Samsung might have been beaten out of the 'mainstream' UHD/4K TV traps by Sony, but that certainly hasn't stopped the Korean brand from making its mark on this burgeoning new sector of the AV marketplace.

For starters, the 55-inch UE55F9000 is the smallest UHD TV launched to date. It's also very different to Sony's 4K debutantes aesthetically, offering a much slimmer look, and it's the first UHD TV we've seen that delivers a genuine UHD take on 3D. Plus it offers all of Samsung's now familiar and in some ways ground-breaking Smart TV features, and handily undercuts Sony's rival models on price.

The set is a stunning picture performer with all sources too. Native UHD content looks so good it's silly, while upscaled HD looks crisper but also cleaner than we'd imagined Samsung would be able to manage with its UHD debut.

Add in Samsung's best contrast performance of 2013, and you've got pictures that routinely take your breath away.

We liked

The UE55F9000 provides yet more evidence of just what an impact UHD/4K resolutions can have on picture performance. Its 3D pictures, in particular, are like nothing we've seen before. Its space-saving design is a nice contrast to the bulk of Sony's 4K TVs too, and the set's Smart features are class-leading.

The UE55F9000's price is attractive by UHD standards, too.

We disliked

Input lag is high enough to marginally reduce gaming performance, a couple of the picture presets are too aggressive with their sharpness elements, and the set's audio isn't quite as potent as such a picture powerhouse perhaps deserves.

Final verdict

Samsung's UE55F9000 is another simply spectacular UHD/4K screen that also happens to bring the high-resolution technology in at more manageable price and size levels than any previous UHD model.

Its slender design delivers an attractive alternative to the bigger look of Sony's 4K TVs, and its Smart TV service is unmatched in terms of the video streaming content on offer.

The UE55F9000 isn't necessarily better than Sony's X9005A 4K models, but it's certainly just as good, simply offering a surprisingly different approach to the undoubted joys of UHD.

Also consider

There's currently only one direct rival for the UE55F9000: Sony's 55X9005A. We've only tested the 65in version of the X9005A series, but from this it's possible to say that the Sony models are strongest when it comes to colour resolution and sound quality, while the Samsung models deliver a greater sense of UHD detailing, a slimmer design, and a superior number of key video streaming options.