The Samsung CU7100 delivers decent pictures and a wide range of features at an affordable price
- Capable 4K performer
- Plenty of useful features
- Comprehensive smart system
- No Dolby Vision HDR
- Not the best gaming choice
The Samsung CU7100 is an entry-level 4K HDR TV that forms part of the Korean manufacturer’s Crystal UHD range, which sits below its popular QLED lineup.
It offers excellent picture quality, extensive features, a very low input lag, and support for all the main streaming services thanks to a cutting-edge smart platform. There’s no support for 4K/120Hz, VRR or Dolby Vision, but otherwise, this is a capable budget TV.
Samsung CU7100 review: Key specifications
|Screen sizes available:
|4K/UHD (3,940 x 2,160)
|HDR10, HLG, HDR10+
|Object Tracking Sound Lite
|HDMI 2.0 x 3
|Game Bar 3.0, ALLM
|Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.2
|Freeview Play compatibility:
|Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
Samsung CU7100 review: What you need to know
The Samsung CU7100 is a 4K (3,840 x 2,160) HDR smart TV that comes in screen sizes ranging from 43in to 85in. 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 several gaming-related features.
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Samsung CU7100 review: Price and competition
The Samsung CU7100 is the cheapest entry in the Crystal UHD range and competitively priced. At the time of writing, you can buy the 43in model for £329, the 50in version reviewed here for £379, the 55in TV for £419, the 58in model for £549, the 65in version for £599, the 70in variety for £799, and the huge 75in model for £849, while the whopping 85in panel retails for a very reasonable £1,279.
If you’re looking for alternatives, there’s the 50in Amazon Fire TV 4 Series at £399, or the 50in TCL C645 at £338, with the latter offering excellent performance at an incredibly affordable price point. Interestingly, while the CU7100 faces stiff competition in the smaller screen sizes, it’s the cheaper option when it comes to the jumbo screen sizes.
Samsung CU7100 review: Design, connections and control
The Samsung CU7100 sports a slim black chassis with a screen surrounded by a minimal bezel. The build quality is good for an entry-level TV, and it sits on a pair of widely spaced feet that provide solid support. It can also be wall-mounted using standard a 200 x 200 VESA bracket.
There’s a trio of HDMI inputs, one of which (HDMI 3) supports eARC, and all of which are capable of handling 4K/50Hz, HDR10, HLG, HDR10+ and ALLM. Since this is a Samsung TV there’s no Dolby Vision, and the 50Hz panel means the CU7100 can’t handle 4K/120Hz or VRR either.
There’s a USB 2.0 connector, a terrestrial tuner, a CI slot, an optical digital output, and an Ethernet port for a wired connection. When it comes to wireless connections there’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Samsung offers a choice of its standard controller or the 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 CU7100 review: Smart TV platform
The Samsung CU7100 may be an entry-level model, but it still benefits from the brand’s full Tizen operating system. Thankfully, it also includes sufficient processing power for the platform to be responsive and easy to navigate using its full-screen homepage and intuitive user interface.
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 helps make setup simple and even provides an additional degree of control. When it comes to adding smarts and voice control this TV also works with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
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Samsung CU7100 review: Image quality
The Samsung CU7100 delivers excellent pictures thanks to a VA panel that, for an LCD TV, delivers a decent contrast performance. Optimal viewing angles are fairly limited, but there’s some nice shadow detail, decent screen uniformity, and an effective LED backlight, although the global dimming turns this off for the entire panel rather than in zones.
As is typical for a Samsung TV, the CU7100 ships in the Standard mode, which introduces excess amounts of blue in the grayscale and has colours that are oversaturated. Switching to the Filmmaker mode immediately produces greater accuracy, with a greyscale that measures an average DeltaE (error) of 3.5, just above the visible threshold for seeing errors in the image.
The colour accuracy is also improved, although it’s not quite as good as the greyscale, producing average errors of around 5.4 on a full saturation sweep. Unfortunately, the gamma is subject to manipulation, unnecessarily boosting the midrange. Despite this, the SDR performance remains good, with well-defined images 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 CU7100 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, despite the panel being limited to a 50Hz refresh rate, and importantly the Samsung 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 like football, should be avoided when watching films and TV dramas.
Samsung CU7100 review: HDR performance
The Samsung CU7100 doesn’t just impress with SDR but is also good with HDR despite the brightness limitations of the panel. The latter is evident in the luminance measurements, with peak brightness hitting only 250cd/m2 using 1% to 100% test patterns. These numbers are the same regardless of the picture mode, so you may as well use the better Filmmaker setting.
In Filmmaker mode, the CU7100 delivers a pleasingly accurate greyscale and some excellent tone mapping. The latter is important because it allows the CU7100 to effectively render HDR without compromising the artistic intent. The colours are also fairly accurate, even if they only cover 82% of the DCI-P3 gamut, and overall this is a capable HDR performance for an entry-level model.
When it comes to actually watching HDR content, the overall picture looks natural and nicely detailed, with suitably saturated colours. The blacks aren’t as deep as more capable displays, and the specular highlights lack a degree of impact, but if you feed the CU7100 a good HDR source you’ll be rewarded with an overall performance that makes the most of the TV’s capabilities.
The CU7100 supports HDR10, HLG and HDR10+, but not Dolby Vision. The absence of Dolby Vision reflects Samsung’s continued corporate rejection of the format, but at least there’s the inclusion of HDR10+. The latter format’s dynamic metadata helps overcome some of the TV’s limitations, and while not as prevalent as Dolby Vision, the format is used by Prime Video, 4K Blu-rays, and Apple TV+.
To test the Samsung CU7100 we used Portrait Displays Calman colour calibration software.
Samsung CU7100 review: Gaming
The Samsung CU7100 isn’t an ideal choice for gaming, primarily because its 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 more expensive Samsung TVs.
On the plus side, the CU7100 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 a low input lag of under 10ms.
The CU7100 also includes Samsung’s Game Bar, which brings together game-related information, controls and features in a single 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.
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Samsung CU7100 review: Sound quality
The Samsung CU7100 struggles somewhat when it comes to sound quality, but this is par for the course with a modern slimline TV. It’s tough to create the kind of overwhelming sonic presence that a modern blockbuster demands when using a pair of downward-firing speakers.
There’s a smidge 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 also feels harsh and sibilant, while 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 CU7100 includes Samsung’s Q Symphony feature, which integrates the TV’s speakers with those in a supporting soundbar, you might want to consider buying one of the company’s compatible models.
Samsung CU7100 review: Verdict
The Samsung CU7100 is an accomplished entry-level TV that delivers excellent 4K pictures with good accuracy and some decent image processing. The HDR is limited by the panel’s inherent lack of brightness, but effective tone-mapping allows the CU7100 to deliver solid images despite this.
The smart platform offers the full Tizen experience, but the gaming features are aimed at the more casual player, with no support for next-gen tech like 4K/120Hz or VRR. The sound quality is somewhat lacking, but otherwise, the CU7100 is an affordable option that gets a lot of things right.