Samsung's ultrathin edge-lit LED-based LCD TVs created quite a stir last year, and in 2010 numerous other makers have followed the Korean giant's lead with inch-or-so-thick panels of their own. Samsung's are generally still the thinnest, however, and on models like the UNC6500 series the company manages to pack more features and extras--the latest being Hulu Plus--into its TVs than just about anyone else. In terms of picture quality, as expected, the UNC6500 doesn't offer a significant improvement over standard LCDs, but it is mighty efficient as well as oh-so-sleek, which might be enough to justify the extra cost to buyers who don't care about 3D.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Samsung UN46C6500, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Models in series (details)|
|UN46C6500 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Panel depth||1.2 inches||Bezel width||1.75 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||Yes|
|Other:Transparent edge, 4-leg chrome-colored "X" stand|
Like most other edge-lit LED-based LCD displays, the most striking design characteristic of the Samsung UNC6500 series is a thin profile when viewed side-on. Seen from the front, the TV's skinny design aesthetic continues with a narrow, dark gray bezel textured in a brushed, matte finish we prefer to the standard glossy black found on many TVs. A transparent edge completes the subtle look of the panel itself--a look that seems at odds with the decidedly unsubtle, four-legged, chrome-colored stand. We still prefer the UNC6500's looks to the all-silver of the UNC8000 series, but both buck the TV norm and may stand out (no pun intended) too much for many living room decors.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||8.4 x 2 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||49||Backlit keys||44|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||On-screen explanations||Yes|
The remote included with the UNC6500, though similar in size, shape, and button count to the one offered on step-up sets like the UNC8000, has one huge advantage. Instead of catering to slick looks with impossible-to-use, flush semikeys, the C6500's clicker has standard, raised buttons. We don't like the new grid layout as much as the better-differentiated cursor keys on last year's remotes, but at least that fingerprint-magnet finish is gone.
Samsung didn't change its basic TV control menus from last year, and that's a good thing. The transparent, blue-highlighted graphics are easy to read and navigate, and response is snappier than last year. Text explanations are present for just about every function.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|3D compatible||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Screen finish||glossy||Refresh rate(s)||120Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes||1080p/24 compatible||Yes|
|Internet connection||Yes||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||No|
|Other: Optional Wi-Fi USB adapter (WIS09ABGN, $80)|
The big step-up feature of the UNC6500 series over less expensive Samsung LED-based LCDs, such as the UNC5000 and UNC6300 series, is the company's Apps platform of built-in streaming services. This is the least expensive Samsung LED-based LCD TV to offer Apps, although if you want to connect via Wi-Fi, you will have to pay extra for the USB dongle.
The UNC6500's other key options are standard for a midrange LED, starting with the edge-lit backlight (more info). It lacks the 3D found on the UNC7000 series, but if the 3D issues we experienced on the UNC8000 are any indication, you might not want to pay extra for this new feature.
In terms of video processing step-ups, the difference between the 6500's 120Hz and the 7000's 240Hz is even less noticeable than usual. Though we did detect minor smoothing with 1080p/24 sources on the 6500 compared to some other TVs, we deem it minor enough to still award a "Yes" for this feature (see Performance for more).
|Amazon Video on Demand||Yes||Rhapsody||No|
|Other: Hulu Plus, Dailymotion; SynchTV Kids|
As of press time the ever-evolving Samsung Apps platform is the only one available with Hulu Plus, although Vizio and Sony Internet-compatible TVs are slated to get the subscription streaming video service this fall. Even after that happens, however, we're betting Samsung will still offer the largest number of video streamers thanks to options like Dailymotion, CinemaNow, and Blockbuster, which are not found on other TVs.
No major video services go missing, and audio is covered by both Pandora and Napster. With the exception of Amazon VOD and Synch TV Kids, which take the form of Yahoo widgets for some reason, all of the streaming services are integrated into Samsung's main Apps platform.
We didn't test Netflix, Amazon, Vudu or YouTube this time around, mainly because the services worked well, as expected, on previous Samsungs like the UNC8000 and PNC7000. We did check out Hulu Plus, however, and came away with mostly positive impressions. Video quality was very good to excellent overall, depending on the source, navigation was snappy and we liked the built-in search (aside from the tedium of entering terms using the TV's remote) and the App's general interface.
The one big problem we had with Hulu Plus, however, was lack of picture control. On other Apps, like Netflix, we were able to adjust basic picture parameters, choose from among picture modes, and most importantly (as far as we're concerned) disable dejudder processing. With Hulu Plus none of those options were available, and the picture looked stuck in the default Dynamic setting--otherwise known as Torch Mode, with overly bright highlights, oversaturated, inaccurate colors and the telltale smoothing effect of dejudder. We assume Samsung will update the App to include some picture controls in the future, but as it stands we prefer to get Hulu Plus from an external source (like the Blu-ray player), where picture controls remain an option.
Check out our hands-on impressions of Hulu Plus on the Samsung CD-C6900 Blu-ray player for more info.