The Samsung UE55KS7500 packs in 4K and HDR, but its image quality is a little so-so for the money
The KS7000 series sat at the bottom of Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TV range, and the KS7500 reviewed here is the curved version of its flat sibling. Admittedly, the KS7500’s 4,200mm curvature radius is pretty subtle, so unless you’re after a particularly flashy centrepiece for the living room, it’s probably worth keeping in mind the KS7000 while reading this review as well.
After all, with prices for the 55in KS7500 on test here currently hovering around £1,700, it means you’re spending another £200 on top of the same-sized model in the KS7000 series. That’s quite a sizable saving if you’re not fussed about having a curved TV, especially when both TV ranges share exactly the same specs and features.
This includes a 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range (HDR) support and one of Samsung’s Quantum Dot display panels – more on this later. It’s also worth noting that the KS7500 range is also available in 43in, 50in and 65in variations, but image quality should be similar across all the different sizes.
In terms of design, the KS7500 has ‘branched feet’, similar in style to many of Philips’ TVs. This makes the KS7500 quite different to Samsung’s other SUHD TVs, as these tend to have a central stand design. Which you prefer will be a matter of personal taste, but at least the feet are relatively easy to install and setup.
Instead of requiring screws and tools, they simply click into the bottom of the TV – no screwdriver required. Annoyingly, one of the feet on our review sample took quite some force to get it secured correctly, but I got there eventually.
Personally, I’d rather have a central pedestal stand, but the separate feet do at least provide ample clearance below the screen for a soundbase or soundbar. Otherwise, the thin silver bezels are very tasteful and you can even turn off the lit-up Samsung logo if you find it distracting or want to watch TV in a dark room.
Curved screen pros and cons
Not everyone that eyes up Samsung’s curved screen offerings are familiar what the benefits of such a feature, and not knowing for sure can lead to confusion over what to buy.
The main advantage of buying a TV with a curved screen is that it can offer a better sense of immersion, as the image you’re watching seems to ‘wrap around’ you, entering slightly more into your peripheral vision and thus drawing you deeper into whatever you’re watching. Some fans of curved screen TVs also note that there is a better sense of depth involved, with images appearing 3D even though the source is 2D. This is because curving the edges of the image towards the viewer improves the visual perception of depth in what you’re watching. While this all sounds great, there is however a major drawback with all curved screen TVs, including the Samsung UE55KS7500: the issue of reflections.
Many curved screen TV customers have blasted the technology for picking up and seemingly magnify every glimmer of light in a room, making it difficult to see images if the TV’s environment has many direct light sources, and this is the case here. Although it is avoidable by properly managing the lighting in your room, it’s still definitely worth keeping in mind, especially if you like your living room well lit.
Picture and audio quality
The KS7500’s main attraction, though, is its Quantum Dot display. This provides a cleaner backlight compared to standard LED-backlit panels as well as better colour accuracy and peak brightness. It also helps the KS7500 achieve the claimed 1000cd/m2 brightness it needs for HDR.
What’s more, the KS7500 has been certified by the Ultra HD Alliance as meeting its requirements for an Ultra HD Premium badge, so you can be sure you’re getting one of the best 4K experiences available today. For comparison’s sake, the next TV down in Samsung’s 2016 range, the KU6000, doesn’t meet these requirements, so the KS7500 (and KS7000) should offer a substantial upgrade.
Now, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an accurate reading of the TV’s highest peak brightness in our standard tests, as the TV requires the metadata from HDR content in order to tell it to deliver its maximum brightness. Instead, I measured it while playing a 4K, HDR-enabled Blu-ray, which saw the brightness fluctuate from anywhere as low as 356cd/m2 right up to 1,015cd/m2, although admittedly only for a very short time. Granted, it’s not an ideal test, but it was clear that it wasn’t able to maintain its peak brightness as long as other TVs I’ve tested, such as Panasonic’s flagship Viera TX-58DX902B.
Still, it’s unlikely you’ll find many films that need such prolonged brightness delivery, and the KS7500 certainly wasn’t lacking in brightness during the rest of our testing. In The Martian, for instance, it did a fantastic job with the otherworldly glow of Mars, and colours were vibrant and highly detailed. The Panasonic DX902B arguably had a more immediate ‘wow factor’, but it is also considerably more expensive.
Elsewhere, the KS7500 performed very admirably. I measured a black level of 0.04cd/m2 and a very respectable contrast ratio of 4,678:1. Out of the box, colour accuracy stretched to 99.2% of the sRGB gamut, but there’s a good array of colour settings available to fine-tune them further. Its motion handling was also superb. Watching football, for instance, which often proves the most problematic kind of footage, didn’t show any noticeable judder whatsoever.
There’s a dedicated Sport mode, but it’s not something I was particularly fond of as colours became horribly oversaturated when it was turned on. It does, however, tweak the audio so that stadium effects and commentary are more pronounced.
While the TV performs best with Ultra HD content, its SUHD Remastering Engine is brilliant for upscaling lower resolution content as well. Even Freeview HD channels still looked great from a normal viewing distance, so you shouldn’t have to play around with the noise reduction settings too much when you just want to watch standard TV.
The KS7500 is a good candidate for gaming, too. Its dedicated Games mode saw a response time of just 24ms in our tests, down from 117ms with the mode turned off. This is one of the fastest times I’ve seen, so console owners shouldn’t have any problems playing fast-paced games here.
Its 40W downward-firing speakers are rather more mediocre, however. They do a good enough job, but if you want a more exciting audio experience, it’s worth factoring in the cost of a soundbar or separate speaker system to make the most of your new TV.
|Freeview HD, Freesat HD
|Streaming TV services
|BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video
|One year RTB