A TV doesn't have to be curved and/or 4K to be any good
Home AV review
What is the Samsung UE55H6400?Samsung has already given us a look at some of their top-end TV offerings for 2014. The 65HU8500 was a curved Ultra HD 4K TV, whilst the 55H8000 retained the bend but was a ‘mere’ 1080p resolution. Predictably these flagship TVs delivered super pictures and a stunning set of smart features but Samsung are likely to sell far more of the 6 Series TV we have here for review, being as the 55H6400 can already be snapped up online for under £1,300.
The most obvious thing missing when comparing the H6400 to the H8000 is, of course, the curved screen but some will see that as a plus. Under the hood, the H8000 boasts a more advanced dimming system, better speakers and enhanced ‘Clear Motion Rate’ processing but otherwise there’s little to separate them, on paper at least. Considering the wide disparity in price between the two, the flat UE55H6400 might just prove more desirable to many. Let’s see if it delivers.
Design & ConnectionsThis is a very safe design from Samsung, in fact it’s one they’ve been trotting out for quite a while, with some very minor cosmetic differences. There’s a transparent acrylic surround to a very narrow black bezel, which features a fairly small company logo bottom-centre. Somebody at Samsung obviously likes the idea of quad-footed stands, even if we’ve yet to warm to them, and they must sell well as the H6400 features one in a silver finish. Despite our reservations about the base-stand, this is still an attractive TV and at least the quad allows for a generous degree of swivel.
There’s no skimping in terms of the connections either. We get 4 HDMI ports, two of which are positioned at the side but since there’s around 22cm between them and the edge of the bezel, the cables should stay well hidden. Elsewhere are legacy Scart, Component & Composite inputs, audio outputs for a set of headphones and an amp/soundbar plus a wired LAN port. The H6400 does have WiFi built-in should you not have the TV near your router and there’s also a terminal for the Freeview HD capable aerial antennae. Also at the back is a jack for the bundled IR extender that will allow you to use the new smart remote as a controller for your set-top-box.
Samsung has made quite a big thing of their new Smart Control handset and they’ve certainly got the ergonomics right as it nestles comfortably in the palm of the hand. Using its touchpad – which now takes up much less surface area than the previous version - you can flip between Smart Hub panels and scroll down webpages, and by pointing the remote, you can use the Motion Control sensors to move the on-screen cursor to navigate and enter text easily. There are also playback controls, Menu, Standby and Guide (EPG) buttons, plus one that activates the new ‘Football Mode’ which has been included in preparation for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Overall, we really like it but it feels a little more plasticy than we’d imagined from the press shots.
There’s not much to say about the conventional controller. It’s a stock Samsung design of rectangular form and a little smaller than most. Despite that, the buttons are still easy to find and are sensibly placed with most of the key controls placed in the middle two-thirds of the surface. There’s an indent at the back for your index finger so it rests comfortably in the hand and that’s about all we have to say on the matter.
The new Smart remote is... well, smart.
MenusThere are no real changes to the Menu systems in the 6 Series this year. The Picture menu has a choice of four types of Viewing Mode - Standard, Natural, Dynamic and Movie. The latter is designed to be closest to industry standards and always offers the most accurate out-of-the-box setting. There are also all the usual basic controls that you would expect to find on any 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.
Within the Advanced Settings are all the key calibration controls, including a Gamma slider, a choice of a two- or ten-point White Balance controls, to 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).
FeaturesWe have an entire Smart TV Platform Review in the works as the subject is now too vast to fit in the confines of a television review. In short form, Samsung has a fabulous Smart TV platform which they have slightly tweaked from bygone years by including a new shortcut bar at the bottom to aid accessibility. The pages of the Smart Hub are mostly the same in appearance, however, and there are dedicated pages for ‘On TV’, ‘Apps’, ‘Games’, ‘Film & TV Recommendations’ plus a new ‘Multimedia’ hub, easiest thought of as the media player. The quadcore processing inside the F6400 peforms its many disciplines very ably, too, but like we say, look out for the full in-depth review that is to follow shortly. Over to you, Mr Withers.
And the smart features are even smarter!
