Samsung wowed us at Consumer Electronic Show 2011 when they showed off their latest generation of LED panels. But the picture quality and design elements of the television were secondary; it was the Smart TV dynamic that took centrestage. Here's where you find out if the D8000 is really smart or not.
Packaging and Content
Most HDTVs are shipped in large rectangular boxes and this is true for the Samsung D8000 Smart TV. In the package, we get the HDTV itself, a couple of manuals, the power cable, an adaptor for component cables and the remote control. We also get a single Active shutter 3D glass, which we think is quite stingy on Samsung's part as LG ships 4 glasses with their lower range models.
Critically, we don't get a keyboard and mouse, which is a staggering oversight as Samsung has billed the HDTV as a means to browse the web. That they failed to include hardware worth Rs 1000 with a gadget priced at Rs 2,49,900 HDTV would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
Design and Build Quality
The most striking feature of the D8000 is the almost non-existent bezel. We measured the bezel and it was just 1 cm wide. The TV as a whole is insanely thin.
Unlike most HDTVs in the market the D8000 comes in very stylish silver. The color really stands out and, coupled with the super thin bezel, gives the illusion of a 55-inch window.
Even the Samsung logo is illuminated but though this looks very cool to start with, it becomes a distraction after a while.
Overall, the build quality was sublime with very high quality plastics and steel used in the construction of the set.
Connectivity and TV+ Options
The D8000 is a sea of features. One cannot overstate the amount of features which come built in the television. As far as connectivity options go, the D8000 is armed to the teeth with 3 USB ports, 1 audio optical out, 4 HDMI ports, a single VGA port, a single audio-video port with an adaptor, a single component cable port through an adaptor.
TV features-wise, it has 3D capability in which the depth of field can also be adjusted and also the television up-scales 2D to 3D. The television offers 'Smart TV' Capability, which offers users a web browser, smart apps developed by Samsung including all the standard social networking goodies and the games to.
The TV also offers a full suite of picture modes with detailed customization options. None of this is innovative in any way as all HDTVs come preloaded with picture modes.
When it comes down to brass tacks, the D8000 is worth every bit of the moolah. It is the closest thing to reality. Blacks are deep and all colors look very vivid and natural. The downside of this level of detail is that on HD Blu-ray disks the makeup on the actors becomes quite apparent.
Think Tron Legacy and all those blue-goblin like fighters in the virtual environment of the movie look like decked up sci-fi Barbie dolls. The level of detail is truly stunning - from the initial boat scene of Shutter Island to the pod race fight in Tron Legacy, everything screams realism.
Even in 3D mode the Samsung D8000 is a visual treat. Resident Evil in 3D was a visual delight. The only glitch - massive headaches due to the Active shutter glasses shipped. Another problem is the fact that in full 3D mode the resolution of content is automatically downscaled to 720p.
The 2D to 3D up-scaling feature is just a novelty. We don't understand why manufacturers keep pushing it as a feature as it only blurs the image, adds no 3D and also downscales the picture quality at the same time.
While picture quality is absolutely stunning, it can only be experienced with the support of High Definition content such as a Blu-Ray movie, or a HD DTH connection. Make no mistake, if you intend to view standard definition content then its going look horrible, at least. The large 55-inch display will break down each pixel to bare minimum and it will flash it in your face. A 15 feet viewing distance is advisable.
As a rule, one should not expect a blazing cinema like sound from an anorexic LED set, but because it costs more than a Nano, expectations are always high. In this case, the Samsung D8000 Smart TV does provide built in 15-watt speakers, which do manage to pack a considerable thump. The experience is not Bose-like but, for most, it will be more than adequate. But we would still advise that you install a full home theater set-up just for the sake of cinematic immersion. That'll add Rs 50,000 to your budget but, hey, at a two and a half price tag, the Smart TV certainly doesn't come cheap.
