The Samsung UNH6350 is a looker. Its all-black bezel is vanishingly thin, and combined with a distinctive spider stand it exudes a lot more style than you'd expect from a midrange TV.
Because that's exactly what it is. The H6350 is likely to be among the most popular TVs sold by what is hands-down the most popular TV brand worldwide. It offers just enough good looks, and just enough Smarts, to get mainstream buyers to fork over the extra cash compared to something from Vizio or another competing brand. It also skips what many consider to be needless extras, namely 3D and a fancy remote.
As you might expect the H6350's picture quality isn't its main selling point. Strong color and video processing performance can't overcome its middling contrast--to get a better picture from Samsung you'll have to pay a lot more. We haven't tested enough 2014 Vizios or competing brands yet to say how they compare, but if last year is any indication, the H6350 will end up being a good value if you're looking for style and smarts, but not so much if picture is your priority.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Samsung UN55H6350, 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.
The UNH6350 takes the sleek "all-picture" aesthetic as far as I've seen on a midrange TV, and it looks better than many makers' flagship sets. The highlight is the subtle thinness and color of the 0.3-inch black frame on the sides and top, which makes the TV seem almost ethereal. I like the look better than last year's more rounded UNF6300 and even than this year's UNH6400; its thickening skin of transparent plastic makes it seem chunkier than its cheaper line-mate.
The thicker bottom edge of the UNH6350 is bordered at its lower edge by a chrome-colored strip that matches the swiveling, four-legged spider stand. I'm not a huge fan of the stand design, but it's become a Samsung trademark, albeit one of the few not copied by other TV makers. Note that the 75-inch version has a different stand, which consists of separate legs mounted to either side of the panel, and no swivel.
Seen from the side the UNH6350 is slightly thicker than many LED TVs, but still pretty thin at 2.5 inches deep for the 60-inch and smaller versions; the 65 and 75 inchers are a bit thicker. That's impressively thin for a TV that used direct, rather than edge, LED backlighting.
The UNH6350 is the company's most expensive Smart TV to lack the great new 2014 motion-enabled touchpad clicker found on the UNH6400 models and up. Instead you get a standard multi-button remote that's more cluttered and inferior overall, unless you do a lot of entering channel numbers directly via the numeric keypad. Or intend to replace the included remote with a universal one anyway.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Direct|
|Cable box control||Yes||IR blaster||External|
|3D technology||N/A||3D glasses included||No|
|Screen finish||Matte||Refresh rate(s)||120Hz|
|Screen mirroring||Yes||Control via app||Yes|
|Other: Cable box integration and control via IR blaster; Optional motion control/Skype camera (model VG-STC4000, $99 list)|
While the UNH6350 lacks the new remote as well as 3D capability, it's otherwise basically identical features-wise to the UNH6400. In other words, if you don't care about those extras, there's little reason to pay more for the 6400.
That's because the step-up features that you'd think would improve picture quality, namely a higher "Clear Motion Rate" (of 240 on the H6350 vs. 480 on the H6400), and Micro Dimming, actually have very little impact. Micro Dimming on the UNH6400 isn't true local dimming -- it's software-based only -- and in our tests showed little to no discernible benefit. The same goes for CMR, Samsung's inflated stand-in number for refresh rate . Both sets have 120Hz panels, and show very similar (and excellent) motion and video-processing performance.
Smart TV: Aside from a few omissions like voice and gesture control, the UNF6350 has the same extensive Smart TV system found on step-up 2014 models. Lack of the touch/motion remote makes the system less fun and easy to use however (especially the browser), and makes Samsung's relatively icon-heavy Smart screens in particular a pain navigate. That said, it's still among the best Smart suites on the market.
New for this year, pressing the main "Smart Hub" button takes you only halfway into the system, and that's a design decision I applaud. Up pops a little band of icons overlaying but not dominating whatever you're watching, allowing quick access to a bunch of apps. You can clear this list completely, and new apps are added as you use them, but the customization isn't as easy as it should be. There's no way to add apps to the band manually aside from simply starting one, and I couldn't figure out how to reorder them. In comparison to the elegance and tight integration of LG's WebOS band, Samsung's band seems like a last minute add-on--a band-aid to combat Smart Hub's inherent visual complexity.
Speaking of complexity, Samsung hasn't changed much else since its 2013 overhaul. Once past the band the main Hub interface is a multi-page monster reminiscent of an Android smartphone, with five different screens you flip through by shuffling among the icons at the top: On TV; Movies and TV shows (on demand); Multimedia (YouTube videos, DLNA, USB, hard drive and cloud-based media); Games and of course Apps. To its credit response times were quick on the quad-core 6350. Last year I called the design "refreshing, colorful, and relatively simple, a welcome change from the clutter of the company's previous versions" but it compared to WebOS and some other, less ambitious systems, it can be visually overwhelming.
The default first page is On TV section, complete with a recommendation engine that suggests new shows. It basically attempts to replace your cable or satellite box with the TV's own interface -- and when it can't do that, to at least control the box via Samsung's own remote. I didn't like it quite as much in practice as I did LG's system from 2013, which is being largely carried over this year, but it roundly beats Sony's 2014 system. One annoyance with Samsung, however, was the inability to have On TV show only HD channels. Of course you can always use Samsung's own Guide to browse, and it's better than last year although still not nearly as good as the native Fios program guide on my box.
When controlling the cable box, the slight delay between pressing a button and seeing the results on-screen was still noticeable and annoying at times. It's impressive for an IR-dongle-based system like this, but it's still not as responsive as direct control via a universal or included cable box remote, especially when moving around the box's guide or menus.
Unless you use its dedicated numeric keypad a lot, the H6360's standard remote doesn't have a major advantage over H6400's touchpad/motion clicker for cable box control. Yes, the standard remote does offer "STB Guide" and "STB Menu" keys, but new for this year the touch control has added transport (play, pause, fast-forward and rewind) keys, and its motion control makes the pop-up on-screen remote much more useable than before.
One big downside to the standard remote becomes obvious when you use the Web browser. Samsung's browser software is great for a TV (albeit still worse than any smartphone, tablet, or PC), but when you have to shove a cursor around the screen using just the four keypad buttons, it gets old fast. If you're going to use the browser a lot, it's worth plugging in an external wireless keyboard. Unlike the H6400, the H6350 cannot pair with a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. I was able to use a cheap wireless USB keyboard however, the Logitech K400, which has a touchpad that worked well.
Samsung's app selection is second to none, and it's still the only TV maker with HBO Go. Other notable apps among the hundreds available include Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Cloud Player, and AOL On (Fios TV, available on 2013 models, is missing for now). There's a Fitness VOD app with on-demand workouts, 35 different Kid-specific app, and many, many more. As you may have guessed, the Games page is just a subset of apps devoted to a handful of casual games you've never heard of; it replaces last year's largely useless Social page.