Last Updated: November 2, 2013
Samsung LED HDTV Sets - Product Evaluation Part 2: Series 4, 5, and Series 6 LED TVs
Affordability differentiate Samsung's 2D entry-level sets while features characterize the step-up Series LED TVs
Samsung's line of LED TVs for 2010 spreads over a wide range of models - from affordable entry-level LED HDTVs to some of the most technologically advanced and expensive LED LCD TVs presently available on the market.
In this product evaluation, we discuss Samsung's 720p and 1080p 60Hz Series 4 and Series 5 budget-class LED TVs, as well as Series 6 - the step-up line of Samsung LED HDTVs. The latter comprises five different sub-series - from the basic Series 6300 120Hz LED TVs, to the feature-rich line of Series 6800 and Series 6900 LED HDTVs.
In the process, we look at some of the performance issues associated with these Samsung LED TVs.
Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV
This high-end feature rich LED HDTV comes with Samsung's Micro dimming Ultimate LED backlight technology - among the best in its class for black level performance. It is also the TV with the best feature set.
Samsung 2010 LED HDTVs in detail
Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6 Samsung LED HDTVs represent Samsung 2D LED TV series. These series are among the most affordable Samsung LED HDTVs for 2010. They are also the series that cover the major part of Samsung LED HDTVs - twenty-six different models out of thirty-three. The reason is that Series 6 is rather unique in that it comes in five different flavors. Series 6 is also the series that comes with the biggest Samsung LED HDTVs for 2010 - the 60"-inch UN60C6300 and the 65" UN65C6500.
Entry-level Series 4 and Series 5 LED HDTVs
Samsung Series C4000 720p LED TVs for the low-end budget
The 'C' designation is in effect being used by Samsung on all its 2010 series to identify these from its 'B' 2009 LED TV lineup.
Samsung Series 4 covers the 19-inch, 22-inch, 26-inch, and the 32-inch. Prices range from $340 for the 19-inch to just over $600 for the 32-inch set; the best-selling set within the Series 4 line is the 26-inch, followed by the 22-inch. Series 4 Samsung LED HDTVs are basic bare-bones 720p 60Hz HDTVs with no added special features other than a slim 1.2 inch thick design afforded by the edge LED backlight.
Do not underestimate these Samsung LED TVs simply because they are 720p HDTVs. As further detailed in our guides to TV viewing distance and 1080p HDTVs, at this screen size, you will never be able to see the added image detail afforded by 1080p content at the correct viewing distance.
Samsung still manages to throw its Touch of Color (ToC) design to transform an otherwise black clone into an aesthetically pleasing LED TV design.
Samsung is implementing its ToC design on all its LED TV series with a different hint of color depending on the TV series. The C4000 comes with a hint of black that is naturally blended into a traditional black bezel.
You will also get 2 HDMI on all models except the 32-inch which gets four HDMI ports - all with Anynet+ (HDMI CEC support) to control other compatible HDMI connected devices via a single remote.
You have to pay some $150 more than a CCFL LCD equivalent for Series 4 Samsung LED HDTVs. In return you get an LED TV with all the benefits that an edge-lit LED backlight brings with it - namely a slim design and improved energy efficiency.
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Samsung Series C5000: Affordable 1080p LED TVs for the home theater on a budget
Series 5 Samsung LED HDTVs cover five models, the 32-inch UN32C5000, the 37-inch UN37C5000, the 40-inch UN40C5000, the 46-inch UN46C5000, and the 55-inch UN55C5000. Present online prices range from $750 for the smallest in the range, to close to $2,050 for the 55-inch; best-selling model within the Series 5 HDTVs is the 32-inch set, followed by the 40-inch.
As with Series 4, the C5000 are 60Hz LED HDTVs but in return for the additional expense, you get a few interesting extras apart from the possibility to get a larger screen size, increased mega-contrast ratio, and the added screen resolution afforded by the 1080p pixel count. The latter would definitely prove beneficial at the larger screen sizes within the series, especially the 55-inch.
All Series C5000 Samsung LED HDTVs come with Samsung's new AllShare feature. As expressed in the first part of this Samsung LED TV review article, this provides a wired or wireless connectivity to share all your digital content from your PC, compatible cameras, and other networked devices - on your TV by controlling them via the network. And this apart from its ability to connect your Samsung LED HDTV with compatible Samsung mobile phones to share multimedia content stored on your mobile, as well as view call arrivals, SMS messages and schedules set on your mobile phones right on your TV screen.
Series C5000 Samsung LED HDTVs also come with an enhanced energy saving option thanks to the use of an Eco Sensor which will automatically adapt the LED backlight brightness to the light level in the room.
