I have only used Samsung TVs around two times in my short life, and in that period, I have actually liked them, a lot. See, TVs are not like smartphones, and every time you purchase them, you need to be sure that they will last for a while, say 6 years at least. That is the same case with my current Skyworth, which was purchased back in 2016. It works, produces more quality images, at least to my eyes, and that is all I need until that time it will be too small, or too aged to be replaced.

Circling back to the Samsung TVs, the models I had played were from the same line: the first one was the Crystal 65” AU8000, which I loved, save for its few missteps. The second one was the same kind of TV, but made for 2022. Its model number is BU8000, and it costs KES 140K, which is higher than the previous model. That is a big leap in terms of price, but thanks to our taxes, business uncertainty, and inflation, smart devices are expensive now, especially in Kenya.

One thing I should remind you is that the TVs feel almost the same, but there are some welcome differences. Let me list them here right away so that we can move on to other things:

  1. The panel is noticeably brighter
  2. Blacks are deeper, but remember, the Crystal line of TVs is a budget series, so it is built around LCD technology rather than OLED, or the high-end Neo QLED
  3. The interface has been improved and looks much cleaner than last time (not sure if the AU8000 has been updated)

At the same time, some welcome features have remained, and I still love them:

  1. The stands are adjustable. This means that the TV can go quite low on your stand, or slightly higher if you choose to do so. The reason for this is to accommodate thicker soundbars, which can obstruct the view. However, the stands do not matter to people who like mounting their TVs.
  2. It has plenty of ports here too. There are two USB ports. These are important because they help you to update the television’s software manually if it has not been sent as an over-the-air update. You can also use the other USB port to juice up your smartphone if you so choose. There are three HDMI ports in tow too, and one of them has eARC support for those who want 4K passthrough and terrific audio performance from their home theatres and soundbars. Other ports include an AV and antenna input, as well as Ethernet. What’s there not to love?
  3. The bezels are skinny. Thinner bezels make the BU8000 look so modern, and that is always a good thing. However, it is not the only TV that does this because other cheaper sets have equally thinner bezels. They are even thinner on pricier TVs like the aforementioned Neo QLEDs, which I hope to get hands-on for an assessment.

That aside, there are some things that I need to bring to fore, and I hope Samsung fixes them for the 2023 model, which I guess will be called CU8000 or something…

  1. Tizen OS on the BU8000, just like in the AU8000, is not snappy. I mean, it responds fairly fast to commands, but I really wish it was faster. I have used a ton of streaming boxes, and they are marginally, or quite snappier than the interface on the Crystal. My guess is that Samsung is using a low-powered chipset, which is fine, but at KES 140K, I want a faster TV. I could mention the competition that costs much lower and glides along clicks, but that is not the point of this small review. To note, however, is that this can be addressed if you have another streaming device. I have Chromecast with Google TV 4K, and it performs way better than Tizen, which is why I used it the entire time during the review. You might want to do the same on your end too.
  2. While the blacks are deeper, they do not look as good as what you can find in an OLED. But I guess that is what you have to live with when you choose the LCD way. However, this is not a serious complaint, so I will let it slide.

Overall Thoughts

In this section, I will mention some things that have not been covered above. One of them is the remote. I love it so much because it can be charged through a Type-C socket. I don’t know any other remote that has these capabilities because the majority of them use AAA batteries. Even better is that it has a tiny solar panel on the back, so you can expose it to sun rays for some juice. Way to go!

It is also worth noting that the Tizen OS has some very nice tricks. It is not stingy in terms of recognizing other platforms. For instance, it can tell when I have the Chromecast plugged in, and will even display a small window on the homepage that acknowledges the device’s existence. If I choose to go the Chromecast way, I can click it right away from the home screen. That’s not all: I can actually control the Chromecast using the Samsung remote. This, to me, is a very neat feature, and I wish more TVs could do this.

Since this is a 4K panel with HDR, you are able to see 4K titles with HDR on platforms such as Netflix. This makes it easy for you to find films and shows that have great quality, and you can actually get to enjoy them here.

The software is also straightforward. There are many viewing modes, and I cannot tell you which one to pick. Just go with what looks good to your eyes because our eyeballs are different. For instance, I know FILM-MAKER mode is great for some people, but I find it too yellow for my liking, so I cannot use it.

Another part of the software that you should take care of is setup. At that time, make sure you choose Kenya/East Africa as your location. If you go to the West, the TV will load a lot of unnecessary software such as Hulu that you cannot use locally. So, take note of that.

Some might be asking, how about gaming performance? Well, this is not a gaming TV, to be honest, and that is from a person who only plays FIFA, and badly. It refreshes at 60 Hz, is not as bright for those who like dark scenes brightened, and has other limitations. In that case, just get a TV that has 120 Hz and is brighter and you will be good to go (however, the BU8000 has a gaming mode and an ethernet port for those faster internet speeds).

Generally speaking, this is a TV that most people can live with and will be very happy about for the next couple of years. It has the inches, the resolution, and some neat features that are genuinely useful. The price, nonetheless, is a little too high for the majority of people, but that is the price you have to pay for a modern television that will keep you entertained for a while.

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Kenn Abuya is a friend of technology, with bias in enterprise and mobile tech. Share your thoughts, tips and hate mail at [email protected]