Samsung UN55ES6100 Review - A Perfect 9/10

55-inch, Edge-Lit LED/LCD HDTV, Smart TV

by , Reviewer

Strengths

  • ES6100 Calibrates very well to D65K (10 pt white balance)
  • After calibration, coloration in picture look natural post calibration
  • Blacks look good/saturated from front and center
  • Sound quality good for thin LED TV
  • Remote and Menu Function is great/easy
  • Samsung's Smart Hub has the best selection of Apps on the Market

Weaknesses

  • Off center Viewing Angles saturation/contrast reduction from sides
  • Some glare off matte screen
  • Slow navigation around Smart Hub Apps and slow load times
  • Onboard computer function crashed when loading Apps

Neutral

  • Design is good but not great.
  • Auto Motion Plus with the right settings it's a slight positive
  • LED Motion Plus

Picture Quality - 8.6/10

As a natural beginning point, realize that we have a full set of ISF calibrated picture settings for this the UN55ES6100 using the included 10 point white balance adjustments. Please follow them precicely as the TV calibrated excellently well to D6500K and this will improve your viewing experience and eliminate many negative effects from features that you do not need. The menu system makes changing each color relatively easy. Our ratings are based on the TV with these calibrations.

Samsung ES6100 Series LED Television
This picture from the BluRay of Mamma Mia! Shows tons of color in the background and good shadow detail as well

Black Levels

Black performance on the ES6100 is a strong point, blacks are dark and inky and show improvement over 2011 models, but again it's important to keep the backlight at the right setting. The largest improvment is in detail in dark scenes, an area where the black could be over powering in previous models.

While we initially thought that this panel would by the Ultra Clear Screen technology that we liked so much in 2011 it is actually a semi-matte finish screen. As a result there is poorer side viewing angle quality in this TV as all matte type LCD screen finishes diminish contrast and saturation at side viewing angles. While this treatment does cut down on reflection from the screen, there is glare off the screen from in room light.

Colors are very accurate and the TV calibrated perfectly to D6500K without a hitch. Post calibration picture with all the “extras” disabled turned out a very nice looking picture. Post calibration contrast measured a stout 2505:1. The black bars top and bottom the picture show a saturated rich black (from anywhere near the front of the screen).

240 CMR (Clear Motion Rate) This spec speaks to how well the TV processes fast action, and from what we could see when viewing the European Championships, the ES6100 did a very nice job of presenting the action.

Side Viewing Angle Quality

As with any LED/LCD TV with a matte or semi-matte screen finish your viewing angles are going to suffer. The ES6100 is not worse than others in this area, in fact it may be better but contrast/saturation diminished by around 20% at 25 to 30 degrees off center. Stay front and center for the best results from this TV.

Following is a run down of the Picture Modes in the 55ES6100 out of the Box:

Dynamic: Too vivid, only used if you have tons of light coming in from outside and even then it's probably too bright.

Standard: This is also the Energy Star option and it's also juiced with blue tones and still overhyped with color and the extra features that cause artifacts.

Natural: Juiced, saturated and bright as do the others, but with a penetrating orange hue (even in flesh tones if you like people to look orange).

Movie: The movie setting with Auto-Motion Plus turned off is pretty acceptable. With Auto Motion set to normal, there is considerable judder, motion artifacts, and elimination of too much natural background blur. Colors look pretty natural though and much better than the other 3 settting. There is no dedicated Game/Gaming mode. There are available Expert modes for calibrators through the service menu if necessary.

120Hz AutoMotion Plus

One of the biggest feature differences between the ES6100 and ES6500 is the 120hz as opposed to 240Hz in the latter. To me, it does not make that much difference It is there to help eliminate judder but there are visible side effects when watching film based content so keep the clicker handy. We recommend no matter what picture mode you watch, that you go into this setting in the Advanced Picture menu, tune the feature to Custom then turn the Blur Reduction to 10, and the Judder Reduction to 0. The judder reduction part of this feature does too much to distort the picture including eliminating too much natural background blur, actually accentuating judder/jerky motion effects when the camera pans slowly, and creating motion artifacts.

Samsung ES6100 Series LED Television
This shot of the European Championships shows good depth, color and light on the ES6100

To get there: Go to the Picture Menu and scroll all the way down to Picture Options, click enter, scroll down to Auto Motion Plus, click enter, once there click enter again and scroll down to Custom, click enter, then make the adjustments to Blur and Judder Reduction.

LED Motion Plus

Located just below the Auto Motion Plus feature in the Picture Options menu. As far as we can see from testing this feature takes some color saturation away from the picture and dims the picture slightly. We could not detect much benefit from it. When there is fast moving images it may help slightly with judder and to smooth motion some. Same with MPEG or Digital Noise reduction. It was hard to find a benefit to them.

