(Pocket-lint) - According to Samsung, the 65-inch JS9500 is more than just a UHD TV; it's an SUHD TV. It's tempting to imagine that the extra S stands for "super", although Super Ultra High-Definition might sound a bit much, and Samsung's marketing division is keen to deny this - suggesting enigmatically that it can stand for what you want it to stand for… oooh.

What can be said with some degree of certainty, though, is that Samsung's 4K SUHD TVs - the category also applies to its JS9000 and JS8500 series - enjoy a pretty fearsome level of specification.

As 4K TVs go, does the JS9500 and its SUHD moniker have more going for it than the competition?

Samsung JS9500 4K TV review: Nano nano

For starters the SUHD tellies use new Nano Crystal technology to deliver a colour range that's reckoned to reach 92 per cent of the DCI-P3 colour spectrum used in commercial digital cinemas. This expanse of colour is driven out of the screen, moreover, by a new ultra-bright panel design capable of peaking at 1000 nits - the highest figure available on a 2015 TV.

These two picture elements are essential to the TV delivering another key feature: high dynamic range (HDR) video. If you're not familiar with HDR, it's a new picture format that contains a much wider luminance range than you get with the old home video standards we've been stuck with for so many decades.

Unlocking this HDR video capability, though, requires a screen capable of delivering a wider than typical luminance range - which is where Samsung's key screen innovations serve it well. It's really blown us away how good HDR looks - but more on that later.


Samsung UE65JS9500 review: Processing power

Samsung has developed a new octa-core video processing system too, ready to handle the immense processing demands associated with the UE65JS9500's native 4K UHD pixel count (3840 x 2160) and new HDR light and colour demands.

This processing engine even includes the facility to not only up-convert HD sources to the screen's UHD resolution, but also expand non-HDR content's colour and luminance range to something approaching HDR.

In order to deliver the sort of brightness Samsung has been able to hit with the JS9500 without ruining the brand's usually impressive black level/contrast performance credentials, the UE65JS9500 uses an advanced backlight system that allows for independent control of well over a hundred separate zones of the LEDs positioned directly behind its screen.

This combination of local dimming and direct rather than edge lighting boosts contrast considerably (compared to if it was just an edge-LED system), as well as allowing Samsung to deliver the brightness peaks associated with HDR without pushing power consumption too high (since it can deliver more power to very bright areas while sending less to darker bits).

Samsung JS9500 4K TV review: Connectivity

Even the UE65JS9500's connections face the future more determinedly than those of most TVs. It uses an external box to house both its connections and processing power that can be replaced with future iterations in order to let you keep upgrading your TV as new features and even connections come online in the years to come.

This sort of future-proofing certainly has major appeal in today's fast-changing TV times, although the presence of a separate box isn't going to suit all setups as it's yet another thing to put somewhere.

The innovations keep coming with Samsung's all-new Tizen TV operating system. This ditches the cumbersome full-screen menus and static feel of the company's old smart TV platform in favour of a much slicker system.

It makes much more efficient use of the available screen real-estate and introduces lots of animations and handy design features to help shortcut your access to your favourite content. It's reasonably customisable too, and although it takes a bit of getting used to it ultimately proves a pretty good way of navigating the mass of content available to today's TV viewers.


Samsung UE65JS9500 review: Appy days

Samsung supports one of the most comprehensive app collections in the TV world, including the 4K version of Netflix, the 4K/HDR version of Amazon Prime, as well as the key BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, All 4 and Demand 5 catch-up apps.

Since the UE65JS9500 has been built from the ground up to handle HDR, let's kick the main testing phase off by looking at all how Samsung's flagship TV handles the minimal amount of HDR content available to us at the time of writing: clips of Life Of Pi and Exodus: Gods And Kings provided by Samsung, plus Amazon Prime's Mozart In The Jungle TV series.

