Samsung UN55HU8550 55-inch 4K UHD LED/LCD TV - Review

Samsung UN55HU8550 LED/LCD 4K UHD TV - Photo - Front View - Garden
Photo of the front view of the Samsung UN55HU8550 4K UHD TV - Garden Image. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The UN55HU8550 is part of Samsung's growing 4K Ultra HD (UHD) LED/LCD TV line, featuring a slim, stylish-looking, 55-inch LED Edge-lit screen. This set incorporates 2D and 3D TV viewing capability, as well built-in network connectivity for access to both the Samsung Apps internet and network streaming platforms. Here is more of what the UN55HU8550 provides:

1. 55-Inch, 16x9, LCD Television with 4K native display resolution and Clear Motion Rate 1200 (combines 240Hz Screen Refresh Rate with additional color and image processing).

2. LED Edge-Lighting System with UHD and Precision Black local dimming.

3. 4K video upscaling/processing provided for all non-4K sources.

4. Native 3D and 2D-to-3D conversion using the Active Shutter system (four pairs of glasses included).

5. 4K and High Definition Inputs: Four HDMI. One Component (up to 1080p only)

6. Standard Definition-Only Inputs: Two Composite videos (one is shared with the Component video input - means that you cannot connect both a component and composite video source to the TV at the same time to that input set).

7. Two sets of Analog stereo inputs that are paired with the component and composite video inputs.

8. Audio Outputs: One Digital Optical and one set of analog stereo outputs. Also, HDMI input 4 can also output audio via the Audio Return Channel feature.

9. Built-in stereo speaker system (10 watts x 2) for use in lieu of the outputting audio to an external audio system (However, connecting to an external audio system is highly recommended).

Built-in audio compatibility and processing include Dolby Digital Plus, DTS Studio Sound, and DTS Premium Sound 5.1.

10. 3 USB ports for access to audio, video, and still image files stored on flash drives, as well as providing the ability to connect a USB-compatible Windows Keyboard.

11. DLNA certification allows access to audio, video, and still image content stored on network-connected devices, such as PC or media server.

12. Onboard Ethernet port for wired internet/home network connection. Built-in WiFi connection option.

13. WiFi Direct option also provided which allows wireless media streaming from compatible portable devices directly to the UN55HU8550 without going through your home network router.

14. Quadcore Processing enables fast menu navigation, content access, and web browsing.

15. S-Recommendation is a feature that enables a content bar that makes shows viewing suggestions (such as programs, movies, etc...) based on your most recent TV viewing habits Check out a video overview of the S-Recommendation feature.

16. Screen Mirroring provides users with a way to stream content displayed on a compatible smartphone or tablet, wirelessly to the TV so you can watch it on the larger TV screen.

17. Smart View 2.0 (the reverse of screen mirroring) allows users to display content being shown on your TV screen on a compatible smartphone or tablet. This lets you watch your favorite movies, shows, and sports in different rooms as long as you are within wireless range of the TV and the TV is tuned to the same content source.

18. Quad Screen - Allow display of four sources at once (on TV channel plus three additional sources - two TV channels cannot be displayed at the same time as the TV only has one tuner).

However, you can display a TV channel, a web source, an HDMI source(s), and USB source the same time.

19. Multi-Link Screen - Provides the ability to browse the Web, access select apps, and perform other functions while watching TV.

20. ATSC/NTSC/QAM tuners for reception of over-the-air and unscrambled high definition/standard definition digital cable signals.

21. Link for remote control via HDMI of HDMI-CEC compatible devices.

22. Two wireless remote controls are provided, a standard remote with backlight function of easier use in darkened room, and the Samsung Motion Control remote which is a compact remote that incorporates a mouse-pad-like interface for on-screen menu navigation.

The motion control remote also provides a voice control option.

23. Hardware Upgradable via Optional Samsung Smart Evolution One Connect Box (See Example of Connect Box for Upgrading 2013 Samsung UHD TVs - when needed a new box will be available for upgrading 2014 models, such as the 8550 series).

24. Two remote controls are included, a standard keypad-style remote and the Samsung Smart Control remote (allows control by gesture motion and voice).

25. Bluetooth-based "TV SoundConnect" feature allows the direct wireless streaming of audio from the TV to a compatible Samsung sound bar, audio system, or Bluetooth headphone.

26. The Samsung UN55HU8550 also incorporates built-in HEVC (H.265) decoding and is HDCP 2.2 compliant for access to Netflix 4K streaming and other compatible content.

