This 65-inch beast (also available in a 55-inch model) boasts four times the resolution of full-HD (1080p) televisions, but can't produce a picture worthy of the label "ultra-high definition." If you're expecting the future, you're going to be sorely disappointed.
And though the curved screen might wow friends and family at first, the futuristic shape of this panel comes at a cost. Quite literally, in fact, as it's ultimately inflating the price by a couple thousand dollars more than equivalent flat 4K TVs on the market.
The Samsung UN65HU7250 (MSRP $3,999.99) is a pricey 65-inch 4K TV with more weaknesses than strengths. Despite generating very bright highlights, it struggles to produce deep black levels to contrast them. The HU7250's color production is fairly accurate right out of the box, so viewers needn't lean on professional calibration in order to enjoy a reliable color space. Given the size of the HU7250, one of its biggest drawbacks is undoubtedly its narrow viewing angle. A 65-inch screen practically demands to be enjoyed by groups of people at a time, but unfortunately, the HU7250's viewing angle is preposterously narrow.
Even Bo Jackson could have learned to love these curves.
For Samsung, 2014 has been the year of the curve; the company's outfitted a swath of its TVs this year with the controversial contour, hoping to provide a more immersive, eye-catching display that'll have you desperate to upgrade all your TVs. It's sleek, it's sexy... and it has no positive effect on a TV's performance whatsoever (but more on that later). From a purely aesthetic standpoint, however, I find the HU7250 to be quite attractive.
The gargantuan 65-inch display rests atop a rather basic stand that marries hard angles and gentle curves. On the back of the HU7250 you'll find a square cut-out featuring four HDMI ports, shared composite/component inputs, a digital audio output, an ethernet port, a coaxial jack, three USB ports, an analog audio output, and an RS-232C serial port.
The HU7250 ships with Samsung's "Smart Control" remote. Its oval shape is similar to LG's Magic Remote and fits comfortably in hand, allowing your thumb easy access to just about every button.
Unfortunately, the Smart Control remote we received with our HU7250 is either defective or unpaired with the TV, and there doesn't seem to be a way to pair it via the menu software. Instead, we ended up using one of Samsung's universal remotes to get to know the HU7250. It's worth noting that previous Smart Control remotes we've tested have treated us very well, so it's likely a one-off defect.
Testing takes place before and after calibration so we can compare a TV's out-of-the-box performance with its maximum potential. In the case of the HU7250, Samsung's offering users a complete color management system, 2- and 10-point white balance adjustments, a gamma slider, and an expanded color space.
I began on the "Movie" picture mode with the color temperature set to "Warm2." During the calibration process, I made several adjustments to the TV's white balance and corrected the TV's primary and secondary color points using the color management system.
Below are the pre- and post-calibration settings for reference.
Smart, savvy, and packed with value
These days there are no end of ways to get content onto your TV. Though most Americans will still rely on an antenna or a cable box, smart features give you access to a world of content that's ready at the push of a button.
And as far as smart platforms go, Samsung's Smart Hub is near the top in both value and usability. Users can access the main app menu with the press of a button, and the hub itself is organized in an easy-to-learn, straightforward manner. Navigating content is as simple as choosing a section (Movies & TV Shows, Games, Apps, or Multimedia) and following your heart.
Of course, finding 4K content can still be something of a challenge. Cable doesn't offer much 4K yet, and depending on your streaming service of choice it might end up costing you extra. Blu-ray owners will be happy to hear that this TV upscales full-HD content quite well, with minimal noise and almost no artifacts to speak of.
Television techies interested in getting their hands dirty in the TV's picture settings will find 2- and 10-point white balance controls, an extensive color management system, and a slew of secondary options–like dynamic contrast and Auto Motion Plus–to play around with.
In digital color all neutral tones—black, white, and all of the grays in between—are actually the combination of carefully balanced red, blue, and green. How smoothly a TV produces such neutral tones says a lot about its overall performance. We measure the amount of grayscale error in a collective called DeltaE, with a DeltaE of 3 or less considered ideal.
Prior to calibration, the HU7250 produced a middling 4.75 DeltaE. I was able to squash this down to 1.67 using the TV's 2- and 10-point white balance controls. This means you'll get crisper neutral tones, without the distracting color casts that plague lesser TVs.
A closer look at the grayscale reveals the HU7250's struggles with red and blue. While its emphasis of green remains more or less the same, the HU7250 under-emphasizes red in favor of blue, especially as it approaches peak brightness. In this case, an informed calibration helped tremendously.
A crushing disappointment
The words "ultra-high definition" immediately conjure up breathtaking vistas and stunning cinematography rendered in glorious 4K—a near-perfect reproduction of a director's vision. And yet, despite its stunning 3840x2160 resolution and hefty price tag, the HU7250 performs like a second-string athlete.
A rich, deep black level and contrasting highlights are the foundation of an immersive picture. The HU7250 has no problem delivering bright, dazzling whites, but its darker tones fail to achieve the same level of depth. The result is a dearth of detail: Well-lit scenes are a joy to behold, but dark, low-lit scenes are stark and flat. There's simply no richness to this picture.