These two clips look simply incredible. Running them side-by-side against the same clips from Blu-ray delivers differences so pronounced you almost feel like you're watching different films. The extra brightness of the pictures on the UE65JS9500, their far richer colour saturations and the way this extra brightness and colour saturation sits side-by-side with rich, deep black colours results in pictures of far more intensity and dynamism than anything any non-HDR TV has been able to get close to.

Samsung JS9500 4K TV review: Do sweat the small stuff

It's not just the extreme stuff that the UE65JS9500 does superbly, either. The extra luminance range on offer is managed with sufficiently subtlety to ensure the screen delivers gorgeously nuanced colour tones and levels of greyscale finesse and shadow detail you just don't see with non-HDR content.

It has to be said that the Amazon HDR feeds look considerably less impressive, lacking the dynamic range of the movie transfers and looking strangely washed out. But having experienced similar issues when playing Amazon HDR on the LG 65EF950V, this seems to be more a limitation of Amazon's HDR source than anything the TV is doing wrong.

Feeding the standard Blu-rays of the Life of Pi and Exodus into the UE65JS9500 to see how the TV does at injecting new life into these non-HDR sources reveals that while the results aren't as resplendent as native HDR, they still look substantially richer and more dynamic than they would on a standard dynamic range LCD screen. What's more, aside from some occasional crushing of details in dark areas the up-conversion process doesn't cause images to become unnatural.

Samsung UE65JS9500 review: UHD rocks

We're so excited by HDR on the the UE65JS9500 that we haven't even mentioned its Ultra-HD 4K abilities yet. But rest assured they're outstanding, with the extreme colour resolution and powerful light handling joining the raw pixel count and impeccable video processing to deliver images that look incredibly detailed, textured and lifelike - far beyond anything a 65-inch Full HD TV could manage.

While it's now possible to find quite a bit of native 4K content if you subscribe to Amazon Prime and Netflix, for now you'll still be spending a lot of your time watching HD on the UE65JS9500. So it's a relief to find that Samsung's got your back, courtesy of an exceptionally assured and effective upscaling engine that adds detail to HD sources without reducing sharpness or exaggerating source noise.

The good news continues with the UE65JS9500's 3D playback - provided you a) still care about 3D and b) have paid for some of Samsung's active shutter glasses, since rather disappointingly none are provided with purchase of the TV (perhaps a sign that nobody cares about 3D any more).

The screen's intense brightness does a great job of countering the usual dimness you get from wearing active shutter glasses; the extreme contrast performance proves immensely helpful in helping create a large, natural sense of 3D space; and the upscaling of our HD 3D sources is effective enough to make the 3D worlds feel more tangible than they do in mere HD without them looking processed or unnatural.


Samsung JS9500 4K TV review: The niggly bit

So dazzling are the UE65JS9500's pictures in 2D and 3D mode that they almost blind you to any weaknesses Samsung's TV may have. But if you look hard enough you can find a few. One is that, as with all curved screen TVs, if any bright objects are reflected on its screen those reflections are distorted across almost the entire width of the TV, rather than remaining relatively localised as they would be with a flat TV. And the Samsung has a rather reflective coating.

The curve also causes image geometry issues if you have to watch the screen from an angle of more than 20-30 degrees down the TV's sides - though on the upside, as well as providing a slightly more immersive experience if you're sat directly opposite the screen, it's big enough to enable that curved screen sweet spot to hold more potential viewers than you would get with a smaller set.

The other issue is that while the UE65JS9500's direct LED backlighting/local dimming system generally works well, it can occasionally cause distracting light haloes or blooms around very bright objects (like the brightest stars in the night sky above Pi's life boat), especially in HDR mode.


While the Samsung UE65JS9500 isn't quite perfect, if you can install it so that you're not too affected by its reflection issues then its picture strengths far outweigh its flaws.

The JS9500 is a High Dynamic Range master, the brightest screen available in 2015, and it marries a uniquely forward-thinking feature set to make this Samsung flagship feel like the year's most tantalising glimpse into TV's future.

Writing by John Archer.