The Samsung MU8500 4k smart TV is a better than average television with good picture quality and low input lag. It features a curved design which some might find more aesthetically pleasing and it gets decently bright. It's also capable of displaying a wider range of colors which is good for saturated HDR content. Unfortunately, its picture quality degrades at an angle, and its local dimming leaves a lot to be desired.
The MU8500 does well with movies in a dark room. Its very good contrast ratio helps it produce deep blacks and it's capable of playing back 24p content without judder. Unfortunately, though, its local dimming feature leaves a lot to be desired and it doesn't do much to enhance the picture qualitySee our Movies recommendations
Better than average TV for watching TV shows or live broadcasts. The Samsung MU8500 upscales lower resolution content quite well and gets bright enough to be enjoyable at all hours of the day. Its handling of reflections could be a bit better though.See our TV Shows recommendations
Decent TV for watching sports. Fast motion doesn't have any very noticeable trailing and the screen itself is quite uniform and free of major blotchiness. Unfortunately, though, its narrow viewing angle means that people watching the TV from the sides will have a worse picture quality.See our Sports recommendations
Great TV for playing video games, the Samsung MU8500's low input lag and low motion blur make games feel responsive and immersive. Combined with the good picture quality this makes for a great gaming experience.See our Video Games recommendations
Good TV for HDR movies, the MU8500 can display 10 bits of color depth for smooth HDR gradients and it also gets decently bright. Its color gamut could be a bit wider though.See our HDR Movies recommendations
Very good PC monitor. The MU8500 supports chroma 4:4:4 for crisp text and it has a low input lag for responsive mouse movement. Its curved design also helps reduce the effects of its narrow viewing angle when sitting close to it.See our PC Monitor recommendations
The MU8500 looks excellent. As the curved variant of the MU8000 it has the same wide stand which supports the TV well. All of the inputs are routed through the One Connect Mini, which helps for cable management. The power cable is very short after routing it through the base of the TV, which may be an issue for some setups.
The stand is almost as wide as the TV itself, but has two positions. We tested the TV with the narrower setup, but it is also possible to place the legs so the width of the stand is 42.9".
Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 9.8" x 34.9"
The borders are thin and look good. They are made of metal and feel high quality.
The TV appears a bit thicker when viewed from the side due to the curve. This may cause it to stick out a bit when wall mounted, but isn't really an issue.
The TV runs fairly cool, only getting slightly warm to the touch in a few spots on the back and the bottom edge. The One Connect box only ever gets slightly warm, never exceeding 35°C during our testing.
The build quality of the MU8500 is a step up from the KS8000 of 2016. The parts feel slightly higher quality and fit together a bit better with less give.
The Samsung MU8500 has a great native contrast ratio. At 4167:1 it is very good for a VA panel, but it is a bit less than other 2017 Samsung TVs, who usually have more than 5000:1. Even if it is not as high as other Samsung TV, the MU8500 will be a good performer in a dark room none the less and blacks still look very deep and the level of details in dark scene is still better than any IPS on the market today.
When the local dimming is set too high, the contrast ratio remains about the same (only 50 higher) and this is mostly because of the poor implementation of the local dimming on this TV.
The local dimming is bad on the MU8500 and is similar to the local dimming of the flat version of this TV, the MU8000. The MU8500 is an edge-lit TV and the local dimming is implemented with vertical zones that span the whole screen. As a result, when there is a bright highlight on-screen, large vertical blooming is visible and this follows the highlight.
Great SDR peak brightness. The worst case brightness is still fairly bright, and local dimming is able to make highlights even brighter in dark scenes, as shown by our smaller window tests. The ~1000 cd/m² brightness in the 10% white window test only lasts for ~30 s, as seen in the plot over time, so the TV will only be able to reach this brightness in special cases. The brightness overall is very similar to the MU9000 and MU8000, though it's not as bright as the Sony X900E.
