Introduction and Features
The UE48JU7500 is a 48-inch TV that sits just above the centre of Samsung’s new UHD TV range. In specification terms it’s vey similar to the previously tested Samsung UE48JU7000, with one major exception.
Its screen is curved rather than flat.
The JU7500 wears this curve very attractively, thanks to the way the concave screen is married to a skinny and boldly chamfered bezel and a striking forward-thrusting single-bar stand. That said, its dark grey finish doesn’t look anything like as opulent as the shinier metallic finish of Samsung’s premium JS9500 and JS9000 TVs.
Despite being relatively affordable when compared with its high-end Samsung TV siblings, the UE48JU7500’s curved screen and 3840 x 2160 native resolution aren’t by any means its only attractions.
Also catching the eye is Samsung’s new Tizen smart TV platform.
Samsung has long led the way in terms of the amount of online content its smart platform supports, especially when it comes to video streaming services, and the shift to Tizen hasn’t changed this – despite the facts that a) other brands are now catching up fast and b) that at the time of writing a few key apps still aren’t finalised for the Tizen platform.
It’s a relief to find, too, that the Netflix and Amazon streaming apps both support 4K UHD.
As for the interface Tizen introduces, it’s a big leap forward from the rather dictatorial and convoluted system Samsung has used on its Smart TVs for the past few years.
Particularly welcome is the shift from full-screen menus to neat, attractive overlaid menus that make much more effective use of the available screen real estate, and try much harder to give you more direct access to the content you most want to watch.
Emphasis is given to recently used apps and TV channels, and you can manually pin favourite content sources to the TV’s Home menu.
At the time of writing, Samsung’s Tizen TVs aren’t equipped with the clever learning system found on Samsung’s previous smart TVs, which monitored what you liked to watch and made content recommendations accordingly. This is a pity, since at the moment the Tizen approach almost feels slightly too simplistic at times – at least when you first start using it.
Happily there’s good news ahead though, for Samsung informs me that it will be introducing a learning/recommendations element via firmware update later this year.
Another surprising but welcome feature of the UE48JU7500 is its direct LED lighting system.
This finds the lights illuminating its pictures placed behind the LCD panel rather than around its edges – an approach that usually leads to a better contrast performance than you tend to get with edge LED TVs.
The UE48JU7500 can even control the light output of different sectors of its LEDs individually, to help bright picture areas look brighter and dark picture areas look darker.
The UE48JU7500 doesn’t carry the Nano Crystal hardware colour solution delivered by Samsung’s SUHD models, but it does employ the brand’s PurColour processing engine to deliver an expanded colour range.
The set also boasts a host of other processing elements, including: an improved system for tweaking images to help them better suit the curved screen; block and general noise reduction systems; multi-level motion processing; and a still sadly much-needed system for converting HD – and even standard definition – to the screen’s native 4K UHD resolution.
Connections on the UE48JU7500 are shared between the main TV body and an external Mini One Connect box. It seems a bit strange that you have to connect your Freeview HD and Freesat HD connections directly into the TV while you stick your HDMI sources into an external box, but we guess the Mini One Connect does at least reduce the amount of cable spaghetti going into the back of the TV.
No One Connect Upgrade
It’s important to stress that unlike the grown up One Connect box you get with Samsung’s JS9500 and JS9000 TVs, the Mini version does not carry any processing inside, and so can’t be upgraded in the future like the full-bore One Connect can.
One last thing to cover on the UE48JU7500T’s spec list is its 3D playback.
This is of the active variety (the passive system belongs to arch rival LG), but isn’t, alas, supported by the inclusion of any free 3D glasses with the TV.
If you’ve been bitten by the high dynamic range bug, then unfortunately the UE48JU7500 isn’t for you as it just doesn’t support it. Although given how many rival brands have started claiming they can add HDR to their TVs via firmware updates we can’t help but wonder if the UE48JU7500s might get a similar upgrade at some point.
Picture quality and usability
When we first took delivery of a UE48JU7500 test sample it suffered with the same serious out-of-the-box motion blur problem discussed at length in our recent review of the UE48JU7000.
Fortunately, however, Samsung has come up with a firmware fix that appears to eradicate the problem.
Certainly after applying the update we failed to see any residual trace of the motion smearing that we saw at first. Which meant it was much easier to appreciate the TV’s many picture strengths.
These start with a seriously impressive contrast performance. As hoped, the use of a direct LED lighting system together with Samsung’s well-established LCD contrast heritage enables the UE48JU7500 to deliver a superb combination of deep, rich blacks and punchy, crisp whites, often within the same frame.
And within those two extremes the set also delivers a wide yet impeccably balanced and extremely subtly defined colour range.
Good colour for its money
We’re not talking here about saturation levels to rival those you get with Samsung’s Nano Crystal TVs – especially when those TVs are running native HDR content – but the JU7500 series is of course much cheaper than Samsung’s SUHD series. And in the context of its price its colours are impressively dynamic and believable.
The UE48JU7500 also benefits from Samsung’s excellent knack for delivering all the sharpness and detail inherent to native UHD sources, making the leap from HD to UHD visible from sensible viewing distances despite its relatively small screen.
While it really shines with native UHD, though, we have recently witnessed even sharper upscaled HD pictures on a different 4K UHD TV – Sony’s soon to be reviewed 75X9405C.
However, there’s a lot to be said for the way Samsung manages to suppress noise in its upscaled pictures versus the Sony’s slightly noisy upscaled efforts.
Real bright light
Also helping the UE48JU7500 deliver pictures that really grab and hold your attention is its impressive brightness output.
