Samsung Series 8 (LA52A850)

UItra-slim Full HD 1080p TV.

Samsung Series 8 (LA52A850)
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Impressive blacks, great colours, sharp image, lots of features, ultra-thin design

Cons

  • Some noticeable uniformity issues, a little detail lost in dark areas, large screen reveals more of the flaws in standard-definition footage

Bottom Line

Another great TV from Samsung, the Series 8 offers the same excellent image quality and features found in its other units. However, its awkward positioning in the company's range may turn off some users who are willing to spend a little more to get the Series 9.

Would you buy this?

Samsung's Series 8 TVs are nestled between the incredibly impressive LA52A750 and the Series 9 (LA46A950). They are more expensive than the Series 7 units and only a little cheaper than the Series 9 TVs, which means for many people the incredible LED backlight of the Series 9 will probably be a more enticing option considering the small price difference. However, users who find the price just right will be greeted by a great panel that offers most of the same excellent image quality traits found in its siblings.

As with the other high-end Samsung models, the LA52A850 is a Full HD television with a native resolution of 1920x1080. The key thing that makes this model stand out is its ultra-slim design. Measuring just under two inches in thickness, this is the slimmest big screen TV we've ever seen. It looks absolutely fantastic; users who want a wall-mountable TV that barely sticks out will be very satisfied. The regular piano black finish is garnished with a hint of colour; red in the case of our review unit and blue on the A860 models. In both cases we think it is extremely stylish.

The TV's image quality is generally of the same high standard set by past Samsung units. Black levels are excellent; they're some of the best we've seen on an LCD, LED backlights aside. There was however an issue with uniformity. We spotted some noticeable clouding towards the corners of the screen. It didn't have much of an impact during real world testing, but on pure black screens it caused issues.

Colour reproduction was excellent, with rich, well-saturated tones that were kept well in check. We tested on the cinema preset as usual and colours were kept well in check, with none of the over-saturation you often see on cheaper units. Primary colours were bright without being too vivid and skin tones were nicely balanced.

While it has no LED backlight, with a dynamic contrast ratio of 70,000:1 this unit is no slouch. It performed quite well in our contrast tests. A few times we saw some detail loss in dark areas but the overall look and feel of the picture was impressive and shadows looked deep and clear.

In our high-definition tests it rendered the image flawlessly. The picture was crisp and sharp with all the glorious detail we've come to expect from HD footage. There was minimal graininess and no over-sharpening.

Our standard-definition test footage was well rendered but suffered from some of the issues you typically see when 1080p screens render SD footage. There were some noticeable scaling artefacts and a little graininess, particularly on people's faces, but the excellent colour reproduction and black levels again shone through. Our test unit was the 52in model, which meant it revealed more errors in the image than a smaller display would. However, the LA52A850 will still be fine for watching your favourite DVDs.

Motion was handled well. There was no noticeable ghosting or trailing in our gaming tests and the 100Hz mode operated well. There were still some aberrations caused by the extra frames but they were quite minor; this technology has definitely improved in leaps and bounds over the last few months.

Four HDMI ports are included, along with the standard array of Component, Composite, VGA and S-Video. Wiselinkpro is present as well, allowing you to play content stored on a USB key. The unit is also Digital Living Network Alliance compatible, so if you have a wired network in place then media streaming will be a breeze.

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