Samsung JU7500 review

Review: Samsung JU7500

26 May 2015 | Torben Rasmussen


Samsung is – like many other manufacturers - introducing a completely revamped TV platform in their 2015 TVs, dubbed Tizen. We have one of the new 55-inch mid-range Ultra HD models. JU7500 is a curved version that is more affordable then the high-end S’UHD models that incorporate some extra elements of the Ultra HD standard. This means that JU7500 has no HDR or quantum dots (extended color gamut).

Can Tizen the TV operating system of the future? Is it time to buy an Ultra HD TV and is JU7500 the one to buy? We will put it to the test.

Note that JU7500 is the curved 7 series model, whereas JU7100 (JU7000 in Europe) is a flat version that is largely identical.

Price and retailers:

US retailer


DE retailer
UK retailer


Specifications

55"
Ultra HD (3840x2160)
VA LCD with direct LED
Active 3D
Stand (fixed)
Wall (VESA 300)
(HxWxD) 71.8 x 123.8 x 11.3 cm (without stand)
17.4 kg
HDMI (4x 2.0)
USB (3x 3.0)
1x MHL
Composite + Component
Optical
HDMI-ARC (1x)
Headphones
Stereo
DVB T/T2/C/S2
WiFi (ac standard)
MPEG4
HEVC
VP9
Tizen
SmartTouch remote (bluetooth)
Smartphone app (SideView)
Manual
2x Remotes
OneConnect Mini


Samsung JU7500 review


First impressions

The first thing you will notice is that JU7500 is not a particularly thin TV. A curved TV obviously takes up more room on furniture but that is not what we are talking about. The actual pane and cabinet is quite thick, especially at the top and bottom where speakers are integrated. This might be to push you towards the more expensive S’UHD models or just a result of the direct LED backlight inside JU7500. Still, the TV is thicker than most 2-3 year old TVs if that is a factor for you.

The TV has a thin, dark metal frame with sharp and defined edges. The rest of the TV is made from plastic.


On the left back side of the TV we found all the ports for the OneConnect box, audio, pictures, USB etc. On the right side there is a power connector port that it angled at 90-degrees, making it easier to wall-mount the TV. However, since it is a curved TV there is lots of free air behind it so it doesn’t really matter. The TV can be wall-mounted using VESA brackets. All connectors are pointing to the side, which is good..

Samsung JU7500 review
Samsung JU7500 review


There are no HDMI ports on the back side of the TV. Instead, Samsung has created a One Connect “Mini” box that houses all the HDMI ports as well as an optical audio port.

Samsung JU7500 review


There are also two remotes bundled in the box. One of them is Samsung’s new motion-enabled “Wiimote”. We’ll get back to it.

Like most other manufacturers, Samsung is no longer throwing 3D glasses in the box, which is symptomatic. 3D is no longer a buzz-word and never really caught on with consumers so manufacturers might as well save the cost. We’re not going to miss them.

Samsung JU7500 review


The TV panel is quite reflective, which also means that it acts a bit like a dark mirror. As we have described in previous reviews, one of the only advantages of a curved, relatively small-size screen is that it can reduce reflections somewhat, so on JU7500 you might argue that the curve serves a purpose. However, we would probably have preferred that Samsung focused on reducing root of the problem and just gave us a flat version instead.


User experience & features

Tizen has been developed by Samsung and Intel as a cross-device platform. You might have noticed that it is powering a few phones, too. It is Samsung’s hope that it can take on iOS and Android with Tizen. Ambitious, no doubt. So let’s dive in.

Samsung JU7500 review

Operating system & smart TV

Tizen instantly reminds us of LG’s webOS that we have tried on several occasions. The Tizen interface on the TV is centered on a menu bar that slides up from the bottom of the screen whenever you press the “Smart TV” button. From here new user-configurable buttons are available, allowing you to create shortcuts to your favorite apps, the browser or your most-watched TV channels. You can add and delete shortcuts and besides that Samsung populates it with the latest apps. We did not figure out how to move the shortcuts and it appeared that the one you added most recently always pulls to the left.

Samsung JU7500 review


Unfortunately there is no multi-tasking, unlike LG’s webOS that allows you to almost instantly switch between all open apps, which is a pretty huge deal. Every time you want to watch Netflix on Samsung it has to boot up the app from cold. Samsung does mention multi-tasking in its specifications list so it might be reserved for a future update – if not, Samsung needs to update its websites.



