Samsung LED UA55C9000

A true flagship, the Samsung LED UA55C9000 is undoubtedly the company's best TV for 2010, but you're paying for the privilege.


8.5
CNET Rating
6.9
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


It's been a while since we've had a "luxury" TV through the gates of CNET Towers, and we think that one of the main reasons is that no one really makes them any more. Sure, the Europeans are still throwing them out there but you won't see them on the floor of your local Bing Lee.

While Samsung has flirted with designer goods through collaborations with Bang & Olufsen, this is the first time the company has struck out on its own. The Samsung C9000 is a self-proclaimed "luxury good", and while it certainly looks "luxurious", is it in actuality "good"? Incidentally, this TV won't be sold at Bing Lee either — it's "premium" stores only.

Design

You've no doubt seen the price tag by the time you got here, and while TVs used to cost that much back in the days of the Pioneer Kuro it's now quite a rare occurrence. One of the reasons for this? Exhibit A: the TV is clad in stainless steel. And it looks quite spiffy too. The surface is less reflective than piano-black finishes and so moderately less distracting.

Even with the stainless steel on the front and back of the TV, it is miraculously thin coming in at 8mm. But this is a little deceptive, because if you're wall-mounting the TV you still need to attach the stand as well — it attaches to the back, you see, as it contains all of the inputs and electronics. This makes the TV marginally thicker at 3cm from the wall. To "save you money" the TV ships with the wall mount in the box.

Just as sensational as the TV is the remote itself. It's a 3-inch touchscreen model that communicates with the TV via Wi-Fi and also acts as a second screen. While it's got amazing capabilities it isn't the easiest to use. Like some tablet remotes, you may have to do lots of screen-swapping to control the TV at times — even the Logitech Harmony 1100i was better at juggling multiple screens. On a lesser note, the TV includes a keyboard control, but it won't work when trying to enter the security code for wireless, which is one of the few times we'd actually need a QWERTY keyboard on a TV remote. The remote comes with a 3.5mm jack for connecting headphones.

samsung 9000 tv series remote

The C9000 remote acts like a second TV(Credit: Ty Pendlebury)

Features

Not only is the Samsung C9000 one of the most beautiful TVs we've seen, but it's also one of the most feature-packed. But you know what? This also makes it the most complicated.

Starting from the basics, this is a 55-inch LCD television with a full-HD resolution, and it features LED edge-lighting. It comes with all the gubbins you'd expect like 200Hz and an Ultra Clear Panel.

Moving on to actual features though and the list reads like a Samsung brainstorming session. First and foremost is 3D playback, and the TV does the usual 2D-to-3D conversion of most other models, and if you're lucky the company might throw in a couple of glasses for you (though not included).

Connectivity is also a focus with the TV offering both wired (via a small dongle) and wireless (via a ridiculously HUGE, foot-long USB adapter!). To use the "dual-screen" capability, the TV and remote need to be connected to the same network and so the wireless connection might be better for the ease of configuration.

On top of this you also get Samsung Apps like Facebook and Google Maps plug-ins — even an "NRL Analyser" via BigPond — and DLNA support is also included.

If you want to connect all your stuff you plug it directly into the base of the TV. It comes with slots for four HDMI 1.4-compatible plugs (with one Audio-Return Channel (ARC)) and two USB slots. The base itself is quite thick — about two centimetres — and so we were surprised to see Samsung use proprietary adapters for the other connectors here. You get a single component, Ethernet, PC in as well as a full-size digital output — for users without an ARC-compatible receiver. The base also conceals the speakers and a "menu bar" that slides out on touch, but we'd prefer to use the remote as it feels flimsy.

Performance

Given the TV's thinness, we'd be lying if we said we weren't sceptical about the television's potential to deliver a brilliant picture. But having tested it we can actually say our fears were unfounded — this is a brilliant little performer. As we say in the tongue-in-cheek video review, sure you can get a better picture out of a screen a quarter of the price, but this is hardly the point.

Whether we were watching test patterns or a Blu-ray we found the C9000 to have an engaging, detailed picture unmarred by image defects. The on-board video processing is the best we've seen from Samsung and it shows the TV's beauty isn't simply steel deep. In fact, the processing was as good if not better than that on the new Sony range. That's what a part of your money is paying for.

Contrast levels were deep, and while not to the level of the Sony HX800, it's still on a par with a mid-range plasma. The screen also managed to eradicate other issues such as moire, blockiness and judder, and this was particularly evident on our Mission Impossible III Blu-ray. The C9000 is one of the best TVs at cleaning up a noisy source we've seen in a while. Even a notoriously noisy DVD like King Kong came out looking higher-def than it had any right to.

