Samsung UE55F8000 review

Samsung's debut 2013 TV raises the bar in picture quality once again

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This section is a bit more involved than it would usually be (surprise surprise) thanks to the sheer wealth of control options Samsung has integrated into its new flagship 55-inch TV.

So far as the Samsung UE55F8000's on-screen menu system is concerned, this has been covered pretty well in the Features section of the review. But to summarise, while the move towards providing a series of different home screens makes a lot of sense, and the presentation of all the smart interface screens is first class, some of the on-screen content decisions Samsung has made don't always feel quite right.

Also, it feels at times as if Samsung has tried too hard to streamline the content-finding process, to the point where the resulting menus can actually be a touch confusing rather than helpful.

Samsung UE55F8000 review

Next we get to Samsung's much-hyped gesture and voice recognition interface options. These have thankfully both been improved greatly from their debut versions last year; you can now 'chat' much more normally to your TV than you could before, and the in-built camera responds to your hand movements much more efficiently, as well as requiring less precision in the positioning of the cursor before you can select an on-screen option.

Despite these improvements, though, we still found both the voice and gesture controls to be at least as frustrating as they are rewarding. The voice recognition system regularly fails to recognise correctly what you're trying to say, and the gesture control system is just exhausting, frankly - though we do admit to liking the way a swipe of the hand can shift between the screen's five home screen menus.

The problem is that it only takes a few stumbles in the voice and gesture systems to start making them feel like more trouble than they're worth. With the result that if you're anything like us, you'll quickly revert to using the normal remote controls for the vast majority of the time, only using the alternative methods if you can't lay your hands on one of the physical handsets.

Samsung UE55F8000 review

Underlining our attraction to the two physical remotes Samsung supplies with the UE55F8000 is the fact that the touchpad remote option is excellent. Its touchpad's sensitivity is much better judged than that of last year's equivalent remote, and the way it harmonises with the on-screen menu system to deliver all the TV's functionality via just a handful of spaciously laid out buttons is outstanding.

We should also spare a thought for the way the Samsung UE55F8000 can interface with Android or iOS devices. The extent of the functionality on offer here - video streaming from the TV to your tablet or phone, controlling the TV from the tablet/phone and sharing multimedia from the tablet/phone to the TV - is impressive.

But we do rather take issue with the way that accessing all this functionality requires you to use at least three separate apps, rather than everything being neatly integrated into one all-singing, all-dancing app.

Samsung UE55F8000 review

It's also a pity that the iOS Smart View app is currently not offering the same functionality as the Android version - though we're assured this situation is being addressed.

Although much of this section of the review has been spent with nitpicking the flaws with Samsung's new interface technologies, overall we're still big fans of the remarkable sophistication and depth of the Samsung UE55F8000's interface.

Samsung is clearly headed down the right track with much of what's on offer (with the exception, perhaps, of the gesture and voice controls), and we're seriously excited to see where the journey is going to take us over the next year or two.


Samsung UE55F8000 review

Samsung's improvements for 2013 haven't been restricted to the UE55F8000's pictures. Despite the brain-bending slimness of the TV's frame, the introduction of dedicated bass speakers to the set's rear helps it produce a much richer, more well-rounded soundstage than expected.

The soundstage can go much wider without losing cohesion than we'd have anticipated, too.

Things can still sound a bit muddy during really loud action scenes, and we'd probably suggest you don't use the set's 3D Audio mode, since it can leave dialogue sounding as if it's coming from somewhere removed from the actors' mouths.

Overall, though, the Samsung UE55F8000 can claim to deliver a soundstage that actually keeps its 55-inch pictures in credible company for a change.


Samsung UE55F8000 review

Priced at £2,500 (around US$3,782/ AU$3,635), the Samsung UE55F8000 is one of the most expensive 55-inch TVs we're likely to see in 2013.

But it works damn hard to justify every penny of its cost, from its groundbreaking design through to its uniquely clever smart TV services and, best of all, its terrific picture quality.