Samsung UN55ES6500 Review
55” 1080p, Edge Lit LED Backlit LCD HDTV, Smart TV, 3D
by Jack Burden, Reviewer
This middle of the the road model from Samsung enetered the market in the Spring of 2012 and replaces the UND6300 series from last year. The UN55ES6500 has many of the best features Samsung will put out in 2012 while omitting some of the fancier ones like Smart Interaction by voice control. It's a super value model. Instead it has the exceptional clear coat screen with a 240Hz Clear Motion feature rather than the higher rates on the more expensive models.
Picture Quality Rating - 8.6/10
First, realize that we have a full set of ISF calibrated picture settings for this the UN55ES6500 using the 10 point white balance adjustments. Please follow them 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. Our rating and notes are based on the calibrated picture setting – not the preset picture modes.
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.
One negative aspect of matte screen TVs like this is that the picture is distinctly flatter than with plasma TV screens or clear coat screens such as the LG. To compensate for this natural weakness Samsung (and others) use the powerful LED backlighting to create more depth by having high contrast and rich color saturation.
A shot from the BluRay of Mamma Mia! In the Standard (non-calibrated) setting shows super amped color and brightness capability in the ES6500
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 2500:1. The black bars top and bottom the picture show a saturated rich black (from anywhere near the front of the screen).
We reviewed this TV at the same time as the Sony HX750 series and it was interesting that both TVs put out almost the exact same amount of light (from the backlight) and both came in at a post calibration contrast of 2500:1. There was a slight amount more glare on the ES6500 screen, but aside from that, post calibration you could hardly tell the difference in the picture.
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 ES6500 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 55ES6500 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.
Active 3D viewing on the ES6500 is sound. With 3D content we did not note any crosstalk. There is also no blurring in the bottom corners of the picture. The 3D glasses SSG-3050GB also performed very well, are light and comfortable and exhibit just a little flicker with other light sources in the room. The only negative to 3D viewing is matte screen and side viewing angle combo that we mentioned in the normal picture viewing. Though the 3-dimensional picture displays great depth from side angles, the contrast and color saturation is diminished significantly – even more so than normal 2D picture viewing. To totally eliminate flicker from the experience
Included 3D glasses with the ES6500 are light and comfortable
2D to 3D Conversion (from all resolutions)
This advanced feature is included on the ES6500 and does a nice job of converting the signal. The small 3D button on the bottom right of the remote accesses this control with one press of a button. There is some slight crosstalk and the 3D effects are more subtle than with a 3D movie, but it's a feature that works much better than expected and I enjoyed watching Kill Bill even from a standard definition DVD. It's best used in a dark room just like the normal 3D function. It will add some spark to those old standard definition DVDs and the conversion feature can be used from our picture settings or from the Standard picture mode setting.
240Hz AutoMotion Plus
This is an interesting feature of the TV and we generally recommend leaving it off for most film based content and turn it on for sports and fast action programming including gaming. 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.
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 Rating - 9/10
Smart TV Smart Hub with Web Connected Apps
Samsung Smart Hub Smart TV Platform on the ES6500. The menu is well laid out and easy to use.
Samsung is very proud of the vast array of Apps they are now providing and the Samsung UN55ES6500 has access to them all. There are over 1500 Apps – most of them small and priced between .99 and $2.99 but many are offered for free. 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.
One small negative that seems apparent with Smart Hub is that it is glitchy. The first day we set it up, the TV would not connect through the router to the Internet. The second day it worked, but when I tried to load video the Smart Hub wanted to update itself and took a long time in doing so. We also found toggling from Apps to the main menu to be slow. Navigation through the Apps in Smart Hub can be frustrating due to slow load times and limited memory.
Time TV – A Time magazine breakdown. It gives clips on news articles similar to what you would find on most political news apps. It also has very good snapshots from recent articles as well as videos. However, attempting to watch the videos was a negative as most would not load and instead asked the user to visit Time's web site. The ones that did load were decidedly pitiful. Rating 2 out of 5. Memory usage was 256MB out of a possible 807MB.
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 speaks on the D6500 – 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.
Family Story – Samsung wants this to be a prominent App for you and even includes a dedicated button on the remote control for it. It basically allows you to input photos, and videos from Samsung tablets, smartphones to play on the TV. Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Fitness VOD App- Videos of workouts such as the “Sexy Chair Workout.” That one is pretty good, Great for dancers. There is a pretty wide assortment including light weights and yoga. But load times are painfully slow. Some of the Apps in the Fitness section are for sale, while some are free from Exercise TV. The instructions is pretty good. Rating 3.5 out of 5.
MLB.tv – Major League baseball. There is a premium account option to be able to view video recaps of games. Otherwise, you just get a menu with today's games, and standings.
Explore 3D – A selection of free Samsung licensed 3D content. There are many categories of 3D content here including, kids, sports, documentaries, music videos. It's a much better selection than other manufacturers. 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.
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, but it is there if you are desperate. A QWERTY remote would come in handy. There is a small PIP display bottom right of the picture to allow for program viewing while browsing.
Samsung's Web Browser with full keyboard (but slow operation)
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).
The remote is basic but complete while the menu system is the same as the top tier Samsung TVs. You can access 3D control with a click of the dedicated button. 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.
Remote Control for the ES6500 is complete and backlit
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.
The Wifi setup seemed initially easy to set up but then caught a glitch and it took some time to get the TV connected.
Nice sound feedback on everything. Audio function is a nice surprise on a 1.8” 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 Rating - 9.3/10
At $1599 the UN55ES6500 is a very good value with all of the above mentioned features and picture quality attributes. It's pretty loaded for this price. Some of the only features that it does not have such as Smart Interaction are not really worth it. The picture is also not as standout as the top tier models, but is still very good. Competition is from the LG 55LM6700 and the Sony KDL-55HX750 and an assortment of plasma TVs.
Overall Rating - 9/10
|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|