Making the curve mass market?
What is the Samsung UE48J6300?The 6300 range is Samsung’s lowest tier television featuring a curved screen and as well as the 48-inch model under consideration here, there are also 32-, 40- and 55-inch versions available. It’s definitely the first contoured non-Ultra HD TV we’ve seen – not that the resolution should make any difference – and an indication that Samsung believes people want in on the shape-shifting revolution without buying from off the top shelf, fiscally speaking.
With a suggested retail price of £800 (June 2015) for the UE48J6300, it’s still beyond what many are prepared to pay but this being the cut-throat market it is, you can already pick it up for much less. Let’s see how the UE48J6300 bridges the gap between extra resolution and cutting edge fashion.
Design & ConnectionsDid we mention the J6300 sports a curved screen? Yes, we thought so, but what we didn’t tell you is that the degree of bend is increased over last year’s ranges and, to point out the blindingly obvious, this gives the feature even more prominence in the overall design.
Personally, I find it quite aesthetically pleasing but whether the increase in curvature will be more beneficial with regards to providing the picture with more of the immersion factor than last year’s models remains, quite literally, to be seen. The base stand is also quite fetching, albeit in a more angular way, but it doesn’t allow for swivelled positioning so room placement will be a factor.
Samsung provides what should be the legally enforceable standard of 4 HDMI inputs around the back and sides of the UE48J6300, along with legacy Scart, Component & Composite video terminals. There’s a LAN port but don’t worry if your internet connection isn’t nearby as there’s built-in dual-band WiFi as well. You also get 3 USB ports, a headphone jack and a connection for an aerial to receive Freeview HD broadcasts. The supplied remote control isn’t one of your new fancy smart types but is much longer than most conventional controllers; so, if you value size over brains, you’ll be happy.
PQI is the new CMR
Samsung UE48J6300 Picture Quality Features & SpecsWe’ll admit we don’t totally know what Samsung means when they give the J6300 a PQI rating of 800. We know that PQI stands for Picture Quality Index and that bigger numbers are always better, right? But the only definition we could find was in translated French and related to fluidity of movement, where the rating is seemingly determined by a combination of factors including backlight modulation and motion processing. Come to think of it, they used to call this sort of thing CMR (Clear Motion Rate) so it would appear PQI is the new CMR in a world already overloaded with TLAs. Elsewhere you get the Auto Depth Enhancer feature which works by applying different levels of contrast enhancement to different areas on the screen. There’s also quad-core processing to power along the Smart TV features and did we mention that the screen is curved? Sorry!
Samsung Smart TV AppsOnce the rush of new Season TVs has died down, we faithfully promise to bring you a full in-depth look at the new Tizen Smart TV platform but, in the meantime, rest assured it’s as comprehensive as the old one but with a cleaner user interface and a less overbearing look. Apps are arranged in a ribbon at the bottom of the screen and are separated in to a row of your favoured ones, plus a block where you can access all the rest. Moving between the two is met with a particularly pleasing transition effect and services include Netflix (natch), YouTube (ditto) and most of the major UK catchup services; for now Demand 5 is absent but you do get All 4 and both the BBC and ITV players. Additionally there is Amazon Instant Video and Wuaki TV with the only real omission being Sky’s NOW TV service. As we say, we’ll have more on this soon.
Input LagThe 2015 Ultra HD TVs from Samsung have certainly been impressing in this area of testing but the J6300 has more in common with the 2014 processing and isn’t quite as responsive. We measured an input lag of 41.5 milliseconds, either with the Game Mode activated or with one of the HDMI inputs relabelled as PC; and it’s arguable which is quicker to do. The J6300 is certainly going to be responsive enough for most but if you simply have to have the lowest possible lag, check out our guide to the best gaming TVs.
Samsung UE48J6300 Picture SettingsSamsung makes things very easy for you, in terms of getting the most accurate out of box pictures, by switching off most of the processing features you don’t want to be on in the default Movie mode configuration. In fact, all we’d suggest doing from there is then disabling the Auto Motion Plus (experiment see what you like best) and setting the Backlight at an appropriate level for the viewing environment. You could even take it a bit further by setting the Contrast and Brightness sliders as per our Picture Perfect Guides; and if you fancy giving our calibrated settings a go, check out the video below.
Pre calibrationThe general trend for out of box accuracy would appear to be on the up and the UE48J6300 posted some pretty mean results in the default Movie mode settings. There was, relatively, a little bit too much green in the higher end of the greyscale, although it wasn’t especially visible, and a concurrent lack of red but with a highest delta Error of just over three, this is impressive stuff and not especially good news for pro calibrators. The colour accuracy was even better, if anything, and with the excellent controls available things would only get better.
Post Calibration...And so they did. We were able to get errors in the greyscale well below tolerable levels (<1) just using the two point white balance controls and then with just a few tweaks on the ten point, we then proceeded to ‘iron out’ the gamma response to near perfection. The colours also just needed the minimum amount of tweaking before they were all on target but colour tracking lower down the charts shown here wasn’t quite as good with a lot being under bright. This gave darker scenes slightly less impact than you might hope but at least they tended to look under, rather than over saturated.