Additional enhancements include improved sound - thanks to an increased sound output and the use of a woofer speaker. There is also picture-in-picture support, improved connectivity that includes an Ethernet connection, a swivel table-top stand, and an improved Ultra Clear Panel that aims to absorb more of the ambient light and minimize reflections while rendering more vibrant colors and deeper blacks even under bright lighting. Last but not least is a red ToC design instead of the black found on C4000 LED HDTVs.
Series 6 Samsung LED HDTV Set-up Series: Series C6300, C6400, C6500, C6800, and the C6900
Samsung Series 6 is unique within the full Samsung LED HDTV lineup. It is the only series that comes in five different versions, the C6300, C6400, C6500, C6800, and the C6900. As indicated earlier on in this article, Series 6 LED TVs cover among the largest LED TVs around, but not only.
It is also the series where things start to get more serious with respect to features and picture quality. You get 120Hz refresh rate technology, Internet driven TV content, and Samsung latest precision dimming which can deliver improved black level performance over standard edge-lit LED backlight technology.
Upgrading to 120Hz: C6300 with Auto Motion Plus
The C6300 is basically the C5000 but with 120Hz support. In fact, it comes with an almost identical feature set. The main differences include a slightly improved dynamic contrast ratio of 4,000,000:1 instead of the 3,000,000:1 found on the 60Hz series, an improved picture engine - termed HyperReal Engine, and Samsung's Auto Motion Plus 120Hz support.
The latter represents the real improvement over C5000 Samsung LED HDTVs. Auto Motion Plus dejudder processing has always proved to be one of Samsung HDTVs strengths thanks to a custom mode with independent slider settings for Blur reduction (this affects video-based sources) and Judder reduction (for film-based sources.)
Sizes covered under this series include the 60-inch UN60C6300, the 55-inch UN55C6300, the 46-inch UN46C6300, and the 40-inch UN40C6300. Best rated model within the C6300 Samsung LED HDTV series is the 46-inch (selling online at close to $1,350), followed by the 55-inch, which at its present price tag of $1,900 - is among the most affordable within this screen size.
Moving further up Series 6: C6400 LED HDTVs with Samsung Apps
The C6400 is very similar to the C6300 - including in the overall design (both come with Samsung's graphite ToC design), and is available in the same screen sizes, namely, 60-inch, 55-inch, 46-inch, and 40-inch. The only significant difference in terms of features is that C6400 series adds Samsung's new Internet@TV application, known as Samsung Apps to the C6300 feature set; in addition, C6400 Samsung LED HDTVs are available only through warehouse clubs. This means that the C6400 option need not necessarily be available for everyone.
Further up Series 6: C6500 Samsung LED HDTVs
The C6500 is the series that covers the widest range of screen sizes within Samsung's LED HDTV lineup. These range from 32 inches up to massive 65 inches in five screen sizes, namely the 32-inch UN32C6500, 40-inch UN40C6500, 46-inch UN46C6500, 55-inch UN55C6500, and the 65-inch UN65C6500. Online prices range from the $1,000 for the 32-inch up to $4,000 for the 65-inch.
The C6500 is the C6400 equivalent with the real most important difference being that C6500 Samsung LED HDTVs are available through normal retailers instead of just warehouse clubs.
Feature wise, differences are just insignificant between C6500 and C6400. C6500 sets come with an improved 5,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio over the 4,000,000:1 of the C6400 and C6300 HDTVs - something which no user will ever be able to perceive, and an equally insignificant slimmer design this is 1.1 inches deep for the C6500 against the 1.2 inches for the C6400.
Samsung is also adopting its new refined four-legged base styling on C6500 HDTVs
According to Samsung, this new design is supposed to make these LED HDTVs look more like a piece of furniture than a TV. We think this new design is more of a love it or hate it affair. Samsung is reserving this new styling for all its high-end models.
Instead, if you are upgrading from the C6300, the added benefit will be Samsung Apps - Internet@TV content application. Upgrading from C6300 to a C6500 equivalent to enjoy Samsung's new Internet@TV application will cost anything between $200 and $300 more - depending on the screen size.
For the best 2D picture: C6800 and C6900 Series Samsung LED HDTVs
These are the series that offer the best option for those looking for the best picture within the Samsung 2010 lineup without wanting to pay an extra $500 more to get a 3D-enabled TV. In other words, these are the Samsung LED TVs that offer the best bang for your buck.
In fact, C6800 and C6900 Samsung LED HDTVs have the potential to deliver the same superb picture of the more expensive C8000 3D-enabled series. These Series 6 Samsung LED TVs use the same precision dimming technology as found on the more expensive 240Hz C8000 3D-enabled Samsung LED HDTVs.
