Samsung UN55C9000 Ultra-Thin 3D HDTV

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Product: Samsung UN55C9000 Ultra-Thin 3D HDTV
Provided By: Samsung

Price: Find Lowest Price Online Here

 

Introduction:

Today we are looking at the latest evolution in flat-panel TVs from Samsung.  This Korean-based company has been of the market leaders in new TV technology and the 9000-Series is just another way that they are showing the world what is possible with technology.  This TV is thinner than an iPhone and as you'll see in the review, while it is small in depth, it certainly has enough features to make it stand out in a room.

We say this TV debuted last January at CES 2010 in Las Vegas and are pleased to see that Samsung was able to bring it to market with all the style, features and curb appeal that we saw almost a year ago.  After taking a look at this TV with our initial impressions, things just got better and better as we used it over the past couple of weeks.  Without further blather, let's jump into the initial impressions.

 

First Impression:

While the TV is supposed to be very thin, the box certainly isn't.  This box ranks among the largest 55" TV boxes we've see and when you realize how important it is to protect the ultra-thin TV inside - it makes sense.  Also included with the TV are a few extra accessories that typically don't ship with a standard TV.  One of these is a wall-mount that we'll show briefly a little later on.

Box
Box
Protected
Protected

 

Even with the plastic/foam wrap on the TV, you just can't get a good idea of how thin and beautiful this TV is.  Once you take off the protective layer, you see the beauty that is the UN55C9000 in all her glory.

Front Boxed
Full Frontal
Rear Boxed
Backside

 

Now you can get a better idea of what this TV is about.  At CES 2010 we weren't able to see where the inputs were located.  I assumed they'd be on the back, but as you can see in the image above (right) - there is no place for inputs.  The TV is too thin...  This is interesting for sure.

Before we take a closer look at the TV and some of the accessories, I encourage you to take a quick peak at the Qik video I made when i originally set up the TV.

 

 

One thing I noticed when I took the TV out of the box was that it could be a little "flexible".  This is not a great thing and is in fact rather scary when you are bending a 55" panel.  That is partly what the Wall Mount Plate is for on the back.  It also acts as a stiffener plate to keep the screen from flexing and breaking.  Good call.

Rear View
Wall Mount Plate + Stiffener

 

Bundled Goodies:

Most of the time a TV bundle includes a remote; and maybe an HDMI cable if you're really lucky.  The UN55C9000 comes with enough goodies to almost be worth buying by themselves.  I'm sure that it's this bundle that adds some cost to the package, but it worth it and enhances the usefulness and features of the TV.

Bundle
Big Bundle
Wall Mount
Wall Mount Kit


The bundle includes an incredible 3" touch-screen remote that could almost feature in its own review.  We'll cover more on that on the next pages, but for now, let's just say...holy cattle.  Also included in the bundle are a couple of USB WiFi dongles as well as a right-angle connector so that if you decide to wall-mount the unit you'll be able to connect it to your network and the internet.  Samsung is very serious about getting this TV on the network and provides several ways to do this - including a wired 10/100 Ethernet jack.

In addition to the network connector, we also find some cable management clips, a 110v to USB adapter and cable to charge the remote and its Lithium-Ion battery. There isn't much place for extra component connections so Samsung included some cables that allow you to connect one Component device.  Other than the above-mentioned hardware, we also find a ton of manuals that will help us setup and figure out how all of this works.

The Wall Mount Kit is another interesting beast and if you plan on mounting this TV to the wall, allow yourself plenty of time to figure it out and follow along in the installation manual.  The end result is elegant, but it is time-consuming.  We were happy to place it on our TV stand in the living room.

On the next page we'll take a closer look at the unit and cover the features before we post up the specs and get into the testing.


 

Closer Look:

You really don't have any idea of how thin it is until you see it first-hand.  There are almost no words to describe how amazingly thin this unit is.  It's thinner than an anorexic model and in fact is almost 2D in physical appearance.  It is because of this incredible thinness that the inputs are located in the base of the unit.  This will have to be removed and repositioned if you decide to wall mount the unit.  There should be enough inputs to keep most people happy - unless you're still living in the Component video age and have multiple products that require that connection.

