When Samsung showed off its new line of TVs at CES in Las Vegas last January, some of us were left scratching our heads. Many were expecting to see the company’s new flagship TV, one that would replace the vaunted JS9500 that earned such rave reviews in 2015. That’s not what we got. Instead, we were left to believe the ultra-slim KS9500, which we previewed just a few weeks ago, might be the best Samsung would offer this year. Not so! Today, Samsung surprised us with the KS9800, a no-holds-barred, everything-and-the-kitchen sink TV that’s just as brilliant and beautiful as we could ever have hoped for.
While Samsung’s competitor, LG, has been honing its OLED TV lineup to a fine point, Samsung has done its part to make LED/LCD TVs perform their absolute best. The KS9800 is the embodiment of those efforts, and you can see it in every one of its tiny 8 million pixels.
Like Samsung’s entire premium SUHD lineup, the KS9800 uses quantum dots to achieve extremely bright, highly accurate colors, and more shades of those colors than ever before. It supports high dynamic range, with peak brightness topping out at more than 1,000 nits, which, if you’re not familiar with nits, means the TV produces the brightest, most sparkling highlights you can buy in a TV today. But the most important thing to video enthusiasts is that this TV, unlike the KS9500 we previewed earlier this month, has a full-array local dimming backlight system. And that means that, while the TV is a little thicker than the ultra-slim step-down model, it has better black levels and, therefore, much better overall contrast; that’s what makes this TV’s picture leap off the screen with an almost natural 3D effect.
In terms of picture quality, the KS9800 offers everything we had hoped for. It matches or exceeds the picture quality we saw in last year’s model, only, in the end, this is a better TV. That’s due in part to the fact that Samsung’s Smart TV system is looking like it might just be the best in the business now.
Related: What the hell are quantum dots and why do you want them in your next TV?
A feature new for this year, Samsung’s Tizen-powered smart TV system can automatically detect what you connect to it, be it your cable/satellite box, game console, or streaming set-top box like Apple TV, and control it automatically. You’ll never need a universal remote again. The system also does some really great things with lining up Live TV up with the apps you love to stream with, making the whole interface feel like individual channels. Channel surfing has finally been brought back in the 21st century, and, frankly, we like it. A lot. If you know someone who tends to get frustrated with their TV because they can’t figure out how to control it, Samsung’s new system will change that in a hurry.
And if all that wasn’t enough, the simple addition of a special USB dongle, simply called Samsung Extend — and due to be sent out free of charge to anyone who purchases a Samsung 7, 8, or 9-series SUHD TV — instantly transforms the TV into a Smart Home control system. Packing Samsung’s Smart Things system compatibility, this TV can control any number of smart lights, thermostats, wireless cameras, and outlets — all from different brands — by bringing them together under one very simple, easy-to-use interface, right there on the TV screen. Check to see who’s at the door, or set the system up so that it dims the lights when you watch a movie. The possibilities are limited only to your imagination, and how many smart devices you might have in your home.
Overall, the KS9800 is every bit the top-tier TV we expected from Samsung, and its bound to get rave reviews later this year as reviewers, ourselves included, finally get some extended one-one-one time with the TV.
Yeah, we’ll just be over here, “working.”
For now, know that the 65-inch version of the KS9800 comes available this June, the 78-inch will come as soon as May for $10,000, and the monstrous 88-inch version, also due this June, will beg a pocketbook-draining $20,000
Sound expensive? Well, they are. The best costs a bit of money. However, consider that the last year’s 65-inch JS9500 was introduced at the same price, but is now available for about $3,400 online. So, the prices will calm down eventually (to a degree). For now, Samsung deserves to charge a premium for the KS9800, because it most certainly plays the role of a premium TV — probably one of the best we’ll see all year.