Samsung UE48JU7500 review

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Pros
  • Outstanding contrast and detail
  • Slick Tizen OS
  • Comprehensive video streaming support
Cons
  • Severe motion issues using all but the movie preset
  • Screen is quite reflective
  • Relatively small size diminishes return on UHD and curved screen features

Key Features: 48-inch LCD TV with direct LED lighting; Native 4K/UHD resolution; Tizen-powered Smart TV system; Curved screen; External connections box

Manufacturer: Samsung

What is the Samsung UE48JU7500?

The UE48JU7500 is a 48-inch LCD TV with a native 4K UHD resolution and curved screen. It also has a pretty affordable price tag when considered against the eye-watering costs attached to Samsung’s flagship SUHD JS9000 and JS9500 series.

Design and Features

The UE48JU7500 is a striking TV. Its dark grey frame is reasonably trim and distinguished by the way it angles sharply back from its edges towards the screen, while the desktop stand’s design cunningly makes the screen look as if it’s somehow hovering magically above and behind a forward-jutting curved silver bar with a raised front edge.

Samsung UE48JU7500

The chassis is a bit too chunky around the back and plasticky in its finish for the AV catwalk, perhaps, but overall the UE48JU7500 is more than attractive enough for a £1,650/$2,475 4K TV with a high level of picture specification.

We’ll get into the key elements of the picture specs in a moment, but first we need to cover the fact that this isn’t one of Samsung’s SUHD models. So it doesn’t feature the SUHD ultra-bright panel designs, nanocrystal colour technology and high dynamic range (HDR) playback capabilities.

It does, though, still benefit from a direct LED lighting system, meaning its pictures are illuminated by clusters of LEDs positioned directly behind the screen, rather than around its edges. This is generally a good thing, as it gives TVs more lighting control to boost contrast – especially when, as with the UE48JU7500, different sectors of the LED clusters can have their light outputs adjusted individually via a process known as local dimming.

The UE48JU7500 also employs a potent quad-core processing engine to drive the TV’s picture processing. This includes upscaling HD and standard-definition content to the screen’s 3840×2160 resolution, a potential 1400Hz-emulating motion system (delivered through a combination of backlight scanning and frame interpolation) and the always-on depth-enhancement features Samsung deploys with its curved TVs.

Talking of the curve, Samsung would argue that bending the picture delivers palpable picture benefits, such as enhanced immersion in what you’re watching, a greater sense of depth, and potentially more sharpness at the TV’s left/right extremities. However, while there’s an element of truth to these claims on large-screen TVs, the advantages are certainly diminished if not nullified at the 48-inch screen size.

Sadly the key curved TV disadvantages aren’t diminished. The curved TV issues of distorted geometry when watching from a viewing angle of more than 35 degrees, and exaggerated onscreen reflections, are if anything made worse when they appear on a smaller screen.

Samsung UE48JU7500

We’re not saying you shouldn’y buy the UE48JU7500 because it’s curved. You just need to be aware that the draw of the curve is arguably mostly aesthetic at this screen size.

As with the previously tested non-curved UE48JU7000, most of the UE48JU7500’s connections – including its HDMIs and USBs – are housed on an external box called a One Connect Mini. Unlike the larger One Connect box found with Samsung’s SUHD TVs, though, the Mini Connect doesn’t carry the TV’s brains, and so can’t be swapped out in future years for an updated model. In fact, the Mini Connect is only really there to reduce the number of cables you’ve got going into the back of your TV. And even in this respect it’s compromised, since the tuner inputs are still on the main TV chassis.

The other big new feature of the UE48JU7500 is its Tizen-powered Smart TV system. This ditches Samsung’s previous, rather over-powering and inefficient full-screen smart TV interface in favour of a much more friendly and focussed system built around neat, colourful icons laid over the TV picture. It’s very reminiscent, truth be told, of LG’s webOS system – but there’s nothing wrong with that – and does a decent job of focussing on content you’re most likely to want to by populating the home screen with direct links to the sources you’ve watched most recently.

The system does feel almost too stripped down at the moment – maybe this will change when Samsung adds a recommendations system later in the year – but it’s still a big step in the right direction for the Korean brand.