Sound quality was very good, and better when in pedestal mode. The on-board speakers are clear, can go loud and are decently dynamic with movie soundtracks. We found that the SRS mode "Movie" was best as dialogue was obscured in Standard mode.

Is there room for improvement? Of course, there always is. And in this case it was 3D — while this is a native 3D TV we wouldn't buy it for that. Images are filled with ghostly crosstalk and we found on-screen movement a bit disorienting. On the plus side it has a much higher brightness than the Panasonic VT20 in 3D mode.

Finally, a few words on the remote. Confusing as it tended to be it is still one of the "wow" factors of this TV. At only AU$299 to replace, it's really the think-tank of this operation. Meanwhile, the "clone view" was not actually that practical — if you're further than 20m from your router and through a single wall you will get break-up on an SD program. Also, changing channels will change the main TV in most cases so it's not that useful as a "second tuner". Battery life was only average lasting one to two days between charges.

Conclusion

Are Ferrari's expensive? Are Rolex's too dear? You can't compare this TV directly with other consumer goods on the market as it sits by itself. Sure, on value for money, it stinks, but there's a lot more at play here. Samsung has a long-standing partnership with Bang & Olufsen and the C9000 shares a a similar aesthetic with that brand.

Pioneer tried and unfortunately failed at trying to bring high-end products to the television market, but Samsung is having its own crack at making it work this time around. The difference is that the C9000 is only one of dozens of TVs and it's not as critical as trying to sell one of only four Pioneer Kuros.

If you've read your way through this entire review then odds are the TV isn't pitched at you. While the TV does perform excellently it's the aesthetics that are accentuated here — Samsung itself has called this TV a "luxury good". But you can't make your products luxury items simply by calling them that — you have to earn it — and with the C9000 Samsung goes a long way to prove it has earned it.

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blue fish
9
Rating
 

blue fish posted a review   

The Good:Picture, Design, pebble remote

The Bad:Large remote

Great TV, after three months, still loving it, Bought at Good Guys at low 6,000 with bonus glasses and cables. This tv is a feature when off, and works well with free surround system in promotion. Very attractive.

When you buy on release date, you buy for ego, wait a month and get the deal. Still loving it as it works well in bright rooms. I was hoping to buy a plasma, but thankfully went for LED...Phew.

LaW
8
Rating
 

LaW posted a review   

The Good:sexy design, stacks of features

The Bad: only worth it if ur rich

LOL i knew he was gonna use it in the toilet, lol we all would be, nice funny review, man as much as i want it, i do have a mortage! plus 10K is since we ae paying 5K for the steel around it and the remote, the samsung 8 series is only like 5000 or less now!

 

Alexander posted a comment   

The Good:Features, design, iPod app

The Bad:picture quality, edge lit LED

I’ve bought the UA55C8000, and had to return it, similar problems with the flag-ship model C9000 even though I find it to be the most beautiful TV design by far I’ve every laid eyes on, especially the C8000 series with the glass edge bezel, it’s feature packed and comes with an awesome looking remote, totally useless in the dark, but beautiful , yes you can enable the remote backlight option when you are in a dark room, but you better have a good memory cuz it only stays on for a second and by the time you decide what button to press it’s dark again lol
The main problem is the picture quality though... the edge lit LED makes it practically useless especially within the range of 40-55 inch.
Regardless of any settings I made I could not get details in black areas, re-watching all my favourite blu-rays was just an awful experience compared to my previous full-backlit (CCFL) TV.
It also has problems rendering solid colours in movies like walls or the sky, it just turns it into an array of multi-colours dots, it’s overall very grainy... another annoying thing is that it blurs objects a fraction of a seconded before the object moves and sharpens it again a fraction a second later when it stops, apparently not everybody notes this but personally it drives me crazy lol
I also found the TV menu a bit buggy, it won’t remember you picture settings, and defaults them back to standard when you switch between the different viewing modes (ie natural to standard to movie ect)
Last but not least are the annoying propriety connections on the back.
Apart from HDMI cables you need adapter cables for just about everything which doesn’t help to improve signal quality, and some, like an ordinary audio cable (RCA to jack) aren’t even included!
I also found the audio out jack connector very buggy, even when I connected my iPod headphones I couldn’t get a decent connection, whenever I touched the connector either the left or right signal dropped out.
And as far as the thinness of the TV is concerned, this is also a big disadvantage (especially if you have kids in your household lol) it makes the TV incredibly fragile.
If you’re serious about movies, don’t buy this TV or any other edge-lit TV’s for that matter.

