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    Reviewed: Samsung TU8000 Crystal UHD TV

    Large-screen, smart, UHD TVs are now more the norm than cutting-edge, and prices have dropped to more affordable levels. At the same time, while we’re cooped up at home and spending more time staring at our TV screens, a lot of us might be thinking we deserve a better viewing experience. Let’s check out the 55-inch variant of the 2020 Samsung TU800 Crystal UHD TV range.

    DESIGN: 4/5

    Right out of the box, the Samsung TU8000 Crystal TV is a slim frame with what they call a 3-side bezel-less design. Because of its dimensions, setting it up is a two-man job, but the unit itself is actually not very heavy at around 14kg. You also don’t need any tools to install the feet as you just slot these into the appropriate notches at the bottom the the unit, and you’re good to go. Neatniks will love the clean cable solution, as there are grooves at the back where you can run the various connecting wires along with the power cord and clip all these neatly together to one of the legs, so there are no unsightly wires all tangled up behind the screen. Although slim and made mostly of plastic materials, the Samsung Crystal TV looks sturdy and well-built.

    HARDWARE: 4/5

    At the heart of this TV is a Crystal Processor 4K chip, an ultrafast processor that upscales images for ultra-high definition viewing. The processor optimizes high contrast ratio and faithful color rendition. Clustered toward one side at the back are the ports for three HDMI and two USB 2.0, as well as inputs for an RF antenna, RCA composite, analog audio, digital audio out, and the ethernet port. It is also equipped with WiFI and Bluetooth connectivity. It has a 20W stereo speaker system. The TM2050A smart remote control unit that comes with the Crystal TV is a slim curved wand with a simplified, intuitive design.

    USER EXPERIENCE: 4/5 

    As with any gadget, you will need to set up and configure the Samsung Crystal TV to fully enjoy all its features. First, you need to sign into your Samsung account, install network settings (whether via WiFi or WLAN), and so on. The Bixby Voice Assistant also asks you to read out certain lines so it can set up your voice profile. You can then just press the mic button on the remote and say “Open Netflix” to watch a movie.

    Complementing the smart remote controller, you access everything on the Smart Hub, which appears as a band at the bottom of the screen with all the apps and settings you need. As an Apple user, I really appreciated that the Samsung Cystal TV had Apple TV and Apple AirPlay built-in as these are features not commonly found in other smart Android-based TVs. I wish I had a Samsung phone, though, so I could enjoy features like Tap View where you can connect your phone to the TV by just tapping it lightly on the bezel.

    Now for the most important question: What about picture quality and the overall viewing experience? Without hesitation, I would say that this model truly deserves its Crystal UHD TV product description. Images are crisp and clear with excellent contrast and great definition. There are no fuzzy edges, no washed-out colors, no pixelation whatsoever. In fact, I cast my 14-inch laptop screen on the 55-inch display and got excellent rendering, without the blurring and pixelation, so you could actually use it as a desktop monitor or a second screen.

    I also love the fact that the screen is almost a matte finish so there’s hardly any glare or reflection from surrounding light sources, and you can just immerse yourself in the visual experience.

    Because the Crystal TV was installed in a location that I normally used as the backdrop for my weekly newscast, I thought I’d set up ambient mode and use it as my temporary backdrop. Choosing a single color image did not quite work as I noticed a rolling effect on the screen. However, using a photo image worked perfectly. Ambient mode is a great feature for those who want to use the TV screen to add design touches to the room as you can display your family pictures or art work images when not watching TV.

    To really enjoy the Samsung Crystal TV, I think a soundbar or external speakers are needed for the heart-thumping bass and surround sound effects that the built-in 20W speakers don’t deliver. Audio quality is all right, but could be enhanced.

    VALUE: 4.5/5 

    When I saw the retail price of my 55-inch test unit, I nearly fell off my seat! It’s listed at a very reasonable PHP 41,999. If, however, you want to get the best deal, it’s going for an unbeatable PHP 31,999 net cash price—truly value for money considering the premium specifications and features packed into the package, so better hurry and catch the deal while it’s on offer.

    SPECIFICATIONS:

    • Screen Size: 55”
    • Resolution: 3840 x 2160
    • Picture Engine: 4K Crystal Processor
    • Motion Rate: 120+
    • Picture Quality Index: 2100
    • Audio: Dolby Digital+
    • Speakers: 20W
    • Operating System: Tizen
    • Connectivity: 3 HDMI, 2 USB, 1 AV, Ethernet, 1 Optical, 1 RF In, WiFi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 4.2
    • Power: AC100-240V 50/60Hz, 145W
    • Dimensions (WxHxD): 1230.5 x 707.2 x 59.9mm (w/o stand) • 1230.5 x 783.3 x 250.2mm (w/ stand)
    • Weight: 13.9kg (w/o stand) • 14.2kg (w/ stand)
    • Remote controller model: TM2050A

    What’s Hot:

    • Ambient mode
    • Beautifully-rendered 4K images
    • Built-in Apple compatibility

    What’s Not:

    • Voice assistant is very basic
    • Sound quality needs improvement

    Bottomline

    A great choice if you’re looking for an entertainment center upgrade, now that everyone’s spending more time at home.

    Reviewed by Maribelle Alba
    Also published in Gadgets Magazine October 2020

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