The eschews the traditional TV design for a far more original take. First of all, the TV is remarkably thin, like iPhone thin. It's weird, especially if you're dealing with the 60 or 65-inch screen. The panel actually bends and wobbles a little as you move it around. The bezel is also incredibly thin. When you look at it from the front, you see almost nothing except the screen and that sweet, 4-legged stand.
The stand is very different from the standard black rectangle or oval. Instead, the base has a four legs. It's an elegant look, but you'll want to make sure you have a wide surface that's at least 13.8 inches deep. A rectangular base can hang over the edge of a table a little, but the 's feet need to be making firm contact with the ground.
The base does allows the TV panel to swivel back and forth.
The houses its onboard controls on the right edge of the TV panel. They're a series of tiny buttons that are fairly easy to distinguish by touch, with a little practice of course. The usual buttons are here: Source, Menu, Volume Up/Down, Channel Up/Down, and Power.
The Samsung D8000, both the plasma and LED series, ship with this fancy remote control. On one side is the traditional layout, albeit more compact than the standard Samsung remote. This makes the buttons a little trickier to locate without looking down to double-check where your thumb is. Also, the whole remote is oblong, fatter on one side than the other. As a result, it feels a little off-balance.
Flip the remote over and you're introduced to something that would look much more at home on a cell phone than a television remote. There's a QWERTY keyboard, a little preview LCD screen that shows what you're typing, and some of the most useful buttons from the other side of the remote ported over to this side. We had a hard time getting the text we typed to appear on screen when using the web browser. It was less intuitive than we expected and required some finagling.
The sheer size of the screen combined with the remarkable thinness of the panel made this a very tricky TV to assemble. Normally you can just lay a TV down on its face to screw in the base. Unfortunately, the bezel on the is so minimal that the screen could crack if you're not careful. To top if off, the panel is fairly heavy. Grab a friend and a big, soft surface to this TV up.
The produced an impressive, though not earth-shattering, 0.06 cd/m2 in our black level tests. As you can see in the chart below, that's a little better than the Sony EX729, another LCD television. Neither, however, were nearly as dark as the two plasma TVs, the Samsung PNxxD8000 and the Panasonic VT30. This test truly shows the difference between a good plasma and a good LCD. More on how we test black level.
The had no problem hitting those bright whites, peaking at 357.93 cd/m2. That's just as bright as the Sony. A quick look at the chart below shows how far behind plasmas lag in producing a decent white. More on how we test peak brightness.
The 's contrast ratio was clocked at 5966:1, according to our tests. That's a fairly impressive performance and bears some explanation as to how we think it was done. Like most LED-backlit and LED-edgelit LCDs, the uses local dimming, which means that the lighting elements in one part of the screen can be dimmed while another is fully illuminated. It's all based on screen content. A white wall should be displayed as brightly as possible, but those spooky shadows should be as dark as possible, all in the same shot. Samsung's website claims that they don't use local dimming but rather "Micro Dimming," which seems to have exactly the same effect.
Our tests indicated that the auto-dimming (local dimming or whole-screen dimming, it's difficult to tell) worked effectively. It clearly gave it an advantage in our tests and showed no adverse effects in the Tunnel Contrast and White Falloff tests (see below). However, an all-black screen resulted in the entire backlighting array shutting off, exactly as if you'd turned the power off. This was particularly distracting in any fade-to-black scenarios. Even for the briefest all-black shots, boom... the screen shuts off. We kept scrambling to see if we'd accidentally sat on the remote control's power button. There doesn't seem to be any way to turn this off. There are, however, settings on the TV to amplify the dynamic contrast even further. More on how we test contrast.
The has no problem maintaining a consistent black level, even if it's only a little black square surrounded by bright whites. More on how we test tunnel contrast.
Likewise, the has little trouble maintaining a consistent peak white. We noticed just the slightest drop-off if the screen had a tiny, 5% white window, surrounded by 95% black. More on how we test white falloff.
Like many LED-lit LCD displays, the has some uniformity issues. These ultra-thin TVs just won't deliver the same, even illumination as a traditional CCFL-backlit or a plasma TV. That's the cost of such style and elegance in the the design. On an all-white screen, you'll see a few dimmer spots. On a mostly-black screen, there's a lot of obvious blotching. This may or may not prove distracting, depending on how picky you are. On an all-black screen, as we mentioned above, the TV essentially shuts off. More on how we test white falloff.
The does a good job transitioning from black to white within the greyscale. Let's look at the chart below. There are a lot of little bumps on the left portion of it. This area represents the shadow details. From these results we know that the is going to have a lot of banding in the shadows. Once it hits the mid-point, though, things smooth out.