Decent HDR peak brightness. The worst case brightness is still fairly bright, and the TV's local dimming is able to make highlights in dark scenes even brighter, as shown by the small white window tests. The overall brightness is very similar to the MU9000 and MU8000, though the Sony X900E is brighter than all of them.
The gray uniformity is good on the MU8500. Looking at our 50% gray uniformity picture, there is a warmer zone on the left side of the screen and some darker patches toward both sides of the screen. Even with those warmer and darker patches, the screen is still pretty uniform, especially in the center. As a result of this, the dirty screen effect is not really a problem here and when looking at some sports content like hockey of football, it is not really noticeable. This is a similar result as on the MU8000.
Looking at our 5% gray uniformity, nothing really comes out and this is a very good result and once again is it a very similar result as on the flat version of this TV, the MU8000.
Poor viewing angle, but fairly typical of a TV with a VA panel. Colors wash out when the TV is viewed at a small angle, while blacks turn gray and brightness decreases at more moderate angles. This TV is not well suited for a room where people often view the TV from the side.
The black uniformity is average on the MU8500. As with other 2017 Samsung TV with local dimming, the local dimming can't be totally turned off and as a result, our test is based on the lowest setting available. Clouding is still visible near the bottom edge under the white cross though, but not near the corners since the local dimming has turned off the backlight in those regions.
When the local dimming is set to maximum, the result is a bit better, but the black uniformity is still average since the local dimming is causing some vertical blooming toward the middle where the white cross is situated and this effects the overall screen uniformity.
The reflection handling of the MU8500 is decent. It has a semi-gloss finish which diffuses reflection across the screen, reducing the intensity. Depending on where you're sitting the curve may help to avoid glare, or it may focus it to be more distracting. It is fine for an average room but may be an issue for a bright room where the higher end MU9000 is a better choice.
Out of the box, the Samsung MU8500 has a good accuracy. when set to the 'Movie' picture mode with the 'Warm2' color temperature, the white balance dE (3.74) is just a bit over what is noticeable to enthusiasts (3.0) and is a bit too warm. The Gamma is not too far from our 2.2 target, but the curve is not flat at all, with a big dip toward the lighter point of the white balance.
The color accuracy, on the other hand, is very good. With a color dE of only 1.79 out of the box, this is an extremely good result, as other Samsung TVs often end up with a similar result post calibration.
Overall, the MU8500 is accurate enough to be used as is without the need of a calibration.
After calibration, the MU8500 has an outstanding accuracy. The white balance dE was brought down to a negligible 0.22 and the already good color dE, was also brought down even more to a mere dE of 1.08. Both those value are well beyond any level of inaccuracy that even an enthusiast could notice.
As for the Gamma, the curve was flattened considerably and the TV was right on our 2.2 target, with only a little issue toward the lower IRE. Overall this is a very good result.
You can see our recommended settings here.
Upscaling of low-quality content such as DVDs is good. Some halo artifacts can be seen along edges but details are preserved.
720p content such as cable TV is upscaled well. The image isn't too soft.
Full HD content such as Blu-rays are upscaled well. No issues can be seen.
Good wide color gamut in HDR, though not as wide as the Sony X900E and many high end TVs. Saturated red and blue fall a bit short of their BT 2020 targets, and green falls quite short, though poor green performance is common for modern TVs. On the bright side the TV is fairly accurate when producing the colors it's able to, as is common on Samsung TVs.
The TV's HDR Movie mode EOTF follows the HDR PQ curve fairly well, though its roll off into its maximum brightness starts a bit too early. The EOTFs in Game and PC are fairly similar. Turning 'Local Dimming' to 'Low' (its lowest setting) makes the whole HDR Movie mode EOTF less bright, which isn't good. With local dimming back to our default 'High', when the ST.2084 'Gamma' setting is increased to 2, the HDR Movie mode EOTF doesn't roll off before clipping at its maximum brightness, and thus follows the PQ curve much more closely. Users should increase the 'Gamma' to suit the brightness of their room.
Decent color volume, mostly limited by just the color gamut and black level. The TV's local dimming helps it show its wide color gamut at a large range of brightnesses.
