4K TVs have been all the rage for a couple of years now. More pixels, sharper image quality – what’s not to like? While that is obviously true, there are lots of other factors like design, build quality, HDR compatibility, post-purchase support, etc. to consider when determining a TV’s quality. I’m sure the first brand that comes to most people’s mind when talking about TV is either Samsung, Sony, or LG. And rightfully so, these companies have been coming up with great quality TVs throughout the years, thus making them the common household brand when it comes to anything electronics.
Today, we have Samsung’s UA55RU7100R 55-inch 4K UHD LED Smart TV which despite being an entry-level 4K option in the international market (especially the west), costs a fortune here in Nepal. We’re not off to a great start here, but let’s find out how it fares against similar TVs in the domestic arena.
Samsung 7-Series UA55RU7100R Specifications
- Display: 55-inches LED Flat panel
- Resolution: 4K Ultra-HD (3840 x 2160 pixels)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 48.8 x 28.1 x 2.3-inches (w/o stand); 48.8 x 31.2 x 10.3-inches (w/ stand)
- Stand Size (W x H x D): 1.7 x 7.8 x 10.3-inches
- Weight: 17.28 kg (w/o stand); 17.70 kg (w/ stand)
- Backlighting: Edge-Lit LED
- Sound: 2CH Stereo Speakers with 20W Output (RMS)
- Dolby Atmos: Yes
- OS: Samsung’s Tizen OS
- Processor: Quad-Core 4K UHD Processor
- Storage: 4GB
- HDR: Yes (HDR10, HDR10+, HLG)
- Motion Rate: Advanced 120
- PQI (Picture Quality Index): 1400
- Power: AC100-240V 50/60Hz (150W)
- Wireless Connectivity: WiFi, WiFi Direct, Bluetooth
- I/O Ports: 3x HDMI (including one HDMI ARC), 2x USB, 1x Ethernet (LAN), 1x Power Supply, 1x Component In (Y/Pb/Pr), 1x Composite In (AV), 1x Digital Audio Out (Optical), 1x RF In (Terrestrial/Cable), 1x RF In (Satellite), 1x Antenna In
- Remote: One Remote
- Color: Charcoal Black
- Price in Nepal: Rs, 183,990 114,900
Design & Build
The design of the Samsung RU7100 is exactly what you’d expect from any modern-day televisions. It features a slim design and thin bezels (1.5cm) all around, with an ever-so-slightly bigger bezel on the bottom due to the “Samsung” branding. The technical term for this bezel is “VNB” (short for Very Narrow Bezel), which is simplistically unique!
Underneath the branding, you’ll find the “TV Controller Button” and the “Remote Control Sensor”. Using the button, you can change channels, toggle volume, change the content source, or power off the device. Yeah, fight off your sibling hogging the remote! Moreover, the speaker grille runs below the branding as well.
Cable management is fortified with the 4 gaps near the bottom of the TV, so your setup will not look mismanaged or mess up the room’s aesthetics. The special clip clamps the wires on to the stand, that further adds to a cleaner setup.
Moving on to the build quality, the material used for the TV’s back is plastic, with subtle horizontal ridges, giving it a nice-looking finish. In our case, we installed the TV on a stand instead of mounting it to the wall. The stand is also made of plastic and runs almost as wide as the TV itself. Though it adequately latches on to the TV (which is decently heavy at 17.28 kg), there is still some wobble.
This is what you came for, this is why you’d want to read reviews of the TV before actually buying one.
DOES. IT. LOOK. GOOD?
In the case of RU7100, the answer is an unsurprising yes because, well, Samsung is the king of displays! The flat 55-inch 4K UHD panel produces as good an image as advertised. There are 4 picture modes for contextual viewing – Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie. Additionally, it supports HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG standard for darker darks and brighter whites.
What is this mumbo-jumbo you might wonder? Let explain them to you.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) is a technology that widens the TV’s contrast ratio and color palette, thus providing a better and more natural-looking image. In other words, it improves the display’s dynamic range. There are different standards of HDR; HDR10 (or just HDR), HDR10+, HLG, and Dolby Vision. While HDR10+ is a direct improvement against the regular HDR, HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) is a solution to provide HDR content for broadcasted TV contents like sports, parades, etc.
Usually, HDR and Wide Color Gamut (WCG) come side-by-side in TVs. Simply put, WCG is an increase in the color range with more shades of each color like bluer blues, redder reds, etc. However, the RU7100 doesn’t have WCG so the color reproduction isn’t on par with higher-end models. Without a side-by-side comparison, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference so this is not a deal-breaker anyway.
