Two lakhs is a lot of money for a 55" TV. This is especially true when you can buy a decent 55" LED-backlit LCD TV for 1.5 lakh rupees and thereabouts. The Samsung UA55F7500BR (let's just call it F7500 for brevity), isn't an ordinary 55" LED TV set. It is the latest in the Korean electronics giant's 2013 smart TV range. For the money, it packs in goodies such as a quad-core processor, motion control, face recognition, voice control, 3D capability, and a plethora of other clever electronic image enhancement trickery. The question is, do the performance and smart TV features really justify the Rs 50,000 premium it commands over its plain vanilla 55" counterparts?
Like an Indestructible Painting
If looks were the only criterion for that question, the review would have concluded right here. The F7500 looks positively breathtaking with its surprisingly thin bezel and a svelte silhouette. The 55" glossy panel treads the fine balance between glare reduction and reproducing vibrant colours that pop. You have to be mindful of the lighting conditions of the room, but the glare and reflection gremlins are kept well under control nonetheless. An overall minimalist theme ensures that the humongous panel feels as though its subtended in thin air, thanks to a slim bezel and a low profile stand that hoists the display with a seemingly delicate post bearing a backlit Samsung logo. Although the brushed aluminium stand may look fragile, it weighs in at an impressive 4kg and is quite capable of holding up the 15kg heft of the display. The whole setup may be prone to wobbling, but it isn't as bad as it sounds. So you have nothing to worry about; that is, unless you live on a major tectonic fault line.
The TV looks positively breathtaking
The build quality is impeccable with handsomely finished brushed aluminium evident all round on the bezel, chassis, and the stand. The low tolerance build and machining quality is clearly evident in how well the bezel wraps around the panel. The result is clearly apparent in the significantly reduced backlight bleed, which is all but visible even in a darkened room. The rear half of the chassis is a great blend of high-quality plastic and mostly metal. At 34.4mm, the TV is quite slim as well. Samsung has provided wall mounting holes at the rear, but the retail packaging doesn't ship with mounting brackets. That means, it's upon you to coerce the salesman into throwing in a mounting bracket for free. This is just the sort of TV that looks absolutely elegant when stuck to a wall. The absolute lack of physical buttons anywhere on the TV makes it pretty clear that Samsung's design philosophy for this TV places emphasis on form over function.
The Samsung F7500 has your standard connectivity options covered with four HDMI ports neatly segregated as per device type in addition to one component, one composite, RF (cable), three USB inputs. You also get an Ethernet port, a 3.5mm TRS audio out, digital optical out, and an IR jack to connect the provided extended IR sensor. Don't worry though, because this TV packs in Wi-Fi capability in addition to the standard RJ-45 port. What's missing here is a dedicated DVI or D -Sub input for connecting a PC along with a PC audio jack. One of the HDMI ports (HDMI IN 2) is delineated as a DVI compatible input, but getting 1:1 pixel mapping and full RGB colour spectrum necessary for a PC turned out more convoluted than I had imagined. This is usually achieved in Samsung displays by renaming the input name to "DVI-PC", but the provision to do was hidden deep within layers of the UI in a rather unintuitive fashion. One other bugbear I had with the TV is that the cable bearing smaller IEC C7 connector was just barely enough to reach the power socket that wasn't all that far from the TV. On the bright side, all important connectivity options have been conveniently located at the side for easy access even when the TV is wall mounted.
The TV has plenty of connectivity options—all neatly arranged and easily accessible from the side
Looks Good, Performs Better
Now that we have established that the Samsung F7500 embodies ethereal beauty, you must wonder if the same has been carried forward in the performance aspect too. There's nothing to worry in that respect, because after a really long time testing some mediocre TV sets, this is the first time a flat-panel TV has impressed me as much. I would be lying if I were to tell you that the picture and colour fidelity was perfect out of the box, but that isn't true for any commercial display anyway. However, I was impressed by the fact that the Datacolor Spyder colorimeter and calibration software found the factory-default brightness (45) and contrast (100) settings to be perfect to maintain the ideal display parameters. I had to toy around with the default target colour temperature (6500K) to finally get the correct white point at 7500K, but when I was done calibrating the TV, the end result was downright stunning.
In case of regular TV sets, this calibrated image depends on the colour profile residing on the PC, and that means you can't have the same picture when the TV is hooked up to any other device, such as a Blu-ray player or a video game console. It's a good thing then that the Samsung F7500 isn't a regular TV set. The advanced picture options afforded by the TV allow adjustment of individual RGB values without affecting the white purity. This flexibility allows you to fully calibrate this TV to perfection on a hardware level using a colorimeter. In simple terms, that means the calibrated image won't be restricted to the PC and will instead be available on any device that you connect it to. In fact, I could see no perceivable difference between the PC-based software colour profile and the hardware calibration I had tried out in my second run. To put it in a nutshell, although the premium you pay for these features may seem excessive, but it's instances such as these that fully justify the extra cost.
At 34.4mm, the TV is quite thin
All this was amply reflected in my display test suite. Although Samsung hasn't disclosed information on the colour depth of the panel or the look-up table, the stepping evident on the greyscale gradient test showed signs of dithering and FRC. Nevertheless, the gradient flowed evenly and had no signs of colour cast. The F7500 did well in the difficult viewing angle test as well, which means it's hard to notice any colour shift and other LCD gremlins under real-world conditions even under acute viewing angles. The contrast gradient test is where the panel shone the most. Everything from the darkest shades to the brightest red gradients were easily discernible. I surprisingly didn't have to tweak any settings to get perfect sharpness and gamma settings, which is a feat worth mentioning. Although nothing I did could get the TV to resolve the last two white saturation values (253 and 254), the superlative black level performance more than made up for it. Everything from the darkest shade of black to the lightest was rendered with utmost perfection. This makes it one of the few LCD panels to sport an enviable greyscale performance and black detail.
As expected, the Samsung F7500 was consistently impressive throughout my Blu-ray test suite. The TV's ability to resolve black detail shone through in The Descent, where the dark environs of the underground cave system didn't faze the TV at all. The Suck Blu-ray is marked with an interesting cinematography that experiments a lot with greyscales and a wild variation between desaturated and overly exaggerated colours. The F7500 managed to hold its own and capture these nuances beautifully, without making the scenes look gaudy and lacking in detail. The excellent greyscale performance was amply evident in the Sucker Punch and Pandorum Blu-rays as well. The Resident Evil: Extinction and Doomsday Blu-rays are known for their impeccable detail levels, and the TV easily managed uphold this fact by rendering every bit of it faithfully. The TV was more than capable of capturing the colour fidelity in the Scott Pilgrim Blu-ray as well. Long story short, if you want to watch movies, the Samsung F7500 handles colours and greyscales equally well to serve as a TV of choice for the purpose. Mind you; while this TV is excellent as LCD TVs are concerned, just don't expect Plasma-like performance.