Video Performance: 4K

There is a lot discussion as to whether making to jump to 4K is worth it, especially in screen sizes below 70-inches, but having viewed 4K TVs in various screen sizes at trade shows and dealers, and finally getting a chance to "live" with the 55-inch Samsung UN55HU8550 for a couple of months, I can say that it definitely makes a different, whether watching native 4K or upscaled 1080p content. My viewing position-to-screen distance was 6 feet. Granted the difference isn't a dramatic as the move from standard definition to high-definition, but the added refinement of detail definitely enhances the viewing experience.

Also, in terms of 3D, the 4K upscaling does a very good job of compensating for the softness that occurs when viewing through 3D glasses, and, in the case of the 8550, the brightness and contrast loss is very minimal (has more to do with the specific brightness/contrast capability of the TV rather than the TV's 4K display capability).

Video Performance: General

In addition to the UN55HU8550's 4K resolution and 3D display capability, in terms of other video performance characteristics, the set does very well but is not perfect. Since this set utilizes LED Edge lighting, it doesn't have the really deep blacks and stellar contrast that you would find on a Plasma or OLED TV.

However, the overall image quality was still very good. The main issue in terms of image quality is slightly uneven black and gray uniformity across the screen, which isn't noticeable viewing most content, but is noticeable in dark scenes, white text (such as credits) displayed on a black background or widescreen content that displays letterbox bars.

Color saturation and detail were very good with high definition and, of course, 4K source material, such as upscaled Blu-ray Discs and content provided on the 4K UHD Video Pack provided by Samsung. Standard definition analog video sources (analog cable, internet streaming, composite video input sources) were softer but satisfactory. Artifacts, such as edge jaggedness and video noise were minimal.

Samsung's clear motion rate 1200 processing provides smooth motion response, although the degree of the enhancement used can result in the "Soap Opera Effect", which may be distracting when viewing film-based content. However, the motion settings can be limited or disabled, which you might find preferable (choice is good). My suggestion is to experiment with the setting options with different content sources and see what looks best to you.

Audio Performance

The Samsung UN55HU8550 comes equipped 10 WPC x2 channel built-in speaker system, which provides basic (treble, bass) audio settings and sound processing options (Standard, Music, Movie, Clear Voice, Amplify, Stadium, Virtual Surround, Dialog Clarity, Equalizer, 3D Audio) as well as a setting that compensates for sound quality when the TV is directly mounted on a wall, as opposed to its included stand.

A selection of preset sound settings. Standard, Music, Movie, Clear Voice (emphasizes vocals and dialog), Amplify (emphasizes high-frequency sounds), Stadium (best for Sports). However, although the provided audio setting options provide better-than-average sound quality for a built-in TV speaker system, there just isn't enough interior cabinet space to provide a powerful home theater-type listening experience.

For the best listening result, especially for watching movies, an external audio system, such as a good sound bar, paired with a small subwoofer or full system featuring a home theater receiver and 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker system are the best options.

Smart TV

Samsung has the most comprehensive Smart TV features of any TV brand. Centered around its Smart Hub label, Samsung allows you to access a host of content from both the internet and a home network.

Via Samsung Apps, some of the accessible services and sites include Amazon Instant Video, Crackle, Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, and HuluPlus. The 8550 can access both 2D and 3D video streams if provided.

NOTE: I was not able to test Netflix 4K streaming as my ISP does not provide the required broadband speed (Netflix suggests 25 Mbps for a stable 4K streaming signal).

In addition to audio and video content services, Samsung is also able to access online social media services, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and also provides the ability to make video phone calls via Skype (optional VG-STC4000 camera required).

Also, users can also add more apps and content via the Samsung Apps Store. Some of the apps are free, and some require a small fee or the app may be free, but the associated service may require an ongoing paid subscription.

As is the case with the current state of the internet, the video quality of streamed content varies, due to both the quality of the content source and the speed of the internet connection. Quality ranges from a low-res compressed video that is hard to watch on a large screen to high-def video feeds that look more like DVD quality or slightly better. The 8550's upscaling and video processing capabilities also help, but if the source is of really poor quality, there is only so much that can be done, and, in fact, in some cases, video upscaling and processing can actually make poor quality content look worse.

DLNA, USB, and Screen Mirroring

In addition to content from the internet, the UN55HU8550 can also access content from DLNA compatible (Samsung All-Share) media servers and PCs connected to the same home network.

For added flexibility, you can also access audio, video, and still image files from USB flash drive type devices. In addition, Samsung provided its UHD Video Pack USB hard drive wich contained examples of native 4K content.