Features Quality - 9/10

Smart TV Smart Hub with Web Connected Apps

Samsung ES6100 Series LED Television
This shot shows the main screen of the Samsung Smart TV Hub with apps and web browser avialable

Samsung's Smart Hub returns again this year for the UN55ES6100 and the interface is user friendly and the remote has buttons on it for quick access to some of the more popular features. Streaming video is available from major premium providers like Netflix, Amazon Video-On-Demand, Hulu, VuDu and more. There is also access to the Samsung App store which now has more than 1500 Apps in 2012 which will be instantly familiar to smartphone users who use a marketplace to search and download apps on their phone. There are apps for news, weather, sports and even games you can play on your television. Most of the apps are free though some run anywhere from $.99 to $9.99. Many are free as well. Aside from that the usual premium channels options are also incuded. There is a new Search All feature to allow you to find videos via Apps or other connected devices as well. Social media hookups like Facebook and Twitter are of course present.

You may run into a few hitches when accessing the Apps initially during set up like we did. But after working it out, the negative we noticed was slow response times when loading and returning to Apps due to a limited memory. It can be a bit frustrating.

Below are two of our favorite free Apps from the Smart Hub:

Mtv Music Meter – Lists of musician/bands trending on the Internet. Click on one and the video plays. Listening to Bon Iver gave me another opportunity to test the speakers on the ES6100 – not bad, good guitar rendition for TV speakers. There are also tweets, photos, and news options aside from the videos. Rating 4 out of 5.

Overall, Samsung still has far and away the best Internet Apps selection with categories: Videos, Most Popular, games, sports, lifestyle, information, education. There is much better free content than the other brands out there and the paid Apps are better and more reasonably priced as well. The Premium Apps such as the movie services, sports and music are also top notch.

Web Browser

The web browser in the ES6100 leaves a lot to be desired. I searched the term Google through the web browser and it gave me lots of options, scrolling to the bottom yielded the true web browser search through Bing's results. In this browser, the arrow keys actually control the mouse and clicking on the browser tab brought up the full keyboard at which point I started typing lcdtvbuyingguide.com. To say using the browser is like watching molasses drip does not capture how slow it is. I will say this though, at least it is a true Web Browser and not a proprietary deal that does not let you out into the open Internet (aka Sony HX750). Loading the web site was at least fast. It's not a feature you will use much due to it's laziness, but it is there if you are desperate. No QWERTY remote or Magic Remote (like the LG).

Samsung ES6100 Series LED Television
Samsung's Web Browser with full keyboard (but slow operation)

Apearance/Design

The UN55ES6500 has a black matte .5” wide frame which is also black on the sides with the overlay panel running all the way to the metal frame sides. It's fairly minimalistic and there is nothing much to complain about, though it's not going to blow your socks off. The included black 4-legged quadrapod stand swivels left and right about 20 degrees. The front panel itself is a semi-matte finish so not as slick looking as those clear coat screens (such as LG Cinema Screen or Panasonic Plasma top units).

Menu/Remote Function

The remote is basic but complete while the menu system is the same as the top tier Samsung TVs. Same with Smart Hub access. It assists with easy calibration and the small tutorials to the right of each setting are always nice. Even though the menu is not transparent, it's not too large either so that you can still see a good bit of the picture. One annoyance when toggling around the Smart TV Apps is that the Exit key is located just below the right arrow key, and you will accidentally hit the exit key when controlling these functions, then have to re-enter and re-locate.

Samsung ES6100 Series LED Television
Remote Control for the ES6100 is complete and backlit

Inputs

3 HDMI inputs and 3 USB inputs head up a very complete load of inputs for connectivity.

Skype is an available option through an optional camera that costs around $99.

Wifi Included

The Wifi setup seemed initially easy to set up but then caught a glitch and it took some time to get the TV connected.

Audio Quality

Nice sound feedback on everything. Audio function is a nice surprise on a 2” deep LED – most of that depth is to house the built in speakers on the bottom back of the TV. I would put sound quality at around a 7.5 out of 10 and much improved from last year.

Value Quality - 9.3/10

At $1498 the UN55ES6100 is priced $100 less than the 55ES6500. It has almost the same features except for some specs making it a great value given the picture and robust features and Samsung Smart TV set. Competition is from the LG 55LM6700 and the Sony KDL-55HX640 and Toshiba 55L6200U and an assortment of plasma TVs.

Overall Quality -9/10



Jack Burden Jack Burden has been reviewing and writing reviews in the consumer electronics category for 7 years with CEAG. He considers grayscale gradation, film patterned retarders, and focus field drives to be fun topics. Read more about Jack

 



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