Samsung UN55ES6500 vs. Sony KDL-55EX640 Shootout Comparison
Value 55" LED TV Contest
by Robert Wiley
Samsung and Sony are putting their best efforts forward in the mid range value category of LED backlit LCD TVs for 2012. They are almost identical in feature set. These two may be some of the best products available in the value category for this year, both with some nice new features and impressive HD picture performance. They will compete better with plasma televisions price-wise than they have in recent years. Their clear benefit over the plasma television offerings is a bright picture in rooms with lots of sunlight. Neither TV has 3D TV viewing capability, both focus on some upgraded features like Internet TV options and picture quality.
On the left, the Samsung UN55ES6500. On the right, the Sony KDL-55EX640.
HD Picture Quality
I hate to bring up this category first, as the easy winner is Samsung's UN55ES6500 series LED. The clear panel technology presents an HD picture with much more depth, clarity, color saturation and depth of black levels while not adding any more glare to the screen. The Sony 55EX640 is much improved over last years model, especially in the quality of screen. There is lots less hazy anti glare screen effect this year but it still does not match the 55ES6500 in viewing HD content. There is just not as much depth perception to the picture. For this price level, the Samsung ES6500 really delivers in HD picture quality.The Samsung ES6500 series LCD had the overall better HD picture quality due to better light throughput and color saturation
Advantage: Samsung UN55ES6500 series
Standard Definition Picture Quality
This testing category remains very important due to the emergence of streaming Internet TV content from purveyors such as Netflix and Amazon on demand. Much of the content is displayed in an "enhanced" resolution HD which in my opinion equates to about 480 progressive resolution.
In this area the winner is less obvious. In the Samsung ES6500 the judder reduction feature is not adjustable (you cant turn it off), and it adds lots of unwelcome nuances to the picture in standard definition. As well, there are a lot more motion artifacts and jerky judder effects than with HD programming. The processor did an OK job upconverting the signal to the screens 1080p native resolution.
The Sony KDL-55EX640 does a very nice job with the upconversion of the signal with its inbuilt video board processing. The picture from some of our tested 480i programming was very good – even through the composite input. However, the primary drawback continues to be the screen coating which yields a flatter picture than other clear panel screens. Black levels were impressively inky, but there was increased motion lag in fast moving scenes.
Viewing angle is a real and continuing weakness with LED backlit LCD TV technology and therefore is important to always consider. The problem as been resolved in many of the top tier models but not in these mid-range models.
Contrast begins diminishing fairly quickly on both the 55ES6500 and 55EX640 series. The screen coating on the Sony affects the contrast at around 15 degrees off center – however it doesnt diminish much more after about 25 degrees. The ES6500 likewise, gets washed out color and blacks at around 20 degrees off center. Neither is a good performance in this area, but it's better than last years models.
Inbuilt speaker quality is often overlooked as a qualitative feature, but it's very important if you are planning on using the TVs speakers rather than a home theater. Neither of these TV shines in this area. We describe the sound quality from the Sony KDL-55EX640 speakers as hollow and naked, and the sound from the Samsung ES6500 series as hollow and tinny – very similar in their poor performance in this area. Both have 15W X 15W speakers in the 55" sizes. Both TVs have a Clear Voice feature that helps somewhat with sound quality, but that feature along with the SRS TruSurround had a bigger impact on the Samsung ES6500 in improving sound and voice quality.
Advantage: Samsung UN55ES6500
Both TVs do a very nice job in this area. The Sony KDL-55EX640 has a semi-gloss black panel that has a refined, upgraded effect. The bezel frame is thin at just an inch and the depth of the TV is a sleek 1.5".
The Samsung UN55ES6500 is also very nice looking with a clear acrylic edge going all the way around the unit. The bezel frame is also an inch with total depth at a super thin 1.2" - very sleek. However, in the end I prefer the refinement of the Sony panel. Both TVs come with a solid and heavy, swiveling tablet top stand.
Advantage: Sony KDL-55EX640
Internet Video Features
Both of these TVs have compelling Internet TV offerings and both manufacturers have made a strong push in this area. Sony is catching up but Samsung has slightly more Apps (over 1500) and Options to choose from. Sony has its proprietary Qriocity application, but in the end Samsung gets the nod here for possibly the most robust offerings of any TV manufacturer. A couple of improvements from Samsung are the very fun to use Google Maps option, and the You Tube full screen capability.
Advantage: Samsung UN55ES6500
Menu System and Remote Control Function
Luckily Sony includes the quick tools features on its remote control for the most important controls. Otherwise, it's particularly cumbersome to use the X-cross menu system. Samsung has improved the menu system in the ES6500 somewhat and it's easier to use as a result. Samsung does not include a dejudder control option in the ES6500 series to enable turning off that function. The 240Hz feature in both TVs helps motion lag with lots of programming but we prefer to be able to turn it off – especially for standard def programs.
These TVs offer such similar features that evaluation of the features themselves becomes the deciding factor. Both TVs currently sell for around $1600 so they are priced to compete head to head. Since the feature sets are very similar on both TVs, we'll call it even in price and value.
Samsung UN55ES6500: Winner 3 Categories
Sony KDL-55EX640: Winner 1 Category
Draws: 4 Categories
- Samsung UN55ES6500 Review
- Sony KDL55EX640 Review
- Sony KDL46EX640 Review
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