Samsung UN60JS7000FXZA LCD Ultra HDTV Review Page 2

However, two issues, not uncommon in relatively affordable LCD sets, did intrude. First, off-axis viewing was compromised, with subtle fading of the image apparent at small off-center angles but progressing to clearly visible as I reached roughly 20 degrees to the side. Also, black levels weren’t up to the average we’ve seen from Samsung’s sets recently. This was most obvious in the black bars of letterboxed movies. When the image they flanked was bright, the bars appeared to darken a bit (though this effect was largely due to the eyes’ pupils closing down). On medium bright images and especially on dark ones, however, the bars were impossible to ignore. In addition, the backlighting wasn’t uniform. This rarely intruded on most full-screen material, but when the source faded to full black, and before the full screen dimming darkened the image (which took about a second), I could clearly see cloudy gray areas of varying brightness.

Apart from the visible black bars and this occasionally visible non-uniformity, however, typical dark images with bright highlights (such as the climactic dino-a-dino battle in Jurassic World) had respectable contrast. But difficult dark scenes, with low internal contrast and few or no highlights (many of the darkest scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, for example, particularly towards the end) were more grayish than you’ll see on sets with the best black levels. Nonetheless, it’s probably true that viewers who haven’t seen a set with state-of-the-art blacks (the best plasmas of the past, upscale LED/LCD sets with the best local dimming such as Samsung’s own JS9500s, and OLEDs) are unlikely to be troubled by this.

Following a good calibration (less tedious than on most sets, thanks to Samsung’s ergonomically excellent CMS), these negatives were unchanged, but the plusses were enhanced. Not in a major way; as noted earlier, the JS7000 was well set up out of the box following some basic tweaks. But the calibration improvements, while subtle, were worthwhile. The already stunningly (but naturally) sharp Oblivion looked as high in resolution as it had been before calibration, but the fleshtones were pleasingly warmer. The brilliant costumes in Cinderella popped out. And the colors in Disney’s Aladdin, perhaps the most vivid in the Mouse House’s final decade of hand-drawn animation, were jaw-dropping.

Ultra HD
My stable of Ultra HD material is currently limited to Sony’s FMP-X10 server with 4K content (but not wider color or HDR) and two USB flash drives, one from Samsung and the other from Vizio, both with a bit of UHD material having high dynamic range and wider color.

The best of the 4K material on the Sony server looked exceptional—including the movie Chappie, which, despite its grungy art design, looked crisp and clean. Its 4K playback, viewed on the JS7000 from about 8 feet (closer than I had viewed the 1080p material), produced a winning picture, with superb detail and color.

I next set up an A/B comparison of this 4K version of Chappie with the Blu-ray of the movie played back on an Oppo BDP-105D. Even after cueing them up so that I could switch between the two at the same point in the movie, the differences were subtle but not insignificant. The 4K version had a realistic smoothness (though with gobs of detail) that the Blu-ray couldn’t quite equal. But without the direct A/B comparison, it was hard to find anything in the Blu-ray picture to complain about.

Next I tried the material on the Samsung USB drive (excerpts from Exodus: Gods and Kings and Life of Pi ). Oddly, while this drive had worked fine on the Samsung JS9500, it was unwatchable on the JS7000. Its color was drenched in green! The material on the Vizio drive, however, looked superb, including several minutes from Man of Steel. The bright highlights in this excerpt had plenty of pop—in fact, more than enough for comfortable viewing in my darkened room.

There was also another oddity that I observed. With the Samsung drive, the JS7000 switched automatically to maximum Backlight and Contrast settings. With the Vizio, these controls stayed where they were with other sources. The balance of peak white to black from the Vizio drive looked natural on the JS7000; the higher settings from the Samsung drive were far too bright.

Samsung later explained that a firmware glitch (which has now been corrected) was causing the JS7000, upon recognizing the HDR metadata in my Samsung-supplied flash drive, to port my calibrated Rec. 709 color values into the set’s wider “Native” color space, thus creating the green mess. The automatic resetting of the Backlight and Contrast adjustments to maximum was said to be normal behavior, however, and is the same as happens on Samsung’s other HDR-compliant SUHD models. When the set recognizes HDR metadata presented in the HDR10 format, it triggers these controls “to maximize the brightness of HDR content,” though they can be adjusted, Samsung said. Reverting back to standard dynamic range content restores the non-HDR settings.

The Vizio flash drive, meanwhile, which was encoded in Dolby Vision HDR, never maxed out those controls. Samsung confirmed this or other Dolby Vision content would have been seen only as having standard dynamic range; its sets can only recognize high dynamic range content in HDR10. Nonetheless, it looked great and exhibited superb highlights without the TV knowing it was HDR and applying its HDR profile. With HDR, we will certainly be living in interesting times, at least for a while.

The Samsung UN60JS7000FXZA may not get as much from true UHD material having enhanced color and high dynamic range as the company’s more upscale JS9500 can. But we know of no other sets in this price range that will, and source material having these features is still in relatively short supply.

My only reservations about the JS7000 are its off-axis viewing (to be fair, an issue common to most LCD designs) and its contrast on the most difficult, darkest material. But not all viewers are as fussy as we are about the latter, and it’s less obvious with full-screen material under normal room lighting than with letterboxed movies viewed in a dimly lit or dark environment. More crucial, the JS7000 offers gorgeous color and crisp resolution, so engaging that only rarely (on those darkest, moody scenes) did I feel the itch to return to my reference set, the much pricier (and no longer available) 1080p Panasonic TC-65ZT60 plasma.

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Philt56's picture

Samsungs web site shows this as a shud set. The first paragraph seems to only describe this as "Uhd". Is there a difference or is it just a matter of the js9500 model having more capability? So suhd is not explicit enough to know if it supports 10 bit color and other higher end HDR support?

The reviewer mentions no 3D, although the the manual does with a disclaimer that it may not in all regions?
Seems strange that 3D is region specific. I could see maybe other countries...

Just a quibble , if picture in picture is mentioned, I would appreciate noting the restrictions on it.
What I hate about Samsung vs Sony PIP is that Samsung only allows one to use the tuner for it. Given almost all cable companies require a set top box, pip is useless unless you have an ota antenna. At least Sony allows you to use any inputs in each window with the restriction that one is analog and one is digital. So I can use my TiVo with component output in one window while using an HDMI source on the other. In fact I can watch 2 channels st once with my TiVo and TiVo mini as long as one has a component connection to the tv!