Again, we now have to qualify this once-straightforward statement by saying that the UE48JU7500 isn’t in the same brightness ballpark as Samsung’s HDR-friendly SUHD TVs. But by the standards of other mid-range UHD TVs its pictures positively glow with health.
The UE48JU7500’s motion handling isn’t as immaculate as that of Samsung’s flagship TVs, meaning the TV’s UHD sharpness reduces a little during action scenes.
However, you can reduce this issue without causing the image to look processed by firing up Samsung’s reasonably able motion processing system. We’d recommend selecting its Custom setting, and setting the blur and judder reduction components to around their three level.
A few niggles
While the UE48JU7500’s pictures look predominantly excellent, they aren’t flawless.
For a start, getting the best from them requires quite a bit of work in its set up menus to tame out-of-the-box settings that are either too aggressive (with patchy black levels and forced brightness) or too flat, depending on the preset you choose.
Dark scenes can lose small amounts of shadow detail once you’ve set the backlight to the optimum level to minimise light louding around bright objects, and you’ll need to try and work around the rather high reflectiveness of the UE48JU7500’s screen.
The curved nature of the TV doesn’t help here, as it causes reflected objects to distort across more of the screen than would be the case with a flat TV.
The curved screen can also cause distorted geometry if you’re watching from much of an angle down the side – all while not being in big enough in our opinion in this 48-inch instance to deliver on the potential advantages of curved TVs, such as greater immersion in what you’re watching and enhanced focus at the image’s edges.
While we’re on the subject of the UE48JU7500’s 48-inch screen, we guess it’s also not big enough to deliver as much impact from a native UHD resolution as that afforded by bigger screens. Though we certainly don’t agree with people who say that there’s no benefit at all to be had from such a small UHD TV – especially when that TV is as generally high in quality as this one.
That said, we’re not done with issues associated with the UE48JU7500’s relatively small size yet.
For it also isn’t big enough to deliver a truly immersive 3D experience, despite its 3D pictures being bright, highly detailed and full of contrast and depth. The 3D illusion is also diminished a little by some crosstalk ghosting noise over distant high-contrast objects, though for the most part the TV’s 3D is technically accomplished – it’s just the basic size of the 3D image that’s the problem.
The UE48JU7500 is for the most part simplicity itself to use.
The new Tizen menus put all your most recent sources – no matter whether they’re streaming apps or broadcast TV channels – directly on a home menu that comes up as soon as you hit the TV’s remote button, and you can also add your own favourite content links permanently to this menu.
For typical day-to-day use this compact home menu may be all you need.
Also a winner is Samsung’s latest Smart remote. Supplied alongside a rather boring standard remote control, the smart remote features a hugely streamlined button count, and lets you select options simply by pointing your remote at the correct part of the TV’s screen.
Its layout is much less fiddly than Samsung’s previous smart remote efforts.
It’s a pity, perhaps, that Samsung hasn’t managed to integrate its set up menus (picture and sound adjustments and so on) into the Tizen menu structure, and there also seems to be a missing link to all the downloadable extra content options the TV can offer if you search them out.
Maybe the mooted learning/recommendations system will provide this bridge to further content.
With the UE48JU7500 also proving impressively easy to sync with mobile phones and tablets, though, it is overall one of the most friendly smart TVs we’ve tested to date.
With its focus on super-slim designs, Samsung TVs have traditionally struggled to deliver particularly outstanding sound quality.
The UE48JU7500 doesn’t really change this, though it is good enough to sound perfectly respectable with normal TV fare and relatively undemanding films. Particularly surprising is the size of the soundstage it produces, which spreads some distance beyond the physical confines of the screen while still sounding detailed, and without losing cohesion.
Voices are generally believable and clear too.
However, the sound can start to become harsh when there’s a dense mix to deal with, and a lack of bass can leave action scenes sounding a little thin and lifeless at times.
This is the single biggest weakness area for the UE48JU7500.
The problem is simply this: that you can get Samsung’s own UE48JU7000, which offers pretty exactly the same specification and performance standard but in a flat screen, for around £1400.
So you’re essentially paying £250 extra for a curved screen that, for reasons discussed earlier, does not for me contribute anything massively positive to your viewing experience.
The UE48JU7500 sees Samsung seeking to bring its twin pillars of a native UHD resolution and curved screen design to a relatively mainstream market thanks to its compact size and relative affordability versus Samsung’s own flagship TVs.
It sports Samsung’s mostly likeable new Tizen operating system too, as well as some surprisingly high-level colour technologies like direct LED lighting and Samsung’s PurColor system.
For the most part it’s another great Samsung TV, though its 48-inch screen doesn’t fully sell its curved or UHD credentials, and its equally talented flat sibling, the UE48JU7000T, is substantially cheaper.
The UE48JU7500’s picture quality is excellent, with one of the best contrast performances the LCD world has seen and sumptuous amounts of sharpness and colour detail.
The Tizen smart system is very effective too, and Samsung has plenty of smart TV content to keep you entertained.
The UE48JU7500’s 48-inch screen struggles to deliver enough benefits from its curved design to justify the £250 it costs over its flat UE48JU7000 sibling.
Its screen is quite reflective too, and you need to tinker with the presets to get the best out of it.
Treated in isolation, the UE48JU7500 is an excellent TV.
It delivers levels of contrast most mid-range LCD TVs can only dream about, its pictures look exquisitely detailed and subtly coloured, and it ticks most of the right boxes with its smart TV features and interface.
However, its 48-inch screen doesn’t quite sell its curve convincingly enough to persuade me that it’s really worth £250 over the flat-screen UE48JU7000.