Samsung UA50F6300

Although its picture quality falls short of the competition, the Samsung UNF6300's high-end features and design for a mid-range price will win plenty of converts.


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Samsung makes a ton of LED LCD TVs. This chart details almost all of them, excluding the new smaller 4K models and the numerous specialty series sold by various retailers. The company also sells a ton, maintaining its dominant position as the US and global TV sales leader.

One of its most popular TVs this year is bound to be the UAF6300, which occupies a price-to-features sweet spot around the lower middle of the chart. It lacks the fancy touch pad remote found on more expensive models but preserves their excellent smart TV design and functionality. It also lacks 3D, a feature almost nobody cares about.

What it does have, sleek looks and a good-enough picture, help make it one of the company's better value TVs. I wouldn't recommend it as much as a couple of other mid-range LED LCDs, like Panasonic's E60, but I do like it better than the more expensive Samsung UAF6400. If you're looking for a way to get Samsung's class-leading smart TV suite without causing much pain in your wallet, the UAF6300 series is worth a look.

Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Samsung UA55F6300, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and, according to the manufacturer, should provide very similar picture quality.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Design

The F6300's strongest suit is how it's dressed: in sleek, distinctive garb that seems designed for a more expensive model. In fact, it looks almost exactly the same as the more expensive UAF6400, from the slim all-black bezel to the pleasantly subtle transparent edging to the trademark Samsung spider stand. The only differences I could pick out, looking at the two side by side, were the 6300's slightly more rounded-off edges and the lighter-grey colour of the stand.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

The biggest difference between the two Samsungs is the remote control. The 6300 is the company's most expensive smart TV to lack the new 2013 touch pad clicker I've lauded (with caveats) previously. Instead, you get a standard multi-button remote that, while certainly more cluttered, actually does a better job of giving easy access to many functions. It's a relief to not have to rely on a pop-up on-screen remote to do something as basic as fast forward or pause live TV.

Features

Aside from its plain-Jane remote control, the UAF6300 omits a couple of other extras found on the 6400. It lacks voice control and 3D compatibility, offers a lower Clear Motion Rate and doesn't have Samsung's Micro Dimming feature.

Assuming you don't care about talking to your TV or watching stuff in 3D, you might still be wondering how the absence of the latter two features impacts image quality. The answer is — not much. Micro Dimming on the UAF6400 isn't true local dimming (it's software based only) and in our tests, showed little to no discernible benefit. The same goes for Clear Motion Rate, Samsung's inflated stand-in number for refresh rate.

Smart TV: The UAF6300 is Samsung's third-cheapest smart TV for 2013. Only the UAF5500-series LEDs (which top out at 50 inches) and the PSF5500-series plasmas cost less. Beyond voice and gesture control, however, the 6300 has essentially the same smart tricks as the higher-end models and performs them just as well.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Samsung's smart interface is reminiscent of an Android smartphone, with five different home pages you can flip through by shuffling among the icons at the top: On TV; Movies and TV shows (on demand); Photos, Videos and Music (DLNA, USB and cloud-based media); Social (Skype, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter); and Apps. Navigation and the slick animations were quick on the 6300; its dual-core processor feels nearly as responsive as the quad core of the high-end UAF8000 series. The design is refreshing, colourful and relatively simple, a welcome change from the clutter of the company's previous versions. It's my favourite overall design of any of the 2013 smart TV makers, although LG sets equipped with motion remotes are a close second and allow you to get around more quickly.


(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

One big downside to Samsung's standard remote becomes obvious when you use the web browser. Samsung's browser software is great for a TV (albeit still worse than any smartphone, tablet or PC), but when you have to shove a cursor around the screen using just the four keypad buttons, it gets old fast. If you're going to use the browser a lot, it's worth plugging in an external wireless keyboard. The TV can pair with a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse.

Picture settings: In true Samsung tradition there's plenty on tap here, including 2-point and 10-point greyscale control, an excellent colour management system and four picture presets. Samsung's class-leading Auto Motion Plus dejudder control not only turns the Soap Opera Effect on or off, it allows adjustment of both blur reduction and smoothness. New for this year is a setting called LED Clear Motion that improved motion resolution further.

Connectivity: Nothing major is missing here. Three HDMI ports, three USB and an optical digital output do the digital heavy lifting, while analog video is served by a single component-video port that's shared with composite video. There's no VGA-style PC input, but there is a port for the included wired IR blaster.

Picture quality

One of the main reasons I decided to review both the UAF6400 and the less expensive UAF6300 was to determine whether Samsung's 2013 Micro Dimming feature, a major differentiator between the two on paper, helped picture quality. It doesn't. In fact, the UAF6300 had slightly better picture quality than its more expensive linemate in our tests, with superior shadow detail and colour. On the other hand, both sets gave mediocre black-level performance, leading to picture quality that's merely "good" and not up to the levels seen on a couple of the similarly priced models in my comparison.

Black level: The UAF6300 delivered a relatively lighter shade of black than the others in our line-up, leading to a less realistic rendition of darker scenes, an issue especially visible in dimly lit rooms. It basically matched the UAF6400 in depth of black but fell short of other models.

Colour accuracy: No complaints here. The UAF6300 aced our objective colour measurements, turning in the most accurate pre-calibration Movie preset reading I can remember seeing. Those gaudy numbers were borne out on-screen in accurate yet vibrant skin tones and colours.

As usual, one weakness was the UAF6300's tendency to go bluish in black and near-black scenes, a tendency made more visible in letterbox bars by the set's relatively light black level.

Video processing: The Samsung UAF6300 performed like a champ in this area, matching the UAF6400, and indeed even the flagship UAF8000, despite its lower Clear Motion Rate specification.

First and foremost it's capable of delivering true 1080p24 film cadence. Unlike most LED LCD TVs, however, it can also deliver full motion resolution at the same time, so you don't have to engage the over-smooth Soap Opera Effect to get optimum motion resolution.

Uniformity: The F6300 has a nicely uniform screen for an edge-lit LED LCD and significantly outperformed our UAF6400 review sample in this area. On test patterns, the edges, especially the bottom edge, appeared brighter than the middle, but on program material, the backlight irregularities were next to impossible to discern.

The F6300's audio quality was good for a TV, albeit not quite as impressive as that of the F6400 for some reason. Switching between the two, bass sounded a bit looser on Nick Cave's "Red Right Hand" and his vocals just a bit less clear, but otherwise, they sounded very similar and better than any of the others in our line-up. Bass was decent and I could make out instruments well.

Via CNET.com



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