Australian Review: Samsung Series 9 65JS9500 65-inch SUHD TV - A whole lot of wow

Samsung Series 9 65JS9500 65-inch SUHD TV
Australian Review: Samsung Series 9 65JS9500 65-inch SUHD TV - A whole lot of wow

It's hard to judge a product in a vacuum, but sometimes circumstances mean you have to. Today I spent four hours locked away in a hotel room with Samsung's latest display - the Series 9 JS9500 65-inch SUHD TV. Fortunately, the JS9500 makes for a stunning roommate.

This review was conducted in a hotel room in the Hilton - a reasonably controlled environment - and as such I wasn't able to compare it to any other televisions. As I said in my CES coverage of Samsung's SUHD range, I'm really intrigued as how Samsung's use of quantum dot technology compares to LG's OLED displays - so I'm hoping to tee up a face-off somewhere down the line.

Please feel free to take this review with a grain of salt - four hours isn't a long time with any product - especially a TV - but what I saw certainly impressed.

The 65JS9500 is part of Samsung's Series 9 SUHD TVs, the Korean manufacturer's flagship range. All Series 9 models - designated by the JS9500 model number - have a slightly more premium finish, boasting some swish chamfered edging. Aesthetically, the 65JS9500 looks great, the bezel is subtle and doesn't affect the viewing experience, but still looks presentable when the TV is off.

Samsung is still using curved screens in its high-end models, but the curvature is reasonably subtle in proportion to the massive display. I'm a little over the whole curved TV thing, but at 65-inches, it's not going to massively impact your viewing experience. If you prefer a flat panel, Samsung also has two flat SUHD TVs, designated by the JS8000 moniker.

As with Samsung's 2014 TVs, all of the 65JS9500's inputs and outputs have been relegated to what's been dubbed the "One Connect Box". Key interfaces include four HDMI inputs, an optical audio output, a USB 3.0 port and two USB 2.0 ports. The One Connect Box also houses the television's eight-core processor, giving you the option to upgrade some of the 65JS9500's internals down the line.

All of Samsung's 2015 TVs now run Tizen, the same open-source operating that the company has been installing on its wearables. Tizen provides a much simpler smart TV interface which makes flicking between apps such as Netflix and iView and your other content sources much easier. While Tizen has made the Samsung smart TV experience a hell of a lot more user friendly, it still feels a little clunky once you start delving deeper into menus. Sure, there's a lot of settings users should be able to control on a TV, but commonly used features like "game mode" were a little too hidden for my liking.

The 65JS9500 comes with two remotes - a traditional one and a fancier option that works a bit like a WiiMote. The motion tracking on the "fancy option" was a bit hit and miss, so I opted to use the traditional remote for the majority of my time with the TV.

The 65JS9500 is one of the most expensive 4K TVs currently on the market, but when you break it down, you're not paying for the resolution, you're paying the quantum dot technology Samsung's SUHD line makes use of. It's not just a bigger image, but a better image.

Quantum dots allow for higher contrast LCD displays that produce more vibrant colours, similar to what an OLED display is capable of. Unsurprisingly, TV manufacturers aren't very fond of the term, and as such have all rebranded it in wildly different ways. Samsung has SUHD, LG has ColourPrime, Sony has Triluminos and Hisense has ULED. While the names are diverse, all four manufacturers are using quantum dot technology. 

In practice, Samsung has utilised the technology to great effect. The only other display I had to compare the 65JS9500 to was my MacBook, which also has a pretty fantastic screen. Despite the lovely "retina display" on the Apple-branded notebook, the 65JS9500 easily outshone it, demonstrating much deeper blacks for example.

Colours were noticeably richer too, almost to the point where they were oversaturated on the 65JS9500's default setting - "dynamic". This setting was great for games such as Mortal Kombat X, but came across as a little too much when watching Captain American: Winter Soldier; green foliage was so bright that it almost looked fake. Fortunately, it's very easy to dial this back - a setting called "neutral" was my personal preference, but you've also got a few other simple options.

If you're not happy with any of Samsung's presets, you've got an immense amount of options to tinker with. These start with basics such as backlight, contrast, brightness and colour, and go as far as letting you control how black you want your blacks to be, with choices such as "dark", "darker" and "darkest". These options can be applied to every single one of the 65JS9500's inputs, or on a case-by-case basis.

