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 linemates 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 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.
Editors' note, July 27, 2011: Samsung ran a promotion earlier this year that guaranteed a free pair of 3D glasses with this TV. In July the company canceled that promotion, so we have modified this review to remove references to the free glasses. Individual retailers may offer similar promotions, however. Click here for more details.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Samsung UN46D6400, 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. We also expect the company to announce the 32-inch UN32D6400, but at press time it hadn't yet, so we're not including it below.
|Samsung UN40D6400||40 inches|
|Samsung UN46D6400 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Samsung UN55D6400||55 inches|
|Samsung UN60D6400||60 inches|
|Panel depth||1.2 inches||Bezel width||0.5 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||Yes|
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.
In addition to the thin panel this TV gets a rectangular stand base, which we actually prefer to the weird spider stand found on step-up Samsung LEDs. All told the UND6400 is one of the coolest-looking TVs we've ever seen in person.
|Remote size (LxW)||8.4x2 inches||QWERTY keyboard||No|
|Illuminated keys||42||IR device control||No|
|Menu item explanations||Yes||Onscreen manual||Yes|
Samsung's 2011 TV menus have been refreshed and 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.
We also like the company's remote, which hasn't changed 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 still prefer some differentiation in button shape to augment the grid of rectangles.
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|3D technology||Active||3D glasses included||No|
|Screen finish||Glossy||Internet connection||Wired|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
As we mentioned above, Samsung no longer offers free 3D glasses with this TV. Retailers may offer promotions at their discretion, but since Samsung doesn't pack the glasses in with the TV, you'll have to check with the retailer first.
The UND6400 series is incompatible with 2010 glasses models. Bluetooth does make the new glasses easier to use, and they keep sync much better than the old infrared versions.
We'd like to see wireless Internet on a TV at this level but you'll need to buy Samsung's proprietary dongle if you want to access the Internet via Wi-Fi. Unlike midrange edge-lit models from companies like Sony and LG, the UND6400 doesn't have local dimming; that extra is reserved for the high-end UND8000 series.
|Amazon Instant||No||Hulu Plus||Yes|
For 2011 Samsung has integrated all of its applications and streaming services into the Smart Hub interface, ditching Yahoo widgets (we approve) and also losing a few apps, the most important by far being Amazon Instant. Otherwise the streaming selection is top-notch, although we could nitpick about the absence of Rhapsody since Napster gets a spot.
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 ESPN ScoreCenter--a simple app that runs alongside the main image and lets you check scores from a variety of sports.
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 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, YouTube, and Facebook pages based on keywords, however.
The Your Video recommendation engine and information database is 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. 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.
We liked the idea of Samsung's Social TV, which creates a sidebar next to the main image showing your Facebook status updates, Twitter feed, and Google Talk chats. Unlike higher-end Samsungs the UND6400 doesn't get a Web browser.
For more, check out our review of Smart Hub on 2011 Blu-ray players, which is mostly identical to the TV version.
|Adjustable picture modes||4||Fine dejudder control||Yes|
|Color temperature presets||4||Fine color temperature control||10 points|
|Gamma presets||7||Color management system||Yes|
Samsung as usual provides one of the best picture-adjustment suites for both 2D and 3D sources, delivering extras that many TVs lack like adjustable custom dejudder, a 10-point grayscale, and color management.
When this review first posted we wrote that picture settings can't be adjusted in Netflix, but that's incorrect. Calling up the Tools menu and then pressing the main menu button brings up picture adjustments in Netflix. Vudu's picture can also be adjusted, although we didn't try other services.
3D settings are the same as last year, and provide plenty of control as well. You can use the 2D-to-3D conversion system with streaming services and other sources we tried.
|HDMI inputs||4||Component video inputs||1|
|Composite video input(s)||1||VGA-style PC input(s)||1|
|USB port||3||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
Like past superthin Samsung TVs, the D6400 doesn't have many analog connections and those it does have include require breakout cables (included). We'd like to see a headphone jack, but the third USB port might make up for that lack if you're using the Wi-Fi dongle and you like to stream media via USB.
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 over last year even on this 120Hz model, albeit still not as good as on the best plasmas.
In default Movie mode the Samsung was characteristically accurate enough, delivering a relatively smooth grayscale overall, albeit a bit minus-red, and gamma that came close to our target. Calibration improved matters even further, thanks to the 10-point system and the extensive CMS, which worked very well. The latter was particularly helpful because luminance of the primary red in the default Auto color mode was significantly brighter than it should be. For our image quality tests we checked out "Hereafter" on Blu-ray.
|Sony KDL-46EX720||46-inch edge-lit LED-based LCD|
|LG 47LW5600||47-inch edge-lit local dimming LED-based LCD|
|Samsung UN46C6500||46-inch edge-lit LED-based LCD|
|Samsung LN46C630||46-inch LCD|
|Vizio XVT553SV||55-inch full-array local dimming LED-based LCD|
|"="" rel="follow">Panasonic TC-P50ST30||50-inch plasma|
|Pioneer PRO-111FDreference)||50-inch plasma|
Black level: The Samsung UND6400 showed a darker shade of black than the Sony and the LG, and about the same as the Panasonic and the other two Samsungs, making it one of the better edge-lit LEDs we've tested in this category. As expected it couldn't compete with the Pioneer or the Vizio, however. The dark apartment in Chapter 2 of "Hereafter" provided a good test, and the D6400 reproduced the letterbox bars and people's silhouettes with relative realism. Shadow detail was a strength, surpassing the older Samsungs, the LG, and the Panasonic at properly resolving areas like George's darkened hairline.