We say the best picture within the Samsung 2010 line of LED TVs as Samsung's new precision dimming technology is capable of a significantly improved black level performance over standard edge-lit LED lighting.
As expressed under part one of this write-up, this is different from the superior full-array local dimming found on premium sets such as the UNB8500 series released by Samsung in October 2009. The latest review published by Cnet for the UN55C8000 Samsung LED HDTV show that the UN55B8500 is still king when it comes to black level performance.
Black level performance is a most important picture quality parameter. It helps render better those difficult-to-define quality attributes like picture depth, scene detail - especially in television and movie scenes where lots of dark and light content is shown simultaneously, and color richness - specifically the perceived color saturation. Indirectly, a better black level also leads to better rendering of picture contrast.
In addition, the Cnet review also showed that the new precision dimming technology do suffer from a fluctuation in the image brightness. The latter is mainly perceived in the brightness of the letterbox bars when watching a movie - which becomes brighter or darker according to the brightness of the overall scene, thus lowering the overall perceived contrast ratio. In other words, nothing is perfect but then there is no doubt that Samsung's new precision dimming technology represents an important step towards improved picture performance.
As expected, the use of precision dimming leads to an improved dynamic contrast ratio of 7,000,000:1 over the rest of Series 6 Samsung LED HDTVs. This improvement in itself is more academic than anything else. You see, despite what TV makers will want you to believe, the human eye will not be able to perceive any improvement in picture performance over the mega-contrast ratings in question.
Apart from precision dimming technology, C6800 and C6900 sets incorporate all the features found on the C6500 - including Samsung Apps, AllShare, and the new Eco sensor to adjust the image brightness automatically depending on the ambient light level.
You will also get a few other extras. Samsung uses what it defines as WideColorEnhancer Pro instead of the WideColorEnhancer Plus found on the rest of the Series 6 lineup; this is supposed to better render color. Samsung also incorporates a new Touch-of-Color (ToC) design for the C6800 and C6900. The ToC on these series blends a hint of a wooden grain design in these sets black bezel to further enhance the overall appearance; this is further complemented by the new four-legged pedestal base.
Sets covered within these series include the 46-inch UN46C6800, the 55-inch UN55C6800, the 46-inch UN46C6900, and the 55-inch UN55C6900 Samsung LED HDTVs. At the time of this write-up, prices online varied from $1,840 for the 46-inch to $2,700 for the 55-inch.
Series 6 Performance Issues
When it comes to supported functionality, 2010 Series 6 Samsung LED HDTVs are pretty much similar to the Samsung 2009 Series B7000 LED TVs. The main difference between the two is the improved DLNA functionality, and where applicable - the significantly improved 2010 Samsung Apps Internet driven TV content.
According to a review appearing on FlatPanelsHD website for the C6000 (the European equivalent of the C6400 and C6500), there has not been much improvement in picture quality on the new 2010 lineup with respect to the 2009 B7000 series. With just one major exception though, the significantly reduced trailing on 2010 HDTVs, something which according to FlatPanelsHD.com, was a major issue with last year series.
This is expected as the new Series 6300, C6400, and C6500 Samsung LED HDTVs use the same edge-lit LED backlight technology as the 2009 B7000 series. However, we expect the C6800 and C6900 HDTVs to perform much better due to the improved precision dimming.
As expected, best out-of-the-box setting is the Movie mode. Colors still deviate a little bit from the standard but overall color accuracy is very good except with very dark shades of colors where different colors may become indistinguishable. Shadow detailing is fair except in very dark areas. SD reproduction is acceptable while HD picture is impressive - with very good color saturation thanks to the deep blacks. Motion is handled well; gaming is good and the much better response time also makes it more suited for console gaming than the 2009 LED TVs. In a similar manner, with PC connectivity, text and images are sharp thanks to the set 'Screen Fit' 1:1 pixel mapping mode.
The FlatPanelsHD website adds that with very dark content, clouding can become noticeable though to a lesser extent than on 2009 LED HDTVs. Viewing angles are fair but not great with colors that get washed out from extreme angles.
Samsung glossy Ultra-Clear Screen is capable of doing a very good job in preserving black levels in dark scenes even under bright lighting - while delivering an image that looks brighter and that exhibits fuller color clarity. But as expected, it still picks up reflections of bright objects in the room more than matte screens especially when displaying predominantly dark content.
Finally, sound quality has been improved a bit over last year's models but still, if you want to hear good sound, you need to connect these TVs to a separate sound system.
Overall, Series 6 Samsung LED HDTVs are good TVs with a relatively solid HD picture and with no critical flaws; their only real problem is a somewhat expensive price.