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 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 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 LED TV has a good picture quality. The great contrast ratio paired with the decent black uniformity make this TV a good option for your dark home theater room. Black looks deep and dark movies scenes look detailed. When set in a brighter environment, the MU8500 is still a good performer since it can get bright enough to fight glare from a bright lamp or a sunny window and can deal fairly well with reflections. The gray uniformity is very good and dirty screen effect is not a problem here, so great news for sports fans. The viewing angle is poor though so the MU8500 won't be the best option if you want to invite a bunch of friends to watch a big event or movie since the best picture quality is reserved for those sitting right in front of the TV. When it comes to HDR, the MU8500 is a good option since it has a wide color gamut and has an HDR peak brightness better than average. The only downside here is the poor local dimming, which can't really help get small highlight brighter than what it already can.
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.
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 MU8500 has great motion handling. It has a fast response time, which results in only a short trail following moving objects. It uses PWM to dim the backlight at lower backlight intensities, so motion isn't as smooth as most TVs, but this isn't noticeable to most people. Movies from any source can be played smoothly, and the TV is able to interpolate content up to 120Hz for a strong soap opera effect.
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.
The MU8500 can display most content, including HDR. It has great low input lag, which will please all but the most competitive gamers.
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.
The Samsung MU8500 is a decent sounding TV. It doesn't get particularly loud, but it doesn't have any glaring flaws that notably reduce its usability. A good set of speakers would still be a noticeable upgrade though.
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 MU8500 runs Samsung's 2017 Tizen smart platform, also called Smart Hub. It has a simple layout that is very easy to use, yet still gives access to many advanced features and settings, and has an amazing voice command feature. The key to the platform's ease of navigation is the Smart Hub itself, which serves as the center of the interface and contains all other sections. The simple design of the remote reflects this philosophy: it has very few buttons and lacks buttons for inputs and settings, relying on its home button and navigation controls to access these things. While this makes navigation simple to understand, it does slow it down by requiring more steps to get to your destination. This is alleviated somewhat by the remote's incredible voice command feature, which can directly perform many actions without needing to navigate the interface at all, actions like changing between inputs and apps, changing settings and searching for content.
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.
The TV did not show ads during our testing, however, the appearance of ads is often inconsistent. It can be assumed that the TV has ads because all Samsung TVs since 2015 have had ads, and several of their 2017 TVs showed ads during testing, such as the MU8000.
The TV comes preloaded with some popular apps like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Video. Many more apps can be downloaded from the Apps menu. Apps run smoothly with little lag or frame drops. Navigating the interface, on the other hand, does have more frame drops than last year's Tizen 2016 platform, but it still fairly smooth.
The TV's remote is small and has few buttons, but has great smart features like voice control and universal remote control. In tandem with the TV's interface emphasizing the Smart Hub, the remote lacks many buttons like inputs and settings, instead relying on the home button and navigation controls to reach these things using the Smart Hub. This simplifies the remote and ease of use, but slows down navigation by requiring more steps to get to your destination. This is alleviated somewhat by the amazing voice control feature: voice commands like 'HDMI 2' and 'Backlight 14' can directly perform actions like changing between inputs and apps, changing settings and searching for content. The remote can also act as a universal remote for other devices, even ones that do not support HDMI CEC, using Samsung's OneRemote feature.
The Samsung Smart View app has a few useful features, like streaming files to the TV from the device running the app; but it lacks some features that other companion apps have, such as text entry.
We tested the 55" (UN55MU8500) version AB03. For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the 65" (UN65MU8500).
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Samsung MU8500 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.
The Samsung MU8500 is a good 4k LED TV, but it's not very competitive compared to other TVs in its price range.
The Samsung NU8500 is slightly better than the Samsung MU8500. The Samsung NU8500 is a better choice for video games and HDR gaming because of better input lag and support for the AMD FreeSync variable refresh rate. Also, the NU8500 has a faster response time that leaves a smaller image trail in fast action scenes like sports. Finally, black uniformity is slightly worse on the older Samsung MU8500, and that might be noticeable when watching movies in a dark room.
The Samsung MU8000 is slightly better than the Samsung MU8500. The Samsung MU8000 has a faster response time that leaves a slightly shorter image trail on fast action scenes, and it is marginally better for watching movies due to the better contrast. On the other hand, the Samsung MU8500 is somewhat better for use as a PC monitor due to its curved nature that results in better viewing angles to the edges of the screen.
The Samsung MU8500 is a better TV than the Samsung MU6500. The Samsung MU8500 is better for watching movies as it has local dimming to improve blacks, much better motion handling with excellent 24p judder removal and excellent motion interpolation. The Samsung MU8500 also has marginally better SDR peak brightness so you can comfortably watch your favorite TV shows in a brighter room. Finally, the Samsung MU8500 has a slightly better color volume which is important if you play HDR games. On the contrary, the Samsung MU6500 has slightly better black uniformity that can be observed when watching HDR movies.
The Sony X900F is much better than the Samsung MU8500. The Sony X900F has much better local dimming, better black uniformity and better contrast ratio that make it much better watching movies in dark rooms and can get much brighter when displaying HDR content. The Sony X900F has better reflection handling and a better response time that make it better for watching sports and TV shows in bright rooms. The Samsung MU8500, on the other hand, has a bit better input lag and is more responsive when playing video games.