I found that accessing content from the network and USB plug-in devices (including the UHD video pack) was easy.

However, it is important to note that when accessing content from network or USB plug-in devices, the UN55HU8550 is not compatible with all digital media file formats (consult the eManual, accessible via TV's menu system, for details).

Also, using an HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition smartphone, I successfully streamed audio and video content from the phone to the TV.

Dual Remotes

Another important feature provided by Samsung for the UN55HU8550 is the inclusion of two remote controls - a standard keypad and a Smart Control remote.

The concept of the Smart Control is very practical as it allows users to navigate onscreen menus via a touchpad that moves an onscreen cursor in much the same way as you would use a mouse, providing the ability to navigate all of the TVs menus and features.

The Smart Control also gives users the ability (with its built-in microphone) to use voice commands to control some functions (such as channel changing). In addition, if you are using the Smart Control, but prefer a more traditional remote control user experience, instead of having to reach for the standard remote, you can actually use the Smart Control to display an onscreen version of the keypad remote, which is large and easy to see.

Having used both remotes, I found the standard remote very easy to use as it has decent-sized buttons and is backlit. The Smart Control remote, although I felt that is was a very practical alternative was a little quirky at times as I had some difficulty matching my control motions with the onscreen cursor movement. Also, as with most voice control systems, sometimes, I had to repeat commands more than once, and sometimes found that the remote went to the wrong channel that I had commanded.

What I Liked About The Samsung UN55HU8550

1. 4K and 3D!

2. Good Color and Detail, but the LED Edge-light results in some contrast and black level uniformity issues.

3. Very good video processing/upscaling of lower resolution content sources.

4. Extensive onscreen menu system.

5. Samsung Apps platform provides a good selection of internet streaming options.

6. Lots of picture adjustment options provided - can be set independently for each input source.

7. Thin profile and thin bezel edge-to-edge screen styling.

8. Matte screen surface reduces unwanted glare from room reflections.

9. Better onboard sound than I expected - but still needs an external sound system (sound bar or surround system) for best home theater viewing experience.

10. IR Blaster provided for easier cable/satellite box integration.

What I Didn't Like About The Samsung UN55HU8550

1. Uneven black level (noticeable on dark scenes) due to LED Edge Light system.

2. "Soap Opera" effect when engaging motion settings can be distracting.

3. The built-in audio system was better than I expected for such a thin TV, but an external sound system is really needed for a good home theater listening experience.

4. No onboard controls except for a single button on the back of the TV that serves as both a power on/off and menu navigation control.

Final Take

With a stylish edge-to-edge panel design and minimally reflective matte screen, the UN55HU8550 is a good match for any decor, as well as varying room lighting conditions. Both 2D and 3D Video performance, and, of course, 4K display capability, for the price, is solid and the TVs built-in speakers sound better than average (although an external audio solution, such a sound bar or full multi-speaker system would provide a better listening experience - especially for movies).

Also, the built-in Smart Hub and internet streaming add a lot of content source options beyond just cable/satellite and/or DVD and Blu-ray Discs.

If you have a little spare cash and are ready to make the jump to a fully featured 4K UHD TV, then the Samsung UN55HU8550 is definitely a set to consider.

For an additional look and perspective on the Samsung UN55HU8550, also check out my Photo Profile and Video Performance Test Results.

Available in the 50, 55, 60, 65, 75, and 85-inch screen sizes

NOTE: The HU8550 sets are a 2014 model series, for more current 4K Ultra HD TV selections from Samsung and others, refer to my periodically updated listing of Best 4K Ultra HD TVs For Your Home Theater.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO Digital BDP-103D.

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-SR705 (used in 5.1 channel mode)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (5.1 channels): Wharfedale Diamond 10.CC Center Channel, 10.2 (L/R Mains), 10.DFS (Surrounds), 10.SX SUB (Subwoofer).

HTC One M8 Harman Kardon Edition Smartphone.

Native 4K source content provided by Samsung via 4K UHD Video Pack (external USB hard drive included for review purposes - requires additional purchase by the consumer). Titles included: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, World War Z, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Night at the Museum and The Counselor, The Last Reef, Grand Canyon Adventure and Cappadocia.

Blu-ray Discs (3D): Brave, Drive Angry, Godzilla (2014), Gravity, Hugo, Immortals, Oz The Great and Powerful, Puss in Boots, Transformers: Age of Extinction, The Adventures of Tintin, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Blu-ray Discs (2D): Battleship, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Pacific Rim, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Dark Knight Rises.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

Netflix, Audio and Video files stored on USB flash drives and PC hard drive.