A great thing about Tizen is that it is embedded deep in the TV so it handles every aspect of the user interface on the TV, making the user experience coherent and fairly easy to use. All menus and interfaces have the same flat look, as times dictate.

Tizen could use a slightly faster processor. It has a quad-core processor but the number of cores is often less relevant, and it feels a bit too slow for Tizen’s ambitions – or maybe it hasn’t been optimized properly. This is exactly how we felt when LG rolled out its first webOS TV last year, which also felt sluggish, only to get much better the following year, so hopefully Samsung will manage to do the same for Tizen.

The bad news is that JU7500 is not one of the TVs that can be upgraded each year. It has the “mini” One Connect, so any update for Tizen on JU7500 has to be a software update. To give you an example; when navigating menus we often noticed that the image began to lag/stutter; not the images or animations in the menu but the actual TV image behind the overlay menu. There are also quite a few minor bugs in Tizen that we hope to see fixes. Nothing major though.

We shot a short video of Tizen in action, cycling through the menus by using the new remote.



To access the deeper menus and certain functions using the new remote you need to first access the on-screen quick menu. It is a nice feature but personally I miss the pictures-in-pictures settings- There is no option to add shortcuts in the quick menu, and no option to add anything from the quick menu to the bottom menu bar either.

Despite no multi-tasking support at the moment, most apps power up relatively quickly (see our new measurements table or the video above). Netflix also jumps to 4K resolution almost instantaneously, which has certainly not been the case on previous 4K TVs that we have tried. On JU7500, Netflix was streaming in 4K from the beginning (even the first time we used the app). We never saw any low-resolution shots.

Samsung has amassed a healthy selection of apps from the beginning. There is also a web browser in Tizen, which is actually acceptable in use. It is not something that I will personally use, but if you want to it is useable, quick, and renders most webpages correctly, even touch elements and javascript. The zoom function zooms by adjusting the browser width instead of zooming in a pre-defined width, which most TVs do.

Samsung JU7500 review


But there are also a lot of key apps and services missing. Samsung has to convince developers to join the boat and very soon it will have to compete for attention with Google’s Android TV and possibly Apple’s new Apple TV box that is rumored to get an App store any day now.

Before we move on I just want to touch on a few things in regards to Samsung's OneConnect "mini". It’s not a bad idea, moving all inputs into a separate box to avoid the cable clutter, but unfortunately Samsung decided not to go all-in. The HDMI ports are there, but most other ports are located on the back side of the TV. This also means that the brains of the TV - the processor chip - is placed inside the TV, so there is simply no option to replace the “mini” OC box. You cannot upgrade JU7500. Which also makes the new “mini” box sort of pointless. You still need to put the antenna cable into the TV. Samsung’s more expensive TVs use the “full” One Connect so why not offer it for JU7500? Even Sony’s multi-cable-extension box for the X9 is better than Samsung’s solution.

Remote control

Samsung has replaced its Bluetooth touchpad remote with what can best be described as clone of LG’s Magic Remote, but it is nevertheless a change for the better. First of all, the build quality has improved, and it feels nicer and a bit heavier (which is a good thing). LG’s Magic Remote activates a cursor on the TV screen whenever you shake it, but Samsung has chosen a different path, required you to touch the “enter” button. It works well in practice and lets you use the motion controls only when you want to.

Samsung JU7500 review


Samsung JU7500 review


When activated, the cursor moves around on the screen just like on LG’s TV, but I felt that Samsung’s was less accurate, which sometimes led to frustration even in simple use cases such as opening the EPG. But fear not, the remote control still has the buttons you need to navigate, including left/right/up/down. Tizen is optimized for both input methods, so it works well. LG’s remote has a scroll-wheel for navigating, whereas Samsung’s remote has nothing similar, which at times meant that I had to switch to using navigational buttons to scroll, for example in Netflix’s library. At times the cursor would get stuck and disappear. However, despite the bugs I still like Samsung’s “Wii” remote better than LG’s, but this type of input method will never win our hearts.

Samsung also lets you control 3rd party devices with the same remote control, but there a many limitations. It is not match to for example’s Bang & Olufsen’s comprehensive system that can control basically anything.

