If you watch football or read CNET, chances are you've noticed ads for Samsung's so-called LED TVs. The company has released three series of these super-thin LED-based LCDs so far this year, the 6000, 7000 and 8000 models, but it's saved the best for last. The fourth series is dubbed UNB8500, but you can remember it best as the king of LCD--for now.
Unlike the other three Samsung models, which use LED elements arranged along the edge of their screens, the company's two 8500 models employ a full array of local dimming LEDs behind the screen, yet maintain an ultraslim profile. As a result this expensive HDTV handily outperforms its brothers and, yes, every other LCD-based display we've ever tested. It still can't match the best plasma, the legendary and discontinued Pioneer Kuro, and its off-angle picture leaves plenty to be desired, but people who claim the sweet spot in front of a Samsung UNB8500 will be treated to the most impressive flat-panel picture quality of the year.