Picture QualityThe panels Samsung use in the majority of their TVs produce satisfying blacks and so it was the case with the UE48J6300. From a chequerboard pattern we measured average levels of 0.43cd/m2 and a resulting ANSI contrast ratio of around 2700:1. That’s a decent performance but we’ve been treated to a few TVs that outperform the J6300 here lately, which gave it less of a punchy impact. There were also issues with dark screens in terms of uniformity; an all black (or at least mostly) screen would show up a banding effect where the array of the panel would be clearly visible; it also happened with brighter backgrounds but to a less noticeable degree. There were also a few instances where unwanted patches of light would show up on screen. These were mostly toward the edges – where the panel lighting system is positioned – but there were a few others too which became a mild irritant during the review process.
That’s most of the bad news out of the way, however, as the UE48J6300 impressed in most other ways. We guess the most important questions to pose ourselves are: does the curve work at 48-inches, and at lower resolutions than we’ve seen before? And the answer is, a resounding ‘sometimes,’ with some scenes given just that sense of added depth but it’s not what we’d describe as a jaw-dropping experience, more something very subtle that we probably wouldn’t miss if it weren’t there. One of the problems with the 2014 curved TVs was there propensity to give off a lot of intrusive reflections. Depending on where you were sat in relation to the screen, during daylight hours they could become near unwatchable but Samsung has made good progress here and that’s now much less of an issue. Viewing angles aren’t what we’d call generous, however, with a noticeable drop-off in contrast and colour saturation when moving anything more than thirty degrees, or so, from the centre of the screen.
There are moments when the curve makes sense. Not many, but some.
Like just about every Samsung TV from the last few years, the UE48J6300 is blessed with excellent video processing capabilities, with extremely clean scaling and very strong video deinterlacing capability. There’s no doubt that if you’re still watching standard definition then something like this TV will be a far better bet than an Ultra HD model. In fact, the J6300 can actually look pretty good with a well mastered DVD and some of the better broadcast material. Obviously, where you can, seek out HD sources where it will look far better and the faultless film cadence detection means images are handled superbly. The general motion handling of this model is also pleasing and that’s without resorting to switching on the Motion Plus processing. If you’re particularly sensitive to blur, there are certainly plenty of options that can improve on it but you will quickly introduce an overly smoothed image.
Aside from the uniformity niggles – and that’s what they are because we’ve seen far worse – the Samsung UE48J6300 puts in a strong all round performance; it’s got good contrast and dynamic range; very good colour accuracy and video processing; decent enough motion handling and just that occasional sense of added depth facilitated by the curve. It’s not a knock-your-spots-off television but then it gets most of the basics right and its high-mid end stationing seems fully appropriate.
How future-proof is this TV?
4K Ultra HD Resolution HDR Support Colour Space (percentage of DCI - 100% best) 100% 10-bit Panel HDMI 2.0a Inputs HDCP 2.2 Support HEVC Decoding 4K Streaming Services Smart TV Platform Picture Accuracy Out-of-the-Box (score out of 10) 8 What do these mean?
- Accurate colours
- Beautiful design
- Excellent Smart TV features
- Decent blacks and contrast
- The curve occasionally 'works'
- Some uniformity issues
- Weak viewing angles
Samsung UE48J6300 HD TV Review
Should I buy the Samsung UE48J6300?You certainly won’t go far wrong in choosing a Samsung J6300. The design is extremely pleasing, for starters, so if you do value aesthetics and consider the TV as a piece of furniture then the option of going curved definitely makes sense. In terms of it actually doing much for the pictures, we’re still not fully convinced but fleeting moments when you do sense some added depth do happen and there are very few drawbacks to its existence.
The new Tizen Smart TV platform is also on the cutting edge, not only in terms of the well planned user interface but also with the sheer amount of services it provides. Barring Demand 5 – and frankly who would miss it? – all the major UK catch-up services are present and correct, plus there’s support for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Wuaki, and more, for those that pay for streaming services. There’s also the ubiquitous presence of YouTube, a Skype app, gaming, a media player and near countless other video apps to explore so it’s really very difficult to fault.
You would also have to be a very demanding type to have issues with the out of box picture accuracy of the UE48J6300 in its Movie mode. There was just a touch too much green in the brightest of whites but most would be hard pressed to see that and given the excellent calibration controls within, it is possible to massage this TV in to a near perfect state. The results of such a faithful colour palette are extremely natural looking pictures, given a lift by excellent video processing and ably supported by very decent black levels and dynamic range.
This sample was not without its niggles, however. The backlighting spilled out too brightly around parts of the perimeters of the screen and the structure of the panel could often be seen in darker scenes; and sometimes in lighter moments. These kind of things are more or less par for the course with LCD/LED technology, though, and they didn’t overly infringe on our enjoyment.
The Samsung UE48J6300 is yet another high quality set from the ranks of the Korean’s ranges that could be the beginning of bringing curved TVs to the masses. Recommended.
What else could I consider?
Erm, well we’re a bit short on 2015 1080p TVs, as it so happens. In fact, this is the first 1080p 2015 TV we’ve reviewed. For obvious reasons, the manufacturers want to push their 4K Ultra HD models so it will be later in the year before we have a better idea of the Full HD market. Even then, however, reviews of curved Full HD TVs will be pretty thin on the ground! In the meantime, take a look at our Ultimate TV Buyers Guide to you an idea of what you should be looking for in your next television.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
2D Picture Quality8
Picture Quality Out-Of-The-Box8
Picture Quality Calibrated9
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money8
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