The Samsung Series 8 LED 3D TV is a TV we've owned since February (I purchased it with my husband as a 10 year anniversary gift). I think in that time we've used every feature and I can now give it a full and fair review.
**Price and Availability**
At the time of writing this review (July 2012), the Samsung Series 8 is available in all good electrical retailers both online and on the high street including Currys, Comet, Amazon, and John Lewis - I'd highly recommend purchasing from John Lewis as you get a 5 year warranty included which comes at a cost with other retailers.
The price I paid was £999.99 for the 40" version and the model number us U8000 (this comes with a freesat tuner, you can pay less for the same spec TV without this if this is not a feature you require).
**What's in the Box?**
You get the Samsung TV, the stand (which is in an X formation and styled in silver metal), an instructional manual, power supply, remote control, batteries, and warranty information. You also get 2 pairs of 3D glasses, these are active and supplied with a battery, ready to use. You also get two cleaning wipes for the 3D glasses.
It's important to note that whilst the Samsung TV is designed for hanging on the wall, it does not come with a bracket to do so, this must be purchased separately. We purchased a non branded wall bracket with a slim profile for £49.99 from Direct TVs (online and with a warehouse shop in Huddersfield, Yorkshire).
When my husband first saw the Samsung series 8 in John Lewis, he went 'wowwww' and wow indeed, it's head and shoulders above any other TV I've seen in terms of looks. It's quite frankly beautiful! I don't like big chunky piano black TVs, and this is so very NOT like that. It has one of the thinnest bezels I have ever seen on a television with a 2cm silver metal (not coloured plastic, actual metal) bezel. It's so unobtrusive that on our wall, it looks like just a screen panel, it's amazing.
Just underneath the bezel to the bottom of the screen is a small glass panel about three inches in length that has SAMSUNG etched into it, this glows white when the TV is turned on (and yes, you can dim or turn this off via the television's menu)
I have to give this TV 5/5 on looks, it's stunning and every guest I have had in my home has said the same thing.
**Specs vs Usage**
I won't go into every single spec, but cover off my own personal experience of the key specifications of this TV.
Screen - 40" LED with 3D, Ultra Clear Panel, with a clear motion rate of 50 x 16 and a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (full HD). The screen is sharp and bright thanks to the LED and the clear panel technology, meaning things like scrolling ticker tapes on news channels and fast scrolling credits are still clear and not blurred, and easy to read.
We moved from a 5 year old LCD LG, it was a great TV but in terms of clarity this Samsung U8000 blows it out of the water.
The 3D feature is, quite frankly, one of the best 3D experiences I've had, outside of a cinema. It uses active 3D technology meaning you need to use active glasses (which are powered), and these give a great 3D experience from any angle, which is excellent. We've tried it with gigs, movies, and other 3D created content with excellent results. You can also press the 3D button on the remote for a simulated 3D experience on ANY content, including Freeview / Freesat. It doesn't pop out as much but it gives great depth and works best I find with nature and travel programming. Watching something like IMAX 3D on this television is amazing. I've tried other 3D TVs (passive, using tinted glasses) and found it ever so slightly blurry. This gives a great 3D picture quality. I think having the 3D feature on this TV really adds to it's 'futureproofing' as I'm hoping that in the future, the BBC will play more 3D content via it's digital channels, as I don't have (or want) a subscription TV package. You do need a 3D DVD player to play 3D DVDs, but there is a 3D app on the Smart Hub (which I'll review in a moment) to get you started (you need internet connectivity).
Audio - The U8000 comes with Dolby Digital Plus with SRS Theatre Sound from 2 x 10w down facing speakers. We have ours mounted on the wall with no external or surround sound speakers attached and the sound volume and quality is excellent, as you'd expect for a TV of this quality. It provides excellent top end and bass, with finite settings being adjustable via the menu.
