(Pocket-lint) - Ask Samsung and it will tell you that curved is very much where you should be with televisions. Having pushed the curved display as the next big thing after 3D - which is a feature incidentally absent from the KS9500 - the company still rates its flagship sets as curved.
The Samsung KS9500, at 65-inches as reviewed here, is very much the flagship of the 4K family; if not the head of the house for 4K TVs as a whole - because it's that good.
Sure, if you don't like curved TVs then you probably shouldn't be reading this review, but if you're unsure then you almost certainly should because this could be the premier 4K TV to change your mind.
Samsung KS9500 review: Design
Although the curve is the biggest talking point of the KS9500, once you have a curved TV in your home, you probably won't notice it. When it's off, sure, you might look down on it or up at it and see that curved shape, but once you're sitting in front of it you'll barely notice the bend.
What will standout is the narrow silver trim that runs around the bezel, giving a lift to the visuals and matching the sophisticated metal looks of the stand. Unlike some models, the Samsung KS9500 opts to have the stand in the centre which is very much our preference, and the execution of this stand gives a look as though the TV is almost hanging in mid-air.
There are clips to keeps cables tidy and the off-board One Connect box assists in keeping things clean on the back of the TV, too. It reduces the number of cables you need to connect to it - but more on that later.
The KS9500 exhibits what Samsung calls "360-degree design", in that it looks pretty good from all angles. That's not unique: unlike TVs of a few years ago, the back now gets as much design attention as the front, as though it's only ever going to sit in the centre of a huge loft apartment, rather than stuffed into the corner of your lounge.
The back is plastic, although the brushed texture gives it a lift; this is a thick television, however, because of the direct illumination that this flagship set offers.
Compared to a something like LG's OLED C6 this Samsung is perhaps not the best-looking curved TV around because, if we're being critical, the build quality could be higher to make the joints tighter. But in reality, once installed, that probably doesn't matter - because what you see on screen looks fantastic.
As for the remotes, the KS9500 comes equipped with two fairly standard ones that you get with most Samsung smart TVs. There's a normal remote and a smart remote, the latter designed to be universal and allow you control basic functions of other devices.
Samsung KS9500 review: Connections and setup
Samsung keeps things simple when it comes to connections, using its One Connect box. This takes the physical connections off the back of the TV and puts them in a separate box. That's hugely convenient for those wall-mounting as there's very little need to scramble around the back once it's mounted - you just need the Ethernet cable, power and the One Connect cable.
There is the option to connect a USB to the rear - to use recording functions from the TV's in-built tuner, for example - but otherwise the mainstay of connections is on the One Connect box.
Those connections include four HDMI ports, all of which are equipped for UHD 4K (HDCP 2.2 compliant), so there's no shortage of space for connections. There are also tuner connections, for your aerial, as well as optical audio and USB connections.
There is also built-in Wi-Fi and we've found this stable enough to stream 4K Netflix, YouTube and other entertainment - although we'd always advise a wired Ethernet connection to avoid any wireless vagaries once permanently installed in your home.
Samsung has streamlined setup on its TVs, with the 2016 models simpler in their menus than previous models. Once you're connected, it will run through and try to setup connect devices too, giving you the option to take advantage of the smart controller.
Samsung KS9500 review: User interface and smart features
We've mentioned that Samsung's menus are now simpler and that's a good thing, as it's easy to find your way around and tweak various elements, like the picture settings. Things aren't quite as slick from Samsung's Tizen-based platform as they are on LG's webOS televisions, but there's little to complain about as it's easy enough to find your way around.
The major navigation element is the bottom ribbon that will offer up your connected devices and services with a punch of the home button, meaning you can very easily get to what you want to watch. You can customise parts of this ribbon, adding your favourite channels to save hunting through the electronic programme guide (EPG), for example, as well as auto-populating this area with recently-watched content or recommendations from services you sign-in to, like Netflix, as well as the option to add extra apps.
The EPG is rather basic and, although it offers timeshift and recording functions once you connect a compatible USB drive, there's no backwards browsing as you'll find in the Freeview Play or YouView EPGs of major competitors from Panasonic and Sony, respectively. For the UK that sets it behind the best, although that will only bother you if you're using the internal tuner; equally, although BBC iPlayer and ITV Player are offered, we found no sign of All4 or Demand 5, leaving a small UK catch-up hole (which will probably be fixed in the future via firmware update).
That regional quirk aside, one of the big things that Samsung offers is bags of features. Like the company's smartphones, its televisions are stuffed with just about everything you could want. There's the full suite of subscription streaming apps, including important things like Netflix and Amazon, meaning you have a source of rich 4K and some HDR (high dynamic range) content. That's what this TV is really all about.
In terms of other functions, you can cast to the KS9500 from your Samsung phone, as well as transfer the picture back to your phone, which is a lot of fun - although, perhaps not that useful in the bigger picture of things.
Samsung KS9500 review: Performance
When you're buying a flagship-level TV, the most important thing comes down to performance and picture quality.
