55” 1080p, Edge-LED Backlit LCD HDTV, Smart TV, 3D
by Jack Burden, Reviewer
The UN55ES6580 includes 4 pair of 3D glasses and a Skype camera to add to the already impressive ES6500. The UN55ES6580 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 panel and 480 Clear Motion rate feature rather than the higher rates on the more expensive models.
Picture Quality Rating - 8.7/10
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.
Though it does not apply to as many zones in the screen as the Micro Dimming Ultimate from the highest end Samsung LEDs, the micro dimming technology in the 55" Samsung UN55ES6580 works by localizing parts of the screen for more or less LED backlighting. It is a significant upgrade feature from last years 6000 series TVs and this years lower "6000" lines of LEDs from Samsung. It works well to help eliminate screen uniformity issues and does a good job in that area.
A pic from the BluRay of Mamma Mia! Displays how bright and colorful the ES6580 can get (pic taken in Standard picture mode – not our calibrated settings)
480 Clear Motion
The UN55ES6580 has the 480Hz Clear Motion rate equivalent processing (from a 240hz screen) which helps considerably with fast motion processing and motion blur. The true Hz rate of the panel is 240Hz but the Clear Motion feature upgrades the 240Hz through the above mentioned local dimming process to give you an "effective" frame rate of 480.
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 ES6580 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.
This shot of the same movie shows lots of light flow through and shadow detail.
Following is a run down of the Picture Modes in the 55ES6580 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 55ES6580 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 4 pairs of 3D glasses with the ES6580 are light and comfortable
2D to 3D Conversion (from all resolutions)
This advanced feature is included on the ES6580 actually spurprised me with how good it is – a rarity. 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. 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 - 9.1/10
Smart TV Smart Hub with Web Connected Apps
Samsung Smart Hub Smart TV Platform on the ES6580. 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 UN55ES6580 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.
The following 3 Apps are Samsung proprietary and do add some value if they would just load quicker.
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.
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.
Samsung's Web Browser with full keyboard (but slow operation)
The UN55ES6580 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).
A skype camera is included with the ES6580 model.
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 ES6580 is complete and backlit
3 HDMI inputs and 3 USB inputs head up a very complete load of inputs for connectivity.
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 - 9.4/10
At $1698 the UN55ES6580 is a very good value with all of the above mentioned features and picture quality attributes. It's $100 more than the ES6500 and has 4 pairs of glasses rather than 2 and the Skype Camera. It's a loaded TV 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 55LM7600 and the Sony KDL-55HX750 and an assortment of plasma TVs such as the Panasonic TC-P55GT50.
- 55" Diagonal Viewing Area
- TV without stand: 49.6" x 29.2" x 1.2"
- TV without stand weight: 36.6 lbs
- TV with stand: 49.6" x 31.9" x 10.9"
- TV with stand weight: 40.8 lbs
- Slim LED HDTV with 1080p Resolution
- Smart TV
- Smart Content with Signature Services
- Apps built for TV
- Web Browser & Search All
- Smart Hub
- WiFi built-in
- AllShare™ Play
- Full HD 2D or 3D
- ConnectShare™ Movie
- Your Video (movie recommendations)
- Wireless keyboard-compatible
- Clear Motion Rate 480
- Wide Color Enhancer Plus
- 10W x 2
- Dolby® Digital Plus/Dolby® Pulse
- SRS TheaterSound HD™
- HDMI®: 3
- USB: 3
- Ethernet: 1
- Component in: 1
- Composite in: 2 AV
- Digital audio output: 1 optical
- Anynet+™ (HDMI-CEC)
- 4 pairs 3D Active Glasses
- Web camera
|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|