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Samsung UNF6300 series review review: A good value for the Smart set

Although in picture quality it falls short of some midrange TVs, the Samsung UNF6300's combination of high-end features and design for a midrange price will win plenty of converts.

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David Katzmaier
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David Katzmaier

Editorial Director -- TVs and streaming

David has reviewed TVs, streaming services, streaming devices and home entertainment gear at CNET since 2002. He is an ISF certified, NIST trained calibrator and developed CNET's TV test procedure himself. Previously David wrote reviews and features for Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as "The Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics."

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12 min read

Samsung makes a ton of LED LCD TVs. This chart details almost all of them, excluding the new smaller 4K models and the numerous specialty series sold by various retailers. The company also sells a ton, maintaining its dominant position as the US and global TV sales leader.

Samsung_UN55F6300_35647894_35647675_35650428_35650429_35650468_35650469_18.jpg
7.0

Samsung UNF6300 series review

The Good

The <b>Samsung UNF6300 series</b> LED LCD TV evinced solid picture quality with accurate overall color. Excellent video processing and a uniform screen; industry's most capable Smart TV platform; IR blaster with cable box control; eye-catching design with thin bezel and cabinet; above-average sound quality.

The Bad

Produces relatively light black levels; tends toward blue in dark areas; flimsy stand.

The Bottom Line

Although its picture quality falls short of the competition, the Samsung UNF6300's high-end features and design for a midrange price will win plenty of converts.

One of its most popular TVs this year is bound to be the UNF6300, which occupies a price-to-features sweet spot around the lower middle of the chart. It lacks the fancy touch-pad remote found on more expensive models but preserves their excellent Smart TV design and functionality. It also lacks 3D, a feature almost nobody cares about.

What it does have -- sleek looks and a good-enough picture -- help make it one of the company's better values. I wouldn't recommend it as much as a couple of other midrange LED LCDs, like Panasonic's E60 or Vizio's M series, but I like do it better than the more expensive Samsung UNF6400. If you're looking for a way to get Samsung's class-leading Smart TV suite without causing much pain in your wallet, the UNF6300 series is worth a look.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Samsung UN55F6300, 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.

Models in series (details)
Samsung UN32F6300 32 inches
Samsung UN40F6300 40 inches
Samsung UN46F6300 46 inches
Samsung UN50F6300 50 inches
Samsung UN55F6300 (reviewed) 55 inches
Samsung UN60F6300 60 inches

Sarah Tew/CNET

Design
The F6300's strongest suit is how it's dressed: in sleek, distinctive garb that seems designed for a more expensive model. In fact, it looks almost exactly the same as the more expensive UNF6400, from the slim all-black bezel to the pleasantly subtle transparent edging to the trademark Samsung spider stand. The only differences I could pick out, looking at the two side by side, were the 6300's slightly more rounded-off edges and the lighter-gray color of the stand.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That stand feels just as cheap as it did on the 6400. The steel brace inside isn't connected to the plastic sheath on the outer and it actually flexed in my hand. When the TV is sitting on the table it works fine, but the build quality still doesn't inspire confidence.

The biggest difference between the two Samsungs is the remote control. The 6300 is the company's most expensive Smart TV to lack the new 2013 touch-pad clicker I've lauded (with caveats) previously. Instead you get a standard multibutton remote that, while certainly more cluttered, actually does a better job of giving easy access to many functions, especially for cable box/DVR control. It's a relief to not have to rely on a pop-up onscreen remote to do something as basic as fast-forward or pause live TV.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In fact, the choice between the 6300 and 6400 largely comes down to their remotes. If you really like the simple looks, novelty, and ease of tasks like Web browsing imparted by the touch version, go for it. But if you value practical functionality, the standard remote wins. Personally I'd use a universal remote anyway, despite Samsung's cable box control, so the coolness of Samsung's touch clicker would be wasted in my home.

Key TV features
Display technology LCD LED backlight Edge-lit
Screen finish Semi-matte Remote Standard
Smart TV Yes Internet connection Built-in Wi-Fi
3D technology No 3D glasses included N/A
Refresh rate(s) 120Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing Yes
DLNA-compliant Photo/Music/Video USB Photo/Music/Video
Other: Cable box integration and control via IR blaster; optional Skype camera (VG-STC3000, $99)

Features
Aside from its plain-Jane remote control, the UNF6300 omits a couple of other extras found on the 6400. It lacks voice control and 3D compatibility, offers a lower Clear Motion Rate, and doesn't have Samsung's Micro Dimming feature.

Assuming you don't care about talking to your TV or watching stuff in 3D, you might still be wondering how the absence of the latter two features impacts image quality. The answer is: not much. Micro Dimming on the UNF6400 isn't true local dimming -- it's software-based only -- and in our tests showed little to no discernible benefit. The same goes for Clear Motion Rate, Samsung's inflated stand-in number for refresh rate. Both sets have 120Hz panels, and show basically identical (and excellent) motion and video-processing performance.

