Not everyone can afford the high prices for Samsung’s QLED range of TVs, so what are the firm’s cheaper sets like? Here we take a look at NU8000. It’s still expensive, but considerably more affordable.
Samsung NU8000: Price and availability
The Q7FN we reviewed recently starts at £1,999 but jumps to £3,999 if you want the larger 75in model instead of 55in.
That will put it out of the reach of many people, but the NU8000 has a more reasonable price tag. It starts at just £859/US$999 for 49in but will still cost you £3,999/$3,999 if you want the gigantic 82in model. You can buy it direct from Samsung in the UK or in the US.
The smallest model should be enough for most living rooms but the 55in is probably the best option if you want a big screen without paying too much.
The above are all recommended prices, but you can get the 49in NU8000 for £749 at Amazon, £838 for 55in and £1,227 for 65in. View it on Amazon.
In the US, it costs $610, $785 and $1,135 respectively at the time of writing. View it on Amazon.
Again, the 55in is the sweet spot here. For more alternatives, see the best TVs to buy in 2018.
Samsung NU8000: Design and features
Although it’s a lot cheaper, the NU8000 has a pretty similar design to the stunning Q range. It’s also got slim bezels and a nice bar stand that we described on the Q7 as ‘elegant without being fussy’.
The display doesn’t go right to the very outsides but there’s only a few millimetres of black bezel. We like the curved back which, just as it does on the iMac, creates a sort of illusion where the sides seem very thin making you think the entire TV is the same thickness.
You can wall mount it if you like, but it’s not as well suited to this as is the QLED models with their clever One Connect box. This has a single, thin cable leading to the TV itself. You’ll probably be best of using the supplied stand, especially if you’re going to use all the inputs.
Either way, handy grooves on the back help you keep your cables neatly routed out of sight.
Like other Samsung TVs, you get not one, but two remote controls. It’s a bit odd, but there’s essentially and old-school one with almost endless buttons and a much more modern and minimalist option – the One Remote which can be used to control multiple devices, and also has a built-in microphone for voice commands.
They both work well so you can take your pick depending on what you’re doing, or perhaps if one gets temporarily lost.
Setup and interface
Switching on the NU8000 for the first time prompts you to install the SmartThings app – this is Samsung’s one-stop-shop for controlling all its gadgets. You can do this and it will be useful down the line, but we found it quicker to skip this and just follow the instructions on-screen.
One you’re up and running the Tizen interface looks slick and is pretty easy to use throughout. The Universal Guide gives quick access to content and apps. The whole thing is smooth in performance thanks to a quad-core processor.
As well as the TVPlus guide, you get plenty of third-party apps including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and All 4. Bear in mind that only some of these can stream in 4K like Netflix an YouTube.
The cheaper price compared to the Q-range might mean you don’t get all the fancy features such as the always-on, low power mode. You do get Bixby voice search meaning you can quickly find content instead of laboriously putting a letter in at a time.
The HDMI inputs – of which there are four – automatically recognise and name each device, plus give it an appropriate icon, which is neat.
The NU8000 is an LED TV which uses edge lighting just like the Q7. Samsung reserves backlighting for the high-end Q9 and some Q8 models. The LEDs are in the bottom edge and in general you won’t notice any leakage.
While image quality isn’t quite as impressive as the more expensive QLED models, it still offers a remarkable picture. Importantly, you’re still getting that Ultra HD resolution (complete with Samsung’s excellent upscaling) and HDR support.
The picture is packed sharp detail with great contrast for an LCD panel. Watch any scene in Planet Earth II with snow and you’ll be amazed at how well defined everything is. Obviously the impact this will have will depend on which TV you’re upgrading from, but it’s likely to make your jaw drop the first time you witness 4K HDR content, whether that’s from Blu-ray or YouTube.
It’s not all plain sailing as you’ll notice slightly grey rather than black bars when watching wide-aspect-ratio content such as films.
It might not be quite on a par with QLED but for many people the differences won’t be worth the extra cost. Read our comparison of QLED and OLED.
Like a lot of TVs, the default settings are overly sharp. As with the Q7, you’re better off dialling Sharpness down so things look more natural. Colours aren’t too overblown, in fact they’re reasonably natural in the Standard mode, but in Dynamic mode grass takes on an unrealistic fluorescent hue.
Gamers will appreciate the quick response of the set when you enable gaming mode, making any fast-paced games a joy to play.
Something we really like is the ability to individually adjust the settings for each input, not all of them, so you can tweak away and the TV will switch to those settings every time. Handy if you want the look to be different when gaming, or watching films for example.
The TV supports HDR and automatically detects it on any input. Specifically, there’s support for HDR10+ and HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) – there’s not much content around for those standards yet but you’re future proofing here.
It’s worth noting that the 49in model, tempting at its lower price, has a 60Hz refresh rate so we’d recommend going for at least to 55in to jump to 120Hz as you’ll get noticeably better motion smoothing. On the 65in model we tested, we found motion smoothing to be excellent with the Auto Motion Plus setting.
When it comes to sound, the NU8000 is surprisingly good for a flat TV. The 2.1 system is capable of throwing out some pretty detailed audio and it can also go nice and loud without significantly distorting. Of course, a soundbar is always going to be better but you won’t be offending your ears if you stick with just the TV.
Although we’re enamoured with Samsung’s QLED range, not everyone can afford the prices they command.
Stepping down to the NU8000 might sound bad but it’s not at all. You still get an excellent 4K HDR picture quality that’s packed with detail and colour (just avoid the dynamic mode) and Samsung’s excellent upscaling.
The default might be overly sharp but you can adjust that and you still get plenty of features in the Tizen OS and Bixby voice control. This all comes in a stylish design with tiny bezels and impressive sound.
Our only warning is to avoid the 49in model and its lower 60Hz refresh rate. The 55in is the sweet sport here for size, price and specs.
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