Firstly, dealing with the curve is one aspect of the KS9500. There's something of a sweet spot; like a driver's car, this is a movie watcher's TV and you'll want to be front and centre with the TV at the right height to experience its full magnificence.
It's head-on that Samsung's moth eye filter does its best to cut out strange reflections. However, if you happen to be the person sitting at an oblique angle then you'll see the downside of curved TVs: the potential to pull a stretched reflection across that display. Equally, if you view from too high or too low, you might see some banding or discolouration that you don't get head-on.
The story behind Samsung's flagship TVs is very much about Quantum Dots. This is a layer of nano particles designed to boost the colours that this display will show, with Samsung saying that Quantum Dots and the 10-bit LED panel behind results in 64 times the colours of a normal TV. It is wonderfully rich in colour, we must say.
The other side of the story is HDR. Even before we mention the 4K resolution, the KS9500 is an HDR master. Fire up content on Ultra HD Blu-ray and you'll be rewarded with some of the most impressive pictures you'll get in your home. Samsung's big boast is about the potency on its HDR system and that rings true: this TV will give you incredibly bright points, while darker areas are smoothly integrated.
We've watched Marco Polo on Netflix many times in 4K HDR and we've never seen it as rich and vibrant as Samsung delivers it on the KS9500. This is a TV for those craving and pursuing HDR content, be that from disc or streaming sources, and no doubt future games consoles too (PS4 Pro, we're looking at you).
Hook up the KS9500 to the Samsung UBD-K8500 UHD Blu-ray player and once the TV detects that HDR source it takes over (which is a more elegant solution than Panasonic and others have managed with 4K automation). This pumps the backlight all the way up to give it the potential to deliver its dazzling visuals, as well as disabling some of the other advanced picture settings. With Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, the high resolution, the impact of the HDR and the slightly increased immersion of that curve when sat in the sweetspot will dispel any qualms you might have, whether that be about curved TVs, HDR or Ultra HD Blu-ray.
You can change some settings around HDR if you really want to, but if you're watching a standard Blu-ray, you'll find the TV behaves differently. That's important to get the most of our every source of content and being able to have different picture settings for different inputs is important to make the very best of type of content you're watching.
When you step away from the top quality levels things get slightly more difficult and need a little more tweaking. Blu-ray still looks very good, although DVD on this size of display will start to look very soft - unless you're some distance away from the screen, of course, which negates much of the point of its ultra-high resolution. Broadcast HD TV channels are perfectly watchable, too, but you'll start to lose things like fidelity in the blacks that can lead to some odd visual effects. If you've got Sky Q then there's now some 4K content and sport available.
Streaming lower-quality Now TV content coming from an Xbox One, we found that we had to change the HDMI black level and make better use of Samsung's Smart LED system, otherwise black hair just became a textureless hole fringed in red smears. But with tweaking you can clean up most evils, which is where independent source controls becomes so important. That in itself shows that a panel such as this will highlight imperfections all the more; stick with premium content for the premium experience.
The result is that the KS9500 is a hugely capable TV, one that certainly can deliver some of the best images we've ever seen. Naturally, HDR is its realm and although we've seen some wonderful black handling from LG's curved C6 OLED (and superb colours), Samsung can deliver greater brightness which means the KS9500 often looks more impactful.
Samsung also offers a 10-year screen burn warranty on this panel, so if you're worried it won't last until you want to upgrade to that 101-inch 16K TV in 2026, rest assured it will.
Samsung KS9500 review: Sound
One of the changes that Samsung made when re-speccing its flagship curved TV for 2016 was in the audio. The KS9500 offers 4.2-channel speakers and they are designed to fire forward for better delivery. Here's where having a slightly thinker TV pays dividends: as these internal speakers are actually pretty good and ideal for a minimalist setup.
The likelihood is that you'll be hooking up to an existing sound system, or perhaps venturing into the Dolby Atmos-equipped Samsung HW-K950 soundbar that would complement it wonderfully.
Samsung offers a lot of TVs at a lot of different price points. From the first step on the Quantum Dot HDR ladder with the KS7000 up to this KS9500, we've seen impressive specs across the lineup. But the KS9500 really makes its mark.
Flagship televisions at this size aren't cheap, but the KS9500 isn't left lacking in among the competition. Priced at around £3,000 for the 65-inch model, but also available in 78-inches for around £6,500, the most obvious alternative option would be LG's OLED C6, which is around £3,800 for the 65-inch model.
What the Samsung KS9500 delivers beyond all its rivals is visual punch. Sure, the build could be more substantial and the EPG could be more dynamic, but for many who hook up a Sky Q box or similar, that will never be an issue. And when you see just how vibrant and bright the KS9500's images are, you'll quickly see why it's the kind of HDR.
If you're in the market for a big-league 4K HDR curved TV, to overlook this Samsung would be foolish. And if curved isn't your thing then the KS9000 ought to equally appease your HDR appetite (in the UK this screen is also curved; so you'll want to look towards the KS8000 instead).