4K TV Shootout Comparison 2017/2018 Sony X850E vs. Samsung MU7000 vs. Vizio D-Series
3 MID-PRICED, VALUE, 4K TVS GO HEAD TO HEAD IN OUR 14 CATEGORY COMPARISON
The original models tested for the shootout were the Vizio D55u-D1, Samsung UN55KU7000, and Sony XBR55X850D. These models have since been replaced with the Vizio D55f-E2, Samsung UN55MU7000 and the Sony XBR55X850E models. The technologies employed in each model have not changed much and the strengths and weaknesses of each model are strikingly similar. The following comparison should be useful in comparing the new models as well.
- 1st in each category = 3 points
- 2nd in each category = 2 points
- 3rd in each category = 1 point or zero if the feature is not available
Lots of times the mid-range of a certain category of TVs gets overlooked. We like to compare these models as they are many times the best selling TVs in the market. All three of our contenders for this years shootout are hugely popular and best sellers in the mid-range 4K UHD market for this year and into 2018.
We've compiled a list of what we think are the most important differentiating factors in testing the quality of these 2017/2018 4K UHD TVs and performed the following shootout based on our findings through some very thorough investigation.
Maroon 5 High Def Video 'Sugar' seen on the Vizio D55u-D1
Maroon 5 High Def Video 'Sugar' seen on the Samsung UN55KU7000
Maroon 5 High Def Video 'Sugar' seen on the Sony XBR55X850D
Picture quality is of course of primary importance when comparing TVs. We've grouped 4 course categories here:
Black Level, Contrast, Black Uniformity
BluRay remaster of Return of the Jedi on the Vizio D Series
1) Samsung KU7000 – Solid black performance edged out the Vizio in contrast.
2) Vizio Du-Series – Surprisingly good black levels for the price. Black uniformity also very good. Contrast is outstanding as well for an LED TV - more due to the black levels rather than peak brightness.
3) Sony XBR55X850D – Slightly noticeably lighter black levels but great black uniformity.
Shot of X850D showing excellent dark shadow detail from streaming Netflix of Hombre
Color Balance, Grayscale Uniformity
1) Sony X850D - Color rendition is realistic and not oversaturated while grayscale uniformity is very good yielding a very smooth picture. Colors are not as vibrant in a post calibration picture as some TVs. Smooth would be a good description of the colors.
2) Samsung KU7000 – Though on-screen images are smoother than past years, Samsung LED TVs, due to their bright LED lights are not the best in this area.
3) Vizio Du-Series – The full array backlighting benefits this TV many areas but not here. With solid colors on the screen there are visible darker and lighter areas of the screen. This occasionally comes through when viewing video material.
Light Flow, Brightness, Clarity
1) Sony X850D – The clear gloss screen yields bright beautiful images. Samsung's LED lights are powerful. Light flow through images is excellent.
2) Samsung KU7000 – Light flow-through is very good and helps create lots of depth.
3) Vizio Du-Series – Light flow is passably good but certainly not exceptional for an LED backlit TV. Clarity and refined edges without enhancements is very good, but not exceptional for a 4K TV.
Side Angle Viewing Quality, Screen Glare, Reflection
1) Sony X850D- With an IPS (in plane switching) panel, there is no comparison on side angle viewing. One of the best performances for a mid-priced 4K.
2) Samsung KU7000 – For a VA type panel, an outstanding performance. Has a good viewing angle of 30 degrees before color saturation degrades.
3) Vizio Du-Series – Also has a VA type panel, but underperforms in this area with contrast degrading starting at 15 degrees.
The Open Championship on the Samsung KU7000
Motion Handling, Sports Viewing
1) Sony XBR55X850D – With 120Hz panel, the Sony did a great job of handling motion and not producing blur.
2) Vizio Du-Series – The response time is also very good on the Vizio, with little blur when showing fast motion. The picture remains clear.
3) Samsung KU7000 – There can be some motion blur when playing fast motion content like sports on the KU7000.
