The Samsung RU7100 offers shoppers a tempting mix of brand recognition, decent feature set and affordable price, positioning it to stand out on store shelves as you look for something that's not too expensive, but not too basic.
The Samsung RU7100 is this year's follow-up to the 2018 Samsung NU7100, a smart 4K UHD TV that sells for less without sacrificing all of the great features Samsung offers on it's more expensive models. In our Samsung RU7100 review, it's clear that this year's iteration offers plenty to love, from its decent picture quality and sound to a smart TV experience that has most of the bells and some of the whistles, making it one of the best TVs for the budget shopper. Plus, it vies for the best 4K gaming TVs in addition to everything else you want from a smart TV.
Editor's Note: (5/8/2020) We've updated our Samsung RU7100 review to reflect changes in availability and pricing of the TV. The rating and recommendation remain unchanged.
Samsung RU7100 review: Specs
|Screen Size||50 inches|
|Resolution||3840 x 2160|
|HDR||HDR10, HLG, HDR10+|
|Refresh Rate||60 hertz|
|Ports||3 HDMI, 2 USB|
|Audio||20 watts, 2 channels|
|Smart TV||Software Smart TV with Universal Guide|
|Size||44.3 x 25.6 x 2.3 inches [w/o stand]|
|Weight||30 pounds [w/o stand]|
Samsung RU7100 review: Price and availability
Our Samsung RU7100 review focuses on the 50-inch version of this TV, largely because it's one of the top-selling models in the 7 series line of LCD TVs. But the RU7100 line ranges from 43 inches all the way up to 75 inches.
- 43-inch UN43RU7100FXZA ($329.99)
- 50-inch UN50RU7100FXZA ($399.99)
- 55-inch UN55RU7100FXZA ($499.99)
- 58-inch UN58RU7100FXZA ($549.99)
- 65-inch UN65RU7100FXZA ($699.99)
- 75-inch UN75RU7100FXZA ($1,099.99)
From what we can glean from product specifications, product listings and customer reviews, these various sizes should all offer nearly identical feature sets, picture quality and overall quality of construction. Any recommendations we make for this model should apply across the RU7100 line.
Samsung RU7100 review: Design
As the replacement to last year's Samsung NU7100, it's no surprise that the newer RU7100 sports a very similar design. The overall look is fairly basic, with black plastic construction, from the 0.6-inch-thick bezels around the screen to the attached stand. The RU7100 chassis does benefit from Samsung's design aesthetic, which adds a stylish texture across the back panel where most inexpensive TVs would use a simple matte finish.
Measuring 44.3 x 25.6 x 2.3 inches without the stand, the RU7100 is fairly slim for an LCD TV, with a tapered design that makes the set look and feel sleeker than its 2.3-inch thickness might suggest. Weighing 30 pounds, the 50-inch model is light enough that it could be assembled and set up by one person, but for larger sizes, you'll definitely need a second person to help move and lift the TV.
On the back of the set are holes to accommodate a 200 x 200 millimeter VESA mount, for hanging the TV on the wall, and a stripe of deep channels run along the back of the TV for cable management. However, the set's right and downward-facing input panels are inset in such a way that after wall mounting, the HDMI ports and other connections will be largely inaccessible.
Samsung RU7100 review: Ports
The RU7100 is outfitted with three HDMI ports, including one HDMI ARC port (short for Audio Return Channel) that can be used to connect a soundbar with a single connection. A pair of USB ports offers connectivity for flash drives or power for streaming devices, such as a Google Chromecast.
There's an RF connector for connecting one of the best TV antennas, a shared component and composite video input, an optical audio port for older surround sound systems and an Ethernet port for wired internet. Built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi is available for wireless network connectivity, and Bluetooth for connecting cordless headphones and speaker systems.
Samsung RU7100 review: Performance
As one of Samsung's most affordable 4K TVs, the RU7100 offers full 3840 x 2160 resolution, a 60Hz refresh rate and decent picture quality.
When watching Spider-Man: Homecoming, the splashes of color in Peter Parker's high school, such as brightly painted walls and lockers in the hallways or a large yellow screen in the shop class, all offered reasonably realistic vibrant shades.
Viewing scenes from Creed II, the RU7100 delivered fairly good color quality, especially bright colors. Watching a training montage set in the desert, I was pleased to see blue skies and colorful objects offered up accurate, vivid hues.
The quality of color reproduction is a bit of a surprise, since our testing showed that the RU7100 displays only 96.3% of the Rec. 709 color space, giving it a more limited color palette than we saw in last year's Samsung NU7100 review (98.4%) or the TCL 4 Series Roku TV review (97.2%).