Setup

At the time of writing, how you set the UE48JU7500 up is absolutely critical. For during our tests we found that the only way we could stop the picture falling prey to severe amounts of motion blur and lag was to switch to the Movie preset and turn off all of the noise reduction settings. With the other picture presets, no matter what tweaks we made to their settings, the excessive blurring was ever-present.

Samsung UE48JU7500

Bizarrely the blurring even remained if we copied every single picture setting we were using successfully in the Movie mode to the Standard preset, suggesting that all the picture settings bar the Movie one are using some sort of video processing that can’t be turned off.

Even weirder, the blurring issue only seems to happen conclusively in our test labs; it doesn’t appear to happen when the same TV is used down at Samsung HQ! But we’ve now experienced it on two related Samsung TVs, so clearly something weird is going on. If Samsung comes up with a firmware fix for the motion issues we’ve seen with all non-Movie presets we’ll update this section of the review.

The good news is that while you have to start all your picture setup efforts with the Movie preset, which suffers with backlight clouding and muted (albeit accurate to the Rec 709 standard) colours in its out-of-the-box state, you can access all areas of Samsung’s calibration toolset and so make the Movie preset look pretty much exactly how you want it to look.

Key moves we’d recommend – on top of turning off noise reduction – would be to turn on the Smart LED feature to its Low or, at a push, Medium setting to boost contrast and get rid of the clouding problem; to set the dynamic contrast feature to Low; and to set the Motion control system to its Clear level or, even better, a Custom mode with judder and blur set to around 3. We’d also suggest that you play with the different settings of the UHD colour mode.

One last thing to remember is to hunt out the Game option – hidden away in the General sub-folder of the System Menu – for gaming, as this reduces input lag. Though remember to turn it off if you’re using your games console for video streaming.

Picture Quality

Without using a heavily tweaked version of the Movie preset the UE48JU7500’s pictures would only merit a score of seven, bordering on six. Mercifully with the Movie preset in place, this score rises all the way to a seriously brilliant nine…

That said, we should point out that judging the UE48JU7500’s pictures is an exercise in relativity. For having spent many days living with Samsung’s SUHD TVs in recent weeks, there’s no hiding the fact that the UE48HU7500 is no match for its high-end brethren in the brightness or colour departments. Its black level response is slightly down on Samsung’s latest flagship screens too. But then the UE48JU7500 costs thousands of pounds less than Samsung’s SUHD TVs, so it would hardly be reasonable to expect it to deliver the same level of performance.

Samsung UE48JU7500

Compared more fairly with other UHD models in its own price bracket, the UE48HU7500 fairs much, much better. Its black level response in particular – so long as you’re using the Smart LED feature – is superb, delivering only the most minute trace of greyness over parts of the picture that should look black. What’s more, with Smart LED local dimming active there’s negligible evidence of backlight clouding in the image’s corners.

Equally importantly, so long as you’re not viewing from a wide angle and don’t succumb to the temptation of running the Smart LED system on its highest power setting, there’s precious little disruption from light blooms (also known as haloes) around bright objects against dark backdrops.

The use of a direct LED backlight system also enables the UE48HU7500 to deliver strikingly pure peak whites and really punchy, natural colours even when the majority of the image is dark – something TVs that use an edge LED lighting system can’t do as effectively.

As we’d expect of a TV with such a strong contrast performance the UE48HU7500’s colours enjoy a gorgeous combination of vibrancy and subtlety. To underline a point made earlier, we’re not in the same ballpark in colour terms as Samsung’s SUHD TVs – especially if you’re watching HDR content on those high end models. But by ‘normal’ LCD TV standards, the UE48HU7500’s colour performance really is pretty stellar.

Samsung UE48JU7500

The UE48JU7500’s exceptional tonal subtlety and colour blend finesse prove great partners for its UHD resolution, helping its screen eke out every last drop of detail from native UHD content.

Inevitably a screen only 48 inches across won’t deliver as much UHD impact as one 65 inches across. But we entirely disagree with those who argue there’s no benefit to having a UHD resolution on a relatively small TV, as good UHD images like those produced by the UE48HU7500 still look crisper, more nuanced and more three dimensional (without actually being 3D!) than HD ones.

