, and some blurriness is still visible even after adjustments are made to the motion settings (“Judder Reduction” and “LED Clear Motion”). If these sliders are pushed too high, the TV takes on an artificial smoothness (colloquially referred to as “the soap opera effect”).

To be clear, the AU8000 is better equipped than most 60Hz TVs in this price range to limit motion-related artifacts. That said, I highly recommend keeping the motion enhancement sliders (found in the “Picture Clarity” settings menu) at their lower ends. In “Movie” mode’s out-of-the-box settings, you will likely notice a fair amount of judder, particularly during vertical and horizontal pans.

Should you buy it?

Maybe—but only if you understand its limitations and have your heart set on a Samsung TV

The Samsung AU8000 displaying 4K content in a living room setting
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The AU8000 is a decent TV for the price, but spending just a little bit more will land you much better performance. If you care about HDR, it's worth looking into some of those options.

The AU8000 gets a lot right. I love its design, its black levels are quite impressive for its price range, and I imagine that newcomers to the smart TV lifestyle will very much appreciate the TV’s built-in, Tizen-based smart platform. That said, if you move up to the next highest price bracket, a whole world of better options opens up, and some of them really do justify the price jump.

Take, for instance, the newest TCL 5-Series. For my money, its built-in Google TV software is even better than Tizen—not to mention easier to use. And remember when I said that the AU8000 wasn’t a good pick for folks who want to see what the HDR fuss is all about? Well, the 5-Series is far better equipped to deliver an HDR experience worthy of the fuss, thanks to a panel that gets much brighter and more colorful. Depending on which sizes you’re comparing, the 5-Series is only about $50 to $200 more expensive than the AU8000.

If the Samsung insignia is a must-have, consider the Samsung Q60A.

If the Samsung insignia is a must-have, consider the Samsung Q60A. There’s a bigger price gap between the AU8000 and the Q60A when compared to the 5-Series, but you’re getting a terrific picture thanks to quantum dots and local dimming—two display features not found on the AU8000.

The Samsung AU8000 plays its role well; it’s a TV with limitations, but those limitations are mostly justified given the cost. If you value HDR as I do, however, you’ll probably be better off spending a little more on something that can showcase the format better.

Meet the tester

Michael Desjardin

Michael Desjardin

Senior Staff Writer

@Reviewed

Michael Desjardin graduated from Emerson College after having studied media production and screenwriting. He specializes in tech for Reviewed, but also loves film criticism, weird ambient music, cooking, and food in general.

See all of Michael Desjardin's reviews

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