The Samsung UE55BU8500 is the most premium Samsung LCD TV you can currently buy without switching to the brand’s QLED range. This means it doesn’t take advantage of a Quantum Dot color system like those step-up QLED models, instead sticking to a more traditional filter-based Crystal Color system that isn’t expected to cover such a wide range of color tones. produce.
However, Samsung still claims a billion shades for the UE55BU8500, unlocked using the latest Crystal Processor 4K processing engine. Add this to Samsung’s content-rich smart system and the UE55BU8500 has the potential to be a real bargain in Samsung’s current TV range.
The UE55BU8500 will be available (in December 2022) in the UK for £599 (around $725 / AU$1050), but while it’s available in a few other parts of Europe, it’s not available in the US or Australia, where Samsung would like to focus more exclusively on its premium QLED and Mini LED offerings.
The 55-inch BU8500 is joined by 43-, 50-, 65- and 75-inch alternatives, with prices starting at £399 (around £480 / AU$700) and capping at £1099 (around $1325 / AU$ 1950).
The UE55BU8500 is normally only slightly cheaper than Samsung’s entry-level 55-inch QLED, the QE55Q60B. This is a bit tricky for the Crystal Color model, as a little extra seems worth paying for Quantum Dots’ proven color benefits. Also a bit inconvenient for the UE55BU8500 is that Samsung sells the UE55BU8000, which is apparently identical, except it uses feet instead of a standard pedestal-style design, for less.
While you can’t get around the UE55BU8000 situation unless you really need the centre-mounted stand, the QE55Q60B didn’t quite win us over in our recent review, and it’s certainly not unheard of for a good ‘regular’ LCD TV to actually be better outperform a low-end QLED in general.
The UE55BU8500 benefits from the same AirSlim design approach as the step-up Q60B, meaning the body has an extremely slim profile that looks sleek and premium, making the kit a potentially great option for hanging on a wall.
When not wall-mounted, it sits on a neat, centrally mounted, bar-style plinth that makes it easy to position the set even on fairly narrow furniture.
The bezel of the screen is slightly wider than the barely-there bezels of some of today’s most stylish TV offerings, but not sloppy.
The UE55BU8500 comes with two remotes: a standard, rather tacky but actually quite basic battery-powered option and, impressively for a set this far in Samsung’s range, one of the new solar-powered, ‘smart’ remotes with less buttons. .
The 55-inch screen of the Samsung UE55BU8500 has a native 4K resolution and support for HDR10, HLG and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats. However, in line with all Samsung TVs, it doesn’t include support for Dolby Vision, which is a shame given the amount of resources now available in it.
As you can guess from how thin the TV is, the LCD panel is lit from the edges rather than directly behind it, whereas the panel appears to be a VA panel, as is the case with most (but no longer all) Samsung TVs. The VA panel costs picture contrast and color from wide viewing angles, but should, from experience, deliver better contrast than the rival IPS-type screen.
There is no Q in the name of the UE55BU8500, which confirms that there are no Quantum Dots in the display. Colors are rendered more conventionally via a filtering system – although, as noted earlier, Samsung claims a billions of wide range of color tones from this set’s Dynamic Crystal Color and Crystal Processor 4K combination. There’s no local dimming system, but there’s a Contrast Enhancer system to analyze each frame of incoming images to try how the screen handles contrast with different types of content.
Connectivity is average, but no more. The number of three HDMIs and two USBs isn’t bad for a 55-inch TV that costs this much, but it’s a shame none of the HDMIs support the latest 4K/120Hz or VRR gaming features. Especially now that TCL offers these game features on the 55-inch 55C735K. You can’t just blame the Samsung BU8500’s HDMIs for this, mind you; the screen itself is really just a 50Hz panel.
Samsung UE55BU8500 technical specifications
Screen size 55 inches (also available in 43in, 50in, 65in and 75in)
Type Crystal color LED
HDR formats HLG, HDR10, HDR10+
Operating system Tizen (Eden)
HDMI inputs x3
HDMI 2.1? no
Gaming features ALL
Optical output? Yes
Dimensions (hwd, without stand) 71 x 123 x 2.6 cm
There’s also no appearance on the BU85000 of the Game Bar interface found on more premium Samsung TVs. However, it does support ALLM switching, where the TV can automatically switch in and out of low latency game mode. That game mode also delivers a fantastically fast response time of just 10ms, which is pretty much as slow as it gets in the TV world, and there’s also Samsung’s Game Hub to consider, which currently has the largest selection of TVs in the world. of streamed game services.
