Samsung UN55ES8000 55 inch LED HDTVJan 6th, 2013 | By Simon
I know many people are jealous that I get to test different TVs but let me tell you that it is hard work. ;) I’ve got to subject myself to hours of use! In order to fully enjoy a TV you have to be able to see it.
Not every room allows you to have a TV stand where you sit directly in front of the screen. In cases where you need to rotate the panel a few degrees to the left or right the Samsung UN55ES8000 does not allow you to do that. That is strictly because of the base stand used by Samsung. Some may argue it takes away from an important feature to them while others will say the stand has a more stylish looking than the swiveling base and once in place the TV is unlikely to move.
Not having a swiveling base will not hinder your view due to the incredibly high viewing angle of the UN55ES8000. Even at some extreme angles the image is easy to make out.
To test out the TV I enjoyed a variety of sources: TV, PC, HDMI and network sources. All of them came out very clear with no lag what-so-ever. Here are some pictures of the ES8000 in action with my computer connected via HDMI cable.
The Samsung UN55ES8000 doubled as a monitor for my HTPC. The 55″ screen is large enough to read the news off a webpage with the 1920×1080 resolution. With the amazing color quality this TV can easily double as a monitor of large size photo editing or CAD drawing.
Much like the previous few Samsung TVs that I’ve reviewed, the UN55ES8000 is capable of 3D display provided you have a 3D source. The UN55ES8000 does come with four 3D Active Glasses, a huge positive in my books for 3D TV.
It’s difficult to capture a 3D experience in a picture but Samsung uses the 3D HyperReal Engine and they boast it generates less ghosting while creating razor sharp and fluid images. In my short tests the images seem to pop out of the screen more than with some of the older TVs that I’ve had. While I don’t have as many 3D samples to try out with, I’ll have to say that the 3D engine does the trick if you’re a fan of 3D movies.
Let’s talk about the performance of the three key features included with the UN55ES8000: Smart Touch Control, IR Blaster, Smart Touch Control and Smart Evolution.
It’s impossible to actually talk about the Smart Evolution upgrade kit because it physically isn’t available yet. However, the intent is for the Smart Evolution kit to plug into the back of the TV where the IO panel is and provide more applications and improvements to the end user.
The IR Blaster is Samsung’s way of making their remote universal, sort of like what Logitech has done with the Harmony remotes. The IR Blaster seems flaky. I got it to pair with the TV and my Blu-Ray player but struggled to actually get it to do anything useful.
The Smart Touch Control remote seems like a neat idea. Instead of using a directional keypad you have a touch pad. The numerical keypad has been eliminated and has been replaced with the on-screen keypad. If you are one who likes the tactile feel of using any device, you’ll find the touchpad can be frustrating. You won’t exactly know where to swipe if you want to move the arrow to the left or right. You also won’t know where the center of the touchpad is to get that “enter” key. I’ll admit that it takes some time getting use to and after a few minutes I was more proficient with it. However, I still think a regular remote is preferred.
I did find the Smart Interaction a novel feature. Using the correct trigger I could command the TV to turn on or off, change the channel, adjust the volume or load up certain applications. Since the Smart Interaction also has a built-in camera for face and hand recognition to also replace the conventional remote control, it made perfect sense for Samsung to bundle in applications like Skype where you can chat with friends and family.
Setting up the IR Blaster, Smart Touch Control and Smart Interaction was quite easy. With a fresh set of batteries installed in the Smart Touch Control it basically paired itself with the TV and was operational as a remote control. The IR Blaster took a little more work as it required powering on and manually pairing itself with the TV, like you would with any Bluetooth device. Once it has been paired you can run the Universal Remote Setup to enhance the functionality of the IR Blaster. I found out by trial and error that if the Smart Touch Control is not already setup, the Universal Remote Setup doesn’t work even if the IR Blaster has been paired. So remember that it is the remote then the IR Blaster before being a universal remote. With the Universal Remote Setup, it will prompt you to identify which type of device you want to add, what input channel it is plugged into and what brand/model the device is. Once you’ve found your device, the setup device to download the data to the Smart Touch Control and IR Blaster. As noted before, I had no problems getting to this point but I had trouble getting the Smart Touch Control to function with the device the way I previously did with the original remote control.
My favourite new feature from the UN55ES8000 is most definitely the Smart Interaction. By default the features are disabled but can be easily enabled and calibrated in the setup menu. For Voice Control the setup checks the background noise and then asks you to calibrate with the TV by speaking the Trigger Word. The trigger word can be changed in the Voice Control setup. Once the setup is completed you can now command the TV to do as you please. The Motion Control is just as simple, the setup takes a picture of the background, asks you to step into the picture and wave your hand. After that certain motions of your hand will bring up the motion control taskbar where you can control the TV.
If you’ve misplaced your remote at night the motion display does have its advantages or if you’ve lost the remote you can still command the TV to turn off. However, I personally the Smart Interaction brings to the table new applications that give the UN55ES8000 more features for the end-user. After a while the need to yell at your TV to turn it off will wear out but keeping in touch with family using Skype without having a separate webcam or computer is far more beneficial.
With all that being said and all the pictures you see above with how the TV works and what it can do, testing a TV is subjective, what you interpret will be different than what I interpret. I always recommend to friends that when you’re shopping for a TV you find a retailer that has them all out on display. This way you can stand in front of a few different models and see if your eyes like it. To take away from some of the subjectivity, I like to have a look at two technical subjects you’ll read about on the next page: picture calibration and power consumption.