The Samsung MU8500 performs great in our gradient test. The gradient is pretty smooth with only some minor color banding in the darker color, with the dark green being a bit more obvious. No 8-bit banding can be seen on our test picture. This is a very similar test result to other 2017 Samsung TVs, and even if not perfect, we did not notice any real visual problem while watching HDR movies.
Perfect result for the image retention test for the MU8500. No retention could be noticed at all after the 10 minutes burn-in scene and this is in line with other TVs using a VA panel.
We don't expect VA panels to experience permanent image retention, as the VA panel in our long-term test appears immune.
The response time of the MU8500 is very good, resulting in only a very short trail following moving objects. This is great for fast-paced content.
The MU8500 uses PWM at 120Hz to dim the backlight, starting at 20/20 backlight setting. Lowering the setting down to 14/20 lowers backlight amplitude, while lowering it from 13/20 shortens the duty cycle, while amplitude remains constant. Backlight that uses PWM results in duplications following moving objects, but does clear up motion slightly.
Update 03/30/2018: Scaled the 'Luminosity' axis of the plots; now the Flicker-Free plots and the new BFI plot have the same 'Luminosity' axis.
Update 03/30/2018: It was discovered that many 2017 Samsung TVs change their BFI frequency to 60 Hz when a lot of 60 Hz motion is detected on screen. The score, photo and plots have been updated.
The MU8500 has a 120Hz panel which can interpolate lower frame rate content. To enable interpolation, set 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom' and increase the 'De-judder' and 'De-blur' sliders. The 'De-judder' slider affects 30 fps or lower content, and the 'De-blur' slider affects 60 fps content. Note that any motion interpolation will introduce artifacts, so use a small value unless you really like the soap opera effect.
This TV is good at displaying movies, sports and TV shows without stutter. Sports are TV shows are smooth, as the response time combined with the higher frame rate result in very smooth motion. Some stutter may be visible in slow panning shots for movies due to the lack of blur to smooth the motion between frames.
The Samsung MU8500 is able to display 24p movies without judder and this from all sources. To remove judder without adding any soap opera effect, set 'Auto Motion Plus' to 'Custom' and both sliders ('Blur Reduction' and 'Judder Reduction') to 0. 'LED Clear Motion' turns on the black frame insertion and is not related to the motion interpolation.
The MU8600 doesn't support any variable refresh rate features. This is common for TVs, as we haven't tested any TVs which support a variable refresh rate yet.
Great low input lag, which will please all but the most competitive gamers. Both game mode and PC mode have the same input lag, though 4:4:4 color is only shown properly in PC mode. This input lag is nearly identical to all 2017 Samsung TVs, but a bit worse than some TCL and LG TVs like the TCL P607 and the LG SJ8500.
Most input resolutions are supported. 4k @ 60 Hz @ 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 color is only supported when 'HDMI UHD Color' is enabled for the port used. 4:4:4 color is only shown properly when the input's icon in the Smart Hub is set to 'PC' (aka PC mode). PC mode can't be enabled for some input refresh rates like 24 Hz; although the icon will still change to PC, settings that are normally disabled in PC mode are not disabled, and 4:4:4 color is not shown properly.
Only one of Dolby Digital or DTS can be enabled at a time, the TV will not automatically switch between them depending on what the content supports.
Decent frequency response. The MU8500 follows our target fairly well, with a slight overemphasis on lower frequencies due to the lack of a room correction feature to reduce the effects of resonances. It could be a bit louder though, and dynamic range compression is present at higher volumes.
Average distortion performance. The MU8500's levels of THD are not the best, but there aren't any major peaks that notably lower the listening experience. IMD levels are fairly high at maximum volumes, but the MU8500 is free of aliasing.
The center of the interface is the Smart Hub itself, through which you must pass to access the rest of the interface. This makes navigation easy to understand, but it does add extra steps to performing some actions like changing settings. To help alleviate this, the Smart Hub's second row shows a quick menu for the icon under focus, containing common options like quick settings and suggested content.