 

 

In terms of thin; yeah, it is.

Ultra Thin
Ultra Thin
Phone Comparison
Thinner than Nexus One

 

 

Features:

The following information has all been pulled from the Samsung product page and posted here for your convenience.  If you need more information, please head on over to the product page and get all the details.  We've posted only a few here for your convenience.

The new flagship Samsung LED TV Series 9 has achieved breakthrough bezel design combined with LED technology to achieve an even more sculptural shape, delivering an 0.3” razor thin frame. As the slimmest TV ever, its advanced features such as Auto Motion Plus 240 Hz, Ultra Clear Panel, Mega Contrast, Wide Colour Enhancer Plus, and Samsung LED TV HyperReal™ Engine, allow the Series 9 to deliver the optimal crisp and realistic images - all while being extremely energy efficient. Its enhanced multimedia capabilities include the new Full HD 3D feature, letting you enjoy powerful 3D images in the comfort of your home. The Internet@TV suite, ConnectShare Movie™, and four HDMI inputs allow your TV to be the centre of your entertainment world. And you can even create a wireless home network with AllShare™ DLNA Certified™ technology, allowing you to wirelessly connect with compatible devices. Plus, the new series 9 LED TV line up not only meets the latest ENERGY STAR® certification criteria, it sets a new standard for eco-efficiency.

Set your sights on a new dimension
At 0.3”, experience a television with razor slim depth and brushed metal bezel.  This premium profile-slimming technology makes it extremely lightweight and can easily be mounted.  A new dimension in television picture so vivid and real that your eyes won’t believe what they’re seeing.


Inspired design
Samsung’s Brushed Titanium reveals a natural, sculpture-like finish.  The metallic bezel alters subtle colour tones to blend with its environment.  Featuring auto slide touch control, adding an ultramodern feel.

The ultimate experience
3D HyperReal™ Engine delivers breathtaking images that your eyes won’t believe.  Mega Dynamic Contrast delivers the most vibrant range of colours and brightness - from pure blacks to pristine whites.  The rich, realistic texture of Full HD images invites you to enjoy a viewing that redefines reality.

Touch screen remote
3” LCD screen on your Touch Control lets you view two channels at once.  Control all your AV devices with the world’s most desirable universal remote.  With PC Share Manager you can view your digital files from your PC; in style and in beautiful HD.

Go beyond your TV
Internet@TV brings the online world to your Samsung TV with apps like YouTube™.  Wirelessly connect with DLNA Certified™ mobile devices to share movies, photos and music all through your TV.  Prepare yourself for a visual journey into a new dimension

 

On the next page we'll post up the specifications before we jump into testing.

 

 

Specifications:

Once again, the following information has all been pulled from the Samsung product page and posted here for your convenience.  If you need more information, please head on over to the product page and get all the details.

 Specs

 

On the next page we'll cover some of the basic features and functions of the remote control before we head into the TV testing.

 

Remote Overview:

The remote has a few physical buttons including power, volume up/down, channel up/down as well as mute and source.  Other than that all of the remote functions take place on the 3" touchscreen that we've pictured below.  My wife is not a fan of the remote as she has a hard time getting any mobile device's touchscreen to work consistently for her.  I find it great as I'm a fan of the touchscreen and this just makes the bundle that much better for me.

The downside to the touchscreen of course is the fact that the battery life on the remote is horrible.  I had to charge it every 2-3 days in order to keep it rocking.  This is also with pretty light use.  If you're a heavy remote user, you'll probably have to charge it every night - especially if you use features like channel preview, media play and more on the remote itself.

The Remote offers touch-screen "D-Pad" navigation as well as the ability to enter TV channels by number.  If you swipe your finger sideways on the screen, you get another screen full of more TV controls, options and menu functions.

TV Navigation
TV Navigation
More TV Control
More TV Control
Satellite Control
Satellite Control

 

Some of you that are gamers and programmers may be familiar with "Macros", but for many other people this is a new idea.  A Macro is a pre-defined set of instructions that may have pauses, numbers, and other button presses involved.  Some gaming keyboards give you the ability to program macros in order to help with your game, but this is a first for a remote control - at least that I've seen.