MORE: Best 4K TVs Under $500
The RU700's offers pretty good color accuracy for a basic LCD panel, registering a Delta-E rating of 2.0 (closer to 0 is better), which makes it more accurate than the older Samsung NU7100 (2.5) or in the Vizio V-Series V505-G9 review (2.23), but slightly less precise than the TCL 55S425 Roku TV (1.4).
Samsung's set didn't fare as well with handling motion, as I noticed some jumping and stuttering. Whether it was Adonis Creed sprinting across the desert or Peter Parker leaping a fence with super-powered abilities, the RU7100 exhibited blurry trails around fast-moving objects, and even turning on Auto Motion Plus (Samsung's motion-smoothing mode) did little to fix the jumpiness of fast-moving objects.
With edge-lit backlight and no local dimming, the RU7100 offers surprisingly good brightness, but overall, HDR (high dynamic range) quality is limited. Although bright lights and highlights flared brightly, shadows with often swallow up subtle details.
Watching a scene of a shadowy aqueduct in Blade Runner 2049, this poor handling of shadows meant that faces were harder to distinguish, and characters in dark clothing often were rendered as black blobs. And with no local dimming, scenes such as a campfire kicking up glowing sparks fell flat, rendering the black sky as a dull gray, failing to provide the bright glow behind each orange spark.
Samsung RU7100 review: Gaming
The RU7100 boasts one of our favorite Samsung features, automatic console detection, which senses when the game console is connected and powered on and then switches modes on its own. That meant that when we fired up our Xbox One X for testing, the set changed from movie mode to game mode automatically.
The Samsung also offers strong support for the various video formats offered by the Xbox. This includes 4K gaming at 60 hertz, as well as streaming support for 10-bit color at 24, 50 and 60 Hz. HDR10 is supported for both streaming content and gaming but, being a Samsung TV, it does not support Dolby Vision even though the Xbox offers Dolby Vision formatted video streaming.
Lag times were also among the best we've seen, measuring just 12.9 milliseconds, according to our Leo Bodnar input lag tester. That makes the Samsung RU7100 one of the most responsive sets we've seen all year, and a top choice for gaming.
Samsung RU7100 review: Audio
The RU7100 has a pair of 10-watt speakers inside, delivering a total of 20 watts of power. That translates into great volume, getting loud enough to fill our test lab, and it even offered some unexpectedly hefty bass for a TV that has no subwoofer.
When we watched the final boxing match in Creed II, the result was fairly rich, offering clear dialogue, potent sound effects and robust, clear soundtrack as the score swelled with energy and tension throughout the fight. The sound remained clear at louder volumes, keeping distortion to a minimum.
However, if you want better sound quality, or true thumping bass, you should still consider getting something from our list of the best soundbars.
Samsung RU7100: Smart features
Samsung's smart features are some of the best in the industry, from the refined home screen and menus to Samsung's robust app selection, and just about everything we like from Samsung's more expensive QLED sets is in the NU7100.
While there is no built-in voice assistant – sorry, Bixby – you can pair the TV with one of the best Google Home speakers or best Alexa speakers, since the set is compatible with both. You can also enjoy AppleTV and iTunes on the TV, thanks to Samsung's exclusive apps.
Samsung RU7100: Remote control
Samsung's basic remote, which comes with the NU7100, is a bit of a mess. Unlike Samsung's more premium models, which have sleek designs and only as many buttons as necessary, this budget TV gets Samsung's budget remote control. The plastic remote feels very old-school, with big rubbery buttons for channel inputs, volume and channel adjustments, contextual buttons and media playback controls.
The newest model adds dedicated buttons for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and the on-screen content guide. These extra buttons crowd the numerous buttons already used in the design, resulting in a more cluttered look and feel.
But the bigger problem is the directional control, which uses a five-button directional pad. While these buttons will let you navigate through smart TV menus, placing the dedicated app buttons so close to these controls greatly increases the likelihood that you will accidentally hit the wrong button, jumping to an unwanted app instead of the next intended item in the menu.
Samsung RU7100 review: Verdict
The Samsung RU7100 proves itself a strong competitor for the best TV under $500, offering a great price, strong feature set and decent overall performance for both picture and sound. It won't blow you away with its HDR capability or advanced smart features, but the RU100 gives you all of the apps you would expect, along with smart-speaker support. It's also awesome for gaming, pairing that performance with automatic game mode, great response times and solid support for 4K games and content.
For a 4K smart TV that sells for under $500, the Samsung RU7100 offers plenty of value for your dollar, but it's not our top pick. For the best value, we like Roku TVs, as we saw in our TCL 4 Series Roku TV review, which not only boasts a rich smart-TV experience and great picture and sound, but also does so for a lower price. It's just a little more bang for your buck, but when you're on a budget, every little bit counts.