In the out-of-the-box Movie settings there was a slight, but unmistakable, green tinge to the greyscale which resulted in white (and shades near white) having a mildly sickly look to them. Delta Errors averaged between 7 and 8 so we’ve definitely seen better unadjusted performance from a Samsung TV but, as expected, colours were generally very good at full saturation levels, especially in terms of the most important element - luminance.
Given that Samsung provides an excellent array of calibration controls, there’s usually no excuse for not obtaining perfection, or close to, from their displays. In actual fact, we only needed the slightest tickle on the 10-point White Balance controls to complement the work done with the two point. Although we could have left it ‘as is’ following the two point calibration. Delta Errors were maxing out at 0.9, where below 3 is considered perfectly acceptable, but we couldn’t resist improving gamma tracking near black.
As we can see from the CIE Chart, top-right, we had no difficulties in pulling just about everything perfectly in to line at full saturation levels but we you can see from the expanded diagram below that the H6400 wasn’t quite so perfect at lesser levels. There’s nothing to be alarmed about there but you can see that greens have a tendency to pull toward yellow and red is a tad under-saturated throughout. If this was going to show up with real world content, you would most easily see it with ever-so-slightly washed out skin tones but, in all honesty, without a completely reference display with which to compare, you’re very very unlikely to spot it.
Contrast, Black Levels and Screen Uniformity
This is a department where Samsung LED TVs usually score highly, against a lot of the competition, and the H6400 is no exception. We took multiple reads from a chequerboard pattern and ended up with an averaged black level of 0.042 cd/m2 against an average peak white of around 110 cd/m2. That gives us an ANSI contrast of 2637:1, which is more than serviceable and several orders of magnitude better than competing TVs equipped with IPS panels.
Great blacks and top-notch processing.
We can see by the numbers above that the H6400 had really consistent screen uniformity, as well, so those dark scenes aren’t going to fall victim to light pollution, in any meaningful way, either. We can’t say the 55H6400 was perfect in that regard but it was a lot better than many we’ve been ‘treated’ to and it makes all the difference between the enjoyment of your viewing and it being spoiled by nagging concerns.
As is the norm for a high-ish end Samsung TV, the UE55H6400 was excellent with the critical video processing elements. It proved very accomplished at deinterlacing and scaling of standard definition signals was clean and precise.. The H6400 had no issues detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadences correctly, either, and so long as the Auto2 Film Mode was selected, scrolling video text over film was also delivered perfectly. The quality of the video deinterlacing at 1080i50 was just as good as it was for standard definition and there were no apparent issues with 24p content.
The H6400 isn’t the slickest gaming display we’ve tested recently, Sony are showing the others the way when it comes to having effective Game picture modes at the moment. On that topic, we’re slightly dismayed that Samsung continues to hide theirs in an illogical place that takes far too much seeking out for the novice user. For readers unversed in the ways of the Korean’s, you’ll find the Game mode under the Systems Menu, squirrelled in to the General submenu. We guess we should be thankful that there’s no need to rename one of the HDMI inputs to PC, in this case, to get the lowest latency results. As it was, the H64000 has a lag to controller input of 40.6 milliseconds, which will be a fraction high for demanding online competitive gamers but will be fine for the average single player title.
The following measurements were taken with a full screen 50% white pattern:
Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 81.8W
Calibrated – Movie Mode: 75.5W
Calibrated - 3D Mode: 121.8W
Samsung UE55H6400 Picture Quality - 2DThe UE55F6400 is very good, in almost every respect. The out-of-box performance in the Movie Picture mode would be accurate enough for most but that extra touch of polish the calibrated greyscale and gamut produced was even more pleasing. What were already impressive black levels, for the technology, were actually given a perceptual helping hand by the ‘Dynamic Contrast’ setting too and applied in a Low dose, ameliorated some very slight cloudy light patches visible on very dark scenes. It managed to do so without introducing any random light fluctuations, too, so it’s not a bad replacement for the local dimming system used in the higher-end models.
Of course, the F6400 was dazzling with high definition content where the relatively large screen size really shows its worth but you might be surprised at how well it handles lower definition content. We certainly don’t make a habit out of seeking out Standard Def to watch but on those now rare occasions when you’re forced in to it, the scaling of the 6 Series Samsung’s is so good that you won’t fell as though you’re missing out too much.
The H6400 is dazzling with the right material.