Smart features are provided by Samsung’s Tizen system. It’s the same all-new version of this system that you get on Samsung’s premium TVs, complete with all the major streaming and catch-up apps that pretty much anyone could ever want. There’s also the increasingly curated and therefore increasingly interesting TV Plus roster of all of Samsung’s streamed TV channels, with the only thing missing being the Freeview Play app to bring together all the catch-up apps from the UK’s major terrestrial broadcasters (although these are all available individually).
The transition from the latest Tizen interface to a full-screen redesign isn’t a total success, thanks to some useless navigation and content highlighting decisions, but the sheer amount of content it packs is irrefutable.
Right off the bat you don’t get the sense that the UE55BU8500 is firing on as many cylinders as Samsung has often delivered in this mid-section of its TV range in the past. The picture just feels a bit flat and dull compared to some of the competition – two things we certainly wouldn’t traditionally associate with Samsung TVs.
A side-by-side comparison with the recently reviewed TCL 55C735K confirms our initial reaction, as the TCL model delivers images that are generally brighter and enjoy significantly more powerful HDR peak highlights than the UE55BU8500 can give you.
The BU8500 also pays the price for the missing Quantum Dot color system by delivering a color palette that, while quite broad and quite subtle, ultimately feels a bit desaturated compared to the TCL’s vibrancy. Granted, the TCL sometimes pushes a little too much with the colors, but overall the extra vibrancy is more appealing than the Samsung’s rather pale look.
The images of the BU8500 are also not as sharp as the images we are used to from Samsung’s 4K TVs. Native 4K photos still look like 4K, to be clear, and the level of sharpness feels very natural too. But the TCL 55C735K again looks a bit sharper.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the BU8500, given Samsung’s usual strengths in this area, is that motion doesn’t look as neat as on TCL’s 55C735K.
However, Samsung’s BU8500 has some strong points. Most importantly, it can achieve slightly deeper, richer black levels during dark scenes, making such scenes look more natural (especially since there’s no slight blue glow effect the TCL generates where there should be blackness with some of its picture presets) and compensates a bit for the screen’s lack of punch with peak bright highlights.
There’s also a nicely nuanced general feel to most types of images on the BU8500, and while it might not have the impact we’d ideally like, it at least tends to keep everything balanced, without the temporary loss of discipline of many rivals in this field. price point – including the impressive TCL – occasionally succumb.
There are still a few niggles to report, however, as the usually impressive black levels can sometimes cause shadow detail to be crushed out of the image, and very dark scenes also reveal the occasional hint of backlit clouding.
Overall, the BU8500’s pictures are too refined and well-tuned to be rated truly bad, but at the same time lack the power to make them stand out among the mid-range.
The images of the UE55BU8500 are accompanied by a similar average sound. The main issue is that, despite having a basic version of Samsung’s Object Tracking Sound system (where the TV tries to accurately place soundtrack effects), the mid-range soundstage seems rather thin, with no real sense of scale or escalation . In fact, sound collapses back into itself when a soundtrack begins to build up a dense steam.
The BU8500 can’t go particularly loud either, and the bass is meager to say the least. The only thing that keeps it from scoring very badly for sound is that while it doesn’t quite live up to action movie company, it does enjoy a nice, engaging, uncluttered tone with relatively undemanding day-to-day TV fare.
The UE55BU8500 is a good enough TV. The visuals don’t do anything aggressively wrong, retain good balance and subtlety, and the sound is pleasant enough as long as you’re not watching anything too demanding.
However, we expect more than average from Samsung at this level of the market, and with one or two strong rivals appearing, it will have to work a little harder next time.
- Functions 3
- Image 3
- Sound 3
Read our review of the Samsung QE55Q60B
Also consider the TCL 55C735K
Best TVs under £1000: 4K, HDR and budget TVs