Worse still is the HU7250's motion performance. Samsung's outfitted this model with something called Clear Motion Rate 960, which, as best as I can tell, is just a very high number attached to a vaguely-named feature that has little positive effect on image quality. The HU7250 judders its way through camera pans and tracking shots. Action sequences in The Hobbit play out like a flip book, and when the camera rises above an artist's rendering of a map, the landmarks and demarcations of Middle Earth pass through the frame with the smoothness of a flooded engine.
Thankfully, like several Samsung TVs we've seen this year, the HU7250 produces accurate, well-saturated colors right out of the box. There was almost no discernible difference in color between the HU7250 and our in-house reference monitor. Given that most people (understandably) won't be bothered to adjust their picture quality to the _n_th degree, this is a great point in Samsung's favor.
Curved TVs: There's a sucker born every minute.
As you'd expect given how ubiquitous the design has become, Samsung has repeatedly extolled the virtues of its curved screen, talking up its immersive qualities as well as its "improved field of view." Aesthetically, the curve is gorgeous, but we haven't seen a shred of evidence (objective or subjective) that demonstrates any advantages the curve might have.
In fact, the HU7250 any supposed improvement in viewing angle seems like complete bunk. You don't have to stray too far from a head-on angle before experiencing a serious dip in picture quality. Does the curve look nice? Sure, but don't expect every person in your living room to experience the same picture as the lucky person who sits front-and-center.
For everything the HU7250 does right, there's two things it does wrong. There's no denying that UHD is a spectacular prospect, but if the TV doesn't handle the basics well, what's the point? More pixels are nice—the image does look quite sharp, when not moving—but not at the expense of black levels and motion performance. It's incredibly disappointing to gaze at the future of television, let alone a future that costs this much right now, and greet it with a shrug.
Contrast ratio is a TV's reference white (100 IRE) divided by its deepest black level (0 IRE), and a high contrast ratio is the cornerstone of an immersive, detailed picture. The HU7250 is capable of producing bright highlights (I measured a reference white of 221.9 cd/m2 ), but its black level bottomed out at a paltry 0.09 cd/m2 .
The result is a middling contrast ratio of 2465:1; not dismal by any stretch, but disappointing for a TV of this caliber and price. The HU7250 gets bright, but it doesn't get dark enough to do justice to the 4K blockbusters you'll undoubtedly want to screen on this thing.
Good news! Better 4K values are already here.
Although the 65-inch HU7250 is listed online for well below its MSRP of $3,999, the discounted online price is still $400 more than the 65-inch, 4K P Series from Vizio. Moreover, the P Series is a full array TV that packs a much better picture than the HU7250. The Vizio is, without question, an uglier TV, but just about everything you'll want to watch will simply look better on Vizio's set.
Sure, the P Series' screen isn't curved, but given the fact the curved screen doesn't offer any tangible upside in picture quality, do you really want to shell out more money for a worse picture? Novelty only lasts so long.
Now, don't get us wrong: Compared to most TVs, Samsung's H7250 looks just fine. Saunter up to this thing at your local box store and it'll look great next to all those (way, way cheaper) full-HD sets. But compared to other 4K TVs, however, it's in the bottom tier. If you're looking to get a 4K TV today, there are simply better places to spend your money. After all, what's the fun of being an early adopter if all you're buying into is regret?
In all likelihood, a 65-inch ultra-high definition television is an investment made with friends and family in mind. After all, if a picture this big can't hold up at multiple angles, what's the point? Our viewing angle test determines precisely how far away from a direct line of sight a viewer can sit while still experiencing an uncompromised picture.
Unfortunately, the HU7250's curved screen seems to be more of a hinderance than a blessing. I measured a total viewing angle of 22°, or ±11° from center to either side; too narrow for large social gatherings. Despite Samsung's claims that their curved screens increase immersion, it simply does not seem to be the case unless you're five feet away and planted square in the center of the picture.
A color gamut is a visualization of every color a television is capable of producing with special attention paid to primary and secondary color points. The precise hue, saturation, and luminance of these points are dictated by the International Telecommunication Union. Our measurements determine how close a TV comes to meeting these standards.
The HU7250's out-of-the-box color performance is quite good, but magenta, cyan, and white are skewed slightly towards blue. While keeping the color space on "Auto," I used Samsung's color management controls to rein in the HU7250's color points, resulting in an even better color palette.
Our gamma test determines how evenly a TV distributes luminance from one level of the grayscale to the next. Poor gamma manifests itself in crushed details, particularly in the darker areas of any given picture. We test and calibrate TVs for a gamma curve of 2.4, which is considered ideal for dark rooms. Keep in mind, however, that lower gamma curves (2.2 - 1.8) are better suited for dimly lit or bright rooms.
If you're planning on placing the HU7250 in a room with a touch of ambient lighting, its out-of-the-box 2.2 gamma curve is perfect. After calibration, I measured a gamma of 2.4, which is better suited for darkened home theaters.
Meet the tester
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.
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