Anyway, the sound of the tiny 15-watt set is pretty impressive which works really well with the Dolby SRS system. The channel swoops are quite apparent and one does get a home-theater like feel. The HDTV boasted of a very balanced low-end (bass), thumps were there unlike other LED sets whose speakers would crumble and would produce a shoddy distorted bass. Mid- range wise too the television was very balanced. Songs like Highway to Hell sounded very clear with the notes of the distorted guitar being astonishingly clear. Even vocals popped in the mix without being overly intrusive. The highs were a tad shrill but it was not a major problem.
Now, Samsung has gone out its way in its promotion of the Smart TV platform especially with Google breathing down its neck with Honeycomb power.
In a nut shell, our Smart TV experience was quite a mixed bag. Clearly, Samsung has quite a few ideas, which could work really well with good implementation which, sadly, is not the case here.
So Samsung has added the 'Smart Hub', which basically includes a tiny window where programming can be viewed with the rest of the area dedicated to apps and a web browser.
The Web Browser was, well, quite bad. The keyboard makes it's non-presence (mentioned above) felt here. Frankly, the remote control is no way to navigate a web browser. It is a tedious process, and made us feel quite murderous. One would reach a clicking point after a good struggle with the remote and then it would quickly fly away from the clicking point. Why? We have no clue? Samsung, can you please explain? The web browser does not even render flash properly and it even reformatted the text fonts. Luckily it would play video inside the browser window but it would run at snails pace. Either the TV does not have the chops to run a web browser or Samsung is using archaic web browser technology.
Thankfully, the slow nature of the web browser did not transfer itself to the Samsung apps.
The YouTube app is basically a gigantic 55-inch YouTube player. Pretty straightforward - sign in, search and you are good to go.
A Skype app is also provided giving users the opportunity to enjoy full screen video chats. The experience was quite painful as log-ins with the remote was a nightmare.
The social TV app is basically similar to the Samsung Social hub found on their smartphones. The intention is to integrate all social networks in one but, unfortunately and for some odd reason, we never managed to login. We tried and failed at least 20 times. There could have been some problem with the Samsung server as the login required a registration process.
The AP news ticker is probably the most innovative app on the Smart TV. This one is truly smart. It basically generates a news bar at the bottom of the screen while the TV is running. It updates stories in real time. It also gives you the option to get more detailed stories, as the app open a translucent window where the TV would still be visible. This one is for all news agencies - Reuters, AFP please take note.
The Accuweather app is like full-blown 55-inch version of their Android app,works exactly like its Android cousin.
There is also a Google Talk app. After the painful login process, we had to type messages on the dreaded remote. But aside from that, the interface was quite snappy.
Just like the social hub, the Twitter and Facebook apps refused to open.
Interestingly, Samsung also provides a Picasa app, which syncs to ones Gmail account and shows off the entire library of images on the beautiful display.
-USB playback quality
The D8000 comes with 3 USB ports and has the ability to natively handle popular video formats such as DivX, .Avi, Mpeg-4. As usual, there is no support for the popular High Definition formats. The video processing was top notch and we did not face any lags. Even for audio playback through USB, quality was very good and the D8000 had no difficulty in playing mp3, wma, AAC files.
There is no doubt that the Samsung D8000 Smart TV boasts of stunning design and also class leading picture quality. However, the Smart TV element remains a novelty. The web browsing experience is very poor, partially due to the omission of a keyboard. The apps currently available for the TV are basically larger versions of mobile apps. The interface is not optimized for the remote and, except the Associate Press app, we see no real innovation. Another problem with the Smart TV is the dearth of India-centric content.
The D8000 will make your jaw drop with its awe inspiring design, and the same can be said about its picture quality but the Smart TV functionality will just give you more bragging rights than some real functionality. We will definitely recommend it if you have an extra Rs 2,49,990 in the kitty. Remember, that's a lot of money but, then again, you will not find more stunning visual treat.
Super slim Bezel
Brilliant Picture quality
3D with depth of field control
Poor Web Browser
No Keyboard and Mouse
Smart TV interface not optimized for remote control
Limited content for Smart TV
· Performance: 4
· Price: 2.5
· Ease of Setup: 3
· Ergonomics: 4
· Wow Factor: 5