In spite of this, watching content on this TV is an amazing experience. Thanks to the aforementioned HDR support, videos look vivid with blacker blacks and brighter whites. It has a remarkable 5650:1 contrast ratio due to its VA (Vertical Alignment) panel, which is better than IPS panels. The contrast ratio is also made better with UHD dimming, which analyzes each frame to optimize the LED backlight. Color reproduction, sharpness, and saturation are fantastic as well.
For better color, the RU7100 also embeds Samsung’s “PurColor” technology for natural color reproduction. It focuses on adjusting secondary colors (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) rather than primary colors akin to most other TVs.
The specification above also mentions “Motion Rate“. It is just Samsung’s name for refresh rate and upon my research, I came to find out that manufacturers would exploit unsuspecting customers with this. Here, though Samsung says the RU7100 has “Advanced 120 Motion Rate”, it’s only a native 60Hz panel, which then simulates 120fps content. Cheeky! Additionally, every TV with motion rate (or whatever they’re known by in different manufacturers’ TVs) higher than 120 usually means it has a native 120Hz panel.
But hey, not every content on TV is 60fps!
That’s right. Usually, most of the movies are shot on 24fps while the live TV is generally 30fps. So, to even out the frame rate of the content and the display, artificial frame rates are added using three-two (3:2) pulldown technology. Therefore, you get smoother video quality. This can be toggled on or off under the “Auto Motion Plus” option found inside Expert Picture settings. You can set it to Off, Auto, or Custom. Under Custom, you can set specific “Judder Reduction” (reduce choppiness) values and turn “LED Clear Motion” (reduce overall brightness to simulate higher frame rates) on or off.
However, a smooth video isn’t something you’d always want. I watched the “West Coast Chaos” scene from the classic 1978 “Superman” movie and I ughhed so hard. Everything was just unnaturally smooth in a way that ruins the viewing experience. This “motion smoothing” feature is popularly known as “Soap Opera effect” and no wonder even Tom Cruise wants you to turn it off. There are some instances where you’d benefit from turning the feature on, like live TV programs – sports events, parades, etc.
Now, audio quality is another important factor regarding a TV’s quality. The Samsung RU7100 has a 2CH Speaker on the bottom of the TV with 20W output. Here, you get three sound modes – Standard, Optimised, and Amplify. And for you audiophiles out there, this unit also supports Dolby Atmos.
I liked RU7100’s audio quality. It gets plenty loud so the TV should work just fine in a normal-sized room. The dialogs are very clear thanks to the “Dialog Enhancement” feature. However, there’s an ignorable level of bass produced from the internal speaker so you’d want to install a decent soundbar for that. Also, the default “Digital Output Audio Format” is set to PCM (Pulse Code Modulation). To enjoy Dolby Atmos sound quality, you need to set it to either Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital+.
For this, an audio output device with Dolby Atmos support should be connected to the TV via the aforementioned “HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel)” port. You could also use the Digital Audio Out (Optical) port but the TV guide specifically says to connect via the HDMI ARC port for Dolby Atmos. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a soundbar in the office to test it out.
Talking about connectivity, the RU7100 has quite a few I/O ports. It has 3 HDMI, 2 USB, 1 Ethernet (LAN), 1 Digital Audio Output (Optical) to name a few. By making effective use of these ports, you can get a lot more productivity from your TV.
First off, the HDMI ports. It’s an audio/video interface using which you can connect your channel provider’s Set-Top-Box, play games on a bigger screen by connecting your consoles (Xbox, PlayStation), or just turn your TV into a giant screen for your laptop or PC. Talking about gaming, the RU7100 features a dedicated “Game Mode” which provides low input lag than usual while the backlight flickers at 120Hz with an overall dimmed display. However, it doesn’t support AMD’s FreeSync technology, unlike Samsung’s other high-end TVs.
Similarly, you can directly enjoy content from your thumb drives or hard drives by connecting it to the TV via the USB ports. This is a Smart TV, so you’d want an internet connection with better bandwidth. For this, you can setup a LAN connection though there’s wireless connectivity option as well.
Let’s get to wireless now. Here, the RU7100 has the good-old WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. You can smoothly was 1080p or 1440p videos on YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more via the wireless connection. I tried watching YouTube videos using both 2.4 and 5GHz WiFi and there were no problems. However, pushing the resolution to 4K would result in significant lags and delays, which wasn’t a problem with a wired connection. Here, videos would by default play at 1080p resolution or 4K (if available) on YouTube.
Furthermore, you can use play your phone’s audio through the TV with a Bluetooth connection and vice-versa. For advanced functionalities, you are required to install Samsung’s “Smart-Things” app. Using this, you can turn your phone into a remote. Additionally, the “Mirror Screen (Smart View)” option lets you watch your phone’s content on the TV. Also, “LiveCast” allows you to show videos on the TV while recording on your phone. This can be very useful for remote meetings, video calls, etc.
