(Pocket-lint) - Say what you like about Samsung's recent fortunes, there's no shortage of top choices when it comes to choosing an excellent 4K HDR TV - that's ultra-high definition and high dynamic range, to hit the two televisual must-haves for 2016.
From the top-of-the-line curved KS9500 down to the more affordable flat-panel KS7000, all of Samsung's tellies offer great design and great performance. The KS8000 sits in the middle of this selection.
In a sense it's the upper middle class of the range. Gifted in many areas, well connected, it's ideal for the sort of person who can't justify the expense of the top-tier, but would rather not pick from the lower.
How does the Samsung KS8000 differ from the KS7000 and KS9000?
- Premium 360 design
- Practical Y-shaped stand to centre
There's one area that the KS8000 hits big in and that's in design. This is a good looking television - even better looking (in the physical sense) than Samsung's top TVs, because it uses an edge-lit panel rather than direct-lit, so it's nice and slim. It could easily be the centrepiece for any room.
The back is plastic but nicely textured and paired with the glossy chrome of the stand for a premium look. Unlike the KS7000, the KS8000 gets a stand that stems from the centre of the TV rather than the edge, which we much prefer: it's easier to find something to stand it on.
A slim brushed aluminium bezel frames the TV and gives it a premium look, but avoiding a glossy finish means it doesn't show up the inevitable dust that gathers on it.
The KS8000 is available in 49, 55, 65 and 75-inch sizes, seeing a variance in price from £1,299 for the smallest, all the way up to £3,699 for the biggest.
The leap of £1,600 from the 65-inch model to the 75-inch seems a little dramatic. Ignore the very biggest model and it's aggressively priced though.
Samsung KS8000 review: Connections and setup
- One Connect external box
- 4x HDMI, 3x USB, Optical audio
- Wired and wireless networking
The Samsung KS8000 offers what the company calls a One Connect box. This separate box holds all the connection ports, but isn't fixed to the back of the TV so it doesn't use up loads of space. You'll find this on a number of the company's premium models and we think it's a nifty feature.
It brings with it a number of advantages. Firstly, it makes it very easy to connect and disconnect your devices if you're planning to wall-mount your TV, or just put it in a tight corner. You simply connect to the box, which can be in an easily accessible place.
Secondly, it means you don't have a mass unsightly cables draped across your room connecting to your TV. Although, it must be said, that the Ethernet connection for a wired network is still on the TV, rather than the One Connect box, and Samsung has placed it on the opposite side to the power cable, so it's not all plain sailing.
There are also two USB 2.0 connections on the One Connect box, as well as third on the TV itself; an optical connection allows for hook-up to audio equipment and there are connections for the aerial, to use the TV's internal tuner.
The KS8000 offers Wi-Fi and we've found this is mostly stable enough for video streaming services, including those 4K HDR offerings from Netflix or Amazon Video. Many AV fans may prefer to hardwire the TV via Ethernet, but if you're a more casual streamer with good home Wi-Fi, fear not the wireless connection.
The KS8000 will automatically detect devices you connect to it and attempt to setup the Smart remote control, so you can use one controller for most of your devices. In most cases, the KS8000 will name the connected device and identify it by HDMI connection, so it's easy to open up the inputs ribbon, see the Xbox and select it, for example.
What services and apps does the Samsung KS8000 have?
- Tizen user interface
- Amazon, Netflix and other streaming apps
- Smartphone and Bluetooth support
Samsung has been packing its televisions with features for a long time - and this latest generation of smart TV really pulls together a lot of experience.
The user interface presents an easy-to-use system, simplified over older versions so there's less to confuse. Switching inputs becomes easy, as is finding and resuming content from the included services like Netflix or Amazon Video.
The onboard tuner is reasonable although the electronic programme guide (EPG) isn't anything to get excited about. We suspect that many choosing a TV like the KS8000 will also pay for a premium TV services like Sky Q, but if you don't then you'll be well served by the Freeview offering available here.
Perhaps more interesting for fans of Ultra HD content will be the streaming services we've already mentioned. Samsung has been good in offering support for the latest 4K HDR content and this really makes use of the TV's native skills.
For smartphone fans there's a whole lot more to explore with supporting apps. Those with a Samsung phone like the Galaxy S7 edge will enjoy the freedom to also watch simultaneously on the phone.
That means you can hunt for something you want on Netflix, hit the cast button and send it to the TV. This uses the rarely-mentioned DIAL protocol, with the TV then picking up the programme and playing it - in glorious 4K HDR too, if it's available. This also works with YouTube and we suspect that when YouTube HDR hits Samsung's TVs it'll work in the same way.
How bright is the Samsung KS8000 for HDR?
