Samsung UE55KS9000 review

Samsung dazzler shoots for the HDR stars

Samsung UEKS9000
Samsung UEKS9000

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So how far has Samsung's operating system come? In short, very far.

Samsung has made substantial improvements to the UE55KS9000's interface compared with 2015's models.

First, it's introduced a new smart remote control design that for the most part is a joy to use. It greatly reduces the button count without leaving you feeling like you haven't got direct access to enough features, and it combines touch pad control - operated by just your thumb - with straightforward up, down, left and right navigation buttons without feeling cluttered.

I was relieved, too, to find that Samsung has ditched the 'point and click' functionality available on its 2015 smart remotes. While I like the idea of point and click in principal, Samsung's implementation felt a bit clumsy, and ultimately just made the using the previous smart remote too fiddly.

Just being stripped down and comfortable/logical to handle isn't the new remote's only claim to fame. It can also automatically learn what equipment you've got connected to the TV and take control of it. In other words, it's a universal remote control that requires zero set up. It just works. And aside from some occasional issues mapping control of your source gear onto the smart remote's limited button count, it works well.

Samsung UEKS9000

The last and actually biggest boost to the Samsung's smart TV interface comes from the addition of a second deck of icons on the UE55KS9000's 'home page'. This second, upper layer of icons generates links based on the option you've got selected on the bottom icon row, instantly making the process of finding desired content feel much more intuitive, logical and speedy.

Looks good, sounds good

Despite having precious little bodywork to play with, the UE55KS9000 somehow delivers a really satisfying audio performance. The cunningly concealed speakers are powerful enough to deliver a well-rounded, detailed and three-dimensional soundstage even at pretty high volumes, and there's a surprising amount of precision in the way details and voices are positioned on the screen.

The set even manages to deliver a decent amount of distortion free bass, ensuring that the treble end of the spectrum doesn't become isolated and harsh. Impressive stuff that throws a harsh spotlight on the surprisingly weak audio performance of the recently tested Sony 55XD9305.

Value added

After some pretty premium pricing in 2015, it's good to see Samsung being reasonably aggressive with the £2,100 cost of UE55KS9000. This doesn't seem an awful lot to ask for the level of specification, design, performance and smart TV capabilities the UE55KS9000 brings to the table, and puts it in the same ball park as the Sony 55XD9305 that's probably its closest rival.

With its sleek lines and 360-degree design the UE55KS9000 looks every inch a premium TV - a design statement it backs up with a new LCD panel created from the ground up to get the maximum impact from the new killer picture quality combination of UHD resolution and HDR. Add in a much-improved smart interface and reasonable price for what's on offer, and it looks like Samsung may be the brand to beat again at the high end of the TV market.

We liked

The UE55KS9000's HDR pictures are spectacular - but it's also one of the best performers I've seen with the SDR stuff most of us will still be watching for much of the time. It sounds unexpectedly good too considering how attractively slim it is, and finally its operating system and smart interface are now among the best in the TV world.

We disliked

When watching HDR you can sometimes be distracted by vertical light bands around potent image highlights when they appear against a dark background. The lack of 3D support will upset people with 3D Blu-ray collections too, and finally the curved screen design might not suit rooms where viewers routinely have to watch TV from an angle of 40 degrees or more.

Final verdict

The UE55KS9000 is, for most of the time, a glorious TV. Its HDR thrills are undeniable - if you buy one you owe it to yourself to get an Ultra HD Blu-ray player as well. But it's also outstanding with normal TV and Blu-rays, looks like a million dollars, sounds far better than you might expect and features an innovative and intuitive smart TV system.

The push for brightness causes just enough backlight distractions during dark scenes to prevent us from being able to give the TV an unbridled recommendation but, for its money, it's still a seriously tempting way into the age of HDR.

John Archer
AV Technology Contributor

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.