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Eyes-on: Samsung's $10K 75-inch ES9000 LED LCD HDTV

Samsung is one of the biggest makers of HDTVs today, and while its product line stretches from end to end in price and size, it's seldom that we see one that's $10,000.

To be exact, the Samsung ES9000 LED TV is $9,999 75-inch "ultra-premium" television, and the company calls the set its best to date. We went eyes-on at a private Canadian viewing.

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What struck us most strongly about the ES9000 is not its size, but rather its ability to reproduce deep blacks. Most home theater aficionados lean towards plasma displays for black levels, but Samsung was especially eager to show off the ES9000's performance in a completely pitch black room.

A demo reel showed off impressive blacks against vibrant colours, but it wasn't until we moved onto The Dark Knight that we were wowed. It's hard to judge from the photos we snapped at the demo, but they were the best blacks we've seen from an LED LCD HDTV.

Samsung credits the black levels to its "Micro Dimming Ultimate and Precision Black technology" that we're told is exclusive to this top-of-the-line set. The company doesn't share its contrast ratio numbers, but only says "the ES9000 has the highest contrast ratio of any Smart TV it's made." With contrast ratio marketing these days, it's tough to trust numbers anyway.

We were also shown The Avengers as part of a 3D demo, and it was as good as we've seen from active shutter glasses. Given the set's price and how well it would work for larger viewing parties, we were happy to learn that it comes with four 3D glasses in the box.

Aside from the sublime panel and lighting, the ES9000 has a rose gold blush finish and a super-slim, 0.31 inches curved bezel with no visible seams. It's incredibly thin, and fairly manageable for a set its size. With the stand it weighs 109.5 lbs and without it's 97lbs.

It has the following connectivity options:

  • 3 HDMI
  • 3 USB
  • Wireless LAN Built-in
  • 1 Component In (Y / Pb / Pr)
  • 2 Composite In (AV) (1 Common Use for Component Y)
  • 1 Digital Audio Out (Optical)
  • 1 RF In (Terrestrial / Cable input)
  • 1 DVI Audio In (Mini Jack)
  • 1 Audio Out (Mini Jack)
  • 1 Ethernet (LAN)
  • MHL

Like Samsung's other Smart TV offerings, it comes with a camera and mic for voice, gesture recognition and video conferencing. The Smart TV system packs content apps such as Netflix and other options for viewing streaming – even within your devices via DLNA and WiFi Direct.

We were also shown Angry Birds running on the TV, and controlled by the gesture recognition camera. It's not as sensitive or precise as Microsoft's Kinect, and no real Angry Birds fan would prefer gesture control over a touch screen, but it was a neat demo nonetheless.

Samsung has the luxury of being able to produce almost all of its hardware in-house. The TV's dual-core processors, memory, and, most importantly, the panels are all Samsung. This helps pave the way for hardware upgrades with what Samsung calls the Evolution kit. Essentially, the Evolution kit is a hardware module that attaches to the TV to give it a new processor, additional memory, and more. Samsung even boasts that it can improve picture quality, but that'll be through image processing algorithms rather than any upgrade to the panel.

This TV set would be wasted on a casual TV viewer, but for the home theater nut it's a dream. It's hard to describe just how good it looks, but once you consider the $9,999 price tag, then you have a good idea of where to set your expectations. This TV is among the very best, but it's only for those who are willing to pay for it.

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.