Feast your eyes on this big, curvy beauty
$9,499 (65 inches), $6,499 (55 inches)
4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels)
4,200R (radius 4.2m)
Value for money:
THERE is no space in my small living room for a 65-inch TV set, much less a curved one that is best viewed at a distance of 3m to 4m.
But Samsung insisted that I test out its U9000 curved UHD (ultra high definition) TV set for a month and, after some shifting of furniture, I managed to find space for it on my TV cabinet. The problem was that, instead of being able to place it parallel to the wall, I had to put it at an angle.
So, instead of the sweet spot being the middle section of my L-shaped couch (which directly faces the screen of my own TV set), the best seat in the house was now the corner section of my couch.
Now, two weeks later, I do not know how I can move back to my old seat facing my 46-inch TV set.
The allure here is not the massive size of the review set, but rather the subtle immersion brought on by the curved screen.
Like the recent introduction of stereoscopic 3D and smart TV features, curved screens are being sold - most notably by Korean giants Samsung and LG - as the next big thing in electronic entertainment, and there is some truth in terms of the visual changes that they bring.
Anyone who has had the best seat in the middle of the Imax theatre at Shaw Lido will attest to the difference in viewing experience, compared with seeing the same images on a regular cinema screen.
The curve of the Imax screen, coupled with the extra large display, gives the viewer a different level of immersion.
Characters are so lifelike that it is as if they are in the next room, just separated by a transparent wall.
On long shots that establish location, such as an overhead shot of a forest or alien world, the audience is drawn in subtly, much more than by a large but flat display.
Samsung's built-in Depth Enhancer does the job very well here.
The keyword here is "subtly", though, and that is where the content limits the technology.
Your daily diet of news, TV dramas and cartoons will not make full use of this effect, which may make curved screens seem gimmicky rather than a necessity.
Curved screens are like the new sound systems that support up to 9.1-channel surround sound. Audiences who have never even experienced 5.1-channel surround will think stereo is good enough.
Even those who enjoy 5.1 surround sound might baulk at the premium they have to pay for enjoying what many regard as just a subtle improvement in audio quality.
I hope LG and Samsung will persist with curved screens.
Even minus the curve, the UHD TV set is impressive.
The 65-inch TV set has such a skinny bezel and an equally skinny frame that it is elegance and beauty personified.
Colours are also excellent. So, even those who take issue with Samsung's tweaks to make colours really pop on its smartphone displays will have no quarrel with similar enhancements here.
Pop in a copy of Disney's Frozen and you can truly appreciate the colour scales pushed on the screen. Certain scenes, such as Elsa's creation of her castle, make your eyes want to linger on the screen for an extra moment, in pure appreciation.
Like most 4K - another term for UHD - TV sets in the market, this one will upconvert even the most basic 480p resolution as well as it can.
But if you are considering a 4K TV set, your choice has to be Samsung.
There is little 4K content available, but streaming service Netflix offers shows such as Breaking Bad in 4K glory.
The catch is that Netflix 4K is not available on set-top boxes or game consoles such as the PlayStation 4, as such hardware supports only full-high-definition content.
Users need the native Netflix app, found only on 4K TV sets, to access 4K content. Such apps are pre-installed only in 4K TV sets meant for markets that officially offer Netflix, which leaves South-east Asia out in the cold. Users here need a separate Netflix and VPN service to access the service locally.
But on Samsung smart TV sets, the region setting can be changed to "USA". The TV set will then automatically download apps meant for the United States market, which includes Netflix.
Once everything is up and running, owners can finally make full use of this TV set's native 4K feature, and not the upconversion.
As with Samsung's recent wave of smart TV sets, the company has done away with the multi-button remote control and is using a smaller, gesture-based smart one.
The size of a curry puff, this remote acts like a mouse that users point at the TV set.
A blue dot appears on the screen and any movement of the remote will move the dot. Pressing the main button on the remote while placing the dot over an option will activate that feature.
Those used to a traditional remote will find the new one slightly confusing, as you cannot readily select a channel simply by punching in the number.
But the key buttons, such as volume and channel selection, as well as the Smart Hub button, are readily available. There is also an on-screen display of a conventional remote for those who prefer it.
Families with set-top boxes linked to their TV sets will probably appreciate the less cumbersome buttons on this elegant remote.
Managing more than one remote control is something that many people have to deal with, and the change from a multi-button device to a smaller, less complex device is helpful.
The Smart Hub smart TV feature is a confusing one, though. Press the Smart Hub button once and a row of last-used smart features will pop up at the bottom of the screen.
Select the apps, games and video icon located just above this row of last-used features to enter the hub.
If you want to get to the TV settings, it gets more confusing. You can do so only via the Settings button available from the onscreen overlay of the full remote control, and you should do this only when you are watching TV or when the channel is set to one of the four HDMI sources.
Accessing these settings directly from the Smart Hub will cause some options to be greyed out.
The subtle immersive features probably fail to justify the high price tag, but everything else about this TV set is worth the money.
THE STRAITS TIMES