Samsung UNC6500 review: Samsung UNC6500

Internet apps
Yahoo widgets Yes Skype No
Vudu apps No Weather Yes
Facebook Yes News Yes
Twitter Yes Sports Yes
Photos Picasa/Flickr Stocks Yes
Other: Includes Google Maps, Samsung TV support videos, Getty images and more

Samsung wants you to think of its Apps platform much like a certain other Apps store from Apple. The TV version from Samsung is a far cry from the iPhone version today, but does offer more options than similar services on other brands' TVs. Since the service debuted earlier this year it has added Facebook, Google Maps, and videos with product support and info on Samsung products. On the other hand most of the games are gone, to the disappointment of absolutely no one.

The Yahoo widgets experience is much improved over last year.

In addition to Apps within the main interface, there's a separate Yahoo widgets interface with 23 total add-ons available at press time. They include weather, news, sports, and the like, along with meatier widgets like Amazon Video-on-Demand, Drivecast, Flickr and, yes, Facebook. The widget experience is much, much better than in the past, owing to faster load and response times. Now the widget taskbar comes up almost immediately, and navigating between widgets and within a widget itself is a breeze.

On the other hand we'd prefer to see one integrated interface, such as the one Vizio offers, for all interactive functions. For both Facebook and Twitter, for example, the TV has both an App by Samsung and a Yahoo widget. Both interfaces offer news, weather and even photo services (Picasa for Apps, Flickr for widgets). With all that content, juggling two interface options can become confusing.

Both Apps and widgets have profiles and universal sign-in features, which makes them easier to use. An option to input searches, passwords and other text with something other than the unwieldy onscreen keyboard would help a lot, however.

Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 4 Independent memories per input Yes
Dejudder presets 3 Fine dejudder control Yes
Aspect ratio modes -- HD 4 Aspect ratio modes -- SD 4
Color temperature presets 4 Fine color temperature control 10 points
Gamma presets 7 Color management system Yes
Other: New 10-point color temperature system; RGB filters and built-in test patterns

Samsung has officially retaken the picture settings crown from LG this year, at least on step-up models like the UNC6500, which offers basically the same level of control found on flagship Samsung TVs. Highlights for tweakers include a new 10-point system that works pretty well--(albeit not as well as LG's) in addition to a dejudder control system that does work better than LG's (albeit not quite as well as Samsung's own system from last year). Internal test patterns and red, green, and blue color filters also help would-be calibrators.

The 10-point color temperature system works well for those looking to dial in their preferred image quality.

Other features
Power saver mode Yes Ambient light sensor Yes
Picture-in-picture Yes On-screen user manual No
Other: Basic onscreen "HD connection guide; onscreen troubleshooting; Sound-only option

Not much goes missing here, although we'd like to see a real onscreen manual as opposed to the simplistic "connection guide." The troubleshooting section is nice, but is mostly geared toward easing the job of customer service reps tasked with diagnosing owner problems over the phone. We like the option to turn off the screen manually, leaving just the sound, which cuts power use down to 24.3 watts.

HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 1
Composite video input(s) 1 S-video input(s) 0
VGA-style PC input(s) 1 RF input(s) 1
AV output(s) 1 audio Digital audio output 1 optical
USB port 2 Ethernet (LAN) port Yes

Since it's limited by cabinet depth, the jack pack of the UNC6500 is unusual. A horizontal and a vertical row of jacks are arranged so the cables run parallel to the panel, instead of plugging in perpendicular. The selection of analog inputs is sparse almost to a fault, with just one composite and one component port, which share a single audio input. Plenty of HDMI inputs are available however, and the second USB port is nice if you use the optional Wi-Fi dongle for one.

The UNC6500's slim design leave it with an unusual selection of inputs.

Though not up to the picture quality standards of local dimming models or Samsung's own flagship hybrid dimmer, the UNC8000, the significantly less expensive UNC6500 showed image quality on par with other edge-lit models we've tested. Black levels were a bit deeper than other edge-lit sets, if unspectacular overall; color accuracy was solid in bright areas and suffered as the image darkened; and uniformity showed some characteristic flaws.

TV settings: Samsung UN46C6500
Prior to calibration the Movie mode of the UNC6500 was the most accurate, as usual for Samsung. It turned in a relatively linear grayscale that was nonetheless plus-blue overall, with gamma that was too dark (2.53 versus the 2.2 target), especially in the dimmer parts of the image. After calibrating the user-menu controls, especially the 10-point Interval system, we achieved even better linearity--aside from areas below 20 IRE, which veered from plus-green to extremely plus-blue near black--and excellent gamma (2.28 average). We'd like to see finer control of the grayscale points, especially in those dark areas, but overall the final result was solid.

One exception was the primary color of red, which was unusually inaccurate for Samsung, being shifted toward blue. We did not attempt to correct this issue with the color management system, although perhaps a more thorough calibration could do so.

For our image-quality tests we looked up "The Book of Eli" on Blu-ray and compared the Samsung UNC6500 to the models below.

Comparison models (details)
Sony KDL-46EX700 46-inch edge-lit LED
LG 47LH5500 47-inch edge-lit local dimming LED
Samsung UN55C8000 55-inch edge-lit local dimming LED
Vizio SV472XVT 47-inch full-array local dimming LED
LG 47LE8500 47-inch full array local dimming LED
Panasonic TC-P50G20 50-inch plasma
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: The Samsung UNC6500 outdid the edge-lit LED-based models from LG and Sony in this area, but couldn't match the others, including the less expensive Panasonic and Vizio models. As usual we saw the biggest difference in darker scenes, such as Eli's stay in the shack in Chapter 1. The letterbox bars, black shadows and black structures in the foreground all appeared deeper and more realistic on the other displays than on the UNC6500, with the exception of the LG LH5500 and the Sony EX700.

Overall shadow detail was solid. The somewhat lighter black levels did make shadows appear less realistic than on the deeper-black TVs, but in its favor the Samsung didn't obscure as many details in dark areas as some of the other sets, including the LH5500 and the Sony, nor did it evince the brighter shadows we saw on the Panasonic plasma.

Color accuracy: In most scenes the UNC6500 delivered solid color, although a couple of issues separated it from our reference. Skin tones in dimmer scenes, such as Solara's face when she describes her night with Eli to Carnegie in Chapter 11, evinced a bluish cast--perhaps due in part to the primary color of red's shift toward blue--which persisted in brighter areas, albeit to a lesser extent. Black areas and near-black shadows also showed the telltale bluish tone seen on many of the other LCDs, albeit not nearly to the same extent as the Sony.

On the other hand the difficult muted colors of the skies and landscapes seemed relatively close to our reference in bright areas, and in the few scenes with vibrant colors, such as the approach to the California hills in Chapter 21, primary and secondary color accuracy was mostly good.

Video processing: Samsung equipped the UNC6500 with numerous video processing settings, including three dejudder presets--Clear, Sta

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