We're also looking at the slope of the curve. An ideal curve is between 2.1 and 2.2. This TV's curve measured 2.64, which is a bit steeper than ideal, but still good. Overall, gave a good performance . More on how we test greyscale gamma.
The did a pretty good job of maintaining a consistent color temperature, but there was a long stretch in the signal intensity range where the whites get a bit cool. You may not even notice it, as the changes are so slight. More on how we test color temperature.
The produced a smooth red and green color curve, but the blue channel showed an unexpected knee in the mid-tones. As a result, the shadows in the blue channel brighten sooner than the other two channels. There will also be less detail in the blue mids to highlights. Also, all three channels peaked a little, meaning they could not display detail in the brightest stretches of the signal intensity. More on how we test RGB curves.
Below are digital recreations of the color curves, compared with three similar TVs as well as an ideal response curve.
The gave a strong motion performance, though it's thanks to a feature we can only recommend enabling in limited circumstances. Samsung calls is Auto Motion Plus, though other manufacturers name it differently. Essentially, it works by inserting extra, interpolated frames in between the original frames. The result is a much smoother motion performance than what you'd see otherwise. A lot of the normal problems associated with LCD motion – judder, trailing, and straight lines becoming slanted – disappear.
Interpolated is, of course, a technical way of saying that the TV "guesses" what the inserted frames should look like. In most cases, the guessing is pretty good. However, some patterns gave the TV more trouble. A face set in front of a mantel became a blur, resulting in a face with lines shooting through it.
The other significant side effect of Auto Motion Plus is that some video is not meant to look smoother. Anything shot on film, for example, requires a certain blur. Enabling Auto Motion Plus makes the video look sharp and cheap, like a soap opera. You can adjust the settings in the menu to find a balance you like, or simply disable the whole thing entirely. Just don't leave it on all the time at the default settings, or you'll break the little hearts of film directors everywhere. More on how we test motion performance.
The has no problems with native 24fps content, like you get with some Blu-Ray movies. Just make sure you locate the Film Mode feature in the menu and change the setting from "Auto 2" to "Auto 1." This will help with the de-judder of some types of patterns. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.
The has a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution, but many kinds of video you'll encounter will be of a lower resolution. It's up to the TV's internal processing to upscale that content to fit the screen. Overall, the is good at this task, though we noted a few problem areas. Details below. More on how we test resolution scaling.
When viewing 480p content, the loses a lot of picture to overscan: 2% on each side and 3% on the top and bottom.
The 720p video lost nothing to overscan, but showed some slight irregularities with high contrast, high frequency patterns.
Just for comparison, we ran the tests in the TV's native resolution of 1080p and found some noticeable discoloration in high contrast, high frequency patterns.
Let's get this straight, before we start. We don't really like 3D. Even at its best it hurts your eyes and your brain. It's expensive and the content choices are terrible.
There, now that that's out of the way, we can examine the in the context of other 3D TVs. We were impressed, for the most part, with how much progress Samsung made since last year's first-generation models. The flickering has been reduced and there's significantly less crosstalk to ruin the illusion (more on that towards the bottom of this page).
We like that when you put the in 3D mode, you don't lose all your calibration settings. The color gamut is shifted to accommodate the tint in the glasses, but that's expected and necessary. While in 3D mode, you have access to nearly every processing feature that you would in 2D mode, including the motion smoothing, color, and contrast controls.
Even better, Samsung gives you something to watch. If you dig around in the streaming content choices, there's a whole channel for 3D content. Granted, it's not exactly the Netflix of 3D (the Newport Jazz Festival was by far the most interesting free content we could find), but it's a start.
Like all the 3D TVs we've reviewed so far, the contrast ratio is among the performance aspects that are most heavily affected. Those 3D glasses are tinted, which is equivalent to wearing sunglasses while you watch TV. As a result, the contrast ratio goes from 5966:1 in 2D mode all the way down to 2595:1 in 3D mode. That's better than some we've seen, but it's still a major reduction.
The color temperature consistency took a hit when in 3D mode. As you can see in the chart below, it starts off cool in the shadows, then quickly warms. At least it's consistent for the majority of the range after that.
The color curves came through relatively unscathed in 3D mode, at least compared to a lot of TVs we've seen. Sure, there are some noticeable hiccups, especially in the blue channel. Expect those areas to appear as color banding on the screen. All in all, though, it's not bad.
