Samsung UE32F6400 TV Review
It ain't cheap but it does perform
What is the Samsung UE32F6400?The Samsung UE32F6400 is denizen of two crowded areas – Samsung’s 6 Series range of LED TVs and the 32-inch market – and, on the face of it, is very similar to the F6800 LINK, we looked at recently. As a fairly high tier Samsung product, it naturally comes replete with a bevy of features and all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect. Priced at around the £600 mark, it’s certainly going to have to perform on all fronts to justify the expense so let’s see if hits the mark.
Design and ConnectionsThe F6400 keeps it very simple in terms of design, there’s a slim black bezel with a transparent acrylic surround all leading down to the quad-footed stand that we’ve yet to come to grips with. Connectivity options are good for a 32-inch telly with 3 of the 4 HDMI ports sideways pointing and the other faces out from the back. Elsewhere, there’s 3 USB, legacy video, headphone, LAN and aerial inputs plus there’s built in Wi-Fi as well as Wi-Fi direct for compatible mobile devices.
The UE32F6400 comes with two remote controls, the first of which is a rather cut down, black plastic affair and the one Samsung would prefer you to use, in the touch pad controller which uses RF to connect and includes basic controls along with a touch pad. The one that comes with the F6400 is black, instead of silver, and we think it looks better for it. It still comes with a built-in microphone which is used for voice control and works quite well but we found ourselves using the standard version, more often than not.
The F6400 comes with two pairs of RF 3D glasses that are basically the same as last year. They are extremely lightweight and there is very little tint to the lenses, which is good, but they don’t have any protection from ambient light and reflections getting in from the back and sides, which isn’t quite so good. In fact we gave up with them for that very reason and used some other compatible eyewear we happened to have around. The glasses provided with the F6400 use batteries but you can also buy an optional USB rechargeable version if you prefer.
MenusThe Picture menu offers a choice of four types of Viewing Mode - Standard, Natural, Dynamic and Movie. The latter is designed to approximate industry standards and thus it should offer the most accurate out-of-the-box setting. Both the Picture Mode and the Sound Mode can be accessed directly using the Tools button on the remote control. There are also all the usual basic controls that you would expect to find on any LED TV such as Backlight, Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. From the Picture menu, you can access sub menus for Picture Size, 3D, Advanced Settings and Picture Options. You can also apply your calibrated picture mode to other inputs, although it doesn’t copy the white balance or colour space settings which kind of defeats the object.
Within the Advanced Settings sub-menu there is Dynamic Contrast which varies the Contrast on-the-fly and thus boosts the perceived dynamic range, Black Tone which is best left off as it crushes shadow detail, Flesh Tone, RGB Only Mode which allows you to see each of the three primary colours individually and is a useful for checking correct colour decoding, Expert Pattern provides a series of test patterns and Motion Lighting. In Movie mode most of these controls default to off which is good as we recommend that you leave them that way.
Within Advanced Settings there are also all the key calibration controls, starting with Gamma which globally adjusts gamma across the entire image. Then there's a choice of a two-point White Balance control or a ten-point White Balance control which will allow for very accurate calibration of the greyscale. Finally, there's an option called Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto, Native and Custom; if you choose Custom you have access to a full Colour Management System (CMS).
CalibrationFor those interested in an image that gets close to the industry standards for video playback (and everyone should be), the Movie Picture Mode is a marked improvement over the factory settings. The greyscale is still a little plus-blue - but considerably less so - and a stair-step pattern is still tarnished to the eye. There are still big improvements that can be made and, thanks to a very comprehensive calibration suite, we shouldn’t have any problems in doing so.
With both 2 and 10 point white balance controls to manipulate in addition to an excellent CMS, we were able to achieve outstanding results. The Samsung controls have the happy knack of (usually) doing what one would expect and with an initial 2 point greyscale calibration, followed up by a tickle with the 10 point controls, we manage to flat-line both the gamma and greyscale response, giving us a perfect basis on which to portray the colour signal. The tiny errors here are now all but insignificant, although the small excess of blue in the black is visible. That’s not a limitation of the controls, just a panel trait.
We were able to extract a similar degree of excellence from the CMS and it’s only with a small under-saturation of red at full saturation that there is anything noticeably amiss; and then only with highly familiar reference material. In fact, if we look to the graph below that displays colour performance at lower stimulus levels, we can see that red tracks very well meaning the tones of white skin look pretty much spot-on. It’s worth noting the same chart, pre-calibration, was considerably less flattering. Taking care of the white balance sorted out most of the issues between 0 and 50% saturation whilst the CMS tidied up the rest very nicely, proving the excellence of the controls.From an ANSI checkerboard pattern we registered an averaged black level of 0.065 cd/m2 in calibrated Movie mode, taken with a Klein K-10 in conditions as dark as possible. Full screen white was set to as close to 120 cd/m2, as possible, in order to maintain the fairness of the test but the 6400 wasn’t quite able to maintain that level of peak light output on a mixed frame, averaging 102.9 cd/m2 on the checkerboard, which gives an ANSI Contrast figure of around 1580:1, which is fairly respectable. As we mentioned earlier, blacks do tend to look blue – and more so off-axis – but they were generally convincing, even in brighter conditions, and more importantly the panel had good uniformity meaning there was little in the way of light bleed or pooling marring dark scenes.The Samsung 40UEF6400 was able to detect and lock on to a 2:2 film cadence but scaling of 576i, SD signals was not quite as strong, although perfectly respectable. It is also capable of excellent video deinterlacing and motion adaptive deinterlacing, with only very slight jaggies appearing on the bottom most extreme of the three moving bars in the HQV test. Blu-ray 1080p24 material was portrayed correctly with no frame skipping or unwarranted judder and some of the noise reduction controls in the Picture Menu are remarkably effective with the likes of YouTube, where quality can be very questionable.
