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Samsung UE48JS8500 review

 Review: November 2015  
 

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: Samsung's 48-inch JS8500 SUHD TV is an absolutely superb television with outstanding picture quality, superior audio, great Smart TV and stunning looks. Packed with high-end features such as nano crystal technology and HDR support, it's future-proof too. Recent price drops have made it affordable at last, and only the curved screen stops us giving it 5 stars.



 

Introduction

The recommended retail price of Samsung's high-end Series 8 TV is £2099.99, putting it well out of reach of most buyers, but now that the price in the shops has fallen to under £1500, it's a possibility if you're searching for the best TV you can buy in 2015.

Design & looks

This Series 8 television makes quite a splash when it comes to looks. A curved screen is always a talking point, and 48 inches is big enough for the curve to look quite elegant. The set is attractive, with a very slim dark grey frame featuring metal trim around the screen. A matching metal arc T-stand complements this perfectly. It's not possible to swivel the screen on this stand however.

The TV comes with a Mini version of Samsung's One Connect box, which keeps all your AV connections in one place, and reduces the tangle of cables behind the TV, keeping everything neat and tidy.

This premium TV comes with two remote controls - a standard model and a smart controller.

Picture quality

The JS8500 is close to the top of Samsung's 2015 range of TVs, and above this, the prices of the Series 9 models become silly, with little extra to be gained in picture quality. The 48JS8500 has a Picture Quality Index (PQI) of 1900, placing it significantly above all cheaper models, if you believe Samsung's marketing.

It's certainly a very strong performer, with a noticeable difference between this model and even the superb Series 7 TV.

It's UHD of course, and handles native UHD content impeccably, with a choice of modes including Film Mode and Game Mode, the latter giving very fast response times and low lag. It upscales HD content and DVDs superbly too. It will even have a go at standard definition TV channels, with varying degrees of success, depending on how good the source material is.

We'll also note that this is one of the few Samsung TVs this year to support 3D, although no 3D glasses are supplied in the sales package.

All of Samsung's 2015 range of TVs have been able to generate very high degrees of contrast, with good brightness levels and deep blacks, but the Series 8 takes this even further, thanks to the addition of several technologies. The headline feature is nano crystal technology, which delivers a wider colour gamut than standard UHD displays, and also enables brighter backlighting. UHD dimming is a pseudo-local dimming technique that enables the backlighting in different screen zones to be controlled independently of other zones. This significantly increases the dynamic range and enhances shadow detail. Features such as Peak Illuminator and Auto Depth Enhancer also make subtle contributions. The overall result is that this TV delivers more natural colours and more shadow detail than any Samsung TV we've previously reviewed - although the JU6800 and JU7000 aren't too far behind.

The nano crystal technology and 10-bit LCD panel also make this TV compatible with HDR content, for even better detail and more realism.

It's a fast 120Hz screen too, largely eliminating motion blur, and any softness from UHD images. We found Clear Motion to be the best setting, making use of Black Frame Insertion (BFI) to produce clean, natural-looking motion.

Nearly all of Samsung's current screens use Vertical Alignment (VA) display technology, which is one of the reasons why they have such good contrast levels and fast response times, but VA technology has the disadvantage of relatively restricted viewing angles. The JS8500 is better than most other examples we've reviewed, but it still suffers from this effect. The upshot is that while the image may be perfect or near-perfect from straight in front of the screen, if you sit at about 45 degrees off-axis, you'll notice that the colours shift and the contrast diminishes. It's less noticeable here than in Samsung's cheaper Series 6 models, but it's definitely observable.

This brings us on to the feature that we like least about the JS8500 - that curved screen. While a curved TV is definitely a conversation starter and has a strong novelty value, we're still not convinced of the benefits - at least not until screens reach 55 inches or larger. At best, any enhancement in the degree of immersivity and depth is marginal. At worst, the curve introduces distortion and exaggerates the effect of the limited viewing angles. It's the reason we've given this TV 4 stars instead of 5.

Audio quality

This premium television comes with a superior audio set-up, thanks to the addition of twin dedicated woofers as well as the usual stereo speakers. This doubles the power output of the system and adds satisfying rumble to the mid-range frequencies, for a marked improvement compared with the vast majority of modern TVs.

Smart TV

Samsung's Smart TV system has been overhauled for 2015, and is now based on the open-source Tizen operating system. The new system is nicely integrated into the TV's operation, and lets you select apps and input sources with ease.

You'll find streaming services Netflix and Amazon, as well as catch-up TV from the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5. Other apps include YouTube, a web browser, games, Skype, Facebook and Twitter.

The JS8500 uses a fast quad-core processor and comes with an additional remote controller designed for use with the Smart TV navigation. The system is also compatible with voice control.

Connectivity

The JS8500 is well equipped for connecting to other devices, via the One Connect box and ports in the back of the TV itself. You'll find 4 HDMI connections, ARC and MHL compatibility, plus a wide range of other A/V connections.

Twin Freesat and Freeview tuners are included, and the TV has built-in Wi-Fi and ethernet. It also supports DLNA, and screen mirroring for compatible smartphones and other devices.

Conclusion - perfect, if you like the curve

This Series 8 TV is now realistically affordable, and is definitely the best Samsung TV we've reviewed this year, apart from just one thing - the curve. But this is partly a matter of personal preference, so feel free to ignore us if you like.

The TV delivers astonishingly lifelike images that are pin-sharp, with noticeably more shadow detail and more natural colours than cheaper models. It's ideal for gaming too, being fast and responsive. Only the OK-ish viewing angles detract from the experience in any way.

We love its design, and we also appreciate its superb Smart TV and superior audio. On balance, we have a preference for Panasonic's 50-inch TX-50CX802B, and we also rate Samsung's cheaper Series 7 model which has a flat screen.


Samsung UE48JS8500 features include:

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Which Samsung 3d glasses will work with a Samsung ue48js8500 tv?

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