Freeview Tuner - an excellent, high quality Freeview tuner with a decent EPG (Electronic Programme Guide). It's fast and updated regularly, with a quarter of the viewable screen taken up with what you're currently watching, another quarter being information on the programmes you're browsing in the EPG and the bottom half the EPG listings. It's not as fancy or fast as a Sky EPG but it's very good for a built in feature and it's easy to use.
Freesat Tuner - this is the satellite equivalent of Freeview, which we use as we had a spare Sky dish and no Sky sub / box. It was as easy as plug and play, though the EPG does leave a bit to be desired, it's extremely slow and there's no picture of what you're viewing, just the Freesat logo. You do get a lot of extra channels and it's a great feature to have, though, once we get an EPG software update!
The menu system throughout the TV is user friendly, fast, and quite simple to use, whilst looking modern and stylish.
I have to have a little 'area' for this because it's just such a nice remote! It's styled in silver metal to match the TV with a sleek membrane type area for the buttons - no rubberised buttons here thankyou! It (brilliantly!) lights up with the press of a button, making using it in the dark an absolute doddle.
Because of the membrane rather than individual buttons, the middle of the remote, which is a square of up-down-left-right, doubles up as a touchpad for use with the mouse pointer, using the inbuilt web browser. It works surprisingly well, not enough to replace a laptop or tablet but great for a bit of browsing as a group.
**Connectivity & The Smart Hub**
The Samsung U8000 like the rest of the 8 series is equipped with both an ethernet port for wired internet connection, and wifi, which is probably the standard way of connecting to the internet.
One point to note here is that the wifi can also be used with Smartphones, Laptops and Tablets with Samsung's excellent AllShare software - meaning you can stream photos and videos direct to your TV. It works amazingly well and it's fantastic for using the DVD player in your laptop to stream a movie to the TV, or sharing photos from your phone on your TV with your family. It has loads of uses and we've used it mainly for social reasons. You can also use your mobile / tablet as a remote control and as a keyboard - which is great for web browsing as doing it via the remote can be time consuming.
The main way you'll use the internet connectivity for the U8000 or any 8 series TV however is the Smart Hub. Think of it as a collection of apps much like a tablet PC or smartphone. There's internet browsing, Facebook, Google TV, games, YouTube to name but a few (all of which are free). There's also paid apps on there (which work by subscription). We're subscribed to Netflix. The app is fast, it's very high quality and it features hundreds of TV shows and movies, meaning there is always something to watch on my TV. It has a great BBC iPlayer app (which is free), so I can catch up on BBC shows from the last 7 days in HD, and it has a 3D app so I can watch movie trailers, music videos and gig videos in 3D. You need a *really* fast internet connection for this, however, as it doesn't buffer it. We manage OK on a 10meg o2 connection. There are so many apps available on the Smart Hub that there's no way I'd be able to review them all, but it's an absolutely brilliant feature and well executed on the Samsung TV. I am really impressed with it and use it every day (in fact my daughter is watching cartoons on the CBeebies app as I write!)
I can't fault this television, both aesthetically and functionally. It's visually stunning even when it's not in use, and you can't argue with how feature packed it is.
Yes, it costs a little more than your average TV but you're getting a helluva lot of TV for your money and it's future proof, too. You can spend around £600 on a piano black, thicker bezel 3D LED Smart TV but it simply won't be the same - you will feel the difference. Some things are worth spending the money on and this Samsung 8 series television is absolutely is one of them.
5 months on from purchase it's still an amazing TV and worth every penny paid, it's something we use every day. A fantastic TV with more features and functions than I could possibly include in this already fairly long review. I've tried to keep it to my experiences rather than just a list of specifications and I hope it has been useful (I am always happy to answer any questions about the television, too).
I highly, highly recommend it. If you are thinking of purchasing one, then I hope this is the decider for you. As a long term, high spec, feature packed TV that will keep delivering, I don't think you can do better for the price. A very well deserve five stars out of five.