The all-round excellence of the video processing brings its weight to bear in the handling of all content, in actual fact. You can be sure that your Blu-rays will be output at the right frame rate for faithful-to-cinema movie watching. The video deinterlacing is also excellent so broadcast HD content appears clean and pristine and you’d be hard pressed to go and find out many TVs that are able to produce more sharp and vivid images than the H6400 is capable of, without stepping in to the 4K market. Even with lowly internet content, the Samsung processing is able to restore some degree of respectability, which is no mean feat with this screen size considered.
We also have some tentatively proffered good news regarding a processing issue that’s been noticeable with the Samsung LED’s in the past. We have previously noted those TVs equipped with CMR (Clear Motion Rate) processing were prone to have the odd stutter and splutter when movement on-screen changed pace – particularly noticeable with sports where action replay sequences are used – but that seems to be a thing of the past now. If we do have a bone to pick it’s with a tendency of the panel array to sometimes show up on panning shots, although thankfully, it’s not something we have to report seeing a lot of during the review process.
The short story is that the Samsung UE55H6400 is an excellent example of LED/LCD television technology done right that would be sure to please all but the most demanding of videophiles.
Samsung UE55H6400 Video Review
Samsung UE55H6400 Picture Quality - 3DIn the box with the H6400 came a couple of pairs of Samsung’s SSG-5100 active shutter 3D eyewear. They are certainly extremely light, neutral in tint and comfortable to wear but the lenses are smaller than we’d like and there’s no protection against stray light coming in at the sides, which can cause both flicker and reflection issues. Bar that complaint, and you have to remember the specs are free-ish, the 3D performance of the H6400 is very good. I’ll admit I usually only buy 3D Blu-rays for ‘work’ purposes nowadays but even a 3D-sceptic, such as myself, couldn’t fail to be impressed by the Gravity/H6400 combo.
Lighweight and comfortable but too unprotected from stray light
Black levels remain good as, despite the panel luminance being raised in the 3D picture modes, the glasses go some way to neutralising it and colours in the movie preset looked nearly as convincing as the 2D counterparts. The natural brightness of an LED/LCD TV also lends itself well to 3D content, helping to produce images with plenty of stand-out quality. We did spot some instances of crosstalk, both with objects that were popping out and set very far back, under movement, but these were kept to a minimum and on-screen action remained generally filmic in appearance, although there is a slightly over-smooth quality to motion, if we’re being very picky.
- Great blacks
- Punchy contrast performance
- Accurate Colours
- Super video processing
- Incredible Smart TV features
- Some array banding on panning shots
- Still don't like that stand
Samsung UE55H6400 (H6400) 3D LED LCD TV ReviewIt seems as though most of the resources of Samsung's design department have been directed towards their curved screen ranges. The 55H5400 is almost a carbon copy of last year's design but that still means it's an attractive looking thing, with a very narrow bezel. We're still not sold on the idea of the quad-footed stand but at least it swivels generously.
There are all the connectivity options you could want, including 4 HDMI ports, 3 USB, wired and wireless LAN plus the usual array of legacy video inputs and audio outputs. You can scroll through the menus using a conventional remote control or use the redesigned smart controller for a more refined experience. The new controller works really well and offers voice, gesture and touch controls.
Samsung's menu systems have remained relatively untouched and contain a very comprehensive set of calibration controls. The Smart TV platform has also been slightly re-jigged with the most notable new feature being a shortcut bar which appears every time you fire the TV up. As usual, the scope of Samsung's Smart TV platform is enormous so a dedicated review will follow in due course.
Out-of-the-box, the H6400 had a reasonably accurate picture in the default Movie mode but we were able to improve on it significantly with the excellent calibration controls. Following tweakage, the Samsung had perfect greyscale and gamma tracking and near-perfect colours which married with some top-notch video processing and punchy native contrast performance to produce images that were, at times, sublime.
There was a little bit of panel banding sometimes evident on panning shots but, other than that, general screen uniformity was good and the 3D output of the H6400 wasn't too far off matching that of the 2D, although we'd probably seek out some of Samsung's after market 3D eyewear, rather than use the included as they let in too much light for our liking.
All in all, the Samsung H6400 is a television that's not really lacking in any department and it's one we're more than happy to recommend for a demo.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality8
3D Picture Quality7
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.