Review: Samsung’s UN65JS9000 Is An HDR Dazzler
Samsung’s 65-inch UN65JS9000 4K Ultra HD LED TV is part of a step-down series to the company’s flagship JS95000 series of SUHD TVs. It’s part of a series that also includes 48- and 55-inch models, each of which provides a very good overall viewing experience at much more affordable prices than they sold for a few months ago.
Both the JS9500 and the JS9000 SUHD TV lines offer 4K Ultra HD resolution, use Nano-Crystal technology to handle new content produced with a wide color gamut, accept and display high dynamic range (HDR) metadata, have 10-bit panels, and a 120Hz native refresh rate. The JS9000 Series has a curved screen and a fast octo-core processor, which are not found in the flat-screen JS8500 series just below it.
Where the UN65JS9000 falls short of the UN65JS9500 model is in delivering the same deep black levels, which impact many picture quality aspects including color saturation and the way the set handles HDR content.
The issue is that the JS9000 series substitutes LED edge lighting for the full-array LED backlighting with local dimming used in the JS9500 series to produce those strong black levels.
For an edge-lit model, though, the 65JS9000 is very good. It retains a form of local dimming functionality to help contrast performance. The approach is less effective than full-array local dimming, which directly controls light output to individual LED zones across the back of the panel, but the picture quality is nevertheless impressive. To further improve the deep black picture effect the set offers a Cinema Black option to reduce the backlight output in the bars of letterboxed movies for a more immersive viewing experience, particularly in dark room viewing environments.
Read more of our review of the UN65JS9000 after the jump:
The 65JS9000 has a bounty of benefits of its own, including a beautiful curved-screen design, impressive Tizen smart TV platform, and great picture quality, coming at a $1,000 savings from the JS9500 version.
As this was written the UN65JS9000 was selling on Amazon at a $2,998 special holiday price, down from the $4,999 suggested retail. The comparably sized UN65JS9500 flagship was available at $3,998, down from the original $5,999 suggested retail price.
At these prices, you are probably looking for the best picture quality you can afford, and if you can afford the extra grand for the 65-inch JS9500, I would strongly recommend going for it. But if $4,000 is just too much to spend, and that’s certainly understandable, you won’t be unhappy with the JS9000. It’s a fantastic TV.
High Dynamic Range
One of the main reasons for spending this kind of money on a TV is to get HDR, and although there is still a dearth of HDR-enabled content available to watch, that should be changing early next year as the first Ultra HD Blu-ray players arrive with HDR support. In the meantime, you’ll find a few HDR 4K UHD streaming programs now or coming shortly on Amazon, Netflix, M-GO and others.
In short, HDR delivers an expanded range of brightness to improve the definition of the image, while maintaining clarity. High dynamic range produces greater contrast between light and dark images and brings out subtle details normally lost in deep black and bright white areas of a non-HDR picture. It’s also supposed to offer a richer look to colors in dark areas, with a less washed-out appearance, brighter and more natural colors for a more realistic look.
In this early implementation, the HDR in the streaming version of Amazon’s “Mozart In The Jungle” yielded bright, detailed images in scenes with sunlight falling on a subject’s face in an otherwise shadowed setting, for example, and subtle details were evident in dark black areas of the picture, but overall darkened scenes seemed to lose contrast compared to a non-HDR version of the same show. The hazy effect was mitigated when bright elements appeared in the same scene, however, reducing the washed out look across the darkened setting.
The issue was less pronounced in the pilot episode of Amazon’s original series “Red Oaks,” which is also produced in 4K and HDR. This suggests that the way the HDR is shot and produced may have a lot to do with the way black levels appear on this set. Brightly lit scenes in “Red Oaks” showed impressive points of brightness and rich overall color saturation. These are very early days for HDR content and equipment, so it’s tough to pass judgment on HDR technology based on a few samples of content.
Hopefully this will change as more HDR programming is made available, but clearly, the benefits of full array backlighting and local dimming are enhanced in the HDR universe.
To get the best effect from HDR content, the TV should be placed in “Smart LED” mode, and the color setting should be switched to “native.” Smart LED is an HDR local dimming feature that brightens highlights and makes blacks darker.
Wide Color Gamut
The second reason to get a TV of this caliber is for the way it’s going to handle content produced in a wide color gamut that exceeds the color space of the Rec-709 standard we’ve been seeing in the high definition standard. Until we see what Ultra HD Blu-ray titles have to offer, it’s hard to get a gauge on how these new Nano-Crystal-enabled displays are going to handle the additional information, but judging by how well this set handles standard Rec-709 material and material available in some of the available 4K UHD with HDR content we have already, it should be very good. Colors from the aforementioned HDR-encoded titles appeared rich, accurate and natural to the eye.
Nano-Crystal technology is Samsung’s label for what others call quantum dot technology. In this implementation, Samsung applies red and green quantum dots, or Nano-Crystals, to a blue LED backlight behind the LCD panel. The Nano-Crystals are made from a compound of different elements. Molecules of this compound are bombard with high intensity energy from the photon in an LED creating a quantum effect that emits energy in the form of visible light.
