Buying a television in 2011 is much more involved than just selecting the best-looking picture to watch Jersey Shore on. A TV today is the sum of its parts, and the parts in question on this Samsung 8000 series LED LCD TV are pretty awesome.
First off, this TV, despite being an impressive 60-inch model, is about as thin as a dinner plate. It sports an extremely narrow bezel making it practically all picture. The stand, if you choose to use it, is a sleek X-shaped foot in a shiny chrome finish to match the TV bezel. Like many stands these days, it swivels to allow you to angle it toward the viewers.
The remote is also a design innovation, and a practical one as well. It’s a two-sided remote with standard numbers and control buttons on one side and a QWERTY keypad on the other. The standard remote portion connects to the TV via regular old IR, but you can sync the keypad side via Bluetooth to make the smart TV features easier to operate.
One of the ways Samsung was able to achieve such a cookie-thin design was the use of edge-lit LED technology rather than full-array LEDs. In edge-lit TVs the LEDs are arranged around the perimeter of the set and a system of light conduits channel the light to all areas of the screen. Even being edge-lit, Samsung was able to design local dimming into the set, so the light level will actually respond to differing picture conditions on the screen and dim accordingly. This aids contrasts a great deal.
As a 3D TV, this set is in the active shutter camp, which means that the glasses include LCD shutters that blink open and closed in sync with the left and right images alternating on the screen. The TV doesn’t include glasses in the box, but a current promotion will get you two of the best-looking 3D glasses I’ve seen plus 3D versions of Megamind and the Shrek 4-disc pack. The glasses are light, small and connect to the TV via Bluetooth, which I find more reliable than IR. They charge via USB cables that plug into the back of the TV.
Finally, this TV comes with one of the best smart TV systems on the market. Samsung calls it the Smart Hub, and it offers a broad assortment of apps in an easy-to-use interface that makes it very tempting to dump the cable service and go streaming only.
The Samsung TV’s menu, despite having a very strong selection of picture setting options, is easy to use. It looks like the GUI has been redone since last year, and it’s also fast so you can move through your adjustments quickly.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.