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Out of the Box
Even from a distance, there's no denying that the 65JS9500 is a curved TV. But on closer inspection, you can see that it sports a gentle sweep and not a more radical arc.
With wall mount adapters, you can attach this curved screen to a traditional flat panel wall mount.
The screen is accented by a brushed silver beveled bezel.
For the JS9500, Samsung does not herald any particular feature that reduces reflections, but even with the TV turned off, glares are dulled.
When the TV is on, all but the brightest reflections disappear. If they distract you, the simple solution is to control the lighting in your room. The TV does not swivel on its stand.
As with other recent Samsung models, on the bottom of the back edge of the TV, the traditional operational buttons are replaced with a joystick controller.
Unlike almost all TVs, the JS9500 series does not have a connection panel on the back of the unit. Instead, Samsung packages a One Connect box that supplies all the normal connections.
The box then attaches to the back of the TV with one cable that transmits audio and video signals as well as commands. The TV is plugged into a power outlet and sends power to the box through the cable.
On the back of the One Connect box are four HDMI inputs. HDMI 1 is the default port for a cable or satellite set-top box.
HDMI 3 is MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) friendly. With an MHL cable, you can connect the TV to MHL-compatible devices like tablets and smartphones and transmit photo/music/video to the TV.
HDMI 4 can be used to feed a digital audio signal to an AV receiver that is compatible with Audio Return Channel [ARC] technology. If you are streaming content on your JS9500 from a source like Netflix, ARC is a great way to bypass the overmatched built-in speakers and offload the audio to an AV receiver and a surround sound system.
If your legacy source equipment requires Component connections, Samsung supplies a hybrid Component video and audio cable that plugs into the thin slot on the box.
The One Connect box has an integrated Wi-Fi adapter, but if you prefer a wired connection to your router, a LAN port is included. Also on the back is a USB 3.0 port and an RF input for an antenna or cable.
But wait, there's more. On the side are two USB 2.0 ports, one Digital Audio (Optical) out, and an IR out.
Beyond the logistic and aesthetic advantages of plugging all the cables into the One Connect and running only one cable to the JS9500, this box also serves as Samsung's future proofing solution.
UHD TV technology and standards are quickly evolving, some of the changes can be addressed by software updates that can be downloaded. Others may require new hardware. With the One Connect system, you can buy a new box with up-to-date hardware and not have to replace the whole TV.
On the top of the JS9500 is a flip up video camera that you can use for Skype calling and for sensing motion control signals.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm not real keen on my TV looking back at me so I disengage the camera by flipping it back down out of sight.
Luckily, I don't feel the urge to wave my hands at the TV to turn it off or adjust the volume. You can always flip it back for Skyping.
I do find the Voice Recognition feature handy when I want to search for a program. The supplied Smart Remote Control includes a integrated microphone. Speak into it and the TV deciphers your request with surprising accuracy.
To take full advantage of this Samsung Smart TV, you need to connect it to your home network (via wired or wireless). Not only can you access the numerous apps and streaming content providers, you also expand your connectivity options with devices like computers, media servers, smartphones and tablets.
Every year, the Samsung interface designers refine how it organizes all of the apps and content that you have available on this Smart TV. In past years, the Smart Hub was divided into four groups, each would fill the screen.
In 2015, the Smart Hub has been reduced to just occupy the bottom portion of the screen. You can personalize the Hub to show only your favorite content providers. I like this simpler design.
The Smart Hub might be more compact but Samsung still provides a tasty buffet of content providers in the Samsung Apps store, which is divided into multiple categories like Video, Games and Lifestyle.
If you click on the My Content tile in the Smart Hub, you can access photos, videos and music files that are stored in the cloud, your computer or a USB drive.
The menu for viewing photos does not offer as many transitions as earlier versions (10 vs 19) but you still can add music to your slideshow.
I'm surprised that the JS9500 does not automatically upscale my HD resolution photos to UHD size, though you can use the slideshow Options menu to Zoom and fill the screen with the HD image.
This 4K TV is 3D compatible, upscaling HD 3D movies to Ultra HD resolution. Samsung has adopted the active shutter system to view 3D content which employs shutter 3D glasses that require batteries. One set of glasses come in the box.
You can purchase extra glasses on the Samsung site for $20 (standard battery model below) or $50 (rechargeable battery model on top).
I'll discuss 3D performance on the next page.
Samsung supplies one tiny remote control in the JS9500 box. It's so small (6 x 1.375") that the little bugger actually got lost in our sofa more than once.
Small can be beautiful, but this one has been pared down too much. Unlike earlier pint-sized Samsung remotes, this one is missing dedicated buttons for items like the Fast Forward and Fast Reverse, which are handy if you are streaming video from Netflix.
