LCD TV Guide - LCD TV Reviews - 2009 Samsung LED TVs: The UNB8500 Performance
Review Date: November 5, 2009
 Last Updated: November 2, 2013

UNB8500 Samsung LED TV Series
Full Product Evaluation Part 2: Performance Issues

Samsung best LED LCD TV with local dimming technology

There is no doubt that B8500 Samsung LED TVs represent one of the very best HDTV series ever made by a TV maker.

Through its B8500 HDTVs, Samsung managed to bring together the hottest specs of the day - cutting edge LED technology with local dimming, 240Hz processing, Internet-enabled TV content, and a super mega-contrast rating. It is true that these are expensive HDTVs but they have the potential to deliver the best picture that today's display technologies can offer.

Yet the issue remains... To what extent the latest cutting edge LED HDTV technology from Samsung is capable of delivering the best picture?

Samsung 2013 flagship LED TV with ultimate micro dimming backlight technology

Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV

This high-end feature rich LED HDTV comes with Samsung's Micro dimming Ultimate LED backlight technology - among the best in its class for black level performance. It is also the TV with the best feature set.

UNB8500 Samsung LED TV Series Performance Analysis

In the first part of our B8500 evaluation, we have already gone through some preliminary analysis of these Samsung LED TVs specifications and their implications with respect to performance.

We now proceed with this technical evaluation of the Samsung B8500 LED TVs by confronting our analysis with what other professional reviewers are saying about these high-end Samsung HDTVs. We also look at what Samsung B8500 LED TV owners are saying in their feedback following their purchase.

Unfortunately, the only professional review that have really carried hands-on testing of a Samsung B8550 LED TV at the time of this write-up is one published by Cnet. Luckily, Cnet reviews are among the best and well structured but basing one's performance analysis on just a single review does not always bring about the best performance picture.

We are saying this because it is not the first time we came across almost contradictory statements from expert review sites about various aspects of product performance for the same model. In these circumstances, customer feedback posted online becomes more important as it helps deliver better insight of what a product is capable of in actual use. And speaking of customer feedback, this is still lacking mainly because these HDTVs were released just a few weeks ago. Yet the few who posted a review were all extremely satisfied and impressed with these LED TVs picture performance. It is therefore no surprised that all customers except for one, who posted a review online, assigned the highest rating possible. 

So what are customers and experts saying about the new B8500 Samsung LED TVs?

Black Levels, Shadow Detail, and Color Accuracy:

These sets are capable of exceptional deep blacks - with blacks that are better than those on Sony XBR8 LED TVs. As one customer said, these sets literally disappear when displaying a black screen in a totally darkened room.

Cnet stated that the blacks on B8500 Samsung LED TVs - when taking the best seat - surpass those of the Panasonic V10, which has been rated by experts as the best 2009 plasma TV for overall picture quality and black levels.

This emphasis on the 'best seat' is important as LED TVs - including Samsung high-end B8500 - suffer from a rather poor off-angle performance. However Cnet says that off-angle performance is better than other LED TVs, with colors that mainly wash out at a faster rate than standard CCFL LCDs but that still remain true. Cnet adds that if it were not for issues like off-angle performance, these Samsung LED TVs would definitely be the best HDTVs, not just the best LCD TVs.

Worth taking note that improved black level performance is a most important picture quality parameter. A deep black level helps render better those difficult-to-define picture quality attributes like picture depth, scene detail - especially in television and movie scenes where lots of dark and light content is shown simultaneously, and color richness - more specifically the perceived color saturation. Indirectly, a better black level also leads to better rendering of picture contrast. This also explains why colors on the Samsung B8500 look rich and well saturated.

Directly related to picture quality is shadow detail. According to the Cnet review, B8500 Samsung LED TVs support superb shadow detail partly thanks to these LED TVs  stable and accurate gamma. As expected, Cnet adds here that in this respect, the best plasmas are still better. The main problem being shadow detail in dark areas of the image - which are just a bit too dark - an aspect that was also mentioned in one of the customer reviews posted at amazon for the UN55B8500. However, according to the Cnet review, overall shadow detail is still better than any other LCD - including Sony's high-end XBR8, UNB8000 Samsung LED TVs, and Samsung high-end LN52B750 CCFL-based LCD TV.

Color accuracy is also very good - with both primary and secondary colors being almost spot-on to the HD standard. This has been typical of almost all 2009 Samsung HDTVs - plasmas and LCDs. In the area of color accuracy, Samsung is definitely the king inasmuch as Panasonic is the new king - following Pioneer withdrawal from the HDTV market, of the deepest blacks.

One important aspect with Samsung color accuracy on B8500 LED TVs is that as Cnet notes, colors remain neutral even in very dark areas of the image, without taking that bluish tint so typical with many LCDs.