Bob
8
Rating
 

Bob posted a review   

The Good:Picture, Media Player, Sound (onboard), Connectivity

The Bad:Terrible remote implementation

Nobody (I hope!) has paid $10k, they are currently bringing well under $7k if you shop around. Overall very good value while bundled with the bonus top end HTIB (HT-C9950), but I would look elsewhere when the bonus ends. Surprisingly I am yet to have a failure playing media, image processing from some pretty ordinary video files is very nice indeed. Likewise with upscaled burned DVDs (Samsung c550 DVD). PC images (Dell XPS 16 via HDMI) are also very nice. The onboard sound is well above average, I would even go so far as to suggest you could go without HT if you have limited space. All FTA TV functions are also very good indeed. The remote looks promising with a nice UI but is just irritating to use in practice. The battery lasts quite a long time (a week plus) once you turn off the wireless, which you will after about 5 minutes. I am seriously considering 'upgrading' to a Logitech. The other 'gimmicks' (eg. Internet, Samsung Apps) fall somewhere between clunky and terrible, but seem redunant anyway. I suspect, like me, most buyers of such a TV will connect a quality PC for those sort of functions. I have no interest in 3D so have not checked it out (one set of glasses in the box). A high quality wall mounting kit comes in the box but mine remains on the stand for now.
Overall an excellent contemporary LCD TV for reasonable money when the HT is included.

Yoda7
8
Rating
 

Yoda7 posted a review   

The Good:Wine Gl****

The Bad:Full

Ty,

The wine glass is only ever supposed to be filled to the half-way mark.

LOL.

 

Ty Pendlebury posted a reply   
Australia

Aaah. The magic of television. The real reason was so that the "green screen" didn't shine through the glass. Hope you liked the video ;)

 

Mark posted a comment   

I'm o/s but said yes to the $10g because it came with a 40" series 7, a 3d BD 7.1 surround with HDMI inputs (for a change), and another 3d BD deck and 5 pairs of glasses - all of which we needed..... I promise..... The remote is a neat toy, seamlessly controlling all that componentry and the toys like internet, apps and stuff are fun. Remote battery life is a bit dud but that's easily solved with the free iPhone app which looks exactly the same just sadly lacking the little telly function. Don't be confused over picture quality either it's superb. And get over Kuros - Pioneer certainly did - they were good when contrast levels made a difference but the game's moved on.

Haydos
4
Rating
 

Haydos posted a review   

The Good:THIN.

The Bad:EVERYTHING

Had this TV, Next to the PS58C7000, 58" Series 7 Plasma, Led went for 10000$, Plasma Went for 2500$$, The Plasma was leaps and bounds better then the LED.

 

Fatty posted a comment   

The Good:Looks

The Bad:Picture for price.

$10,000 for a Samsung TV, who are they trying to kid? Exec's that live in town houses that believe you get what you pay for any don't look into it any deeper than that. This is an edge lit LED/LCD TV with poor 3D intergration, anyone that does any decent research before buying a product (especially at this price)would be out of their mind to buy this TV. Unless of course, they only care about looks and the idea that they can bragg to their mates that they just spent $10k on a "Samsung" TV. Pioneer Kuro's were expensive for their time, if you manage to find a second hand one, they still are expensive. Why? Because for a TV that was built years ago, in some cases, it's still a leader by design and picture quality in today's standard. In many aspects, put to the test, the Kuro's are still unbeaten. Panasonic are getting close, in certain partnership with Kuro-Tech, but still haven't managed to supply a product with a better picture quality.
If you're going to spend that sort of money, and want an industry leading picture, get a second hand Pioneer Kuro. Alternately, buy a V Series Panasonic and have it professionally calibrated, you'll be glad you did.


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung LED UA55C9000

  • blue fish

    blue fish

    Rating9

    "Great TV, after three months, still loving it, Bought at Good Guys at low 6,000 with bonus glasses and cables. This tv is a feature when off, and works well with free surround system in promotion. ..."

  • LaW

    LaW

    Rating8

    "LOL i knew he was gonna use it in the toilet, lol we all would be, nice funny review, man as much as i want it, i do have a mortage! plus 10K is since we ae paying 5K for the steel around it and th..."

  • Alexander

    Alexander

    "I’ve bought the UA55C8000, and had to return it, similar problems with the flag-ship model C9000 even though I find it to be the most beautiful TV design by far I’ve every laid eyes on, especially..."

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