If you want you tablet or phone to join the party you still need to download the SmartView app for Android or iOS. It lets you control the TV and cast content from the mobile device onto the TV screen. The functionality is there but the app is not very good. Video casting reaches 108p but it stutters quite a bit. There is far more potential here, and even though you can also cast TV channels to the mobile device, we wish Samsung would look at what Sony, Panasonic and B&O are doing with the EPG and controls.

Samsung JU7500 review


TV channels, recording & sound

The EPG (electronic program guide) has a nice size and there is lots of information on-screen without all the noise. For some reason the mini preview window would not show up for us and the audio would not play the first time we opened up the EPG.

Switching to a new channel still takes a few seconds so no major changes here.



In addition to the EPG, you can also bring up a smaller program overview from the top of the screen. From here you can cycle through channels.

The TV has an integrated twin-tuner, at least in Europe, which enables you to watch two programs side-by-side or record one show while watching another. However, there is only one CI slot, meaning that you can only have one decoder card plugged in at a time, so one of the two channels need to be unencrypted. The PIP features are hidden in one of the deeper menus, making it difficult to turn on.

You need to connect an external USB hard drive to use the recording features, and it worked as expected. It is only possible to record one show at a time, which also means that you cannot pause a show while recording another. The recordings menu is also hard to find and you have to go through the media browser to find your recordings.

JU7500 is not one of the thinnest TVs out there which actually leaves more room for speakers inside. The sound quality is bearable but not good enough for movies. We still recommend using external speakers and if you want something to match the curved TV, Samsung recently added a “curved soundbar”. True story.

Calibration

It was surprisingly easy to get colors almost spot-on by changing the color mode to “Movie”. It has a gamma of 2.3 (a tiny bit too dark) and there were some minor colors issues, but overall “Movie” is quite good. With a few extra tweaks we managed to get accurate color reproduction. However, to get the best possible result you need to use the full RGB settings and adjust several steps of the IRE scale. Since these settings cannot be transferred from one TV to another, we have not included them in our suggested calibration settings. It is possible to get below delta 4 just by switching to the “Movie” profile.



We noticed no critical color problems looking at our color gradients; steps in both bright and dark tones were separated nicely. JU7500 also passed our other test patterns. All in all, no critical color issues.

Measurements

In this new “measurement” section we will include all measurements and our suggested calibration settings. Please note that we have not included the RGB settings for JU7500 since it has to be adjusted with the 10-point scale to improve things, and that has to be done separate for each sample of the TV.

Brightness & black Calibrated
Black level 0.05 cd/m2
Brightness 134 cd/m2
Contrast 2640:1

Power consumptionOut of the box Calibrated
On 170 W 110 W
3D - -
Standby 0,2 W -

Duration measurements Tid
Start-up (until responsive) 4 s
Start-up time (until picture comes up) 1 s
Netflix start-up time 11 s
Youtube start-up time 9 s

Group SettingValue
Picture Profile Movie
Backlight 9
  Contrast 90
Brightness 45
Sharpness 20
Color 50
Tint R50
Advanced Dynamic Contrast Off
Black tone Off
Flesh tone 0
Color space Auto
Gamma 1 (gamma 2.2) - 2 (gamma 2.3)
Picture settings Color tone Warm2
Digital clean view Off
MPEG noise filter Off
Motion Plus Custom (de-blur 8, de-judder 0)


Picture quality

4K resolution looks great if you have access to 4K content. JU7500 is one of the first TVs on the market to support VP9 decoding (in addition to HEVC), which means that you can now stream 4K material from YouTube as well as Netflix and Amazon. Most people tend to think of YouTube as home videos but in recent years semi-professionals have started uploading great videos and some of it is available in 4K. However, not all 4K videos on YouTube are good so you have to look around. Netflix is also steadily expanding its 4K library and there is often a quite significant improvement in quality compared to the HD streams so if you like Netflix, 4K starts to make sense. Personally I very much enjoyed the first season of Daredevil, which is available in 4K.

Samsung JU7500 review


4K is reproduced well on JU7500. Upcaling of HD content does not bring any noticeable improvements but looks good and is processed as intended. However, like most previous Samsung TV you should try to avoid bad-quality SD such as interlaced SD content. We saw more jaggies than necessary on interlaced content. JU7500 will not do anything to make your SD channels and DVDs look great. You need better source material first. As we have said before, an Ultra HD TV will not make bad content look great. Don’t believe the marketing material.

