Samsung's UND6400 occupies an upper-middle-class station in the company's extensive LED-based LCD lineup for 2011. It's the least expensive model to deliver 3D, gets the full Smart TV suite of Internet options--except for the browser and QWERTY remote--and flaunts a fetchingly thin bezel and minimal design aesthetic second only to its significantly more expensive line-mates such as the UND7000. Meanwhile, if you don't mind a thicker bezel and want to boycott 3D and save $100 in the process, the UND6300 series is one alternative.
The D6400, for its part, is still pretty expensive, but justifies its high sticker price with solid picture quality, beating out most edge-lit LED models, including the equivalent Samsung from last year. It certainly has its flaws, but all told it occupies a sweet spot for LED and Internet TV shoppers who don't want to take out a second mortgage to pay for a flagship model.
Samsung has taken compact design to another level with its 2011 TVs, and in addition to its thin panel depth the UND6400 delivers one of the skinniest bezels we've seen. The company's literature claims it's 0.5 inch thick, but that number applies only to the black strip immediately adjacent to the screen, and includes neither the transparent outer edge nor the thin line of inactive black screen; we measured 0.94 inch from the edge of the active picture to the edge of our 46-inch review sample's panel. Still, that's pretty impressive, and lends the UND6400 a high-tech, nearly all-picture look when powered up.
We also like the company's remote, which didn't change much from last year. Dedicated keys launch an indexed onscreen manual, search, and the Smart TV/Hub/Apps home, and there's even a key marked Social TV that brings up Facebook, Twitter, and Google Talk interfaces. We still like the layout and the extensive illumination, although we'd prefer some differentiation in button shape to augment the grid of rectangles.
For 2011 Samsung has integrated all of its apps and streaming services into the Smart Hub interface, ditching Yahoo widgets (we approve) and also losing a few apps.
The new Smart Hub is the home page for all apps and provides shortcuts to local streaming sources (music, photos, and videos via DLNA and USB), inputs, and even a schedule manager. It delivers a wealth of options, albeit on a crowded screen that's intimidating at first.
There's some ability to customize the Hub but we were disappointed that we couldn't remove icons for AllShare, Channel, and others we didn't want.
The app store is well-designed, breaking down offerings into categories like video and games, and the sheer number of apps available outstrips competitors like Vizio and LG. Google Talk and Maps are notable inclusions, and we liked the ESPN ScoreCenter--a simple app that runs alongside the main image and lets you check scores from a variety of sports.
The Hub also offers video search but it's next to useless for the moment because it doesn't hit Netflix, CinemaNow or Hulu Plus, and can't search your local, cable or satellite TV listings (Google TV can) or DVR. The Hub's search can find videos on Vudu and YouTube and Facebook pages based on keywords, however. There is also a search history, but confusingly there are two different history lists--one for the main search and one for the Your Video search.
The Your Video recommendation engine and information database form sort of an IMDB Lite. Most shows and movies we tried were in the database, but it's far from complete. If a program is available on a service that the search does index, you'll get a Watch option (allowing a rental via Vudu, for example) in addition to database info. In our experience Watch options were rare, and again the absence of Netflix and Amazon Instant hurt.
Samsung's 2011 TV menus have been refreshed and also feel a bit snappier than before. The main column of adjustments, formerly transparent, is now bright opaque blue on the D6400, with rounded edges and good-sized text. Each major menu item gets a text explanation and many are accompanied by helpful little illustrations.
All told the Samsung UND6400 is one of the better-performing edge-lit LED-based LCDs we've tested, delivering solid black-level performance and very accurate color in bright areas, as well as excellent video processing. Sticklers for uniformity and off-angle viewing will be disappointed, as usual, and of course we found its glossy screen finish a liability in bright rooms. One pleasant surprise, however, was 3D performance, which seems much improved compared with last year even on this 120Hz model, albeit still not as good as on the best plasmas.