Software & UI
The RU7100 is a Smart TV that runs on Samsung’s own Tizen OS. Therefore, unlike other Android Smart TVs out there, the user experience is quite unique here. The entire design of the UI is fluid while looking very pleasing to the eye and Samsung-y.
Pressing the “Smart Hub” button on the remote takes you to the home screen or the “Smart Hub screen”. Its floating UI displays gives access to various apps and the TV’s inbuilt functionalities. Here, you are greeted with “Live TV”, “SmartThings”, “Gallery”, “Internet”, and “PC” options alongside the apps installed. On the left corner of the screen, you can view notifications, change settings, manage video sources, make a search, or go to Samsung’s app store. Directly clicking them takes you to intricate settings while there are also quick settings for them that can be accessed by pressing up in the remote.
Since this is not an Android TV, everything is supplemented via Samsung’s ecosystem of services. Navigating the UI isn’t laggy, thanks to the UHD Processor. Here, the app store has a clean and familiar design, with separate rows for various categories of apps. Among this, is the list of downloaded apps as well. While you can delete other apps that you install my long-pressing the “Select” button on the remote, the apps that come with the TV (SmartThings, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV) can’t be uninstalled.
One issue I noticed, however, is that there’s a slight, yet observable stutter when shuffling between HD channels. At our office, we have a “Clear TV” subscription and when I tried changing channels via its remote, the video would just lag for a couple of seconds before turning normal. It was especially noticeable in international HD channels like HBO HD, HBO Signature, etc. I couldn’t replicate the problem when trying to change SD channels. I suspect it’s an issue with Clear TV and not the TV itself.
Remote & Control
Okay, the “One Remote” that comes with the RU7100 is so freaking awesome! It is a 14-key remote with a slim, minimalistic, and ergonomic design. The One Remote connects automatically to the TV when setting up. For power, it uses two AAA batteries (preferably Alkaline for durability). Also, the remote gets a decent weight with batteries installed.
Now let’s talk buttons. There’a power button to turn the TV on or off. Samsung’s voice assistant “Bixby” can be triggered for voice control through its own button. Here, the circular directional pad (though reminiscent of the classic iPod, doesn’t rotate) can be used to move/navigate while the select button inside is dedicated to making selections.
The dedicated back button has dual-functionality, which when long-pressed, kills the foreground application. Volume and channel toggle are facilitated by their respective plastic buttons which can be slid up and down. Also, there are dedicated buttons to launch Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and the Internet.
Since there are no dedicated keys for typing, it can be a trouble for some. However, the voice control feature works pretty well so if you’re English (or other language supported by the TV) is good enough, you shouldn’t have that problem. Of course, you can always connect a keyboard and a mouse for better navigation, though that is highly inefficient.
Another thing I liked, is that when browsing the internet, the pointer automatically shifts to the nearest clickable area. Thus, you don’t need to keep on pressing the button to move from one point to another.
Since it is a universal remote, the “One Remote” can also be used instead of your cable provider’s. However, when I tried it to configure as the remote for our Clear TV’s gigantic remote, it didn’t work. Because the Nepali DTH providers weren’t registered on Samsung’s system, this universal remote functionality is no good for the Nepalese market.
The Samsung RU7100 is a great TV, no doubt. The image quality, ease of use, design, and even the sound quality are very commendable. As a Samsung 4K Smart TV that is also HDR capable, there’s really nothing left to complain. Or is there? Well, at the end of the day, it all comes down to money. The RU7100 is an entry-level 4K TV from Samsung in the US retailing for about $500. But, you gotta pay more than double that price here in Nepal. Of course, there’s a big difference between the two countries’ markets and all but it just really makes you think twice.
At a much lower price, you can get the Palsonic PAL-55QX7000 or the Yasuda YS-55UC3 which we reviewed a couple of months ago. Both of them are 4K Android Smart TV with more or less similar features. Emphasis on the word “similar” because the Samsung RU7100 ultimately trumps the other two TVs in terms of features and overall performance, for a price.
So, “Is it worth it?”
Well, that depends on you. If you want an amazing TV experience and have sufficient cash laying around, go for the Samsung RU7100. However, there are plenty of options in the market for a good performing 4K Smart TVs at a much lower asking price.
Samsung UA55RU7100 TV: Pros and Cons
- Great and sturdy build quality
- Excellent display with HDR support
- Eased accessibility via the One Remote
- Decent audio performance
- Clean and fluid user interface
- Way too expensive
- Not ideal for playing bass-heavy music
- Viewing angle could’ve been better