Samsung RU8000 4K UHD TV review: A good-enough smart TV, but not one that's keeping up with the times

Samsung's RU8000 provides a first-class user experience and a good image, but the competition offers better color and HDR for less—a lot less.

ru8000 006 dynamic1 black ns small
Samsung
At a Glance

Samsung’s $800, 55-inch RU8000 is a good 4K UHD TV. It has a thin design, a top-notch user interface, and a classy remote. Two years ago, it would’ve ruled the lower mid-range category. In 2019, its image looks flat when compared to such lower-priced TVs as the recently reviewed Hisense H8F. Hisense’s TV delivers much higher peak brightness, better color, and a user experience that’s almost as good—for hundreds less.

Design and specs

The RU8000 is a 4K UHD LED-backlit, LCD TV. I tested the 55-inch class (54.6 inches measured diagonally), which at 42.1 pounds (43 pounds including the feet) is light enough that a strong individual can easily wrangle it (just be careful not to squeeze the screen). Employing two people for the task will lessen the chance of damage. 

The body of the RU8000 is a mere 2.3 inches at its thickest point, and the feet are about 9.3 inches deep, so the TV will stand up on a relative shallow perch. There are bolt holes for a 200mm VESA mount if you prefer your TV on the wall, though only cradle types were shown as accessories on the RU8000’s webpage when I looked.

The port selection consists of four HDMI 2.0, two USB 2.0, coax, optical audio output, and ethernet—all located in a recess on the back of the TV. Do your hookups before you mount the TV if it will reside in an inconvenient location. 

At the time of this writing, Samsung’s website offered the 49-inch version of the RU8000 for $650, the 55-inch model I tested for $800, the 65-inch for $1,100, the 75-inch for $1,800, and the 82-inch for $2,600. Those were discounted prices, though I’ve yet to see a discount on Samsung’s site retreat to the full manufacturer’s suggested retail.

Interface and remote

The RU8000 sports the same Smart Hub interface that all the better Samsung TV’s feature. It’s nicely laid out and generally efficient, though it could use some work in terms of remembering where you left off (as can many). It does automatically recognize attached components and names them appropriately if they’re Samsung branded. There’s also a nice media guide, support for Samsung’s Bixby digital assistant, popular apps such as Netflix and YouTube, and the other usual software perquisites. Screen mirroring from a smart device is also supported.

The remote is universal, and basically the same slick, minimalist design that ships with the company’s pricier TVs. The only difference is the three shortcut/advertising buttons for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu that reside directly below the volume and channel rockers. They’re handy if you use those services, I suppose, but they’re useless if you don’t. I’d have preferred dedicated transport (play, fast-forward, etc.) controls, as using the on-screen transport controls while playing movies, while not terribly difficult, is much less efficient.

remote b IDG

Except for the advertising buttons, which are great if they match your favorite services, the RU8000’s universal remote is as classy as the other One Remotes in the Samsung lineup.

Samsung’s remote and  interface form a potent combo, on par with LG’s or Roku’s, even if I’m somewhat critical about the balance of functionality between the two.

Performance

While the color and HDR aren’t a match for the better competition, there’s still a lot to like about the RU8000’s picture. It has excellent judder reduction and generally smooth motion. Renderings are subject to far fewer artifacts than with many TVs. Alas, part of that is due to the relatively tame 350 nits peak brightness I measured. It’s super-bright highlights—at 700 or more nits—that are difficult to deal with when in motion during pans and action sequences.

ru8000 001 front3 black ns small Samsung

Samsung’s user interface and remote might be premium, but the RU8000’s image is not close to what the company is capable of.

Colors on the RU8000 suffer the slight blue skew that’s typical of older LED-backlit LCD TVs, though it’s certainly not the issue it was when LED backlights first appeared as an energy-saving light source. Reds lean slightly toward the orange, and greens tend towards lime. The effect is subtle, overall, with a total palette that is what many would refer to as “cool.”

You might not notice it, or even care about it, if you view the TV on its own. Viewed alongside a competitor with quantum dots or even newer LED filter technology, it literally pales in comparison.

Because of the low peak brightness that I mentioned, HDR doesn’t pop as much as it can. Generally speaking, to get a noticeable HDR effect, you need 700 nits or more; 1,000-plus being the sought-after ideal. You’ll notice only a slight difference when comparing the HDR version of a movie to the SDR version on the RU8000, and I mean slight.

Screen conformity was quite good at a normal viewing distance (i.e., 1.5 times the size of the display). There were some small inconsistencies (cloudiness) with a pure white image, but that was about it.

The RU8000 uses array backlighting, though I can’t tell you exactly how many zones. There’s definitely more than one and fewer than you’ll get with the company’s high-end TVs. That’s the word straight from Samsung, so I thought I’d pass it along. There’s noticeable, if not particularly irritating blooming (halos) around detailed bright objects on a black background, so whatever the number of zones may be, it is less than ideal.

Most viewers will be just fine with the RU8000’s image. By the standards of a couple years ago, it’s quite good. On the other hand….

The game has changed

As I said up top, the $800 RU8000’s color and HDR can’t match that of the $450 Hisense H8F. The RU8000’s image processing is a bit better, the remote is significantly nicer, and the interface a bit slicker, but those factors don’t balance the equation for me. Even priced the same, I’d opt for the H8F. 

Players such as TCL and Hisense have upped their game, and at this price point, Samsung has not. That makes the RU8000 a good example of why you should never shop by brand name alone. 

At a Glance
  • Two years ago, this TV would have been a great deal. There is still value in Samsung's superior interface and remote, but for a TV that produces just 350 nits (too little for effective HDR) and exhibits old-school blue-skew color, it's overpriced in 2019.

    Pros

    • Smooth motion and good overall image quality
    • Very good user interface and universal remote control (with mic)
    • Good screen uniformity

    Cons

    • Lacks the brightness to do HDR justice
    • Cool color skew looks washed out compared to the competition
    • Some less-expensive TVs deliver higher performance
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon