There's no real Smart TV features or a fancy design but there are some cracking pictures to be had.
What is the Samsung UE42F5000?
It’s not too often, nowadays, that we get a close-up look to the manufacturer’s lower-tiered TVs.When we do, it’s perhaps a sign that a range is becoming end of line and there are there is inventory to be shifted, ahead of the new model’s imminent arrival. We wouldn’t for one moment accuse Samsung of such practice but given their new TVs will be announced for the UK market right about the time this review is published, the thought is almost inescapable. Still, it’s great to have the opportunity.
So what we have here is the 42-inch F5000 LED TV which sits directly underneath the well-populated 6 Series, that includes previously reviewed models such as the F6800, the F6400 and F6500. Each of those offered very creditable picture performance and a range of Smart TV features not included with the F5 series. Since the 42F5000 is currently doing the rounds at under £400, you may consider that a price worth paying.
Design & ConnectionsThis is a very plain Jane of the Samsung TV line-up with almost nothing noteworthy in its outward design. We would point you to the unusually large, rectangular table stand, however, which spans about 60% of the TVs total horizontal measurement of 98cm. It doesn’t swivel, unfortunately, but it looks better with a soundbar, or centre speaker, placed in front than the majority of fancy pants stands out there.
The bezel is suitably narrow and made of gloss black plastic and at a maximum depth of 5cm, its chassis is reasonably slender. Inoffensive is probably the apposite word here and the same goes for the slightly stubby remote control which has all the expected commands on buttons that are maybe too small for some. The appearance of a Smart Hub button, at the centre, is perhaps a tad incongruous given the lack of features.
Two HDMI inputs is all the 42F5000 offers and that’s a merry pain in the posterior for anyone with an up-to-date set of kit and we think it’s an economy measure too far. Still, most of the manufacturers only offer 3 HDMI inputs in their flagship tellies and that’s probably even more lamentable. Rant over. Those side pointing HDMI ports are accompanied by a USB input, the aerial socket and a CAM slot for premium digital content.
At the rear, and pointing outwards, are legacy SCART, component and composite video inputs and L/R stereo jacks. There are also two audio outputs in the shape of S/PDIF digital audio and a 3.5mm headphone socket plus a LAN port for hard-wired connection to your home network. Also at the back is a kind-of joystick controller which lets you scroll menus and make various adjustments. It actually works very well.
Only 2 HDMI ports! Pffffffffft.
MenusThe Samsung 42F5000 has a choice of four Viewing Modes from within the Picture Menu - Dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie, with the latter the best choice in terms of accuracy. There are also all the ‘front panel’ controls that you would expect, including Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint.
Within the Advanced Settings sub-menu there is Dynamic Contrast which is intended to blacken blacks and brighten whites and here is where the set of calibration controls also lives, We have some preset Gamma choices and a two-point White Balance control. Finally, there's an option called Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto and Native, which we’ll compare in the Test Results area.
In the Picture Options sub-menu, you can choose the Colour Tone (really colour temperature) which has choices of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2. There’s also a Digital Clean View and MPEG Noise Filter, both of which we would recommend turning off. In this sub-menu, you will also find HDMI Black Level for choosing between PC and Video levels and the Film Mode option for cadence detection.
Not really a Smart TV , at all.
As we alluded to above, the F5000 isn’t amongst Samsung’s Smart Sets with just a USB media player to make this scant section of the review justifiable at all. Still, file support is wide and admirable so you can playback video, photo and music files encompassing, but not limited to, MP2, MP4, MKV, AVI, DivX, JPeg, MPO and MP3. The only other thing (just) worth mentioning is the Anynet feature, which is Samsung’s name for HDMI CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) - allowing for control of other similarly equipped devices through the Samsung TV remote.
CalibrationPre Calibrated Results
We could tell instantly that this F5000 was displaying great accuracy right out of the box in Movie mode. Whites and greys looked all but neutral and our measurements confirmed that to be the case, with just a tad too much blue energy from black to white. Blue is the most difficult to spot an excess in and most would be very hard pressed to see it, at all, with delta Errors almost all below the tolerable threshold of 3. Colours were also, for the most part, pleasingly on target although with real world material it was easy to spot the over-luminance in green with grasses we’re familiar with seeing on calibrated displays.
There’s only a 2 point white balance option and no colour management system aboard the F5000 but that didn’t stop us from getting excellent results. We managed to reduce greyscale errors to well below the point where the human eye could detect any tint on neutrality and by notching back the Colour control, we were able to eliminate the majority of the luminance errors. The only significant error was in blue whish was too dark at 100% saturation levels.
Looking at a fuller picture, with measurements taken at lower saturation levels, we can see that the 42F5000 is incredibly impressive for a budget TV. Almost all the targets are being hit with just some mild under-saturation of red at lower stimuli even meriting a mention. In practice, this could mean some slightly washed out skin tones but, again, in real world content, you would be pushed to spot it.