The physical size of the Nano-Crystal determines the wave length of the energy it will emit. A certain sized dot will produce green light, and a larger dot will produce red light. Blue light, produced by the LED, is a shorter wavelength. Blue light photons from the LEDs collide with the Nano-Crystals, producing colored light. This light is very predictable, stable and accurate.
Nano-Crystals don’t suffer differential aging, like some OLED displays and phosphor-based displays do, meaning that certain colors won’t age at a faster rate than others, affecting color accuracy. The problem with other LED LCD TVs is that if you look at reds and greens up close they tend to look washed out. With Nano-Crystals the harder they are driven the brighter they get without loss of color saturation.
We measured the UN65JS9000 encompassing up to 93 percent of the Digital Cinema Initiative P3 color recommendation, used for professional digital movie projectors.
Like other LED LCD TVs, Samsung’s JS9000 models suffer from diminished color and contrast performance when viewed just a couple of steps to the left or right of center screen. Similar picture quality issues are found viewing the screen from low or high angles.
For best results, this model should be placed on a tabletop at direct eye level from a seated position in front of center screen. Viewers seated to the left or right will be lose some color and contrast performance. Those viewing the set mounted at a high angle on a wall will similarly lose some color and contrast performance.
Samsung’s 2015 TV line introduced its new Tizen operating system, which was a complete overhaul of the company’s previous smart TV platform. A robust selection of some of the most useful apps is presented in a high resolution interface. Some, though not all, apps can be used with the remote’s point-and-click cursor control. The app selection may not have as many services as some competitors’ platforms, but Samsung has all of the best ones, and for much of the year offered exclusivity on certain services and capabilities, such as 4K UHD content from Comcast and DirecTV, 4K UHD with HDR from Amazon and others. In addition, the company offers 4K streaming from M-GO, Netflix, YouTube, and Ultraflix.
Samsung’s AllShare Play feature offers the ability for those with compatible smartphones and tablets, like Samsung Galaxy products, to wirelessly access and stream music, photos and movies between the hand-held devices and the TV. Using a Wi-Fi network enables flicking photos from a phone or tablet to the screen with the swipe of a finger. A Samsung Smart View app works with the TV View feature to mirror content playing on the TV to a Galaxy device.
The UN65JS9000 does a nice job with 4K upconversion of Full HD and 720p HD material, including doing a nice job with grainy film-based content. The dark low-lit scenes in the FullHD Blu-ray Disc of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was presented with minimized moving noise artifacts in the movie’s opening scenes, keeping the noise of the low-lighting and film grain to an acceptable minimum, unlike some other 4K UHD TVs through which we’ve run this reference material.
Where the set also did a fantastic job with Full HD, was in bright white background scenes, as are found in Dolby’s brightly lit “The Art of Flight” Blu-ray. These images were brilliantly sharp with nice white levels and detail.
Where the set had some trouble was showing some banding artifacts around bright objects on solid color backgrounds, like the sun setting on the horizon, or shining down on a camera that is underwater and shooting up at the surface.
Although the 65JS9000 has a native 120Hz refresh rate, Samsung reduces motion blur further with an Auto Motion Plus system offering degree settings for blur and judder reduction. The system worked well in the default setting, with minimal motion blur but some soap opera effect was noticeable. The look of film is restorable, however, using the custom motion settings. The staggered motion artifact that continues to appear in most 4K Ultra HDTVs was less noticeable on this set than most.
For fans of 3D, the Samsung JS9000 delivered an impressive Full HD 3D viewing experience, from a connected Sony 3D Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc player. The set packs a single pair of active-shutter 3D glasses, but additional glasses can be had online for $20 apiece. Images showed good clarity of fine detail with minimal cross talk in 3D Blu-ray scenes from Avatar.
For maximum HDR impact, Samsung recommends configuring its SUHD TVs for maximum contrast, maximum backlight, and the Smart LED picture setting on high. Maximum light output was a blinding 118.1 footlamberts when displaying a white window using the inaccurate Dynamic picture preset, which boosts the back light, contrast and brightness controls to full.
The JS9000 models come with a Samsung Smart Central remote featuring a curved compact baton-style design that is well balanced and fits nicely in the palm of the hand. The remote offers impressively stable and accurate point-and-click control. It includes a cursor control pad that operates an on-screen cursor like an air mouse. The pad is flanked by volume up and down and channel up and down controls, and below it is an four-direction arrow control. The few buttons the remote offers are back lit except for the control pad and arrow keys, which can be hard to operate in the dark. In addition, a virtual on-screen remote mimics the functionality of a standard baton-style Samsung remote.
The remote includes an easy to set up universal control function for cable or satellite set-top boxes. The system automatically controls the box when connected via HDMI. The set can also be controlled by a voice command feature which worked well and was easy to access.
The 65JS9000 has an attractive, gun metal-colored bezel, measuring 0.75 inches on all four sides of the screen. The supplied stand features a chrome V-shaped base with support struts that stand one inch off the mounting surface and require about 6 inches of surface space in front of the screen. The stand will require another eight inches of surface space behind the set.