As you can also see below, there are a whole host of other services such as Internet@TV, Media Play, 3D Features, Yahoo! Widgets, Channel List, Favorite Channels, Picture Size, Closed Captioning, MTS Surround and the ability to add extra services such as remote controls, devices and more.

Remote Settings
Remote Settings
Services
Services
Additional Services
Additional Services

 

The TV and the remote both have Media Play functionality where you can play back photos, music or video from a connected DLNA compatible device or from a PC connected to the network.  This is a nice tough - although playback on the remote - while cool, is really not that useful when you can view it on a 55" screen instead.  Still, this is a pretty cool feature.

Media Play
Media Play
On-Screen Keyboard
On-Screen Keyboard

 

One thing that can be very handy with a remote like this is a touch screen keyboard and while the screen is a little small for this, you can actually rotate the remote on its side and the keyboard will auto-rotate to a landscape mode providing large keys and a more roomy interface.  That's right - the remote even has accelerometers in order to allow this feature.  If it were this simple to input text on the TV, I'd be a super happy man.

On the next page we'll take a look at the TV menus, setup and features of this TV before as we begin testing the UN55C9000.

 

TV Menus:

While the TV certainly works out of the box, you can hop into the Picture, Audio and Sources menus to tweak things to your liking.  I really like the Anynet+ and HDMI-CEC features that automatically switch to the appropriate device when it is powered on.  This makes things easier and requires one less step when switching from the X360 to a Blu-Ray movie.  As you can see, there are several DLNA devices connected.

Out of the box, the TV is set to Dynamic Mode and this actually tones down the brightness and offers a very vivid picture.  Samsung hasn't boosted the color and saturation of this device through the roof in order to make it appear eye-catching and if you wanted it brighter and more vivid, there is room for that.  Still, out of the box settings worked just fine.

Picture Mode
Picture Mode
Audio Mode
Audio Mode
Sources
Sources

 

More Than TV:

I can remember a time when a TV was used for watching VHS or Over-The-Air broadcasts - and that was it.  Today, a TV is used for so much more from so many more sources.  As I stated before, Samsung seems desperate to get this TV on the network as they provide Ethernet and wireless dongles for any and every situation.  This is to access features like DLNA media, Yahoo Widgets that include News, Weather, Stocks, Flickr and more.

Yahoo Widget
Yahoo Widget
 Yahoo News
Yahoo News
Flickr Viewer
Flickr Viewer

 

Other options for content display include Internet@TV which is a portal that allows you to easily view content from a myriad of sources including, Youtube, Rovi, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo!, Associated Press, AccuWeather, Daily Motion, Google Maps, Picasa, USA Today as well as a bunch of Samsung Apps.  It is incredible what you can do with this - including Netflix - without an additional device.

Internet@TV
Internet@TV
Media Play
Media Play
More Media Play
All Share

 

The Media Play functionality allows you to play media from your connected device and breaks it down into Video, Music and Photos.  It doesn't appear that the music playback will show cover art and that is kind of a bummer as that is often the quickest way to identify what album or artist you're looking for.  The TV loads up the folders at an acceptable speed.  It's not super-fast, and perhaps they could make some improvements on refresh speed in the future, but it does get the job done.

Media Play Main
Media Play Main
Browse Music
Browse Music
Play Music
Play Music

 

Supported file formats include *.mp3, *.ac3, *.WMA, *.AAC as well as *.AVI, *.MKV, *.ASF, *.WMV, *.MP4, *.3GP, *.VRO as well as DivX and Xvid codecs and a few others.  It had no trouble playing back everything I threw at it - except direct Blu-Ray rips.

On the next page we'll take a closer look some technical stuff before we jump into subjective 3D analysis.

 

A Word About Testing:

In everything we try to be fair, accurate and as objective as possible when it comes to testing hardware.  In the past, LCD reviews were done completely subjectively, but we have purchased some equipment that takes some of this out of the equation.  Take a look at our LCD Testing methodology over here to get a better idea of how we test LCDs.

 

Color Accuracy: 

Normally we have time to setup and work with the color accuracy using an LCD Spyder, but due to time restraints we were unable to perform this test.  The color does appear to be quite accurate and not over-saturated as stated before.

