- Written by Ofer Laor
- Published on 18 September 2013
The Samsung UN85S9AF LED Display In Use and Bench Tests
Measuring and determining image quality for a UHD display is bound to be tricky given that there are no real test patterns or test devices available for this. I will attempt this carefully, given that this is the third UHD display I have tested so far. Technically, this display appears to have less regions of lighting than the ZL1, which means that a person using this should be conservative regarding the level of adaptive contrast they apply in the settings. I did not observe major uniformity issues on the panel I tested, a definite and welcome surprise on my part for a screen of this size.
It was clear that the image processor the UN85S9AF was a step beyond what previous Samsung displays were using. That said, sharpness needed to be reduced, just as the 1200Hz smooth motion intermediate frame generation continued to reduce moving resolution. While it tracked objects perfectly without stuttering or dropping frames, the actual motion resolution remains on par with previous generation of IFC algorithms. This is baffling – we have not been seeing any technological improvement in this field in the past few years and it is sorely lacking.
SD content required much stronger processing than we typically see, but my focus here was HD and in particular Bluray and 2160P content. Good quality content, such as Brad Pitt in "Inglorious basterds" looked amazingly clear even at a few short feet from the display itself.
The backlighting system, particularly when the room was blacked out, was noted to have a few inconsistencies and glitches. This resulted in some grayish blacks during "Sin City", a notoriously difficult Blu-ray title to view on a LED display.
Built in calibration seems to be on spot with REC709 requirements, although gamma was rated at 2.1 by default – which seemed low for a display of this panel contrast.
Color temperature was measured at 6175K, lower than what I would have hoped at Cinema settings. 100IRE window, which calibrated and using the Cinema setting, measured at 310cd/m2 (nits), which was surprisingly low for a Samsung display (which sometimes can be twice as bright) – a compromise that no doubt has to do with the price of the LED elements and energy limitations of such a big display.
3D content was particularly amazing on this display, which basically competes with projector theaters. The set comes with the silhouette style 3D glasses that Samsung produces. These are RF/Bluetooth based glasses that are extremely comfortable and light. There were slight hints at crosstalk, particularly with converted content. Original content, such as the Blu-ray title "Life of pi", a true 3D masterpiece, were perfectly reproduced.
I strongly urge opponents of this technology to try the combination of light, high speed, 3D glasses on a properly calibrated display – together with a perfectly mastered title like "Life of pi" before discussing their dislike for the technology… I have to say I have really come a full circle with 3D, given a few really amazing titles that were carefully encoded and creatively mastered.
UHD content -
Given that there are no UHD titles out there, I was reluctantly limited to testing out test content produced by Samsung themselves. We know that this type of content is quite limited and can even be misleading at times. The material is produced to complement the hardware being tested, avoiding tests that can trip up the display and focusing on slow moving, high detailed images. This was no differences. UHD test content typically consist of nearly motionless nature scenes, mouth watering static food shots, flawlessly skinned models and exotic locales/animals.
However, given the great performance of this display on upscaling and processing Blu-ray material, I feel confident that this display will look very good on realistic 2160P content when it comes out. Delivery to the set is another story. With no HDMI 2.0 input and no REC2020 compliance, we are left with just the resolution part of the UHD revolution and without the extra color range necessary to really push through what we have to the next level.
In terms of image quality, the UHD content I saw and tested on this display was enticing. It was very easy to forget that such content is not easily available and to be honest – good Blu-ray upscaled really great on this display…
Additional features -
The sheer number of features on this display is just too much to count. You can mirror your phone to it, connect it via Wi-Fi or wired Ethernet (recommended to use content apps on the screen).
Most notable are the abilities of the display to see and hear you and act based on your verbal or gesture commands. I'm not sure if the general population would be happy to enable these features as much as technology enthusiasts are.
Finally, the media player on this display is definitely worth a mention. It is able to play back content, including very high bitrate content from an attached USB 2 hard-drive or from a DLNA based network connection. This level of streaming was previously only available on standalone products and it is amazing to see this level of streaming built in to the display. The display also has enough CPU horsepower to allow applications to take advantage of its capabilities and create things like VOD applications that can go as far as utilizing HEVC codec to improve image quality by up to 40% without changing your existing broadband speeds.