The panel depth is 2-inches deep, 3-inches at its deepest part in the center of the curved screen, which also impacts the set footprint. I didn’t get the “immersive” effect some claim to see in larger curved screen TVs, but I noticed a significant reduction of bright over head light reflection on the highly polished screen surface, but I did see the reflection of the room immediately in front of the screen, which is more noticeable in dark scenes.
The overall look of the curved TV was quite impressive in tabletop placements, but not so much for wall-hanging applications. This juror’s verdict is that curved screens are largely a matter of personal taste and home design style, with little help or harm to the picture viewing experience.
The base is centrally located under the screen and provides 3.5-inches of clearance between the bottom of the bezel and the surface of the tabletop, which is enough space for most cable and satellite TV boxes to be placed behind or under the screen. However, it’s too shallow for larger Blu-ray Disc players and DVRs. When using small thin-client boxes the height of the protruding V-support base can interfere with some IR remote controls at certain angles. The UN65JS9000 measures 49.1 x 28.1 x 1.2 inches without stand and can be wall mounted, although some might object to the look of the curved screen jutting out from the left and right edges against the flat surface.
Samsung’s One Connect box, which houses the processor and all of the set’s external source inputs, is one of the biggest reasons for getting a higher-end Samsung TV. The box connects to the display with a single cable and all other sources connect to the box, not the TV. On top of this, Samsung makes its One Connect TVs upgradable, so that if input standards change or the system requires more powerful processing in a few years, you can buy a replacement One Connect box to keep the TV up to date with changing technology. The One Connect box includes the following input connections: 3 USB; 4 HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 and 2.0a HDR support; 1 Digital Audio Optical Out; 1 IR Out; 1 RF In; 1 Ethernet; 1 Component In; 1 Composite In and 1 Audio 3.5mm Out.
Sound for the UN65JS9000 is emitted by a built-in down-firing speaker system featuring two 20 watt speakers and two 10 watt woofers. Presets are offered for standard, music, movie, clear voice and amplify. Sound effect controls include: virtual surround, dialog clarity, headphone surround, balance and equalizer. The result was acceptable room-filling audio with clear dialog, though it’s no replacement for a good outboard surround sound system or speaker bar.
The 65JS9000 offers all of the tools for a complete calibration, including a wide selection of picture adjustment settings: color management system. The set also supplies two- and 10-point white balance adjustment; normal, custom and native gamut settings; and multiple gamma presets.
The TV has four picture modes (Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie), the Movie mode was the closest to reference standards out of the box, with little to no adjustment necessary in conventional room lighting conditions. Using my X-rite I1Pro 2 meter, DVDO iScan Duo pattern generator, and CalMAN software, I measured a highly accurate color balance, an average gray-scale Delta Error of just 1.12 (an error under three is considered imperceptible to the human eye), and an average gamma of 2.31 (I used 2.2 as the target). HD color gamut was excellent with no DeltaE 2000 errors measuring above 1.310 (a value of 3.0 or less considered ideal.)
Test pattern examinations revealed the 65JS9000 to be impressively uniform for an edge-lit LCD. Motion video inspections were free of any obvious signs of dirty screen effect on a gray screen. The screen showed no pronounced splotches of light causing significant clouding or muddiness, and no noticeable bleeding at the edges. But we noticed a hint of blotching at the bottom center, and top of the screen on a solid black screen.
As mentioned we also saw evidence of some slight banding in 4K UHD and Full HD in select scenes, like horizons.
When Samsung first introduced the 65JS9000 in early 2015, pricing for an edge-lit LED LCD TV pricing was pretty high at a $4,999 suggested retail, but over the ensuing months the company has significantly discounted pricing on the series. As this was posted, the 65-inch model was currently seeing holiday special pricing of $2,998 the 55-inch model for $1,998, and the 48-inch screen for $1,598. These prices are quite good considering the picture quality, improved OS, greater UHD feature support including HDR, and a well-calibrated factory picture preset.
Interestingly, the Samsung UN65JS8500, which was previously positioned as a less expensive flat-screen model, was selling for the same $2,998, and for that you don’t get the JS9000’s curved screen, and you swap out the full-size One Connect box for a mini version.
If you have a bright room and want the best black level and HDR performance Samsung has to offer, you’ll want to consider ponying up an extra $1,000 for the 65JS9500, however.
The Samsung UN65JS9000 4K SUHD TV is one of Samsung’s best examples of what next-generation 4K UHD TV has to offer. It is ready today of present HDR and a wide color with, providing bright highlights and detailed black level, to add punch the extra pixels 4K UHD has been offering. While we continue to wait for TVs and content that can deliver on UHD’s inclusion of Rec. 2020 and its appreciably gigantic color gamut, TVs like the JS9000 have proven that they are ready to step beyond HD and deliver near-DCI color quality that until now was only seen in commercial cinema. If you have the space and can afford $3,000 for a TV, this is a television that should keep you well satisfied for years to come.
The set is perfect. There are a few niggling artifacts and the blacks could be a little deeper, especially on some of the newer HDR streaming content, but for brightness, picture quality and overall design this is an impressive product.
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The UN65JS9000 used for this review was a company loan.
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By Greg Tarr
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