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Samsung has made some quite major improvements to the control options of its new generation of TVs.
The most significant is the new remote control, which introduces a welcome 'point and click' option to proceedings that was missing from previous Samsung remote generations. This point and click feature isn't quite as intuitive or accurate as the one provided by LG's Magic Remotes, but it's certainly a welcome addition to the user system 'pot'.
The new remote also features a very sensitive touch pad designed to allow accurate movement of the onscreen cursor just by moving your thumb gently over it. While the buttons around the edges of the touch pad permit more conventional button-press cursor movements.
Providing so many functions on the new remote can lead to a bit of confusion initially, as an awful lot of functionality is compressed into a very small physical area. Overall, though, the new smart remote is a definite improvement over the previous one.
Also improved is the gesture control system. Previously made hard to use by the simple fatigue induced by having to wave your hands around, this time the system is sensitive enough to respond to just finger movements. It's still not a system I personally found myself using often, but it's good to know it's there for those occasions where the remotes have disappeared down the sofa.
As a final interface option there's voice control. The main positive of this function is perhaps the way it allows you to input text into search fields, rather than its use as a means of menu navigation. But if you take the time to go through the tutorial and experiment a bit, the voice control system can provide you with a few useful content-finding shortcuts.
When add the high presentation values of the onscreen menus to the proceedings it's clear that Samsung has again pushed the boat out in trying to develop a truly next-generation, smart-friendly operating system.
Ironically the sheer weight of options available can initially feel rather overwhelming and frustrating. But stick at it and you'll soon find what controls work best for accessing different features.
While there's a decent chance a TV as high-end as the UE65HU8500 will be partnered with an external sound system, it's still nice to find that the built-in speakers are capable of producing a really excellent audio performance by TV standards.
The set can hit high volume levels without the cabinet rattling or phutting, and it's also got a much more expansive dynamic range than we usually hear from integrated TV audio systems. This extends to some credible bass at one end of the audio spectrum to bright, natural trebles at the other. The mid-range between is wide and open enough to keep voices convincing and provide plenty of the sort of subtle effects and details that bring good soundtracks alive.
That Samsung has managed to achieve this from a down- rather than front-firing speaker system makes is seriously impressive.
Obviously the UE65HU8500's £4,000 asking price means it's hardly a mainstream proposition. However, it's a whole £1,000 cheaper than the equivalent model from last year's UHD range, despite all the improvements and additions it carries. And it seems to me that a 20% price reduction for a new technology in the space of a few months is a pretty fair rate of price erosion.
It will certainly be interesting to see if Samsung's UHD rivals are able to be so aggressive with the prices of their UHD TVs in the coming weeks and months.
John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.
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