Smart TV: The UNF6300 is Samsung's third-cheapest Smart TV for 2013. Only the UNF5500-series LEDs (which top out at 50 inches) and the PNF5500 series plasmas cost less. Beyond voice and gesture control, however, the 6300 has essentially the same Smart tricks as the higher-end models, and performs them just as well.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung's Smart interface is reminiscent of an Android smartphone, with five different home pages you can flip through by shuffling among the icons at the top: On TV; Movies and TV shows (on demand); Photos, Videos, and Music (DLNA, USB, and cloud-based media); Social (Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter); and Apps. Navigation and the slick animations were quick on the 6300; its dual-core processor feels nearly as responsive as the quad-core of the high-end UNF8000 series. The design is refreshing, colorful, and relatively simple, a welcome change from the clutter of the company's previous versions. It's my favorite overall design of any of the 2013 Smart TV makers, although LG sets equipped with motion remotes are a close second, and allow you to get around more quickly.

The default first page is the ambitious 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 similar On Now system (see the LA8600 review), but it's still pretty cool. Aside from those two, no other TV maker currently offers the combination of integrated listings and cable box control.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In many ways, mostly related to having dedicated buttons on the remote, I found cable box control on the F6300 more satisfying and easier than on higher-end TVs like the F6400 and F8000. The standard remote has a specific key that calls up my cable box's program guide guide and another for its main menu. I especially appreciated the dedicated transport keys (Play, Pause, and so on) because I'm a heavy DVR user. The approximately half-second delay between pressing a button and seeing the results onscreen wasn't any longer than on the higher-end TVs, although it was still noticeable and annoying at times. That kind of performance is impressive for any IR-dongle-based system like this, but it's still not ideal.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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 6400, the TV cannot pair with a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse. I was able to use a cheaper wireless USB keyboard however, the Logitech K400, which has a touch pad that worked just as well as the Samsungs'.

Sarah Tew/CNET

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, Fios TV, Amazon Cloud Player, and AOL On. There's a Fitness VOD app with on-demand workouts, a robust multigame/activity Kids app, and many, many more.

For more detail I'll refer you to the UNF8000 review, which delves deeper into On TV and its recommendations, describes the other four pages, and touches on setup and other esoterica. Unless otherwise noted above it's the same suite as found on the F6300.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture settings: In true Samsung tradition there's plenty on tap here, including 2-point and 10-point grayscale control, an excellent color management system, and four picture presets. Samsung's class-leading Auto Motion Plus dejudder control not only turns the Soap Opera Effect on or off, it allows adjustment of both blur reduction and smoothness -- and new for this year includes a setting called LED Clear Motion that improved motion resolution further.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity: Nothing major is missing here. Three HDMI ports, three USB, and an optical digital output do the digital heavy lifting, while analog video is served by a single component-video port that's shared with composite video. There's no VGA-style PC input, but there is a port for the included wired IR blaster.

Picture quality
One of the main reasons I decided to review both the UNF6400 and the less expensive UNF6300 was to determine whether Samsung's 2013 Micro Dimming feature -- a major differentiator between the two on paper -- helped picture quality. It doesn't. In fact, the UNF6300 had slightly better picture quality than its more expensive linemate in our tests, with superior shadow detail and color. On the other hand, both sets gave mediocre black-level performance, leading to picture quality that's merely "good" and not up to the levels seen on a couple of the similarly priced models in my comparison.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
Samsung UN55F6400 55-inch LED LCD
Vizio E500i-A1 50-inch LED LCD
LG 47LA6200 47-inch LED LCD
Panasonic TC-L50E60 50-inch LED LCD
Panasonic TC-P50S60 50-inch plasma

Black level: The UNF6300 delivered a relatively lighter shade of black than the others in our lineup, leading to a less realistic rendition of darker scenes -- an issue especially visible in dimly lit rooms. It basically matched the UNF6400 in depth of black, beat only the LG, and fell short of the performance of the others to a greater or lesser extent.

The 12th chapter of "Skyfall," for example, lacked some of the punch seen on the Panasonics and the Vizio. The letterbox bars and silhouettes of the fighters were slightly more washed out, and the shot of Washington didn't have quite as much contrast and pop. The difference between the two Samsungs was almost impossible to discern, and both looked visibly less impressive than the Vizio and LE50.

Shadow detail wasn't an issue however. The 6300 showed every detail of the face of the mysterious woman in the next skyscraper and Bond's visage among the fluctuating lights (50:22). The gradation from darker to lighter appeared a slip more natural than on the Vizio E series, if not as good as on the Panasonics, but the differences in shadow detail between all of them were slight enough that it'd take a side-by-side comparison to tell them apart.

The 6300 did appear to outperform the 6400 in shadow detail. The two looked very similar in "Skyfall" with its mixed dark and bright scenes, but turning to the torture test of the hilltop scene in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" (Chapter 12, 45:55), the 6300 looked better. The 6400 obscured many of the details, and unlike its brother subsumed a lot of the near-dark areas, like the robes of the antagonists and the countryside around Hogwart's, in murk. I'm not sure if nondefeatable microdimming is the culprit, but in any case the 6300 beat its more expensive linemate in reproducing shadows in very dark scenes.