In 3D mode, the showed some desaturation in the blues, but the red and green points were largely unaffected. The white point, those "E's" in the middle, were the worst off. In 3D mode, the whites appears far more green than they should.
A 3D signal works by sending two identical images, slightly off-set, to your eyes, each layer intended for a specific eye. Crosstalk is what happens when part of an image intended for one eye bleeds into the other, usually appearing as a ghostly shadow. We can measure crosstalk with precision to see which color combinations cause the TV the biggest problems. As usual, white on black – the highest contrast – created the most crosstalk. Other color combos that typically cause problems were less of an issue with the . Well done, Samsung.
For most markets, the ships with a Blu-Ray starter pack that includes two pairs of glasses and five 3D Blu-Ray movies. The included glasses are the cheaper SSG-3100GBs.
If you're too cool for those clunky things, you can upgrade to the SSG-3700CRs. They offer no performance benefit, but are lighter and feature a rechargeable battery. The cheaper glasses have a non-rechargeable button battery.
The has a native 1080p (1920 x 1080) resolution. It can handle all standard NTSC broadcast signals.
The 's viewing angle is a pathetic 29 degrees, or roughly 14 degrees from center on either side. At that point, the contrast ratio drops by half. That's quite narrow, even for an LCD. As you can see in the chart below, the Sony EX729, another LCD, did a little better. The Samsung PNxxD8000 and the Panasonic VT30, both plasma displays, were quite a bit better (and the Samsung plasma is atypically narrow).
The , like many higher-end TVs, attempts some form of glare reduction by refracting the ambient light. When hit with a strong light, the TV creates a 4-pointed star pattern surrounded by some short rainbows. Trippy, right? Don't worry, nothing but the strongest, most direct lights will make them appear. Change the angle even a little and the glare should become minimal.
The has a long list of video processing features with confusing names, many of which sound similar. We'll explain the best we can.
The was very easy to calibrate. We just put it in Movie mode, disabled a couple video processing features, and turned the sharpness down to zero. Beyond that, the colors were right on the money. Details in the chart below.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
The has four video modes.
The has a robust selection of ports, but it definitely falls on the side of modernity. Those with a lot of older AV devices like VCRs, standard def DVD players, and older or cheaper camcorders may be hard pressed to find safe harbor here.
Around back, you'll find four HDMI ports, one shared component/composite AV input, one dedicated composite AV input, a VGA and a matching audio input. Outgoing AV ports include analog and digital audio outs.
For extending beyond traditional AV devices, the offers three USB ports, one of which can read full-fledged hard drives (the other two are limited to USB mass storage devices). There's also a LAN port and built-in WiFi for connecting to Samsung's impressive selection of streaming content and apps.
The ports are arranged in an L-shape on the back of the TV panel. Those facing the side are easy to access, but the ones facing the bottom are a little tougher to work with. At least everything is well-labeled.
The audio performance of the was certainly better than the average TV we review, with thanks probably due to the 15 watt speakers (more powerful than average) and the large body cavity in which to reverberate. Still, it doesn't have nearly the bass response and dynamic range that a surround sound system would give you.
In the menu, you'll find a number of options to tweak the performance. Your best bet is to put the TV in Movie mode with the SRS TruSurround HD enabled, the latter being the surround sound emulator. Besides "Movie," there are four other audio modes. You can also find 5-channel equalizer and a dialog enhancing mode if you're hard of hearing.
The menu is one of the best things about the , thanks to the Smart Hub "mission control." From here, you can access content from a variety of sources. The organization is smart and efficient. The keyword search for video content is particularly clever. It would be great if there was a way it could interact with your cable provider, as well.
If you hit the Menu button on the remote, you'll be presented with a more traditional looking menu. Nevertheless, it has all the earmarks we like in a menu: simple text and a clear and elegant structure. The only problem is that the fancy animations (simple transitions from one screen to another) slow down the interface.
The instruction manual is built right into the . Hit the e-Manual button on the remote to take a look. The manual does a decent job of explaining all the features, but there's no keyword search and no index, which grinds the usability down to nothing. You can download the PDF version here. We found it much easier to use.
This year, Samsung has introduced a new concept called the Smart Hub (see first photo below). This is what you see every time you hit the dedicated button on the remote. No longer is the TV simply a receptacle for one one input at a time. This is the future – all things at once. The Smart Hub is a mission control, of sorts. In the upper-right corner you see a live feed of the primary AV input (cable, DVD, etc.). Notice how small, how minimized that has become in the face of a "smart" TV that offers an apps store, an internet browser, streaming content, and local hard drive support. More than anyone else, Samsung has assessed and correctly interpreted the new role of a television in the modern living room.
