Review of the Samsung JS8500 series TV. 4K resolution, nano crystal technology, is it worth the high price of admission?
My four year old Samsung 60 inch TV developed a pixel wide blue vertical line on the screen. Right down the middle. It wasn't terrible but noticable any time the screen was white or bright. I looked online and this seemed to be more common than you'd expect with Samsung TV's.
Bummer. But then I realized I bought a 4 year extended warranty through Best Buy, something I hardly ever do. It had a month left! I called up Best Buy and the Geek Squad and within a few days I suddenly had a credit to buy a new TV up to the same value I originally paid. Turns out it's cheaper for them to give me a new set than to fix the broken one. Deal!
So I have $3000 to spend on a TV at Best Buy and it turned out I could buy a much better and larger TV. Although the last Samsung left a bad taste in my mouth, I still like the picture on their screens a lot. There was a brand new 4K resolution Samsung flat screen for $3000. Better than what I had and 5 inches larger. Sold! Samsung 65 Inch model number UN65JS8500FXZA was on its way.
DesignLike a smartphone, I think "design" for a television is silly. It's a flat rectangle people. Just make it thin and we're good to go. Thin and flat, none of that curved non-sense since this is hanging on a wall (see Curved TVs: To Buy Or Not To Buy.
My old Samsung was all black and sleek. The JS8500 series instead have a brushed nickle type of bezel. It's not sleek at all. It's not ugly, but why do we want to draw attention to the bezel exactly? The real complaint is with the fit and finish of the bezel. Since it is thin metal and not molded black plastic, you can see seems. They're small but it just doesn't scream quality, and for $3000 it should.
If you choose to use the stand, I will say that it does look as good. It gives the TV a sort of floating appearance, but wall mount is always the best option when possible.
Picture & SoundIn terms of picture quality, it looks amazing. I'm not one of these high end theater buffs (though I kind of used to be) but this is a hard picture to beat. The color is amazing, the blacks are really black, and the whites are almost too bright! Fortunately, you can adjust it many different ways using the easy menu controls. I have zero complaints on picture quality.
As for sound, it's also excellent. It's not going to compete with a true home theater setup by any means. But considering how thin these units are, it's pretty impressive how much sound quality you get. It does offer some interesting modes for making voices more clear or to give movies more punch, but they feel more novelty than anything. The same goes for the fake surround sound option, I didn't notice much from that at all.
What about the 4k resolution you ask? Well, it's pretty amazing and something I like to see on a TV this large. The problem is the lack of content. Sure, you can find 4K content but it's just not out there in the way that regular 1080p HD content is. It will take years for 4K to catch up. For now, the best option for viewing 4K is Netflix (see How To Stream Netflix In 4K Resolution). For me, it's not worth paying a few dollars more per month for 4K Netflix shows. The TV does a good job at making 1080p look great, but I still think the added cost for a 4K TV over an HD set isn't worth it yet. If I wasn't buying with "free money" I wouldn't have gone 4K.
The same applies to 3D. That novelty was neat once for me once and then I realized I don't want to watch TV with stuff on my face. They do give you a set of 3D glasses and batteries, but only one set which is incredibly cheap of Samsung since they look like they cost $1 to make.
What about HDR? Well, if you're curious about HDR then first read HDR TV Explained. Then note that this TV isn't being claimed as an HDR TV. Instead, Samsung is calling it SUHD. The S doesn't seem to be super, superior, or even Samsung, just S like they do with their Galaxy S phones and tablets. The UHD is just ultra high definition, meaning 4K.
Instead of HDR, they have Nano Crystal Color Technology. Wow, now that's marketing hyperbole if I've ever heard it. Nano crystals? Come on now. Samsung says they nano things bring the entertainment to life by revealing a brighter, more true to life picture, and a wider range of colors. So, a wider color and contrast range which is kind of what HDR is all about anyhow. Although the marketing terminology about nano crystals is silly, this TV absolutely has color range nailed. It's incredible.
Remote & FunctionsI love the remote that comes with the TV. First off, it's Bluetooth so it doesn't need to be pointed at the TV. Second, it is backlit so easy to see buttons in the dark. Third, it has very few buttons on it. And fourth, it works like a Nintendo Wii remote which makes navigating menus and keyboards so easy.
It's small and curved to fit in your hand perfectly. It's the best remote I've ever seen on a TV. But it is flawed. The biggest issue are the main direction arrows and enter button. It's hard to tell if your thumb is on the enter button or one of the arrows. It gets better with use but still not quite right.
The on screen menu is well designed and easy to figure out. The SmartHub is also fairly well designed, but feels slow and clunky if you really get into the apps. Yes, apps, because every company has to have an app store now. In Samsung's case, there are many app options and what they do have is mostly non-sense you won't want.
The obvious apps that comes installed already will be Netlifx, Amazon Video, and Hulu. HBO Go is available as are several others most won't use or want.
OneConnect MiniOneConnect Mini is probably the biggest mistake Samsung made on these JS8500 series televisions (among others). The idea is that you have an external hub (box) that has all of the ports on it. That hub connects to the TV via a single cable. You can now put that hub anywhere you want and connect all of your HDMI cables into it. Sounds great, right?
Well, there are problems. First, the cable to connect the OneConnect Mini (hub) to the TV is only six feet long. That's it so if you need more you're out of luck and Samsung does not make an extension cable. Second, it's really only good for the HDMI,USB, and optical audio cables. If you have a hardwired ethernet cable (which you should use over wifi) that still plugs into the TV. If you have a coaxial cable (over the air antenna, etc) that goes into the TV. The power cable still have to go into the TV.
So what is the point of the OneConnect Mini exactly? In my case, it's mounted on the wall behind the TV (it's thin enough for that) and thus has no advantage. In theory, that box being external means upgrading your TV is easy. Just buy a new box and you can get new features, like a computer upgrade for better speed for example. In reality, I'm guessing few will ever do an upgrade like that. If the OneConnect hub truly was an all in one cable hub (including network and power), I think it would be a good idea. As it is, it's not really a feature but one more thing to collect dust behind the TV.
ConclusionThe Samsung JS8500 SUHD series of TV's are impressive. You get a lot of features and a gorgeous picture. I really am pleased with the TV overall, but I was buying it with "free money" due to a warranty claim on a 4 year old TV. If I shelled out $3000 of my own money I'd be a little sad. I don't feel like it's worth such a high asking price and I could get a regular 1080p flat screen for half the price and be just as happy. On the flip side, if this TV was in the $2200 to $2500 range then I would feel like it was a great value and rate it a full five stars.
The other pet peeve I have is regarding the issue of ads. That's right, Samsung thinks it is okay to show you ads on a TV you just paid $3000 for. I'm not talking about commercials here, I'm referring to the small banner ads they display as part of the SmartHub menu and SmartHub screens. Hit the SmartHub to start Netflix and a small banner ad shows up. Enter the full SmartHub and more banner ads show up. This is wrong on so many levels and cannot be disabled.
As it is now, it's a 4.5 star flat screen simply because of the high cost and the nerve of Samsung to show me ads on a TV I paid for.
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