Our major complaint in this area had to do with the D6400's penchant for turning its backlight off completely during some fade-outs, which can be distracting. One example occurred at the 6:48 mark, after Marie drowns in the tsunami--none of the other displays, including the C6500, showed similar backlight turn-off.
Color accuracy: Like many LCDs, the Samsung's main color weakness appeared in near-black and dark areas, which were tinged blue--it was as noticeable as on the Sony and worse than on most of the others. In brighter areas colors were exemplary, however, and even better than the Sony in the pre-tsunami, sunlit market from Chapter 1, for example, with its natural-looking leaves, fabrics, and skin tones. Overall we'd rate the D6400 a bit below the Pioneer and Vizio in this category, and better than the others, including the C6500.
Video processing: As usual we really appreciated Samsung's ability to adjust dejudder to preserve the cadence of film while reducing blurring. In our tests it handled 1080p/24 properly in Custom mode with Judder reduction set at zero and delivered full motion resolution with blur reduction at 10. A variety of other settings are available if you like some smoothing introduced, and all of them preserved the excellent motion resolution (although, as usual, the benefits of said preservation were very difficult to see in most material).
Uniformity: Most edge-lit LED-based TVs struggle in this category and the D6400, while better than some we've tested, still had plenty of issues. In dark scenes we noticed that the corners showed up brighter than the rest of the image, and while the difference wasn't as apparent as on the Sony or the C6500, for example, it was worse than on the non-LED-based C630. From off-angle the UND6400 lost black-level and color fidelity at roughly the same rate as the other LCDs, with the exception of the LG--which kept color fidelity better but lost black level at a greater rate.
Bright lighting: The glossy screen of the UND6400 was the second-worst in our lineup at reducing glare from bright reflections (the UNC6500 was just a bit worse). On the other hand, it excelled at preserving black levels under the overhead lights, beating the rest of the TVs in that category. As usual the matte LCDs, such as the LG, Sony, and Vizio, were the best overall at bright-room performance.
PC: The Samsung performed well in this category. Via VGA edge enhancement was present after the auto adjustment, but a tweak of the sharpness control (which is labeled "Fine" under the PC screen adjustment menu) to 30 removed it without introducing undue softness. We also saw some very minor flicker in test patterns and fine areas, but it wasn't an issue on most PC material and was less obvious than on the Sony EX720, for example.
3D performance: While the D6400 can't beat the best 3D plasmas we've tested, it's probably the best LCD we've seen yet for 3D (it's also the first of the 2011 model year we've tested). Samsung improved a couple of key aspects of 3D in 2011. The Bluetooth glasses sync with the TV more easily, keep their sync better, and best of all create an onscreen notification when first synced.
Picture quality in 3D was also noticeably better on the UND6400 compared with the UNC8000 from 2010. Watching "How to Train Your Dragon," we noticed quite a bit less crosstalk throughout the film, particularly in darker areas like the castle interior in Chapter 5. We still saw those characteristic double images, however, for example in the pillar and around the face of Hiccup in the background of the mead hall.
Compared with the other 2011 3D models in our lineup, the LG LW5600 (a passive LCD) and the Panasonic ST30 (an active plasma), the Samsung D6400 was our favorite for 3D picture quality. Its image was brighter and more striking, with significantly better black levels in 3D than the Panasonic, and crosstalk between the two was similar--if anything, the Samsung had a slight advantage in this area.
The LG meanwhile was the brightest, and virtually crosstalk-free, but black levels were poor and worst of all it suffered from the distracting aliasing artifacts we saw on the passive Vizio XVT3D650SV. At 47 inches, softness in the LG's 3D image wasn't a major problem, but in a side-by-side comparison the Samsung D6400 and Panasonic were sharper in areas of fine detail, such as the moss and crags in Chapter 6.
Note that as usual we tested these sets in the default Movie or Cinema settings for 3D; we don't calibrate 3D TVs yet.
|GEEK BOX: Test||Result||Score|
|Black luminance (0%)||0.0064||Good|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2947/0.2865||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3118/0.3287||Good|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.3126/0.329||Good|
|Before avg. color temp.||6604||Average|
|After avg. color temp.||6518||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||0.0958||Good|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||1.4247||Good|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||0.5909||Good|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2243/0.3255||Good|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.323/0.1508||Good|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4204/0.4991||Good|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Good|
|1080i De-interlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||1200||Good|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||1200||Good|
|PC input resolution (VGA)||1,920x1,080 pixels||Good|
Power consumption: Samsung's UN46D6400 deserves plenty of credit for its miserly energy use, although it can't approach the efficiency of the Sony KDL-46EX720 and even costs a bit more to operate (95 cents per year) than the 2010 Samsung equivalent.
|Samsung UN46D6400||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||86.37||81.51||38.28|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.1||0.09||0.04|
|Cost per year||$18.98||$17.91||$8.43|
|Score (considering size)||Good|
(Read more about how we test TVs.)