I’m more than slightly picky about my TVs. In an age where dirt cheap TVs are everywhere, I have a hard time explaining this. It’s not about getting the biggest screen for the cheapest price because I’m a firm believer in you get what you pay for. Maybe that makes me a TV snob, but there are no off-brand televisions in my future.
So, when I finally made the move up to 4K from my beloved Panasonic 1080p plasma set, which very nearly had the best picture of any HD set I’d ever seen, it was a hard decision. LG’s OLED is the still probably the best choice when moving from Plasma (which aren’t made anymore), but are quite expensive.
Picture Perfect Mode
But OLED and LG aren’t the only mid-to-high end TV game in town and Samsung wants to make sure you know. For the last couple years, their $2000-$3000 range SUHD HDR sets have been stunning examples of how good LED technology can be even without the ‘O’ in front. In this case, the 65 inch KS9000 4K SUHD TV, which is currently down to around the $2000-$2200 range from its initial list price of $3499.99, is an impressive piece of tech.
The ideal TV should be a seamless addition to your viewing room, but I’ve never had an HD set where I didn’t need to needle down into the advanced picture options to tweak. The KS9000’s ideal picture mode is the movie mode, which is really close to my idea of optimal. I still spent a lot of time tweaking things here and there to see how far I could take my need for pristine colors and blacks, but for those that aren’t into messing around with options, you probably don’t have to.
Still, depending on your tastes, LEDs in general frequently seem to need different picture modes for different types of viewing. Samsung has included a reasonable variety of basic picture mode settings to accommodate sports, gaming, and movies (among other things). Just be sure and turn off the awful motion control option all these sets insist on including, which makes everything look harsh and fake (the so-called ‘soap opera effect’).
HDR and Apps
The HS9000 has a heavy focus on HDR support, which enables a noticeably wider and brighter array of colors. It’s not a gimmick. With the right content, HDR provides a stunning enhancement. Colors are more vibrant and nuanced, with far greater shading, and Samsung’s technology does an amazing job with the standard – better than most other brands I’ve seen.
Beyond that, the picture is excellent. I run an absurd range of devices through my TV (via an A/V receiver usually) – from various console gaming systems to streaming boxes and PCs – and the KS9000 proved to be exceptionally good at everything. That said, as with any TV, the picture can only be as good as what you send to it. Standard 1080p Blu-rays upscale to near 4K-level quality for instance, but don’t expect your DVDs to look that much better.
The KS9000 has its own set of streaming services built-in. Netflix, Amazon, HULU, HBO Go, and a variety of others are all available at the touch (or two) of a button. The TV’s wi-fi was up to the task of streaming 4K (provided your internet service and router are) and the KS9000 is a fine all-in-one entertainment system.
Extras and Caveats
The built-in speakers are surprisingly good as well. The audio proved to be quite crisp and clear. They still don’t compete with a good soundbar or, especially, a proper home theater surround system, but do the job.
Another nice feature Samsung has started including in all their new upper-end sets is the separate connection box where you actually plug in all your inputs (either HDMI or a cable input). The TV has one specialized port built in – the port for the cable that goes to the connection box. This lets you hide all those cables that might otherwise go to the TV but also acts as a kind of upgrade guarantee. The theory is if a new connection standard were to come along, you could just get a new connector box that supports it. Whether this will ever be of value is speculative.
As much as I love the KS9000 overall, there are a couple nagging issues. The first is probably a non-issue for most viewers, but really bothered me – there’s no support for 3D. Remember 3D? So, my collection of 3D Blu-rays is now useless and, outside the theater, I’ll never get to enjoy Dr. Strange and other movies filmed with 3D in mind under optimal conditions.
The second, and much more relevant, issue is the viewing angle. LEDs have always had problems where the farther from the center viewing position you get, the more faded the screen becomes. In the case of the KS9000, when sitting right in front of it, colors nearly pop off the screen, but the farther from the sweet spot you get (angle-wise), the more washed out the picture looks.
Bottom Line – The KS9000 isn’t really a casual television. Set one in your living room and it demands your attention. Pop in a 4K Blu-ray in particular and you’ll be stunned. It’s a workhouse TV that will make any HD input look great and offer plenty of choices for content. So, if you’re in the market for getting the best possible image for the mid-range price, the Samsung KS9000 is easily one of the best available.