 

Contrast Ratio & Uniformity: 

With the display now showing "perfect", we proceeded to take our contrast readings.  With the display calibrated we set out to find the "real" contrast ratio of the MD230. 

 Black Spot
White Spot
Contrast Ratio
0.14 461 3292:1

 

The contrast ratio of this TV is excellent, and even with Dynamic Contrast enabled we are seeing some pretty high ratios when displaying full black, then full white screen on the TV.  It hits almost 3300:1 and that is probably the best we've ever seen.

 

We use our luminance meter in a dark environment to measure brightness uniformity.  To measure brightness, we use a bright white screen and measure across the screen in a grid to get our readings.  The brightest spot is considered to be 100% and the blackest point (with a black screen) is considered to be reference 0%.  The other values are obtained by calculating the difference between the two.  The screen is often brightest near the center.

3D-Chart.jpg
3D Lighting Uniformity
2D Chart
2D Lighting Uniformity

 

As you can see the backlight drops off in certain areas of the display, and actually drops almost 24% off the brightest point.  While that may sound like a lot, often other "premium" displays from other companies can vary as much as 30%.  The Samsung UN55C9000 comes in with a maximum 23.4% variation - which isn't great, but isn't too bad for a huge, yet razor thin 55" display.

 

3D Viewing:

In order to view 3D content, you'll need to have some Samsung Active Shutter glasses for everyone that wants to enjoy the depth and experience of 3D.  Samsung was kind enough to ship a 3D Blu-Ray player as well as a 3D Movie (Monsters vs. Aliens) for us to test this out.  One thing that I enjoyed was the ability to turn any 2D content into 3D by way of forcing the TV to display run its 3D algorithms on the content in real-time.  This actually produced a pretty decent effect for watching NFL, NHL and some Oasis HD.  Overall, the depth and feel wasn't as great as an actual 3D movie, but it was still pretty decent for sure.  Honestly, forcing 3D in 2D programs was better than I expected.

Enable 3D
Enable 3D
3D Type
3D Type

 

Monsters vs. Aliens had some pretty epic scenes that make you dodge, duck and jump if you're getting into the movie.  The 3D experience was pretty cool for sure.  My kids sure enjoyed taking turns with the glasses.

 

 

Conclusion:

If you've listened to Weekly Tech Update, you already know what I personally think of 3D TV.  I think that the technology is promising but is still in its infancy.  While I do appreciate the effect and that the effect is actually very good, the problem currently lies in implementation.  It requires active glasses in order to make it work best with full resolution.  These glasses are not cheap, nor are they compatible with other systems.  This makes it very expensive.

That being said, I can't let personal preference and bias affect my overall view of the UN55C9000 TV.  The reality is that this TV is beautiful, elegant and exquisitely thin.  It is certainly a technological marvel, a work of art and one of the nicest looking pieces of furniture in my house.  The picture quality is great, and although the brightness measures in at just over a 23% fall off, you can't tell it by looking at it - the luminance meter tells the story.

If you don't have broadband internet or a robust home network, many of this TVs features will be lost on you.  Media Play, Yahoo Widgets, Internet@TV, Samsung Apps and more all require a decent internet connection to fully appreciate what the 9000 Series can do for you.  Once you combine all that functionality with a great picture experience - both in 2D and 3D, you've got a winner.

The remote is also a masterpiece.  It offers more functions and features than my old TV itself.  This is certainly an added value to the expensive bundle.  In the end though you are paying a huge premium for such a thin TV.  If you can afford it, it will certainly turn heads and give you the status that goes along with thin TVs, fast cars and fancy gadgets.

Pros:

  • Ultra thin TV
  • Includes ultra-thin wall mount kit
  • Touchscreen remote
  • Upconverts 2D to 3D very well
  • Full network media support
  • Apps, Widgets and Internet@TV
  • Very good image quality 
  • 4 HDMI inputs + Component

 

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Not all remote features work with Cable or Satellite

 

 BCCRating

 Gold

Even though this TV is very expensive here in Canada, it is a "Gold" Editors Choice product because of the many features, functions and aesthetics of this unit.  I'd like to thank Samsung for sending it our way for a review.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post in the forum at the "Comments" link below.