For this review we tested the 55in model of the Samsung F8000 Smart LED TV (UE55F8000), but it’s also available in 40in (UE40F8000) and 46in (UE46F8000) sizes here in the UK. 60in (UE60F8000) and 75in (UE75F8000) models are available in other regions, but aren’t yet confirmed as coming to the UK. As each model has identical specifications, excluding dimensions and power usage, we’re confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.
If January’s CES show taught us anything, it’s that 2013 will be the year of the smart TV. The Samsung F8000 Smart LED TV is the company’s flagship Full HD model and one of the first released, with more features squeezed inside than ever before – including a redesigned interface that puts catch-up services, on-demand movies and web shortcuts on the same screen as your broadcast TV.
This in-depth review covers all the features you’ll find in the UE55F8000, but if you just want to know what we thought about picture quality, be sure to check out page four.
SAMSUNG F8000 SMART TV FEATURES
When you turn on the set, the first thing you see is the new five-screen Smart Hub interface. It has a large, icon-based layout that’s easy to navigate, with plenty of information in easy reach thanks to the redesigned touchpad remote control. The main screen displays the currently playing TV channel, along with upcoming shows and recommended programs based on what you regularly watch. Samsung’s S-Recommend algorithms work quickly to discover your viewing habits, and after a week’s worth of viewing should have built up a fairly accurate idea of what you like to watch.
The TV screen is the first thing you see by default, but you can set another if you prefer
The Movies & TV Shows tab combines all the installed on-demand video services in one place, letting you search by film title, genre or actors. AceTrax, PictureBox and Samsung’s own Video Hub are all included, with subscription-based services LoveFilm and NetFlix built into the set as well.
There’s a wide selection of films, from several different content providers
The Friends tab collects recommendations from your Twitter and Facebook friends, letting you jump straight into YouTube videos or view pictures right on the TV. It also stores your Skype contacts, so you can use the the pop-up webcam to make video calls while sat on your sofa. It uses a higher resolution sensor than last year’s model, and adjusts gamma dynamically based on ambient light in the room. This means you can always be seen by the person you’re talking to, even when there’s no light in the room. We extinguished the lights in our test room and could still see ourselves.
You can pop the integrated Skype camera down if you don’t like the idea of it watching you
The Multimedia tab lets you play any files stored on a USB stick or networked PC. We played all our video files, including native DivX, MOV and MKV, meaning you should be able to play just about anything without having to re-encode your footage.
The multimedia screen fills up depending on what PCs or hard disks are connected to your wireless network
Finally, the Apps tab contains miscellaneous apps, including catch-up TV. Samsung’s 2013 TV range is the first we’ve seen to come with ITV player, the catch-up service for the UK’s third TV channel. It also has BBC iPlayer preinstalled, with promises of 4oD and Demand 5 coming in the summer. There’s also a web browser, Spotify music streaming, Facebook and Twitter clients and a store from which you can download more. With so many on-demand, catch-up services and apps, you’ll never be stuck for something to do or watch.
The traditional app screen is still there for anyone that prefers to keep everything in one place