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Samsung UE46F6500 review
What is it?
A 46-inch mid-range TV equipped with active 3D playback, multimedia file support, and probably the world’s most advanced and content-rich online service.
Picture quality is outstanding, the set’s online features are comprehensive, it looks pretty, and it’s great value for what’s on offer.
Some picture presets aren’t helpful, the Smart interface is a bit inscrutable in places, sound quality is only average
The bottom line:
Finding reasons not to buy this 46-inch TV is unrewarding work. It looks the part, its smart TV features are uniquely comprehensive, its picture quality is outstanding in both 2D and 3D mode, and best of all it offers all these goodies for a startlingly low price.
Samsung UE46F6500: Review
Samsung has delivered brilliant TVs with almost mind-numbing regularity so far in 2013. So there’s no reason to expect there to be anything wrong with the UE46F6500 we’re looking at today. Except, perhaps, the fact that it costs just £730; could this lowly price for what looks like it’s a seriously well-featured 46-inch TV mean corners have been cut in the picture quality department?
There’s little about the UE46F6500’s exterior appearance that sets any red warning flags waving. In fact, aside from sporting a slightly more lightweight build quality and slightly chunkier rear end it’s pretty much as pretty as Samsung’s ultra-glamorous high-end models.
There are no compromises where connectivity is concerned either. Four HDMIs, three USBs, built-in LAN and Wi-Fi network options… all the big boys are present and correct. The amount of photo, music and video file types that can be played back from USB drives or networked DLNA PCs is prodigious too, and the extent of the content available via Samsung’s online Smart TV platform is prodigious – unprecedentedly so in some ways.
The star Smart TV attraction where British viewers are concerned is Samsung’s currently unique carriage of all of the ‘big four’ catch-up TV services: The BBC iPlayer, the ITV Player, 4OD, and Demand 5. Also extremely welcome, though, are portals for Netflix, LoveFilm, BlinkBox, KnowHow Movies and many other video platforms besides.
There’s a pretty serious quantity of other Smart TV apps too, covering games, news, and information. But it’s the video streaming services that really count when you’re talking about an on-TV platform.
Other attractions of the UE46F6500’s Smart services are its extremely attractive multi-hub interface, and a recommendations system that bases its suggestions on your viewing history with more sophistication than any current rival recommendations engine.
Some aspects of Samsung’s Smart TV system can feel a bit inscrutable at times; Samsung’s Android and iOS app support for its TVs is confusing; and you need to invest quite a bit of time in learning the ropes of the UE46F6500’s gesture and voice control systems if you’re to get any real value out of them. But overall Samsung continues to set the Smart TV standard.
The UE46F6500 is remarkably well specified from a picture quality point of view too. Active 3D playback (with two pairs of free glasses) gets the ball rolling, while the panel’s motion handling should benefit from a ‘400Hz’ system derived from a combination of a 100Hz native panel and a backlight scanning system.
There are picture calibration tools galore to keep enthusiasts happy too. Admittedly some of the options on offer (particularly the heavy duty noise reduction systems, the edge enhancement processor and the higher power reaches of the Motion Plus processing system) are less than helpful, but the colour management, white balance and gamma control options are certainly welcome – as well as suggesting that this mid-range set takes its picture quality duties very seriously.
This suggestion becomes a glorious reality once you settle down to see how the UE46F6500 performs. Its pictures exhibit a startling amount of the quality that’s made Samsung’s flagship TVs this year such stars, kicking off with a contrast performance that humbles those of the majority of the LCD competition.
Dark scenes enjoy black colours of excellent depth and naturalism that provide a great foundation point for the rest of the picture to bounce off. The fact that the UE46F6500 can deliver its impressive black levels seemingly fairly effortlessly also means you get to see plenty of shadow detail in dark areas, rather than the hollow dark holes witnessed on TVs with less robust contrast.
TVs that can deliver a strong black colour generally also deliver good colours elsewhere too, and so it proves with the UE46F6500. Its entire colour palette looks clean, expansive, bold but also subtle, ensuring that tricky content like skin tones and swathes of blue sky always look smooth and authentic.
The UE46F6500’s HD pictures are outstandingly sharp too, and this sharpness remains largely unchecked even when there’s a lot of motion in the frame. This is especially true if you use Samsung’s Motion Plus processing (though we’d recommend you only use it on its Clear setting if you don’t want pictures to start looking unnatural), but even if you elect not to use this processing motion still looks decently crisp.
Switch to 3D and the UE46F6500 continues to impress. The set delivers amply on active 3D’s full HD resolution, with the clarity of the 3D images being underlined by the great sense of space and depth that’s created by the TV’s excellent contrast performance.
There’s a touch more crosstalk ghosting noise than you get with Samsung’s premium TVs, but it’s seldom severe enough to be really distracting. The only significant 3D catch is that motion looks a bit stuttery unless you use the Motion Plus system, but a bit over-processed if you do use Motion Plus.
It’s a pity, we guess, that Samsung hasn’t been able to partner the UE46F6500’s mostly superb picture quality with similarly high-quality audio. The slenderness of the TV’s design seems to have made it impossible for Samsung to build in speakers of any great power or range, with the result that while normal chatshow/news show footage sounds fine, action scenes or scenes accompanied by rich scores sound thin and unconvincing.
Samsung UE46F6500: Verdict
We’d recommend that you don’t let the UE46F6500’s slightly weedy sonics put you off. For in every other way the UE46F6500 is yet another outstanding TV from Samsung. Its picture quality, feature count and design are all exceptional for such an affordable 46-inch TV, making it one of the year’s best-value TVs to date.
Samsung UE46F6500:Available now, from £730