Upscaling to 4K UHD Resolution
Due to our viewing habits off streaming video, BluRay, and Broadcast, this is an extremely important category. All three TVs performed exceptionally well.
1) Sony XBR55X850D – Upscaling is excellent and there is a nice bump from streaming material like Netflix and Amazon Instant. I would describe upscaling and conversion as smooth. At other times, the TV has a solid performance, but not better than a very good 1080p TV.
1) Samsung KU7000 (tie) – Sony was by far the best in 4K upscaling last year, but Samsung has narrowed the gap to almost a non-issue this year. Processing artifacts are all but gone.
3) Vizio Du-Series - The Vizio's new spacial scaling engine does a very nice job upscaling from 720p, 1080p signals, but not as well with 480p in our tests. Image edges are not as crisp as the Sony or Samsung. and also does well with lower resolution signals.
1) Samsung JU7100 - The most balanced and quality sound from the three, but still not great. LG probably leads the pack in this category.
2) Vizio Du-Series – We were impressed by the balance and quality of the speakers on the D-series. Volume from the speakers was not as loud as the M-series from last year.
3) Sony XBR55X850D -Once the ClearAudio+ feature is turned off, there is nothing else necessary to get a very nice sound quality. Volume is not it's strongest point. The best trait is it's separation of background music/effects and voice. Voice is clear and natural and has good range.
Best Wifi Connection Playback
Tested from router distance of 40 feet.
We experienced problems with all three TVs Wifi and Apps service connections. All three required updates for firmware or software and all three connected fine after the updates were made (not without frustrating pain).
Best Remote Control
The point and click operation of the Samsung remote beat out excellent Android voice search (for Apps) of the Sony.
1) Samsung KU7000 - This year's touch remote has plenty of surface for swiping your thumb to move the cursor and a mic as well for voice control. The voice control works reasonably well, but if you're like us you will likely end up using the touchpad's swipe, point, and click function which speeds almost any operation.
2) Sony XBR55X850D- The Android TV voice controlled search function on the touchpad remote is impressive and word recognition nearly flawless for searching You Tube and Google Play options. The touchpad remote speeds some of the operations like typing in user names and passwords. No point and click operation included. No open web browser included.
3) Vizio Du-Series - The buttons on the standard remote are too small in many cases and operation is not smooth. There are dedicated Smart TV buttons for Netflix, Amazon, and iHeart Radio allowing quick access to those Apps.
TV Menu and Smart TV Interface Navigation and Picture Settings
1) Samsung KU7000 - Samsung hit the mark with their TV user interface and intuitive navigation. There are only 4 preset picture options, and Game mode is hard to find. The Smart Hub allows different users to have their own Apps and programming appear. This is a nice plus for a home with multiple TV users. The Smart Hub for the KU7000 includes a full web browser.
2) Vizio Du-Series – The user interface for the TV is cryptic and simple, but I like it. There are plenty of preset picture modes including the Calibrated Mode and Calibrated Dark Room modes which look good right out of the box. Smart TV navigation is also easy from the limited Apps.
2) (tie) Sony X850D – The TV menu interface is clean looking (albeit confusing) and there are tons of preset picture options (7 not counting photo.) The Cinema Pro and Cinema Home settings are good right out of the box. But operation of the menu system is quirky and difficult and there are some mis-titled settings such as Brightness rather than Backlight. The processor also had a tough time handling commands given too quickly. The Smart TV layout is easy by accessing Home button on the remote brings up all the Smart TV Apps and Google Play options.
Appearance and Design Quality
1) Sony XBR55X850D - The black matte quarter inch bezel is sleek and smart looking as well as the stand that accompanies it.
2) Samsung KU7000 – The flat KU7000 has standard half inch black bezel. It's nothing special but gets the job done in the looks department. The depth of the stand may be a concern for some at 13 inches.