The UHD sharpness does take a minor hit when there’s extensive motion in the frame, but the judder and blur that cause this aren’t severe by LCD standards, and you can improve the motion clarity a little by careful use of Samsung’s motion processing system without the picture succumbing to excessive processing artefacts.

Samsung UE48JU7500

It’s not easy to find problems with the UE48HU7500’s pictures so long as you’re using a tweaked Movie preset. Sometimes with the TV set up to optimise black level response the most subtle shadow details are crushed out of the picture, and you do need to spend time tinkering with the TV’s settings extensively given the lack of any helpful picture preset.

Our biggest problem with the UE48JU7500’s pictures, though – aside from the thankfully avoidable blurring problem we see in any non-Movie preset – is the rather glossy finish to the screen, which reflects any bright objects or light sources in your room.

Overall, though, a sensibly configured UE48HU7500 is pretty much as good a sub-50-inch UHD TV as we’ve seen.

3D Picture Quality

The UE48HU7500 doesn’t ship with any 3D glasses, confirming that Samsung clearly doesn’t see 3D as a big draw any more. If you do cough up extra for some 3D glasses, though, Samsung’s active (full resolution) 3D system rewards you with a mostly fun 3D performance.

Detail levels are outstandingly high, as we’d expect of an active UHD 3D system, and the TV’s direct LED lighting delivers 3D images with enough brightness to ensure they still look punchy despite the dimming effect of the active shutter glasses. The TV’s stellar contrast performance plays its part too, helping to create a spectacular sense of space and depth.

Samsung UE48JU7500On the downside there’s a little crosstalk around contrasty edges in the mid and far distance or heavily foregrounded objects (especially text), and a 48-inch screen will never give you the same 3D impact that a much bigger screen can unless you’re sat close to it.

Sound Quality

The UE48JU7500’s speakers perform decently considering they fire down rather than straight at you. There’s enough volume to keep an action movie solid company, and dense movie mixes are handled without any unwanted vibrations and rattles from the cabinet. The speakers don’t succumb to phutting due to overloading either, and the mid-range sounds more open and detailed than usual for a Samsung TV.

There isn’t much bass around, which can leave some action scenes sounding rather exposed and borderline harsh in the treble range, but this is preferable to Samsung trying to push bass to the point where the rest of the soundstage collapses.

Other Things To Consider

With its rich contrast, bold colours, extreme sharpness, and manageably sized screen the UE48HU7500 clearly has great appeal as a gaming monitor. So we’re happy to report that it underlines this appeal with a sub-25ms input lag measurement when using its Game preset. This is as low a figure as we’ve recorded from a UHD TV, and should mean the TV won’t come between you and another swaggering Call of Duty performance.

Samsung UE48JU7500One other point worth mentioning here is that the UE48HU7500 ships with one of Samsung’s new smart remote controls, with their comfortable curved shape, much-reduced button count, and reasonably effective point-and-click functionality.

Should I buy a Samsung UE48HU7500?

So long as you’ve read this review fully and so understand how to avoid the UE48JU7500’s otherwise killer motion problems, the UE48JU7500’s performance is more than competitive with the rival UHD TVs in the same price bracket. The only really compelling rival we can think of right now is the Sony 55X9005B, which offers an excellent 4K picture, markedly better audio and seven inches of extra screen size for only £100-£200/$150-$300 more. Though the smart system on this 2014 Sony TV is far less evolved than Samsung’s Tizen effort.

One other general point we would raise, though, is that he UE48JU7500’s relatively small screen doesn’t show off the potential benefits of a UHD resolution and curved screen as much as a larger model would. So if you like the idea of the UE48JU7500, think of going for one of its bigger siblings if you can.

Verdict

While it troubles us how many people might potentially suffer with the motion blur problems we’ve found when using the main preset of our UE48JU7500 (unless Samsung can come up with a firmware fix), we have managed to find a way to get round the issue. And having done that we’ve found ourselves faced with another impressive Samsung television that delivers an admirable affordable UHD alternative to the brand’s stunning but expensive JS models.

Scores In Detail

2D Quality : 9/10
3D Quality : 8/10
Design : 9/10
Features : 9/10
Sound Quality : 8/10
Value : 8/10

(trustedreviews.com)

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