(Pocket-lint) - While Samsung took to the world's technology shows to demonstrate its QLED family of flagship tellies, the MU range has been more quietly introduced, so you'd be forgiven for not knowing that TVs such as the MU7000 sit a step below QLED in the wider Samsung line-up.
QLED is the third-generation Quantum Dot TV panel technology from Samsung, while the MU uses what Samsung calls Dynamic Crystal Colour. But just because it's a technological step below doesn't mean the MU7000 isn't fully capable. Indeed, it's fully affordable too, which is where its real appeal lies.
Samsung MU7000 review: Design and build
- Hidden cable design
- Feet near edges are a little inflexible
- Available in 49, 55, 65-inch sizes
The MU7000 occupies very much the same position as the KS7000 of 2016 and the first thing to note about the design is the integrated stand. The model has feet toward the edge of the display and doesn't use a central pedestal stand, so you'll need to ensure you have a cabinet or surface that's wide enough to cater for those feet.
The thing we like is that these feet can now just slot into the bottom of the set without the need to screw them in, which can take you from box to watching TV in little time at all.
The MU7000 has also picked up Samsung's love of hiding cables. It doesn't go to the same extreme as the new QLED sets, but it encompasses Samsung's 360 design ethos, using panels on the back to hide the cabling and connections. The cables can also be routed through the feet so they aren't draped all over your stand, as there's a channel off to the right that will hide it so it doesn't just dangle out of the middle.
There are two essential cables you'll need: the power cable and the One Connect cable. The latter cable is a normal fat cable, not the "invisible" cable of premium TVs, but offers the convenience of connecting it to an external One Connect box, which acts as a separate box for plugging in HDMI and the like, rather than needing to drape all your cables up to the back of the TV itself.
Well, it's more like three essential cables. The Ethernet connection, bizarrely, remains on the back of the MU7000 TV rather than in the One Connect box as it is on some other models. Sure, there's Wi-Fi connectivity if you don't want to take this path - but as 4K streamers will know, wired is generally the preferred, faster option.
Aside from that cabling flip-flop, the rear of the TV is finished in a plastic panel that has a brushed texture, so if it's visible then it's not an eyesore. That applies to those looking around the back of the TV. It's a minor point if you're wall mounting, but some TVs are really primitive around the back - and the MU7000 is not.
The front is where you'll be looking, however, and rather like the KS7000 before it, the MU7000 has a silvery bar across the bottom (behind which the LEDs are arrayed) and a chrome edging to the screen. It's minimal in the bezel department for a clean and modern look, if not quite as sophisticated as Samsung's QLED models.
Samsung MU7000 review: Connections and remote
- 4x HDMI, 1x USB
- Wi-Fi and Ethernet
- Optical audio
On the One Connect box there are four HDMI slots, which will be the mainstay of your connections, and all support 4K HDR (high dynamic range) so you have plenty of choices for attaching the latest Ultra-HD devices. You'll have to remember to enable these connections in the settings menu if you are hooking up the latest 4K/HDR-capable kit, as that's still not an automatic function.
One of the HDMI is ARC enabled to cater for audio, plus there's optical audio for those wanting to connect to older AV kit.
The MU7000 comes with two remotes, the standard all-the-buttons remote and a smart remote. The latter comes into its own with Samsung's new setup process, which is now probably the slickest you'll find on a modern TV.
Not only are you gently walked through the setup process, but the devices you attach are automatically identified as the TV attempts to take over control of them and integrate them into its user interface. Part of this process includes setting the smart controller to be able to control them, which works very well indeed.
If you connect an Xbox One, for example, then the TV recognises that, adds the console to the UI ribbon across the bottom of the home screen for easy access and the smart remote gets some control over the Xbox's functions.
It all makes setup and connectivity a breeze. The Ethernet connection's location on the rear of the TV might be a little odd, but that's about all.
Samsung MU7000 review: Performance
- 3840 x 2160 pixels, 10-bit, HDR
- 2.1 channel audio, 40W
From setup to daily use, the experience that has poured into refining Samsung's user interface is now evident in the MU7000. It is slick and fast, whether you're controlling other devices or using the on-screen keyboard to enter your credentials into Netflix. It makes for a premium experience, mirroring the navigation speed of the Q series TVs.
Where the TV takes a step down is in the panel, as this isn't as bright or vibrant as Samsung's best, so in terms of colour and HDR performance, it won't match the QLED models, but given that the MU7000 is some £1,000 cheaper, that's probably not going to be in question.
What's really important, however, is that this TV can really hold its own in the 4K HDR stakes. It's bright, something of a Samsung hallmark these days, and that lays the foundations for impactful HDR performance. Fire up Netflix and you'll marvel in the quality of the likes of Luke Cage, while the best performance is reserved for Ultra HD Blu-ray, squeezing all the detail out of those pixels.