3) Vizio Du-Series - The M-C series has a basic half inch bezel design in black gloss. I'm not a fan of the wide “foot” design of the stand.
Smart TV Options, Features, and Functionality
Sony's Android Smart TV Interface
1) Sony XBR55X850D – Android TV Featured Apps include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Vudu, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Crackle and SiriusXM, and around 30 small insignificant Apps. There are 9 highlighted Google Play games (but you have access to tons). At first it looks like a limited selection until you delve into the Google Play Music, Games, Movies and TV options. Then lots more content opens up. What we really like is the operation speed combined with excellent video and sound quality of the Android/Google Play section of the Smart TV offerings. This is the differentiator as Samsung still has more Apps.
2) Samsung KU7000 - Has a few more relevant useable Apps than last year, but not a lot. Add SEC network, and exclusive on HBO Go, and a few others to the list. Loading and selection isnt too difficult once updates are made. The new Smart menu allows arranging Apps by priority
3) Vizio Du-Series - Unfortunately, Vizio is sticking with Yahoo! To provide the Internet Apps Plus programming. The Apps for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, YouTube work well and are probably what you will actually use. The Apps are more limited than the other two competitors, but the quad-core GPU and a dual-core CPU did a fine job of handling the video and computing that you'll need on a smart TV.
1) Vizio D- series- After turning on Game Low Latency, a very low input lag of 20ms puts this among the best tested. This is an improvement from 40ms with last years M-series. Should be a great gaming TV.
2) Samsung KU7000 – Also an excellent result of 25ms input lag in Game mode.
3) Sony XBR55X850D – Input lag is 40ms – a decent result in Game mode.
Inputs and Decoders Connectivity (4K Future Proofing)
There are a variety of future and current new standards for 4K inputs including: HDCP 2.2 (high bandwidth digital content protection i.e. copyright protection). MHL 3.0 (mobile high def link) compatibility. HDMI 2.0 allows larger bandwidth in 2160p@60fps (frames per second).
HEVC and VP9 codecs are necessary to decode some currenty and future 4K video sources from Netflix, Amazon, You Tube and others.
1) Sony X850D – All 4 HDMI inputs are 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 and one is MHL compatible (HDMI input 2). The X850C is DirecTV Ready. It has both HEVC and VP9 compatible decoders. Sony has a 4K media player with the currently largest selection of 4K content (sold separately and dearly).
2) Samsung KU7000 - Enabled for UHD Colors @ 4:4:4 and 60Hz on HDMI 1.
3) Vizio Du-Series – Despite the fact that Vizio has 5 HDMI inputs, only 1 is HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 copy protected compatible (HDMI input 5).
This is always the toughest category to judge, so we'll start by making it more difficult and stating that all three of these models are excellent 4k TV value choices.
1) Vizio Du-Series - At $648 the D series is set up to be a winner. There are certainly small weaknesses, but they are overwhelmed by lots of positives – primarily the picture quality, upscaling, sound, Internet Apps processing engine, aesthetic package, 5 HDMI inputs, great lack of input lag when gaming, and color rendition. It's difficult to beat this combination for value.
2) Samsung KU7000 – At $997 the KU7000 series offers an excellent combination of picture quality upgrades while keeping the price down by omitting some of the highest end features. The KU7000 is scaled down a good bit from the JU7100 last year. The KS8000 may be a better comparison with that model.
3) Sony XBR55X850D – At $1198 presently unless the price comes down the Sony is slightly more expensive than the Samsung and a goodly chunk more than the Vizio. It has some very admirable picture traits including stellar dark shadow detail and the best upscaling engine. Also, has the best input capability.
Sony XBR55X850D – 32 points
Samsung UN55JU7100 – 31 points
Vizio D Series – 22 points
Going into the Value Section the Samsung and Sony were neck and neck at 32 points each. All three of these models are excellent choices. There may be a category that is more important to you than others therefore you can use our category breakdown to get a better sense about which TV meets your needs best.
Read a full review of each participating model: