The Samsung BU8500 delivers decent pictures and extensive features at an affordable price
- Accomplished 4K performer
- Plenty of features
- Elegant design
- No Dolby Vision HDR
- Panel limited to 50Hz
- Sound quality could be better
The Samsung BU8500 is a cracking mid-range 4K HDR TV that offers excellent picture quality, extensive features, a very low input lag, and support for all the main streaming services thanks to a comprehensive smart platform.
There’s no support for 4K/120Hz, VRR or Dolby Vision, and the sound could be better, but otherwise, this excellent TV deftly balances performance and price.
Samsung BU8500 review: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:||43in UE43BU8500|
|Panel type:||VA-type LCD|
|Resolution:||4K/UHD (3,840 X 2,160)|
|HDR formats:||HDR10, HDR10+, HLG|
|Audio enhancement:||Object Tracking Sound Lite|
|HDMI inputs:||3 x HDMI 2.0|
|Freeview Play compatibility:||No|
|Gaming features:||ALLM, Game Bar|
|Wireless connectivity:||Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.2|
|Smart assistants:||Bixby built-in, works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant|
|Smart platform:||Tizen OS|
Samsung BU8500 review: What you need to know
The Samsung BU8500 is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart TV that comes in screen sizes ranging from 43in to 75in. It’s part of Samsung’s entry-level 2022 Crystal UHD range, which sits below its selection of QLED and Neo QLED TVs. Like the rest of the Crystal UHD range, the BU8500 is powered by the South Korean manufacturer’s Crystal 4K Processor.
It uses a 50Hz VA LCD panel with a direct LED backlight, runs Samsung’s Tizen-powered operating system, and supports HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+. All the major content streaming platforms are present and correct, plus a number of gaming-related features.
Samsung BU8500 review: Price and competition
You can currently buy the 65in Samsung BU8500 reviewed here for £849, which is a price tag that should put a smile on the face of even the most frugal TV fan.
The other screen size options are equally well-priced, with the 43in model costing just £399, the 50in variant priced at £449, the 55in version available for £649, and the 75in model setting you back £1,069.
The LG NANO76 looks equally impressive, and the 65in model comes in slightly cheaper than the BU8500 at £749. It offers an accomplished performance when it comes to picture quality, combined with an extensive set of features, including plenty of gaming support, plus a webOS smart system that offers a comprehensive choice of streaming apps.
It’s also available in a wider range of screen sizes, with 70in (£999) and 86in (£1,799) models in addition to the 43in (£429), 50in (£499), 55in (£579) and 75in (£1,099) options you can buy the BU8500 in.
Samsung’s AU9000 was one of our favourite affordable TVs of 2021 and remains a great option but has become increasingly hard to find. The 65in is still available at Currys for £599, though. It shares a lot of similarities with its 2022 Crystal UHD stablemate, including its AirSlim design and Crystal Processor 4K.
Samsung BU8500 review: Design, connections and control
The Samsung BU8500 is the perfect example of economies of scale, with a level of build quality that exceeds its affordable price. It also doesn’t look cheap, with an elegant black chassis that’s pleasingly slim, and a screen surrounded by a minimal bezel.
The 65in model is only 26mm deep and sits on a pair of feet that can be made into a stand by adding a plastic cover. This does cheapen the look a little, however. The feet provide solid support and create sufficient clearance beneath the screen to install a soundbar. The BU8500 can also be wall-mounted if you prefer, with fixings at the rear for a 400 x 300 VESA bracket.
There’s a trio of HDMI inputs, one of which (HDMI 2) supports eARC, and all of which are capable of handling 4K/60Hz, HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and ALLM. Since this is a Samsung TV there’s no Dolby Vision, but the 50Hz panel means the BU8500 can’t handle 4K/120Hz and VRR either. There are also two USB 2.0 inputs, a terrestrial tuner, a CI slot, an optical digital output and an Ethernet port for a wired connection. For wireless connections, there’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
There’s a choice of a standard Samsung controller or a SolarCell remote that recharges using solar energy, and offers a stripped-down set of keys including basic navigation controls, volume and channel up/down, plus direct access buttons for Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, and TV Plus.
Samsung BU8500 review: Smart TV platform
One of the great advantages of Samsung’s lower-tier TVs is that they come with the brand’s full Tizen smart system. The BU8500 is no exception and includes sufficient processing power for the platform to be responsive, intuitive and easy to navigate using its full-screen home page.
There’s an impressive choice of apps for a TV at this price point, with Netflix, Prime Video, Now TV, Disney+, Apple TV+, Rakuten, YouTube, and all the UK TV catch-up services; plus there’s a Universal Guide designed to help you sift through the extensive selection of content on offer.
There’s also Samsung’s TV Plus feature, a web browser and the SmartThings app. The latter makes setup simple and even provides an additional degree of control. When it comes to adding smarts, there’s Bixby built-in, and the TV also works with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
Samsung BU8500 review: Image quality
The Samsung BU8500 might be a lower-tier model, but it produces an impressive picture thanks to a VA panel that, for an LCD TV, delivers a decent contrast ratio of around 3,200:1. There’s some nice shadow detail as well, although the optimal viewing angles are fairly limited. The LED backlighting is also relatively effective, producing good screen uniformity.
The BU8500 ships in the Standard mode, which as usual is too bright, has colours that are oversaturated and introduces an excess of blue into the grayscale. Thankfully, switching to the Filmmaker mode immediately produces greater accuracy, with a greyscale that measures an average Delta E (error) of 1.6, which is well below the visible threshold of three.
The colour accuracy is equally impressive, producing average errors that also hit around 1.6 on a full saturation sweep, while the gamma is excellent too, closely tracking our target curve of 2.4. As a result, the SDR performance is very good, with images that appear well defined and free of artefacts or other aberrations, combined with colours that look natural.
The overall picture feels nicely balanced, with decent blacks despite the lack of dimmable zones, bright highlights, and fine gradation in the shadows. There’s also some effective image processing and upscaling, enabling the BU8500 to render lower-resolution content in a clean and detailed fashion that allows users to enjoy standard and high-definition content along with native 4K.
The motion performance is generally good for an LCD TV, with the use of a 50Hz refresh rate making sense in the UK. Importantly, the BU8500 handles films in 24p or games in 60Hz without introducing judder or other issues. Picture Clarity offers frame interpolation options, and while good for fast-paced sports such as football, should be avoided when watching films and TV dramas.
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Samsung BU8500 review: HDR performance
The Samsung BU8500 might be an impressive TV when handling SDR, but its limitations become apparent when moving on to HDR. This is especially true in terms of peak brightness, which only hits 330cd/m² on both a 10% window and full-field pattern in Dynamic mode, and drops to around 285cd/m² on both a 10% and a full-field pattern with the more accurate Filmmaker mode.
Despite the slight drop in brightness, you should use the Filmmaker mode because it delivers images that are more accurate and better reflect the content creator’s intentions. This is thanks to an accurate greyscale, and tone mapping that closely tracks the PQ curve despite the brightness limitations. The colours are also fairly accurate, even if they only cover 90% of the DCI-P3 gamut.
When it comes to actually watching HDR content, the overall picture looks natural and nicely detailed, with suitably saturated images. The blacks aren’t as deep as more capable displays, and the specular highlights lack a degree of impact, but if you feed the BU8500 a good HDR source you’ll be rewarded with an overall performance that’s superior to many of its competitors.
The BU8500 supports HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. However, the absence of the latter has nothing to do with the TV’s mid-range status because none of Samsung’s models support the format. The HDR10+ performance was good in testing, and while not as prevalent as Dolby Vision, the format is used by Prime Video, some 4K Blu-rays, and now Apple TV+.
To test the Samsung BU8500 we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.
Samsung BU8500 review: Sound quality
The Samsung BU8500 may look slim and elegant, but that doesn’t leave much room for large speakers, and the sound quality suffers as a result. That’s not to say the sound is terrible, but for a screen this big the BU8500 struggles to deliver the kind of overwhelming sonic presence that a modern blockbuster demands when using only a pair of downward-firing speakers.
There’s a degree of low-end extension, but none of the really deep bass that gives movie audio greater impact, and the mid-range sometimes feels a little flat. However, dialogue is presented in a clear and focused fashion, and the overall delivery is reasonably balanced. Unfortunately, the treble can feel harsh and sibilant, and the 20W of amplification struggles at higher volumes.
Samsung includes its Object Tracking Sound (OTS) Lite immersive audio algorithm and AI Adaptive Sound acoustic processing, but their effect is mild, to say the least. Since the BU8500 includes Samsung’s Q Symphony feature, which integrates the TV’s speakers with that of a supporting soundbar, you might want to consider buying one of the company’s compatible models.
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Samsung BU8500 review: Gaming
The Samsung BU8500 isn’t the greatest choice as a gaming TV, in part because the 50Hz panel precludes support for 4K/120Hz high-frame-rate gaming, along with VRR (variable refresh rate), Freesync and the Motion Xcelerator Turbo Pro technology found on other Samsung TVs.
On the plus side, the BU8500 does support 4K at 50Hz, along with HDR10, HDR10+ and HGiG. It also includes ALLM (automatic low latency mode), which detects a console and selects the Game mode, and as with most Samsung TVs, this produces an incredibly low input lag of 10ms.
The BU8500 also includes Samsung’s Game Bar, which brings together game-related information, controls and features in a convenient location. It pops up automatically when a game console is detected, but can also be selected by simply holding down the play/pause button.
Samsung BU8500 review: Verdict
The Samsung BU8500 is an accomplished mid-range 4K HDR TV that manages to balance solid performance with an affordable price. It looks more expensive than it is, offers a host of smart features and is easy to set up and use.
The SDR picture quality is excellent, with Filmmaker mode producing images that are pleasingly accurate. The upscaling and processing are effective, the screen uniformity good, and the contrast ratios decent for an LCD TV. The HDR isn’t as impressive due to limited brightness and colours, but an accurate delivery and decent tone mapping allow for a performance that’s at least capable.
Ultimately, the Samsung BU8500 is the perfect example of why the brand is so strong in the lower-tier TV market, delivering excellent build quality, comprehensive features and solid picture quality at a price that won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for higher-end performance at an affordable price, this budget beauty is worth investigating.