Color accuracy: No complaints here. The UNF6300 aced our objective color measurements, turning in the most accurate precalibration Movie preset reading I can remember seeing. Those gaudy numbers were borne out onscreen in accurate yet vibrant skin tones and colors -- the warm-yet-pale face of M at 51:13, the blood-orange hues of the Macau dragon at 55:28, and the bodies of the lovers in the shower at 1:06:34, for example.

In terms of sheer accuracy the Samsung 6300 outdid all of the others, although the Panasonic and Vizio were both quite close. Those two still didn't match the Samsung's great saturation, but overall the differences between the four are again subtle enough to require a side-by-side viewing. No so for the S60, with ts greenish cast, and the forlorn, washed-out LG.

As usual one weakness was the UNF6300's tendency to go bluish in black and near-black scenes, a tendency made more visible in letterbox bars by the set's relatively light black level.

I wondered whether the 6300 suffered the same inaccuracies my colleague Ty Pendlebury noticed on the 6400 during the "Harry Potter" hilltop scene, and the answer is, no, it didn't. In contrast to the 6400, the 6300 preserved the accurate greenish tint of the original film in these areas, not showing the brownish-red cast seen on the 6400. I confirmed the difference didn't appear to be calibration-related. On the other hand, in "Skyfall" I didn't notice any similar issues, leading me to believe they only appear in very dark scenes. In brighter areas the two TVs looked very similar, and very accurate.

Video processing: The Samsung UNF6300 performed like a champ in this area, matching the UNF6400, and indeed even the flagship UNF8000, despite its lower Clear Motion Rate specification.

First and foremost it's capable of delivering true 1080p24 film cadence. Unlike most LED LCD TVs, however, it can also deliver full motion resolution at the same time -- you don't have to engage the oversmooth Soap Opera Effect to get optimum motion resolution. On the Panasonic E60, the LG and the Vizio, conversely, no mode offers true film cadence with zero smoothing and full motion resolution.

Of course if you're a fan of smoothing you might also appreciate the F6300's 10-point dejudder control under Custom for Auto Motion Plus, which enables you to dial in as much Soap Opera Effect as you like -- from "Downton Abbey" to "Days of Our Lives."

There's also a new LED Clear Motion setting under the Auto Motion Plus menu. Engaging it reduces light output by about 30 percent, but that's not a big deal at all since this TV (like most LED LCDs) has plenty of light output anyway. In both the On and Off positions, the TV was able to achieve the full 1,200 lines of resolution -- a superb score for a 120Hz television. On looked very slightly cleaner in our test pattern, however, so we left it engaged.

As usual with Samsung, you'll need to select the Auto1 setting under Film Mode if you want correct 1080i deinterlacing of film-based sources; the default Auto 2 failed our test.

In Game mode the Samsung showed a completely respectable input lag measurement of 44ms. I tried the trick of renaming the input "PC" but it didn't improve that result.

Uniformity: The F6300 has a nicely uniform screen for an edge-lit LED LCD, and significantly outperformed our UNF6400 review sample in this area. Yes, on test patterns the edges, especially the bottom edge, appeared brighter than the middle, but on program material the backlight irregularities were next-to-impossible to discern.

From off-angle the 6300 and 6400 were identical, and about average among their LCD peers, washing out dark areas worse than the Vizio and about as much as the Panasonic, but outdoing the LG. In brighter scenes the LG maintained color fidelity better, however; the Samsung tended to more quickly become bluish/reddish from off-angle.

Bright lighting: Again the two Samsungs were basically the same. The screen is sort of semimatte, and while it didn't deaden reflections quite as well as the Panasonic E60 and Vizio, it handled them better than the LG and especially the Panasonic S60. On the other hand the screen managed to retain its black levels relatively well in a lit room -- if not quite as well as the E60, better than the LG and the even more washed-out-looking Panasonic.

Sound quality: The F6300's audio quality was good for a TV, albeit not quite as impressive as that of the F6400 for some reason. Switching between the two, bass sounded a bit looser on Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" and his vocals just a bit less clear -- but otherwise they sounded very similar, and better than any of the others in our lineup. Bass was decent and I could make out instruments well, and it didn't have the extremely thin sound that plagues many sets like the E60 and the LG 6200. Explosions in the bridge scene in "Mission: Impossible 3" had some gut impact and sounds that were lost on the others -- such as the truck horn that sounds immediately after one of the rockets hits -- were relayed well by the Samsung.

Black luminance (0%) 0.0139 Average
Avg. gamma (10-100%) 2.21 Good
Avg. grayscale error (10-100%) 1.024 Good
Dark gray error (20%) 0.392 Good
Bright gray error (70%) 1.099 Good
Avg. color error 1.088 Good
Red error 0.655 Good
Green error 1.084 Good
Blue error 1.617 Good
Cyan error 0.771 Good
Magenta error 1.491 Good
Yellow error 0.91 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1200 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 1200 Good
Input lag (Game mode) 44.1 Average

Samsung UN55F6300 CNET review calibration report

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7.0

Samsung UNF6300 series review

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6Value 7
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