We've reviewed a number of Samsung SUHD TVs in 2016 and they all have one thing in common: brightness. That's not a bad thing in the world of HDR, because it's that peak brightness that helps drive these TVs with such spectacular performance.
For those not clued up about high dynamic range, we've covered it in great detail elsewhere, but the idea is to widen the range of colours on offer while supercharging the contrast (i.e. the number of visible levels between dark and light, including brighter brights than standard definition is capable). Combined with the super-sharp 4K resolution of this panel, it's a visual treat when you're feeding the KS8000 Ultra HD Blu-ray content.
- Best Ultra HD Blu-ray players: Spinning 4K discs
- What is HDR, what TVs support HDR, and what HDR content can I watch?
Hooked up to Samsung's K8500 Blu-ray player and the full force of this display swings into action. It's all about jaw-dropping colour and wonderful contrast, pushed by that impressive brightness. According to Samsung's figures, the KS8000 is incrementally better than the KS7000 and step down from the KS9500 which offers the best overall performance. In reality, it's difficult to not be blown away by this TV, even if it's not the very best in the company's range.
That slight step down from the direct-lit top-of-the-range model does manifest itself in some slight unevenness in illumination across the panel, so occasionally you'll find some areas of black aren't quite as black as others, as the light it casts from the sides spreads across the screen. That can also lead to lighter edges, but you'll only really notice in dark scenes.
You're still rewarded with deep blacks and vibrant colours, a richness that will make content look good and - even once you step away from the best content from optical disc or streaming - you'll still find that broadcast TV in HD still looks great.
Appropriately, motion is well handled once you wrestle control away from the default auto settings. Some may also find that the brightness gets a little too bright and want to knock it down a notch, but that's more of an issue for the slightly brighter high-spec sets like the KS9500.
Overall, the performance of this KS8000 is a touch more impressive than the KS7000 that we also rate highly. The KS8000 wins with its better stand and a design, making it slightly more attractive. So if you're happy to spend a few more hundred pounds to get those things it's very much worth it.
- Samsung KS7000 SUHD TV review: Serious performance for the price
- Samsung KS9500 4K TV review: Sweet HDR, pitched on a curve
Does the Samsung KS8000 sound good?
Where many modern thin TVs lose out is in their audio delivery. A slim design doesn't give speakers room to drive the soundtrack, but the KS8000 is actually pretty capable.
That's thanks to the 4.1 channel arrangement of speakers with 60W power. Sure, it lacks the bass of a dedicated subwoofer that really sets off a movie soundtrack, but there's a richness to everyday audio that will save you from the sort of thin sound that plagues many thin TVs.
In reality, if you're asking us, it's rude not to pair a display of this quality with a sound system to deliver the A in your AV setup. But that's extra cash, so you might want to do that later down the line.
The Samsung KS8000 is a great choice of TV if you're looking for great image quality and smooth delivery of a range of connected services. Priced as it is, with the 65-inch model available for just under £2,000, there's a lot of TV for the money.
Samsung has a degree of consistency across its sets. While the 8000 set doesn't quite reach the heady highs of the very best LCD sets of 2016, it's available at much more attractive prices. Equally, while the blacks won't compete with those that LG is offering through its OLED range, again, Samsung wins on the price front.
Overall, it's difficult not to recommend the Samsung KS8000. If you're looking for a solid companion that's connected, skilled in HDR and attractively designed to carry you into the future of TV, look to the Samsung KS8000. If you're keen for a curved version, then the KS8500 is the equivalent model.
Samsung KS8000: Alternatives to consider
The Panasonic set is a lot fatter than the Samsung, but if you're only going to be looking front-on then it won't matter. There's also a very good reason for this: a honeycomb dimming system that stops light leaks for a more premium image. The price is well balanced too, offering a between sizes 58-inch model for under £2,000.
If you're keen on curved, then a model down in Samsung's range is a sensible proposition - and the "500" version has a subtly curved screen to add to the wow factor. The price is very reasonable too, even if the finish of the stand and lack of separate connections box is less elegant than the KS8000 (or KS8500) one step up.
If you're keen on the blackest of blacks then OLED images are exquisite. As Organic Light Emitting Diodes create their own light source per pixel, there's zero light leak too. The tech is a little more expensive and not nearly as bright as LCD (with LED backlighting), but it's a choice of one or other. Pound for pound, the LG C6 is the closest option to consider.
This one's a bit out there, but if you think bigger is better then this 75-inch behemoth made by HiSense is an absolute bargain. Its images look great, but a lack of brightness won't achieve anything like the Samsung range. It depends if HDR if the single biggest reason that you're looking to buy into a new TV.