Samsung’s TV use VA LCD panels, which generally means relatively deep black levels, but narrow viewing angles. This is also true for JU7500 where you notice a steep drop in contrast, starting from around 30 degree angles. Nothing has changed compared to previous years’ models so Samsung owners should know what to expect. Black levels have not improved either and JU7500 is simply no match to OLED in this area.

Samsung JU7500 review


One positive thing is that JU7500 has no clouding issues, and we noticed very soft light inhomogeneity in general – and only if you look really hard. As always, these things can vary from model to model so we cannot guarantee that your sample will look as good. Look at the photos below that show the panel taken with different shutter speeds. JU7500 is equipped with a direct LED backlight, instead of edge LED, which is more common on LCD TVs nowadays. The type of backlight is the reason why the TV has a more homogeneous backlight. We noticed the same great light homogeneity on Panasonic’s latest CX models, so hopefully manufacturers will continue in this track.



It was not possible to completely deactivate the dynamic backlight system on JU7500, which came as no big surprise. You will notice it at times, typically when subtitles during dark movie scenes force the limited dimming system to make the bottom of the screen a little bit brighter. We also noticed it a few times when other bright objects appeared in the image.

Unfortunately, we also experienced micro stuttering a few times, typically associated with cut scenes or just a change of scene. It seems like it is a bug in the motion compensation system, as we have noticed it on several other Samsung TVs over the years. We were not able to eliminate the issues with Motion Plus either. Speaking of Motion Plus, it introduces the same “soap opera” look as other motion compensation systems but if you turn it off completely you will have to live with worse motion resolution. If you must use it, set the judder reduction to zero and the blur reduction to a number near max (but not max). This will improve motion resolution without introducing the soap opera effect. The things described here are of course not critical, and JU7500 performs as one would expect from a modern LCD panel. Not everyone will notice the micro stutter but if you are bothered by it on a current Samsung TV you will probably also notice it on JU7500. We only noticed modest blurring by the way. All in all a typical LCD panel.

Speaking of motion, we measured an impressive input lag of just 20 ms in the Game mode, which makes JU7500 a great choice for console games. Just remember that game consoles still output 1080p or lower. After calibration, using the Movie profile, we measured input lag to 120 ms, which is certainly not recommended for gaming. This obviously has something to do with our Motion Plus settings. It would be great if TV manufacturers started adding a shortcut to the Game Mode. Right now you to access the deep menus to find it.

No 3D glasses were provided so we did not test 3D.

Conclusion

Samsung believes that Tizen is the future, and in our opinion it is a more coherent and capable platform, but it never managed to convince us. It feels more like an evolution than a revolution; the latter is needed for TV operating systems. The processor inside is also a bit too slow, making navigation feel sluggish at times, and Samsung still needs to address several bugs. The One Connect “mini” is a poor excuse for the “full” One Connect and as so a downgrade compared to last year’s 8500. You cannot replace the “mini” with a new box in the coming years.

JU7500 offers several useful features and convincing picture quality. Colors reproduction is great and it was easy to improve accuracy from the out-of-box settings. The TV supports HEVC and VP9, meaning that you can stream 4K content from multiple sources, including Netflix and YouTube. We noticed some micro-stutter and we had to engage the Motion Plus system to compensate which is a shame, but not a critical issue.

The new remote control is a change for the better, even if you don’t use the “Wii” motion features. The TV is thicker than previous models and combined with a curved design it definitely takes up some room on TV furniture or a wall. The good thing about this is that it has allowed Samsung to improve the speakers. It’s a dilemma; with today’s technology you can’t have both.

All in all, JU7500 is a very good TV but in our opinion somewhat overpriced. Comparing it to the market we know that you can get an almost identical TV without the curve for less. If we were in the market for something in this segment we would probably gravitate towards the flat JU7000 instead.

Compare prices for Samsung JU7500 on Pricerunner


Price and retailers:

US retailer


DE retailer
UK retailer



Picture quality
No clouding/bleeding
A better operating system (Tizen)
Improved remote
Low input lag


Micro stutter
Average motion resolution
One Connect Mini
Curved



Nearest competitors






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