I am currently reviewing one of these units and will post a more in depth review soon. However, I needed to post this right away for those considering purchasing this tv..
Right now, the tv (55-inch) is currently 48 inches wide. The problem I am having with this TV is that the stand is also 48 inches wide, which will be a huge inconvenience to most people. It's too wide for 90% of TV stands out there so be warned before purchasing this tv. It currently is also measured 12 inches depth too. I have yet to find a tv stand other then an ultra wide or expensive shelf to sit it on. This is another poor example of form over function. I have a feeling Samsung will bite the bullet on this one because of this mistake as most will have a difficult time find a stand to put this on or it will be un-achievable on their current existing stands. This won't be an issue for those wall mounting, but before you buy this TV, you better measure where you'll put it first.
**UPDATE - 03/06/2013
I have been testing the unit for a few days now and we found a TV stand that can hold the thing. I've raised the review 1-star due to the picture quality being extroardinary, however, I strongly believe the stand is very impractical, hence, the deduction of 1-star. I've actually reached out to Samsung to see if they can design a new retrofitted stand that hold the set and be a bit more practical and release as an accessory, because this thing is ridiculously wide. Alright, enough with the stand now.
As for the initial picture quality results. They are outstanding. The back panel is comprised of literally thousands of miniature LED lights that produce very strong light and can dim all the way down to be completely turned off. So far, the factory calibration is much improved over last year's, I doubt we will have to modify it much. The image quality is much better as well, there is currently no observable light bleed or halo'ing around images. Darks are much much darker then the ES series, but the ES series were edge-lit, these new panels are not as they are full back-lit set's. The new sets do eliminate most of the image blur found common on LCD sets and it appears, at least initially, that the image is much faster and responsive. However, fast paced scenes like those in Transformers and etc are still not as clear the Plasma panels, but either way are improved still. Black levels are insane for a LED set and depending on when we measure against the best from LG and Sony, might be some of darkest blacks on a LED set yet. I should note that we havent measured it yet. However, we have put the set in complete darkness and tested it and all we could see were images and no halo, which is huge.
3D performance is in fact definitely brighter and smoother and I am unable to identify artifacting or crosstalk whatsoever, however I should note that last year's ES series did a pretty good job at crosstalk reduction, but the new sets are in fact much brighter.
Smart Hub - more on this later, but a MASSIVE improvement over anything we've seen yet. The interface is ingenius and amazing at the same time, just make sure to youtube this as the picture will not do it justice. Not only is this software elegant looking, the TV defaults to it when it's turned on as it is essentially the control hub for the set. The quad core in this set makes this dashboard wicked fast and apps pop up in mere seconds. In comparison to last years sets, its seams about 5 times as fast. The last year models will get this functionality via a "evolution kit" when Samsung releases those next month.
Other misc features - The camera is much improved, more accurately coordinating your movements. Last year models weren't that great until they released several firmware updates to make it usable and practical, but still wasn't that great. These new models are better at tracking movement and resemble the smoothness of the Microsoft Kinect, which is great news for those waving a burrito at the set and dont want to grease up the remote. The voice activation is WAY better, coming close to the ease of use of Siri and maybe, just maybe even surpassing it. So far, I would say the voice recognition is about 90% accurate, compared to last years sets, which I would probably peg at about 75% after the firmware updates. This is likely due to the new software and quad core A15 chipset this new set has. I would assume the new sets will be just as good when they get the evolution kit.
If your thinking of this TV or The Samsung F8500 Plama's, I can tell you right now without a shadow of doubt, the F8500 Plasma panels are KING and are much better in image quality and they seams to even be closing in to the quality of an OLED set, which are currently priced at $10,000. The F8000 LED sets are nice, but not F8500 Plasma nice. You'll need to observe both to understand what I mean. More on this later.
More to come...
To clarify, this TV does not appear to be a full array back-lit set, but it uses new technology called Precision Black, which appears to be some kind of hardware filter on the TV set. See below for Samsung's description taken from the manual spec sheet.
Micro Dimming Ultimate:
Displays a picture that is as true-to-life as possible by maximizing
the contrast between light and dark. Our innovative technology
scans zones across the image and adjusts brightness to deliver
deeper dark tones and brighter whites. It also eliminates the
"halo" effect and image distortion that can happen with diffused
lights. The Ultimate version of this technology optimizes the
quality to new heights by scanning 2 times the number of zones
in the image.
Precision Black (Local Dimming):
Produces a much greater increase in contrast and black levels
by dimming LEDs behind dark areas of the picture, thus making
blacks darker without affecting brighter elements of the picture.
One thing I've noticed that might be an issue for a lot people is the smart hub and its multi tasking capabilities. The new Smart Hub is essentially a full blown operating system and can open multiple applications. However, I recommend not opening more then one app at a time. I've noticed the more apps that are open will significantly slow the TV down to the point of almost freezing. So be careful using the multi tasking capabilities.
**FINAL UPDATE 03/28/2013**
The TV has now had well over 100 hours of burn-in time and we have calibrated the TV. The image quality after calibration is pretty much near perfect color accuracy, which we've never seen before in an LED set. After calibration, the results are amazing and the black levels are the deepest we've measured on an LED set, even more so then the localized dimming sets from Sony and LG last year.
Our final calibrated settings are as follows. (Note, this is what worked on our set and shouldn't be duplicated unless by a certified professional or by using your own eye with blu-ray calibration software).
We started out with the movie mode, decreased back-light to 8, set gamma to -1, scaled contrast back to 75, left sharpness at 20 (some pros will tell you to eliminate sharpness, however, I find that a little bit actually helps with clarity, just not too much). We only changed one color and that was blue (this has to be done with almost all led sets since predominantly blue). We set black levels to "darkest", dynamic contrast to "low". We left cinema black alone, since we were unable to identify any differences with it on or off. We also set dynamic backlighting to "high" since this also improved contrast and black levels during dark scenes, but standard also does just fine. The black checker-board was almost 100% reproduced with dark blacks and whitest whites and no uneven light. The end result is basically a perfectly calibrated set, almost 100% color accuracy. Can't ask much more then that if you ask me.
All in all, the best LED TV set I've reviewed. We've been messing with the F8500 Plasma, which I believe, along with the Panasonic VT60 to be among the best/ most accurate picture available until 4K and OLED become mainstream. However, this LED set still comes pretty close to the image quality of the top plasma's today
. I still recommend the Plasma's over the LED's hoever because they have much faster refresh rates and smoother motion, especially in movie scenes and video games