Samsung's UE46F6500 sits in the middle of its mid-range telly line up, slightly above the very similar F6400. The F6500 has a Freesat HD tuner alongside its Freeview HD tuner. It also has Clear Motion Rate (CMR) 400 motion processing compared to the F6400's CMR 200, so theoretically should produce slightly smoother motion. The UE46F6500 can be bought online for around £649, making it around £110 more expensive than the UE46F6400, so is it worth the extra outlay?
Unlike Samsung's F7000 and F8000 high-end models, the F6500 doesn't have a camera built-in to its chassis, so it doesn’t support the motion-control features you get on those TVs. The motion controls don’t work all that well on those models though so it's not something I missed on this set.
What the F6500 does have is a microphone built-in to its touchpad remote. You can use this to issue commands such as Channel Up or Volume Up, but as you already have the remote in your hand it's not much of a benefit. Samsung reckons the voice-recognition system is most useful for searching for movies or TV shows to watch in online services.
The fact that it only works with Samsung's own video on demand service and not others such as Netflix and Lovefilm means that even here it's not particularly useful. The long and short of it is that you're likely to try the voice features once or twice, find them frustrating to use and never bother with them again.
The menu system on this set is excellent. The layout is clean and uncluttered and it feels fast and responsive to use. Along with the standard brightness, contrast and colour controls, you can also easily tweak settings for the motion processing and there's even a Colour Management System hidden away in the Advanced Settings menu.
Samsung's EPG is also top-notch. Its colourful presentation makes it look inviting; it's nippy to browse around, and includes a handy video thumbnail of the channel you're currently tuned to. The guide also integrates with the smart TV system, so it offers TiVo-style suggestions of upcoming shows you might want to check out.
Design and connections
Apart from the added tuners and faster motion processing, the F6500 looks slightly different to the F6400. It has a thinner bezel around the screen -- the bezel on the F6400 isn't exactly chunky at only 15mm wide, but the F6500's bezel is narrower still at a mere 10mm. The difference isn’t huge, but it's enough to make the F6500 look marginally more desirable when you view them next to each other.
The stand is also finished in chrome, which looks better than the plasticky, dull metallic paint job on the F6400's stand. We're not huge fans of the crow-feet stand on either model, as it's slightly showy.
Samsung supplies two remotes with this TV. There's a standard Infrared zapper that's small and comfy to use and a secondary touchpad remote that communicates with the TV via Bluetooth. I'm actually quite fond of the touchpad remote and especially like the way it speeds up navigation of the smart TV systems. You can use it to swipe between screens for example, rather than plodding over and back through lists of apps.
With a total of four HDMI ports and three USB ports, I've got no complaints about the connection options on offer here. There's also a full-sized Scart socket as well as component connectors and an optical digital audio output. The rear is home to an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi is built in. The Wi-Fi chip supports screen mirroring from compatible Android devices too.
If you're a Netflix or BBC iPlayer addict, the good news is that the F6500 benefits from Samsung's excellent smart TV system, which is currently the best in the business. It looks great, is divided up into different screens for different categories of content and feels very responsive to use.
The first screen, called 'On TV', shows suggestions for upcoming shows and movies you might want to watch. It learns your viewing habits over time, so its suggestions become smarter the more you use the TV.
From here if you move right with the remote, you land on the Film and TV Shows page, which gives you access to the catalogue of movies in Samsung's own Video On-Demand service. Shift right again and you'll find yourself at the Photos, Videos and Music screen, which is essentially the TV's media player.
You can either stream files over a network from a PC or NAS drive or play them back locally via the set's USB ports. Format support is good -- it plays MP4, Divx and MKV files, for example -- but there are a few annoying quirks, such as the fact that the fast-forward and rewind controls don't work when you're streaming MKV files.
Moving right again takes you to the Social page, which is essentially a feed of videos that your friends have shared via Twitter or Facebook. The final screen shows you all the apps that are installed on the TV and also allows you to access Samsung's Apps Store where you can download lots of extra ones. The range of apps is excellent as Samsung's smart TV system is the only one that supports all the main terrestrial TV catch up services -- iPlayer, 4oD, ITV Player and Demand 5.