With the market awash in all manner of LCD TV, Plasma and OLED on the horizon, its hard to find something that you can spend your money on and be confident you are getting the very best. When it comes to LCD TV, the Samsung LED backlit Series 8 is easily the best available. It’s not perfect though and future iterations of the LED line up will definitely improve its few shortcomings, but if you are wanting to get something here and now, this is one to consider.
The advantage of LED backlights is a greater control of the amount of pure black the image has and therefore a greater range of contrast. When it comes to colour and black levels, the series 8 is quite remarkable. The colour reproduction is spot on and blacks and deep without sacrificing detail. You can also set different levels of black as well through the on-screen menu and signals sent via HDMI offer greater black accuracy still.
LED also allows the unit to be ultra thin as well while also offering low power consumption. The panel is only 29.9mm thick and would be perfect if you want to mount it on a wall. It comes with a stand which needs to be attached via screws but the process is fairly painless. It also weights very little as well so getting it out of the box and setting it up is thankfully a one person job. We looked at the 46inch version but it also comes in a 55inch model as well.
The downside to LED, at least with this model, is that due to the way they lighting is handled, the bottom left and right of the panel displays a little backlight flaring. On a totally black screen, these two spots appear a little grey. However, it isn’t noticeable when watching movies unless they are letterboxed on screen.
Apart from that issue, there aren’t many things you can complain about when it comes to the Series 8. The image quality is impressive, the connection options are extensive and the sound quality from the speakers is quite good. The speakers lack bass, naturally, but overall, the sound quite good. Dialogue could be heard easily over sound effects and score and there was a reasonable level of detail for a set of built-in speakers. There is also an optical audio pass through as well so you can hook the TV up to a surround sound system.
The connection options include four HDMI ports and break-out cables for Component and Composite connections. There are also two USB ports for connecting storage devices for viewing video, images and music playback.
The Series 8 also uses DLNA protocols to allow you to hook it up to you home network and stream video, pictures and music from any connected PC on the network or NAS device. You can also connect to the Internet via its Ethernet port and use on-screen widgets which will give up weather and stock market updates and news via RSS feeds. There is also in-built content on the panel which includes things like recipes, exercise programs, games and kids entertainment for example. A wireless adapter is available if you don’t want to run LAN cables to the TV.
The panel also has 200Hz motion control features too. Unlike any TVs with this feature, the Series 8 has five levels of intensity. At normal level, the motion looks quite smooth but at higher levels the images, while smoother, start to look a little fake. We would recommend leaving it on its default setting. Also, to improve image quality, turn the edge enhancement off, turn the DNR settings off and turn the sharpness down to between 10-15. You can also turn the contrast up to 100 if you wish but the difference is minimal.
The Samsung Series 8 is the best on offer from LCD TV at the moment. It is still fairly early days for LED TV and in the future you can expect its few flaws to be ironed out but if you are looking for something that is feature packed and has excellent image quality, this is one panel to look out for.
The 46inch series 8 retails for $5499. The 55inch model is $6999