One omission from the feature set on the HDR front is Dolby Vision support. That's a format Samsung is generally avoiding across its TVs. The same goes for 3D, which isn't supported either. Those things aside, the MU7000 delivers in the picture stakes with richness and detail that will stop you in your tracks and make you question whether you need to be spending twice as much for only a minor improvement in quality.
The illumination for the MU7000's panel comes from its base edge which, as is often the case for edge-illuminated TVs, can cause some unevenness as the light is spread across the display. That means if you have something bright in the centre of something dark - like in Gravity, for example - you'll find that the blacks are changing based on what the highlights are doing around it.
The MU7000 isn't alone in that issue. Enthusiasts will tout the properties of OLED or a preference for direct lit panels to avoid these types of problems. But it's important to remember just how much TV you're getting for your money in the edge-lit MU700. Is it the best performer? No. Is it the best performer for the asking price? It might very well be.
There's plenty of control offered to tweak the display to your preference, too, but on the whole we prefer to leave a lot of the processing turned off, as there's usually an undesirable knock-on effect. You can boost the contrast, for example, but you might then crush some shadow detail, for example, but there's a balance to be struck in customising the standard display settings.
One thing that's very much worth a tweak is the motion controls. While the default auto is ok, changing the judder and blur settings can give you a smoother result, based on what catches your eye or not.
Generally speaking, the picture processing on the MU7000 is decent. And on the 55-inch model, as reviewed here, you get a good balance of quality across all sources. This is a great size for ensuring that standard definition (SD) content and DVD looks good enough, while still giving you the size to really enjoy the sharpness of Blu-ray and the excellence of 4K.
There's a 2.1 speaker arrangement with an output of around 40W. These speakers are pretty respectable in performance for daily TV watching. It's only when the more demanding movie soundtracks fire up that things can be a little thin, so the MU7000 would would benefit from a soundbar or speaker system to bring out real audio glory.
Samsung MU7000 review: Fully connected features
- Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and more
- Excellent UI
We've mentioned that the menu system in the MU7000 is the same as Samsung's QLED TVs. That's a great thing because it leads to a really slick TV experience. As more of us shift viewing habits from broadcast (and there's a Freeview tuner for those in the UK) to on-demand, a full range of supported services is as important as anything else.
Samsung knows this and has refined the user interface to make it fast and easy to use. A tap of the home button on the remote will bring up a bottom ribbon that's customisable and loaded with all the services you're likely to want to watch. Netflix, Amazon Video, Now TV, BBC iPlayer (and ITV, 4 and 5) as well as services like YouTube and Google Play mean that you can access pretty much all the major services straight out of the box.
It's from services like Amazon and Netflix that you'll be feasting on most of the 4K HDR content you're likely to encounter, unless you want to spend big on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Not only is it easy to navigate to these services on the MU7000, but they are also fast, faster in many cases than using a set-top box to run that service.
This very much puts the smart in "smart TV" for the MU7000, boosted by convenience features like voice control - a new addition for 2017 - and will quickly bring you the settings you want or help you search for content.
Finally there's also support for external devices, like your smartphone, so you can use Samsung Smart View to control your TV from your phone without needing the remote.
There's an ever increasing array of televisions available and while there's a push for the premium end of the market with incredible OLED and superb QLED tellies, for many it's TVs like this MU7000 that will fall into the right price bracket. Like the KS7000 of 2016, the MU7000 repeats this more affordable positioning, offering a great experience for a great price.
The picture performance of the MU7000 is great, save for some unevenness due to its edge-illumination. Even so, it produces 4K HDR punch when you feed it the highest quality sources, with punchy colour and brightness.
It's also a nicely designed TV with convenient features like the One Connect box and cable management that ensure a premium sheen. The position of the feet might be a little inflexible and the Ethernet connection position makes little sense, but these are minor foibles.
What really shines through about the MU7000 is the experience delivered by its mature and slick interface. It makes it a pleasure a use, serving up all your connected services to keep you entertained with little fuss.
There are TVs that deliver better contrast and handle blacks better, others that give more even illumination, but in sheer terms of bang for your buck, the Samsung MU7000 delivers by the bucketload.
Alternatives to consider...
With Samsung's older TVs being very good, as well as dropping in prices, an alternative to the MU7000 might be 2016's KS8000. Technically this was a level above the MU7000 but it can be picked up for similar prices, so is a very viable alternative to Samsung's affordable wonder. It offers much the same in terms of connectivity and the performance is close too, but offers are more useful central stand and a design that's slightly more premium.