From what I can tell, the only way to access these controls is from an on-screen menu. I think this interface design relies too heavily on transferring common remote control functions to an on-screen menu.
The remote provides a Pointer button. Press it and a pointer pops up on the screen which you can navigate around by moving the remote.
It's a nice feature, but the arrow keys are too close for my not-so-nimble fingers. Especially in the dark, I keep fumbling to distinguish the up arrow key from the pointer button.
I've been on friendly terms with almost all the remotes over the years. This one I'm still fighting.
The remote also contains a little microphone for voice recognition, which you access by pushing and holding the MENU/123 button. Voice recognition is extremely helpful when you need to enter search information.
This Samsung 65JS9500 packs in so many features that may be unfamiliar to you, plan on study time. Fortunately, the interactive onscreen E-Manual is well written and informative.
The EPA publishes a searchable list of ENERGY STAR Certified Televisions. (You can find it here.) The Samsung UN65JS9000 is on the list, their JS9500 is not. But as you can see from its Energy Guide label it fares remarkably well when compared to models its size.
Based on the formula that the TV is on five hours a day and in Standby for the other 19, the Estimated Yearly Energy Cost is $22 (at 11 cents per kW hour. When you consider this is a 65-inch Ultra HD TV, $22 is admirable.
Before walking you through some of the basic setup steps, let me say that if you paid in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 dollars for this TV, you can probably afford to have an installer come in and do all the dirty work, including calibrating this high performance 4K TV to match your viewing environment.
If you are an inveterate DIYer, the good news is that you should - by your lonesome (and a friend or two with strong backs) - be able to set up this 65-inch Samsung JS9500 fairly quickly and easily.
For example, the One Connect box makes the task of plugging in cables much less painful, especially if you are wall mounting your TV. And you don't need to figure out how to hide all those HDMI cables hanging from your TV.
Next, Samsung walks you through the initial setup, which should only take you a few minutes.
If you just want to watch TV without much more ado, you should be good to go.
Though if you have progressed this far with this technologically advanced TV, I recommend that you take the next step and test the different Picture Modes.
Click on the MENU/123 button and at the top of the screen, select the Menu option and then the Picture menu which offers four default Picture Modes, Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie.
(Samsung provides two other Picture options. One of them, Entertain, is only available if the TV is attached to a PC. The other is called Stadium/Sports/Soccer mode. The manual states, "When you set Sports Mode [MENU > System > Sports Mode or Soccer Mode > Sports Mode or Soccer Mode] to On, both Picture Mode and Sound Mode are automatically set to Stadium. The TV changes the picture and sound settings so that they are suitable for soccer events." That's the extent of the description, but it's worth trying.)
You can sample each mode with your favorite content. When switching from one mode to another, give yourself a minute or two to adjust.
With the Samsung TVs that I have reviewed over the years, I tend toward the subtler, more cinematic look of the Movie mode. Samsung says that with the JS9500, "The Movie mode provides the most accurate image possible and is factory-calibrated to be closest to D6500 Kelvin with Rec 709 (HD) color space and 2.2 gamma."
But I can see the appeal of the default mode of Standard. Standard adds a punch to the picture. In a brightly lit room, Standard might be preferable over Movie, which is more appropriate for a dimly lit home theater environment.
If you are a Movie mode fan and want a true cinematic/non-video look, go into the Picture menu and open up the Picture Options sub-menu.
Click on Auto Motion Plus and in that sub-menu, turn it Off. This is the quick and easy method of minimizing the clean "video look" caused by interpolation algorithms applied when Auto Motion Plus is turned On.
Of course, you can fiddle with the Auto Motion Plus options to fine tune its effect. Samsung recommends, "Adjust Auto Motion Plus to the desired setting. The 'Custom' setting allows you to set 'Blur' to 10 to improve motion resolution for video sources, but lets the 24-frame sequence for film sources. Also turn on LED Clear Motion to improve black level and motion resolution without using interpolation or smoothing."
Let's leave the more serious noodling around the Picture Menu to an ISF technician who can calibrate Cal-day and Cal-night modes tailored to your viewing environment.
Once you have decided on your Picture mode, you should be ready to enjoy your favorite programs, unless one of them is House of Cards, the second season of which Netflix is now streaming in 4K.
If you are streaming content providers like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video or MGo, you will need to attach your TV to your home network and then register those apps and all the others that you want to use.
Then if you want to explore even further, there's Motion Control and Voice Interaction and Screen Mirroring and ConnectShare Movie and Briefing on TV and apps and more apps.
Face it, you bought one of the most feature-rich TVs in the marketplace today. It will take time and study to explore all it has to offer.
If all this seems a bit daunting, don't worry. You can ignore all of the extra features and still appreciate the delicious picture on this JS9500 Ultra HD curved display.