While quantum dots allow for much greater contrast, the fact the 65JS9500 is still a LCD display means you won't get the same calibre image as an OLED panel. This is best exemplified by putting up white text against a black background (picture below) - as you get further away from the white text, the blacks get darker. OLED, on the other hand, doesn't have this problem. While this is a fairly minor quirk in the scheme of things - and one that is unlikely to be noticeable unless you're looking at a white logo on a black screen - it may be off-putting to some purists.

Another key benefit of the JS9500 SUHD TVs over the lower-end models is that they're backlit, as opposed to edge-lit. This often results in a more uniformly lit display; in the case of the 65JS9500, there was no noticeable light bleeding.

As with almost every other high-end TV on the market, the 65JS9500 can make your content fall victim to the "soap opera" effect, where movies and TV shows seem to playback uncannily fast. In order to remedy this, you'll need to turn off a setting called "Auto Motion" that's buried away in the labyrinth that is the picture settings menu. Unless you're watching sports, you'll almost certainly want this off.

The 65JS9500 also has a game mode that disables most of the TV's processing options in-order to reduce input lag. I tested out two games where low input latency is a must - Bloodborne and Mortal Kombat X - and didn't have any issues with either.

Samsung claims that its SUHD range is two and a half times brighter than its regular UHD TVs, and it certainly shows. The hotel room I reviewed the 65JS9500 had four windows right behind the TV, and while it picked up glare, the TV was bright enough that it wasn't an issue. Of course, the 65JS9500 really shines (pardon the pun) when you dim your lights. Despite a few ambient lights in the room and the screen's curvature, the 65JS9500 didn't pick up any noticeable reflections.

While 4K isn't the 65JS9500's main selling point, Australians have access to more 4K content than ever before thanks to Netflix. There's still not heaps available, but shows like House of CardsDaredevil and The Blacklist all look noticeably better in 4K, especially on a TV as big as the 65JS9500.

Even when you're not watching native 4K content, the 65JS9500's upscaller does a top notch job with high quality content such as next-generation console games and Blu-Ray movies. When it came to Blu-Rays, the TV's dynamic mode seemed to add some noticeable artificating, but the swapping to neutral or standard solved the problem.

Last but not least, the 65JS9500's speakers sound better than what you'd expect an integrated module,  go quite loud with minimal distortion and produce a surprising amount of bass. Of course, if you're looking at buying an AUD$10,000 TV, you're probably the kind of person who wants a 5.1 setup to go with it.

Final Thoughts 
Samsung's 65JS9500 is a brilliant television where the biggest issue is a price-tag that’s unfathomable to most. Is it good enough to take a loan? No - at the end of day, the 65JS9500 is just a television. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing television, and if you care about picture quality and have the disposable income, you won't be disappointed. But at the same time, the 65JS9500 doesn't do any more than any other UHD or SUHD on the market, it just looks better while doing it.

That being said, if I had the money, I'd love one.

If you are looking at AUD$10,000 TVs, it's also worth looking at LG's 4K OLED offering which will be available in Australia a little later this year - hopefully. Without having directly compared both TVs side-by-side, Samsung's SUHD TVs will produce a much brighter image, but can't achieve the same kind of contrast as OLED. And while OLED is better for detailed blacks and whites, the image will be dimmer, which can be an issue if you're trying to watch something during the day in a bright environment.

From a practicality perspective, I'd pick SUHD - my living room attracts way too much sunlight during the day. If I had a dedicated movie room, the choice would be much harder.

I'm hoping to take an extended look at some of Samsung's more affordable SUHD TVs a little later in the year; the entry-level 55-inch 55JS8000 is one I've got my eye on, and is much more palatable at AUD$4,999.

Looking at the big picture, SUHD isn't just a gimmick, is a much more meaningful enhancement than 4K, and genuinely improves the viewing experience. I can't wait until the technology trickles down into a TV that I can actually buy for myself.

Cybershack Score - rating backgroundrating 4.5

Excellent brightness and contrastIncredibly expensive
Fantastic image quality Settings menus confusing to navigate
Slick designContrast not as good as in OLED TVs

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