The 55-inch Samsung UN55D8000 is among the most technologically advanced TVs available for 2011, reviewers say. It includes just about every high-end feature for this year, including an edge-lit LED backlight with local dimming and a 240 Hz refresh rate to reduce blur. Active-shutter 3D is included and works well -- notably better than 3D in last year's TV. You still need buy 3D glasses separately, however, and that cost can add up quickly.
There's more than 3D, of course. Samsung's Smart TV platform provides access to content providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Pandora. There's also a TV app store that offers content from Samsung and third-party producers. Skype is another plus, though you'll need an accessory camera/microphone add-on (*Est. $170) to take advantage of that. For those that want to browse the entire Internet on their TV, a built-in web browser is included, and the remote has a full QWERTY keyboard. You can also stream content from your personal computer and connect to everything over your Ethernet home network or wirelessly using the TV's built-in Wi-Fi radio.
The Samsung UN55D8000's picture draws lots of compliments but also gets some pointed criticism over one noteworthy flaw -- screen uniformity. Most edge-lit LED sets show less-than-perfect uniformity, but the UN55D8000 seems to draw more complaints than most others. On the other hand, we saw lots of comments -- from reviewers and owners -- that take no issue with that aspect of performance. Blacks are competitive with the best plasma TVs and clearly outperform many other LCD TVs, including other sets with LED backlights. Color performance is about as good as it gets with a TV intended for consumers. The screen is reflective, which means picture quality can take a hit in a well-lit room. Off-angle viewing isn't a strength, either. Other sets in the Samsung UND8000 series include the 46-inch UN46D8000, 60-inch UN60D8000 and 65-inch UN65D8000.
If poor screen uniformity is an issue for you, consider the Panasonic TC-PVT30 series of plasma TVs, including the 55-inch Panasonic TC-P55VT30 (*Est. $2,400). Performance is best in a darkened room, and the Internet features, while fine, aren't as fully developed as on the Samsung UN55D8000. However, the TC-P55VT30 is slightly less expensive and produces a fabulous picture highlighted by the deepest blacks of any TV -- eclipsing even the UN55D8000 and approaching those of the legendary but discontinued Kuro TVs once offered by Pioneer.
There's no shortage of reviews of the Samsung UND8000 sets, including the 55-inch Samsung UN55D8000. Denmark's FlatpanelsHD.com as well as TelevisionInfo.com and HDGuru.com have the most thorough analysis, though some might find the level of technical discussion a little too much. Others will find the well-detailed reports at CNET and The Perfect Vision more helpful. There aren't a lot of user reviews, but you can visit Amazon.com for a selection of those.
Despite some complaints about picture quality -- most notably screen uniformity -- the Samsung UN55D8000 and other sets in the UND8000 series earn a 4-star (excellent) rating at CNET. Improved 3D performance and robust Internet connectivity earn praise as does the styling, though the included stand is called goofy. Color performance and black levels draw kudos.
Review: Samsung UN55D8000, David Katzmaier, July 27, 2011
Samsung's UND8000 series, including the 55-inch UN55D8000, perform well enough to earn a Highly Recommended award at this Danish site. The review is detailed and balanced, though also fairly technical. Unlike some reviewers, Rasmus Larsen finds uniformity to be above average in the set he tests. Blacks are excellent. Out-of-the-box color performance is criticized, though Larsen adds that some adjustments can set things right.
Review: Samsung D8000 (LED), Rasmus Larsen, May 9, 2011
3. The Perfect Vision
The Samsung UN55D8000 earns a Recommended award here. Value is the only issue cited. Picture quality and the TV's features are well liked.
Review: Samsung UN55D8000 3D LED/LCD TV (TPV 102), David Birch-Jones, April 20, 2011
HDGuru.com calls the sub-par screen uniformity in the sample of the UN55D8000 it tests "a deal breaker for readers seeking the highest quality HDTV." That's enough to offset a number of positives both in picture quality and features, earning the TV a rather lackluster 3 hearts (out of 5) rating.
Review: Samsung UN55D8000 LED LCD HDTV -First Review, Gary Merson, April 18, 2011
TelevisionInfo.com looks at the 60-inch version of the TV but says that its performance is a good indicator of what to expect with the 55-inch UN55D8000. David Kender notes less than perfect uniformity and he criticizes color performance, but he says the set's other attributes and features won't disappoint. However, he does grouse about value, adding that those that don't need all of this TV's goodies should consider a less costly TV that performs nearly as well.
Review: Samsung UN60D8000 Review, David Kender, Aug. 25, 2011
More than 200 owners leave their impressions of the Samsung UN55D8000. Most award it either 5-star or 4-star ratings, but some complain of shortfalls such as its reflective screen treatment or imperfect screen uniformity, most often in the form of edge bleeding (edges of the TV picture show light bleed from the backlight). Still, the TV earns a 4.1-star overall rating.
Review: Samsung UN55D8000, Contributors to Amazon.com