The streaming content selection is impressive, though in this capacity the playing field has been leveled, for the most part. Nearly all "smart" TVs have Netflix, Pandora, Facebook, Skype, etc. They're the obvious choices for partnership (though their inclusion is no less important). What separates Samsung is their integration into the whole. The Smart Hub page features a search box that scours multiple content partners for matches. That is smart.
Samsung also offers its burgeoning apps store. By and large, the apps are limited to games, news aggregators, and only a few truly useful apps. Don't expect things like LogMeIn for a bit longer.
The and the rest of the D8000 series (both plasma and LCD) ship with an advanced remote control that includes a full QWERTY keyboard. We had a hell of a time trying to get our text inputted – something that should have been brainlessly easy – so Samsung probably needs a little more development time with this particular aspect. The rest of the browser experience is likewise lackluster. We haven't seen a good implementation of a browser on a TV yet because the navigation process is infinitely slower than on on your computer, tablet, or phone. Still, it's there in a pinch.
To connect to all of this, the has a LAN port and built-in WiFi.
The has a three (yes, THREE) USB ports. All three connect to USB mass storage devices like thumb drives. One of them supports full-fledged hard drives, which means you can watch stacks of downloaded movies (where you got them is not our business) on a huge screen and skip Comcast cable altogether.
All three USB ports support video, music, and photo playback. For a complete list of compatible formats, consult the instruction manual .
The requires very little power to operate. If you turn the backlight down to an acceptable level (as we do for this test) we estimate it should only cost you roughly $19.53 per year in electricity. Of course, for maximum picture quality you'll want to turn it up a little brighter, which will cost a little more.
As you can see, the and the Sony HX729, both LED-lit LCDs, require only a little power, while the two plasmas are much hungrier.
The Samsung D8000 series is the top of the line for 2011. On the one hand, you have the UN60D8000, an LED-edgelit LCD, and the PN59D8000, a plasma. No matter which you pick, you'll probably be satisfied because you're getting the best of the best. Both are 3D, offer the Smart Hub and streaming content packages, and the fancy remote control. There are obvious trade-offs, though. The plasma can't get nearly as bright but has deeper blacks. The is thinner and more energy efficient and has a wider contrast ratio.
The Samsung PN59D8000, being a plasma, did the expected thing and produced a much better black level. And again, as expected, the peak brightness was no match for an LCD TV like the . All in all, the ended with a wider contrast ratio.
The TVs were equally matched in color performance, for the most part. The PN59D8000 was more uniform across all three channels, but showed more banding in the highlights. The showed a strange knee in the blue channel, which means you'll see more details in the shadows but less in the highlights.
The Samsung PN59D8000 produced more artifacting in our motion tests than the . Though plasmas are typically smooth, they're not perfect. We noticed some slight discoloration and judder, but not much. The has a lot of problems, but the Auto Motion Plus feature removes most of them.
The has a terribly narrow viewing angle. The Samsung PN59D8000 was unusually narrow for a plasma TV, but still bested the by quite a bit.
The Samsung PN59D8000 features on additional component AV input but are otherwise equally matched.
The 3D performances of these two TVs were very closely matched. This is something of a breakthrough for LCDs, which have lagged behind plasmas in effectively conveying a smooth 3D experience. There was still some crosstalk and foreground figures tended to break the illusion. All in all, though, they're equally good in this regard.
This is not a perfectly matched fight because the is the highest-end Samsung but the Sony KDL-46HX729 is only close to the top-of-the-line. That said, the Sony is a very well-equipped TV with a huge array of streaming content and 3D support. However, the menu is a complete mess, while Samsung has created a brilliant new interface. Overall, we have to go with the Samsung in this fight.
The Sony 46HX729 is another LED-lit LCD and the black and white tests were very similar. The Sony's black level was just a tad brighter. If you put them side-by-side, though, you probably won't notice a difference.
The Sony 46HX729's managed a more consistent color temperature and the color curves were much smoother. Overall, you're going to get better colors. However, the 's performance is strong, as well. Neither TV is a slouch.
We really liked the Sony's motion smoothing feature, called Motion Flow XR 480. The Samsung Auto Motion Plus was good, as well.
The has a poor viewing angle and the Sony 46HX729 was only slightly better.
The and Sony HX729 are similarly equipped, though the Samsung offers one additional composite AV input.
