With its superb picture quality and excellent HDR, Samsung's KS9000 is a force to be reckoned with
The KS9000 was Samsung’s flagship SUHD TVs for 2016. Available in 49in, 55in, 65in and 78in screen sizes (with respective model numbers of UE49KS9000, UE55KS9000, UE65KS9000 and UE78KS9000), this curved, edge-lit, 4K Quantum Dot display is one of Samsung’s best yet, offering a significant step-up in picture quality from the entry-level KS7500 we reviewed. The review model on test here is the 55in version, but image quality should be nigh-on identical across all the different screen sizes.
The KS9000 has also been awarded an Ultra HD Premium badge by the Ultra HD Alliance, so you’re guaranteed to get one of the best 4K experiences currently available. That means a 10-bit TV panel, which can display a wider range of colours than your typical 8-bit screen, HDR support, a peak brightness of at least 1,000cd/m2 and ultra-low black level, which goes as low as 0.05cd/m2.
The figures held up during testing. Even in its Standard picture mode, the KS9000’s Quantum Dot display was able to display an impressive 99.6% of the sRGB colour gamut straight out of the box. This fell to 90.3% when I switched to the slightly dimmer Movie mode, but it didn’t take long to bring it up to a full 100% once I’d changed a few settings in the KS9000’s extensive menu options. Only Movie mode offers the full range of two-point and ten-point white balance controls, so those who want to fine-tune their picture should use this profile to get the best image quality. I measured a black level of 0.05cd/m2 on both Standard and Movie. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get an accurate reading of the KS9000’s peak brightness, as Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TVs require metadata from HDR content in order to deliver its maximum brightness levels. However, even without these test patterns available I was still able to achieve a peak white level of around 820cd/m2, which is an incredible achievement without HDR. As a result, the KS9000 should be able to deliver a superb level of detail in both bright and dark areas of a scene, regardless of whether the content and player supports HDR or not.
Our Star Trek Blu-ray disc, for instance, looked stunning, with the depths of space appearing inky black in the background while the Starship Enterprise was full of crisp, vibrant detail in the foreground. Likewise, when playing our UHD Blu-ray of The Lego Movie, everything from torches, street lamps and sunbeams were astonishingly bright, providing an incredible sense of contrast against darker objects onscreen.
Picture quality does deteriorate away from the centre of the display, with colours becoming less vibrant and blacks noticeably greyer. However, this is a common problem I’ve seen on all the curved displays I’ve tested. That curve, too, although relatively subtle with a curvature radius of 4,200mm, means it won’t be suitable for all environments.
And while the KS9000 performs best when showing 4K content, its “SUHD Remastering Engine” does a great job at upscaling lower resolution content, such as standard definition TV channels and regular DVDs, so you shouldn’t have to use the noise reduction settings too aggressively.
It’s a decent TV for gaming as well. I measured the response time of only 21.5ms when I enabled the KS9000’s dedicated Game mode. This is supremely fast – especially when you consider Movie mode has a response time of 116.2ms – so console fans shouldn’t have any problem playing fast-paced action games. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Game mode also locks off the ten-point white balance controls, so you won’t necessarily be able to get the best picture quality.
4K and UHD Explained
It’s probably the right time to explain the differences between UHD and 4K, as many TV firms use the terms interchangeably, with the latter the more popular term by far. However, in terms of home entertainment, 4K is technically an incorrect term, as it refers to the cinema standard, which has a resolution of 4,096 x 2,160 pixels. The home standard is Ultra HD, which has a resolution of 3,840×2,160 to match the 16:9 aspect ratio of TVs. For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about Ultra HD.
So what does Ultra HD give you that Full HD doesn’t? The simple answer to this question is more resolution. While Full HD TVs have a resolution of 1,920×1,080 (a total of 2,073,600 pixels), Ultra HD TVs have a resolution of 3,840×2,160 (a total of 8,294,400 pixels). In other words, Ultra HD TVs have four times the resolution of standard Full HD TVs, with each picture equivalent to a shot from an 8-megapixel camera. That’s a massive increase of resolution, which means that with the right footage 4K TVs can show more detail than is possible with a Full HD TV.
A couple of images can help show the differences between the various technologies. First, I’ve got the traditional image that shows the difference in size between images, starting with regular PAL TV at the bottom left and moving up to Ultra HD. As you can see Ultra HD is a huge jump from Full HD.
|3,840 x 2,160
|4x HDMI 2.0
|Freeview HD, Freesat HD
|Streaming TV services
|BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, Demand 5, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video
|1,745 x 1,113 x 435mm