Contrast, Uniformity & Black Levels
One of the great things about Samsung’s lower-end TVs is that they almost always possess black levels as impressive as those of the top-end ranges. The dimming systems might not be so advanced, meaning perceived dynamic range isn’t as good but with a native black level averaging 0.044 cd/m2 measured from a checkerboard pattern, we’re not complaining too vociferously. In fact the Dynamic Contrast control actually ‘succeeds’ in making blacks look more washed out in its Low setting, whilst Mid and High crush details and can ‘flash’ distractingly, at times.
Before we forget, the F5000 scored just over a 2500: ANSI contrast ratio and from a full black screen we could only see little pools of light pollution, here and there, particularly evident in the bottom left of the screen. In truth, this very rarely distracted or obscured details and it was only some instances of a dirty screen effect/panel badning that scores against the F5000 here. We’ve seen similar – or worse – on TVs costing a lot more than this one does so it’s almost forgivable.
The UE42F5000 pretty much flew through our usual gamut of processing tests. It is capable of locking on to a PAL-centric 2:2 film cadence so doesn’t unnecessarily deinterlace DVDs and the scaling of 576i content is also very surefooted, with little to no evidence of ringing. Deinterlacing at 1080i50 was also very good with only minor jaggies on fine lines and the F5000 can also handle 1080p24 material without a hitch.
Navigating yourself to the Game Mode - located in the General submenu of the System Settings - gets you very little for your efforts so you may as well not bother and stick with the visually superior Movie mode. The difference between the two is less than 2 milliseconds, with Game Mode clocking in at 35.3 ms to the Game Mode’s 33.6 milliseconds. Both figures should be acceptable to the majority of gamers out there, at just over a single frame of a game running natively at 30 frames per second.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 43.2W
Calibrated – Movie Mode: 37.1W
Samsung's usual video processing proficiency in evidence
Samsung UE42F5000 Picture Quality - 2DAs we’d expected, the F5000 exhibits very decent 2D pictures for a relatively budget TV. The native black levels are certainly very respectable and, thus, contrast levels and dynamic range benefit. The price of the relatively deep black levels is a little lack of details in shaded areas of the image but it’s not something one is likely to notice in day to day viewing. The accurate colour performance also adds extra believability to picture, although some of that fidelity is lost when sat at angles less than flush to the centre of the screen.
For a ‘day-to-day’ TV we could certainly live with this TV although is sports are a major factor, there are alternatives that handle the discipline a little better. It’s not so much the lack of motion resolution, it’s more the fact that there is quite a noticeable panel banding/dirty screen effect on panning shots. It manifests more noticeably on certain shades with pale greens suffering more than dark so whilst the grass at Twickenham for the recent England Vs Wales game wasn’t unduly ‘tainted’, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium turf was troubled with vertical strips of uneven luminance
Good blacks & great colours - what could go wrong?
Like most LED/LCD TVs, the 42F5000 is at its best showing bright, highly detailed images so the likes of nature documentaries can look resolutely superb, possessed of almost super-sharp clarity and as much punch as you could possibly want, owing to the inherent brightness of the technology. It’s almost redundant to compare the technology to plasma now but it is unmistakably more digitised than that of the soon-to-be-missed technology.
- Solid blacks & contrast performance
- Very accurate colours
- Impressive video processing
- Relatively good dark screen uniformity
- Attractive pricing
- Only 2 HDMI inputs!!
- Some panel banding on panning shots
- Lacks real Smart features
- Design is bland
Samsung UE42F5000 (F5000) TV ReviewThe Samsung 42F5000 delivered exactly what we expected both in terms of design and performance. Its plain black looks certainly don’t rival those of Samsung’s 6 Series, or above, but the slimline bezel and chassis would surely be inoffensive to most. The inclusion of only 2 HDMI inputs is another matter entirely and, in our estimation, this is penny pinching gone mad. Come on Samsung, this is 2013!
The F5000 isn’t blessed with what is now considered to be a Smart TV platform. Once upon a time, a USB media player which can deal with a wide variety of file types would have been considered something to tout but with the money you’ll save on this TV, buying a dedicated device to take care of those duties should be within reach. Of course, you’ll need to take up one of the precious HDMI inputs to accommodate it!
You don’t get all the fancy calibration controls present in the high-end models, either, but no matter when you get as accurate a greyscale, out-of-the-box, as we did with this F5000. Things improved even further following a quick calibration and we ended up with almost no perceivable errors. Video processing is also excellent, for a budget TV, so it can handle standard-def content almost equally as well as it does your Blu-rays.
What the F5000 can do as well as the majority of the costlier models is the most important facet of TV performance. Black levels and contrast performance were highly impressive for a TV at this price-point with little in the way of light pollution to spoil them. The dimming system isn’t a successful is one to avoid, however, but with native dynamic range like this, it doesn’t really matter too much.
The combination of a highly accurate colour palette, solid contrast performance and excellent video processing prowess reaped what you’d expect. That is, generally excellent and believable pictures, bristling with detail. The only notable party pooper was some instances of a panel banding/dirty screen effects, particularly visible with panning shots on some shades of green so some sporting action suffered.
In a nutshell: if you’re seeking out a TV for a good picture, alone, and not needing smart features or an ultra-modern appearance, the Samsung UE42F5000 makes a very fine choice, indeed, for a price that is on the modest side. Recommended.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use7
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.