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When I receive a new TV, in the back of my mind I hope that I will be struck by that "Aha" experience, when you discover that particular something that makes this TV special. Often that glittering moment never manifests or if it does, it's a slight glimmer.
During my preliminary testing of this Samsung HU8550, I had been impressed by the size of the display and its picture quality. But I didn't experience that UHD defining instant until I loaded the 4K version of the Life of Pi from the Video Pack.
Starting with the opening credits, the detail in ultra high definition was amazing and the lush colors (supported by local dimming) were scrumptious.
And the "Aha" moment continued throughout the movie. Without a doubt Life of Pi in 4K is a great showcase for UHD.
Now, the HU8550 is a 2014 model and I have seen the Samsung's new 2015 SUHD models, like the JS8500. To showcase these SUHD units, they play a clip of Life of Pi that has been re-mastered with added HDR (High Dynamic Range). The SUHD TV literally outshines a display like the HU8550.
This year, the standard for picture quality is definitely being raised. Though, I doubt if more than a few HDR 4K programs will be available to consumers until at least 2016.
The reality is that right now in 2015 there's still not a great deal of native 4K (HDR or non-HDR,) content available to the consumer, therefore it's still vital that these Ultra HD TVs upscale standard HD movies and TV shows well. And the HU8550 performs admirably upscaling HD content to 4K.
As mentioned earlier, I did notice that occasionally the edges of the picture were lighter than the rest of the display, which might distract the demanding videophile.
As for the flat vs. curved screen debate, I think the slight arc of the Samsung HU9000 display does not add to its picture quality compared to the flat HU8550. Choosing one over the other boils down to profile and price. (And the HU9000 does have an integrated video camera.)
I played the delightfully creative (and immensely labor intensive) Boxtrolls 3D Blu-ray and the 3D playback on the HU8550 was fine. I'm not a fan of the shutter glasses, but they are comfortable enough to wear.
As for audio, normally Samsung builds into their TVs two 10W speakers. For higher-end models like the HU8550, they add two 10W woofers. The combination produces a deeper fuller sound.
But the audio output cannot match the visual impact of a 65-inch Ultra HD TV. It deserves, at the very least, an appropriately robust sound bar system with a powered subwoofer.
Better yet, treat your ears to a full surround sound system that is worthy of this UHD TV.
The Samsung 65-inch HU8550 TV really shines when playing native 4K content, but it also performs like a champ when upscaling standard HD programs to Ultra HD resolution. In addition, Samsung doesn't skimp on features like voice recognition, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a wealth of apps presented on an easy to navigate interface.
This TV does not sport a curved screen, but give it a year or two and flat screens will be back in vogue. If you shop around, you should be able to find this 2014 model at a tempting price.