Screen Performance

Samsung's glossy screens have always been a hot issue with many HDTV buyers in that Samsung Ultra Clear panel comes with its mixed bag of advantageous and disadvantageous. However, if you can control the light in the room, then the advantages will take over as by controlling the light, you can do away with all the problems associated with reflections picked up by the Samsung shiny screen.

The advantage of Samsung's ultra-clear panel is its ability to maintain deep blacks and color saturation even under brightly lit environments. This is an area in which Samsung shiny screen excels.

As stated in the first part of this article, the main problem with the shiny screen on these Samsung LED TVs relates to reflections picked up by the glossy screen surface of brightly lit objects in the room during dark scenes.

On the other hand, Samsung display panel exhibits very good brightness uniformity across the full surface area of the display panel. Cnet says that for the reviewed Samsung LED TV model, brightness and darkness around the display edges matched that around the center of the screen. This is an aspect of screen performance where most LCDs fail.

The real problem with these Samsung LED TV screen is off-angle performance. As further highlighted earlier on, colors do wash out at a faster rate than conventional LCDs with an increase in viewing angle. Yet, while Cnet notes that even moving one seat away from the optimum position will cause colors to wash out considerably, customers were generally more satisfied with these sets viewing angle performance - saying that even moving a few feet away to either side of the best seat would still yield a good picture.

Cnet adds that with an increase in off-angle viewing, blooming - so typical with LED TVs using local dimming, will also become more visible. But then Cnet adds that blooming has been greatly reduced when compared with that present on 2008 models.

Blooming is that sort of halo effect around bright objects on a predominantly dark background - where dark areas adjacent to a bright object become lighter. Blooming is inherent of LED technology using local dimming because of the mismatch between the number of pixels on the screen and the number of individual LEDs that can be dimmed at any one time.

Interesting is that unlike customer feedback posted online for the 2008 A950 and XBR8 LED TVs sets, none of the customer reviews appearing at amazon and Best Buy for B8500 Samsung LED TVs do mention the issue of blooming. We take this as a confirmation to Cnet's claim that this issue has been greatly reduced over previous models.

Video Processing

Video processing is relatively clean and free from noise and video artifacts. Cnet states that video processing on the B8500 Samsung LED TV is superb. These Samsung TVs can de-interlace 1080i film- and video-based material correctly, while achieving full 1080 lines in still resolution tests. Activating Auto Motion Plus and LED Motion Plus yields 1080 line of motion resolution - for virtually blur free fast action movement.

The implementation of dejudder processing on these Samsung LCD TVs is one of the best of its kind on any HDTV. It gives total control to the user over the resultant video-like look when handling 24 frames-per-second film-based content.

Similarly, standard definition content looks good on the Samsung LED TVs - producing sharp images without any jagged diagonals while resolving every line in the DVD format.

Finally, the B8500 Samsung LED TVs can very well serve as big PC monitors, with images and text that look crisp and clear when fed both via the HDMI input and the VGA-type PC input.


B8500 Samsung LED TVs are without doubt among the very best flat-panel HDTVs around. Some have already proclaimed the B8500 LED TVs as the best LCD HDTVs for 2009, and the king of LCDs. And if it were not for the few issues with off-axis viewing, Samsung B8500 LED TVs would definitely be the king of HDTVs.

Pros: These sets deliver exceptional deep blacks - which according to Cnet reviews, are deeper than any 2009 HDTV, excellent shadow detail, highly uniform screen brightness with minimal blooming, and accurate colors that are well saturated yet extremely natural. All is complemented by Samsung's clean video processing, one of the best dejudder implementations, and numerous picture controls that help render the B8500 picture the best that the latest HDTV LED technology can deliver.

And as if this is not enough, you get one of the most extensive interactive suites on any HDTV and one of the best DLNA support. All is packed in an extremely stylish ultra slim panel that is no more than 1.6-inch thin - in contrast to the 4-inch of Samsung 2008 A950 and almost 6-inches of the Sony XBR8 LED LCD TVs.

Cons: As expected, this is one of the most expensive HDTVs on the market but then the B8500 Samsung LED TV represents one of Samsung's top-of-the-line HDTVs. The glossy screen on these Samsung LED TVs can also turn out to be unsuitable for use in brightly lit environments. Off-angle viewing performance - though significantly better than other LED TVs, yet it is still worst than that of conventional LCDs. And when it comes to interactive content, video-based widgets - while still usable, are too slow to load.

Overall... Definitely, B8500 Samsung LED TVs are expensive. But we believe that if you can afford one of these Samsung HDTVs, you will enjoy a full suite of cutting edge HDTV technology capable of deliver one of the very best pictures, irrespective of display technology.

Reference material / Further reading:

Samsung website for the latest technical specs and product manuals for 2009 Samsung LED TVs

Cnet Reviews: Review of the UN55B8500 Samsung LED TV by D. Katzmaier, dated June 8 and October 1, 2009

Customer feedback posted at amazon and Best Buy

For information on how we compile our product reviews, please click here.

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