The surpassed the Sony HX729 in 3D performance, as the former produced too much flicker for our feeble human eyes. It was a bit of a mess. Both TVs are LCD and both use active shutter technology, but Samsung did a much better job of it.
The TC-P50VT30 is Panasonic's top-of-the-line plasma TV and the is Samsung's top-of-the-line LED LCD. They're both very strong TVs and you won't be disappointed with the picture quality. We think Panasonic plasmas offer the best 3D experience right now, but that's not saying much because we hate 3D. The Samsung's interface and streaming content is undoubtedly better. The Panasonic has much deeper blacks, while the Samsung has a much brighter screen. Perhaps from that you could surmise that the Panasonic is better suited to an entertainment room with controlled lighting, while the Samsung is better for sunny rooms. Most important, perhaps, is the fact that plasmas are cheaper when you get to the 50+ inches screen size. That's definitely something to consider.
The Panasonic TC-P50VT30 is a plasma TV that offers a much deeper black. However, the peak whites are significantly dimmer than the , resulting in a narrower contrast ratio.
The Panasonic VT30 offers a near-perfect color temperature has a more uniform response curve across all three channels, which the 's blue channel is a little long in the shadows and short in the mid-tones and highlights. However, the Panasonic gets a little uneven in the highlights, which creates color banding.
The is a little stronger in the motion performance, thanks to the motion processing features that can smooth out artifacts. Without it, the Samsung has as many artifacts as any LCD. As a plasma, the Panasonic is naturally smoother, but susceptible to its own artifacts that it offers no way of overcoming.
The Panasonic VT30 has a far wider viewing angle than the .
The Panasonic VT30 has one fewer composite AV input, but adds an SD card slot that can you take from the camera straight to the TV.
The Panasonic VT30 remains the TV to beat for 3D performance. It's only winning by a slim margin now, as the did much better than we expected, but Panasonic continues to offer a more immersive experience. That is to say, there are fewer breakdowns in the 3D effect.
The ($4299 MSRP) packs in every feature we've ever heard of, along with quite a few we'd never heard of. The TV is as thin as they come, with the panel measuring only 1.2 inches. The gleaming, 4-legged pedestal is also a pleasant change from the black box aesthetic. The includes support for 3D display, two pairs of 3D glasses, built-in WiFi, a web browser, a remote with QWERTY keyboard, all sorts of contrast and local dimming features, connection to the Samsung app store, Skype, and a bunch of local networking options.
Every TV has good and bad points, so let's summarize them here. In its favor, the features the best integration of "smart" TV features that we've seen to date. The Smart Hub mission control interface makes perfect sense; we just needed someone to show the world how it could be done. The built-in internet browser, specifically, is more gimmick than computer replacement, but it's nice to have. In terms of raw video performance, the contrast ratio is outstanding. The motion performance is among the best and smoothest that we've seen, if you take advantage of the video processing features (just remember to turn them off if you're watching film-based content). The 3D performance is among the best we've seen from an LCD television, bridging the gap between LCDs and plasma TVs.
On the downside, the color performance was good, but not perfect. The viewing angle is abysmal, something that Samsung continues to struggle with on its LCDs. As with many of these ultra-thin TVs, luminance uniformity is a problem. The blotchiness of the backlight is visible in any dark scene.
The biggest obstacle, though, is the price. Though you'll surely find it for a less than the $4299 MSRP, the price is still much higher than you'd paid for any similarly sized plasma TV. The cost to scale LCD panels to these monstrous sizes is reflected in the base price. Plasmas can simply be made bigger for less money. Why not get Samsung's very own PN59D8000 ($2999 MSRP), which offers most of the same features for a lot less money? Plasmas won't get nearly as bright as the , or any LCD, but it may be worth the trade-off if you're determined for the best picture but hampered by a budget.
Overall, the is a monster of a TV and you are not going to be disappointment. But prices like this require that you understand exactly what you're getting for your money and whether you need every single feature. If not, there are very good TVs out there for less.
The UNxxD8000 series is the creme de la creme of Samsung's LED LCD line-up. It offers all the bells and whistles that they have to offer: 3D display, a huge array of streaming content, access to their apps store, built-in WiFi, three USB ports with support for a full hard drive, and that elegant 4-legged base that we just can't seem to photograph very well.
Meet the tester
Editor in Chief@davekender
David Kender oversees content at Reviewed as the Editor in Chief. He served as managing editor and editor in chief of Reviewed's ancestor, CamcorderInfo.com, helping to grow the company from a tiny staff to one of the most influential online review resources. In his time at Reviewed, David has helped to launch over 100 product categories and written too many articles to count.
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email