There was no need for any renaming of HDMI inputs to get the most responsive gaming experience, in the case of the UE32F6400, but it does require a seemingly unnecessary excursion to the System Menu to activate the Game Mode in the Setup sub-menu. Once selected, Game Mode reduces input lag to around the 30-millisecond area, which should be acceptable to most gamers, even those blessed with cat-like reflexes.
- Standby: 0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 42W
- Calibrated – Calibrated Movie Mode: 38W
Samsung UE32F6400 Picture Quality 2DWith most of the critical picture elements duly in place, there was never much danger the F6400 would fall at the first hurdle. Indeed, with the accuracy of the colour palette, excellent video processing and rewarding contrast performance, almost everything looked great from standard to high definition. One could argue that a 32-inch display is a little too small to get the full benefits of high definition but so crisp, detailed and punchy is the UE32F6400 that we’ll hear none of it. Viewing angles aren’t particularly wide, however, and both blacks and colours wash out from anything more than 30 degrees off centre but since the base stand swivels, that shouldn’t be an issue in too many living rooms. The F6400 also packs a seriously impressive filter that maintains performance in even the most challenging of rooms.
If we’re looking for weaknesses – and we have to – then we’re once again primarily casting our eyes toward Samsung’s Clear Motion Rate (CMR) processing that gets unstuck, on occasion. Any quick changes in on-screen pacing can see it struggling to keep up causing stutters and starts which can be distracting, particularly with sports. Another small flaw was some visible panel banding in bands of solid colour but this is almost typical throughout the LCD LED TV market place and something you either learn to live with or turn to plasma, although, of course, that’s no longer an option in the 32-inch class. Quite whether the F6400 justifies the entry-price on picture quality, alone, is perhaps a contentious point when you could look to Samsung’s own 5 series for comparable performance but it certainly doesn’t do much wrong.
Samsung UE32F6400 Picture Quality 3DThere’s no getting away from the fact that when it comes to 3D, big is best, so we always find it curious when companies release 3D TVs in 32-inch – or even below – sizes. Even the stunning ‘Life of Pi’ struggled to really convince, not that the blame lay with the panel or its driving, because the UE32F64000 certainly doesn’t produce much ghosting and pictures look quite natural in the default 3D Movie Mode. There is a little stutter on 3D Blu-ray, here and there, but not enough to really distract and many will not even notice. We had more of an issue with the supplied glasses which have virtually no shielding from extraneous light sources so you could be faced with a lot of internal reflections from the lenses. In the end, we switched to another pair of compatible specs from another manufacturer (cough Panasonic) and the experience was instantly elevated, although there’s no getting away from the lack of screen real estate.
FeaturesDespite delivering the best Smart TV system last year, Samsung were clearly not content to sit on their laurels and they have made a number of improvements for 2013. The internet and app response times aren’t quite as quick in the F6400 as they are in the 7 & 8 series but it’s certainly no slouch. There’s also no built-in camera so no motion controls but you can live without them, believe us. Samsung has, this year, made it even easier to toggle between apps, online services and on-air TV, with a natty redesign. We noticed that the Netflix app is currently not working with the F6400 and demands that you install a Samsung software update for it to do so but as we were fully up-to-date with the sample, it’s clearly a bug that needs looking at. Since we’ve conducted a full investigation and review of Samsung’s 2013 Smart TV platform, there’s no point us re-treading old ground when you can feast your eyes upon it right here.
- Strong contrast
- Impressive blacks
- Good screen uniformity
- Highly accurate after calibration
- Boatloads of features
- A bit of stutter
- Too small for 3D really
- Price seems a touch steep
- Viewing angles not immense
Samsung UE32F6400 TV Review
The UE326400 isn’t the most adventurous design we’ve seen come out of the Samsung stables but its narrow black bezel is hardly going to offend, although we’ll leave the quad-stand, thank you. As per most of the Samsung 2013 TVs, the F6400 comes with a couple of remotes with the Touch Pad offering voice and scroll controls over and above the conventional handset. There’s also an excellent set of connections, including 4 HDMI, 3 USB and built-in Wi-Fi. The menus are the usual comprehensive set of options, including an excellent calibration suite. As we’d expect from Samsung, the feature set is mind=boggling in its span so we’ve written a dedicated review.
The above mentioned calibration options allowed us to extract superb image accuracy from the UE32F6400 without expending too much energy and video processing duties were carried out in characteristically efficient order. When you ally those strengths to impressive contrast and black levels, there shouldn’t be too much that can go wrong and thankfully there wasn’t. We did spot some stuttering issues from time to time and just a hint of panel banding but they rarely detracted from what were superbly detailed and convincing picture. We don’t really see the point of 3D on a 32-inch TV but it’s there if you want it and works well enough, if you can pull the chair up close enough. Quite whether the F6400 justifies the entry-price on picture quality, alone, is perhaps a contentious point when you could look to Samsung’s own 5 series for comparable performance but it certainly doesn’t do much wrong and is thoroughly deserving of its AVForums Recommended Award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £599.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money6
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