It wasn’t long ago that £6000 was the price you had to pay to get your hands on a 4K TV. Of course, those days are now behind us, with prices starting well below £1000.
That said, £6000 is still the figure you have to cough up to be the fortuitous owner of one of Samsung’s flagship models, the UE65JS9500.
This curved 65in TV from the top-tier JS9500 range – a rung above the company’s JS8500 series into which the five-star UE55JS8500 falls – features HDR support and all the bells and whistles of Samsung’s proprietary SUHD technology.
That means a nano-crystal take on Quantum Dot technology where a thin layer of tiny crystals in the display panel emits light in various colours according to their size.
This, plus some new processing modes, supposedly offers 64x more colour expression, 10x better contrast and 2.5x more brightness than your conventional UHD telly.
The UE65JS9500 certainly looks every bit a top-line TV. Next to one of Samsung’s lower-ranging models, the UE65JS8500, it has an obviously classier aura thanks to its brushed silver metal bezel, which Samsung says chamfers gently inwards to give the picture a greater perceived depth.
Despite ultra-slimness being in vogue, Samsung opts for a more thickset build here (still only 12.5cm at its deepest, mind you), which gives the impression of quality and feels reassuringly sturdy.
We’ve seen more than one telly with a stand wider than the screen itself. That’s great for outright sturdiness, less so for practicality – but in this instance it tucks inside nicely, stylishly curving in line with the screen. It does require your rack to be at least 38cm deep, though.
You’ll also need space for the One Connect Box. This is a plastic silver box, just longer than an A4 piece of paper but half the width, which plugs into the TV and houses all the necessary connections: four HDMI (all 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 certification) and three USB inputs, an optical output and a LAN for a wired internet connection.
As you’d expect, there’s built-in wi-fi too. Even the TV aerial plugs into it.
The idea is to not only make connections more accessible but also provide futureproofing. Unlike the smaller version of the box – the One Connect Mini – that is bundled with the lower ranging sets, it can be swapped for an updated model in the future to bring any hardware or connection upgrades onboard.
The TV itself is therefore timeless, to some extent.
When it comes to smarts, we can’t see a huge benefit of paying the premium over more affordable models.
The usual stack of apps include Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, All4, BBC iPlayer and YouTube, although page after page of more obscure ones are available to browse (and download) in the app portal – all neatly divided into tabs including ‘My Apps’, ‘What’s New’ and ‘Most Popular’ for your convenience.
Skype is among them and the telly’s built-in camera (a flagship-only feature) can facilitate that, as well as motion gesture control and facial recognition features.
Your favourite apps can be accessed easily via a customisable menu of pop-up tiles that overlay the bottom of the screen. Mobile content can be shared with the TV via wi-fi direct.
Samsung’s open-source operating system Tizen (created in collaboration with Intel) is one of the most intuitive, sophisticated and easy-to-navigate we’ve come across. It runs like clockwork.
If you’re wondering what the differences between the best £3000ish 4K tellies and the UE65JS9500 are (apart from the extra cash), it’s all in the detail – quite literally.
No matter the resolution, the UE65JS9500 digs up more subtlety, shading, crispness and depth – making it among the most transparent, engaging pictures we’ve seen.
There’s a bit of work to do on your part first. Out of the box, the colour balance on the default ‘Movie’ mode is a bit on the shouty side. Select ‘Standard’ and run it through a THX Optimizer disc to make the necessary (albeit minor) tweaks to contrast, colour and brightness and the balance is rectified.
We aren’t so keen on the noise reduction processing, though do welcome the motion mode when set to ‘standard’ or ‘smooth’.
We start with Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes on Blu-ray and are immediately drawn to the consistently neutral colour palette – so organic it makes any TV we put up against it look a little unconvincing.
There’s a stark naturalness to everything from skin tones to tree bark, and a level of subtlety and shading that turns up the varying greens of the jungle and blacks and greys in the apes’ fur.
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Contrast is striking: fires burn brightly against the night sky and blacks have depth without compromising on detail and clarity. Nothing is given over to shadows or lost in blacked-out areas, as it often is when inferior TVs are made to choose between insight and black depth. As the army of apes reaches human territory, each figure is distinct and defined with no blurring.
Watching the UE65JS9500, you can really appreciate the lengths that the filmmakers went to with CGI to achieve such exquisite detail. We can’t say that’s crossed our mind too many times before during testing.
There’s such texture and insight into apes’ fur, you get the urge to try pluck one from the screen. Facial wrinkles and Gary Oldman’s stubble are carefully etched.
There is an impressively clear sense of depth and dimension to the picture too. Shots of the vast jungle appear layered, so you can tell if a tree or an ape is supposed to be close or twenty feet back – while motion is smooth as apes swing from trees and fight with bears.
We assume anyone ready to splash out for one of the most endowed 4K tellys on the market would be committed to the 4K cause. And to that end, 4K content looks mighty fine. Head over to Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and all the hype over sharpness and crispness tied to the technology can be understood.
Even though the prospect of Ultra HD Blu-rays should, technically speaking, bring better picture quality, it’s hard to believe it looking at how craftily the Samsung conveys the greys and browns of Lily Tomlin’s wacky hair. Her equally out-there clothing is bright and punchy – even reds and greens are well grounded – and the beach house’s white furnishings are clean and pure.
Even dropping to Stoker on DVD, the UE65JS9500 is informative, picking out patterns in wallpaper and detail in wooden flooring. Picture noise is minimal, and only apparent from right up close, which is quite staggering when you think the TV is making up 95 per cent of the picture.
Admittedly (and expectedly) standard-def broadcasts are noticeably softer but all credit to the tuner, it’s not a bad effort at all. Unlike some we’ve seen, it’s watchable.
By the standards of many TV speakers, the Samsung’s sound is above par: clear, well projected and reasonably detailed. You don’t have to prick your ears to hear dialogue and there’s enough body in the delivery for it to reach a room-filling volume without sounding shouty.
Bass is tight and present enough to make the building drums in the Dawn Of score sound ominous too.
Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t deliver the dynamics, scale or power that this calibre of picture deserves, so we would invest in a surround package like KEF's 100 5.1, driven by the Pioneer SC-LX58 amplifier.
Our only niggle with the UE65JS9500 is with the bezel. Although it looks cut from the finest cloth, any light catching on it can cause a distracting glare.
Personally, we prefer the discreet black framing of some of Samsung’s other models, even if it doesn’t have the same showpiece ‘wow’ factor.
Nearly £6k is a lot to pay for a TV, but if you have the cash and value outright detail above all else, this is money well spent.
For some things it’s okay to splurge, and we think the Samsung UE65JS9500 is one of them.
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