- Review Date: 9/9/2013
- Bottom line: The Samsung F6400 series of edge-lit HDTVs deliver a sharp picture with dark blacks and vibrant colors. Features are abundant, but the screen doesn't get very bright and the Smart Touch remote can be tricky to master.
- Pros: Dark black levels. Strong feature set. Solid 2D and 3D image quality.
- Cons: Tricky remote. Voice recognition is erratic. Low brightness levels.
Samsung's F6400 line of mid-range LED Smart HDTVs delivers a sharp picture with colors that jump out from an inky black background. It's equipped with all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a TV in this price range, including a generous catalog of Web apps, two sets of 3D glasses, a dual-core processor, and built-in Wi-Fi. We tested the 55-inch UN55F6400AF ($2,099.99 list), and while its black levels are impressively low and its features are many, its peak brightness could be brighter, and you may have to utilize its extensive picture settings to tweak its color levels. If you don't need the bells and whistles of voice control and a touchpad remote, the Editors' Choice Panasonic TC-L55ET60 offers excellent picture quality and a solid feature set.
Design and Features
The UN55F6400AF doesn't offer the sleek aesthetics of the LG 55LA8600, but it's still an attractive HDTV. It uses a relatively thin (1.9-inch) cabinet with slim (0.5-inch) glossy black bezels that are capped off with clear plastic trim. There's a Samsung logo on the bottom bezel, but no buttons on the front. Instead, there's a joystick button the on the lower-right corner at the rear of the cabinet panel that you can use to navigate the picture settings and Smart Hub menus. The full HD (1920 by 1080) screen has a semi-gloss coating that is slightly reflective, but not to the point of distraction.
The 37-pound cabinet is supported by a four-legged stand with a swivel. If you don't want to use the stand, four VESA-compliant mounting holes around back let you hang the TV on a wall. The right side of the cabinet holds three USB ports, three HDMI ports, and an antenna/cable coaxial connector, all of which face outward. The back of the cabinet is home to a fourth HDMI port, an IR output, an EX Link (service) port, digital and analog audio outputs, an Ethernet port, and a set of component A/V ports.
You can use the aforementioned Ethernet port or the built-in Wi-Fi networking to access a massive catalog of Web apps and services via the Smart Hub interface. Video streaming apps are numerous and include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YuppTV, Vudu, and HBO Go. There are dozens of lifestyle apps like FamilyPlay, HappyHour, ifood.tv, Google Talk, Picasa, and scores of information and education apps, as well as the ubiquitous Facebook, Twitter, and Skype social networking apps.
The F6400 comes with a similar Smart Touch remote to the one included with Samsung's PN60F8500AF HDTV. It's five inches long and contains 16 buttons, including dedicated Smart Hub and 3D buttons. It also has a touchpad that lets you scroll through the various menus and options. The touchpad takes some getting used to and tends to be overly sensitive, which can lead to accidental setting changes. The remote also has a built-in microphone for voice activated commands. As we saw with the F8500 and last year's E8000 models, the voice feature requires exact pronunciation and doesn't always work as advertised. It's just easier to turn the set on and off and adjust the volume using the supplied buttons on the remote.
In addition to the usual basic picture settings, the F6400 provides advanced settings that let you calibrate the panel to your exact specifications. The advanced settings include 10-point White Balance, Gamma, and Black Tone settings, plus Auto Motion Plus (anti-judder and anti-blur), Flesh tone, and Black tone options. It also offers an Expert Pattern option to help you calibrate contrast and color saturation levels.
We test HDTVs with a Klein K10-A colorimeter, SpectraCal's CalMan 5 software and images from the DisplayMate HDTV diagnostic suite, after a basic dark room calibration. The F6400 turned in an impressive black level of 0.0195 cd/m2, but its peak brightness measurement of 136.65 cd/m2 was less impressive, resulting in a contrast ratio of 7,007:1. The panel isn't nearly as bright as that of the Panasonic TC-L55ET60 (304.34 cd/m2) but shadow detail from the Blu-ray version of Piranha was well-defined and sharp, especially during the darker underwater scenes.
Out of the box color accuracy was good but not great. As shown on the CIE chart below, reds, greens, and blues (represented by their corresponding dots) are close to their target coordinates (represented by their corresponding boxes), but they all are on the outer edges of ideal and run a bit heavy and oversaturated. You can calibrate it, but most mid-range HDTVs have slightly more accurate colors out of the box when set to the warmed color temperature preset.
Fortunately, colors were not noticeably oversaturated and there was no obvious tinting while watching the movie 2012 on Blu-ray. Moreover, color quality and luminance remained intact when viewed from an extreme angle, and backlight bloom was not an issue.
The F6400 delivers a convincing 3D picture. It uses active 3D technology and comes with two sets of lightweight 3D glasses (the same glasses that come with the PN60F8500). Depth and image detail was very good and there were no glaring crosstalk artifacts while watching Sharks 3D on Blu-ray, although the glasses let too much light in through the sides. A wrap-around design would resolve this. Additional glasses are available from Samsung at $19.99 a pair.
Power and Conclusion
The F6400 used 101 watts of power during testing while set to standard mode. Power consumption dropped to 66 watts with Eco mode set to low and 53 watts with it set to medium. You can reduce consumption even further by using the high Eco setting, but the picture becomes so dim that it's almost unwatchable. The Sony W802A, which is also a 55-inch LED-backlit set, used 123 watts with Eco mode disabled and 94 watts with Eco mode set to low.
The Samsung UN55F6400AF has a few notable flaws; it doesn't get very bright, its colors are oversaturated out of the box, its Smart Touch remote can be maddening (although it does become easier to use after a while), and the voice command feature is way too erratic to be considered useful. That said, the F6400 delivers a sharp, well-balanced picture and offers a robust feature set. If $2,100 is more than your budget allows, the Panasonic TC-L55ET60 is a few hundred dollars cheaper and offers better all around performance, which is why it remains our Editors' Choice for big-screen mid-range HDTVs. We've found the UN55F6400AF available for significantly less than its list price, and if you can find it several hundred dollars less than its MSRP it becomes a much nicer-looking deal. If you can pick up this screen at a big discount from its list price, consider grabbing it, but at $2,100 it isn't quite as appealing as other, less expensive competitors.