Samsung UE40D6530 £1100
6th Jun 2011 | 13:50
Samsung brings elegance and 2D excellence to the LED mainstream
Samsung UE40D6350: Overview
The Samsung UE40D6530 is a high-performance 3D LED TV with a come-hither price tag. It may be positioned beneath the brand's top of the line Series 7 and 8 models, but it's clearly a step-up screen for budget-watchers who want a designer telly with smart TV capability.
The 40-inch UE40D6530 is part of a lookalike range that also includes the UE32D6530, UE37D6530 and UE46D6530. The feature spec is leading-edge: in addition to Active Shutter 3D compatibility (no glasses are supplied, they're an optional extra – basic Samsung Active Shutter shades sell for £49.95 each), the screen includes access to Samsung's Smart Hub apps and VOD (Video on Demand) portal and employs a host of image boosting technology.
Back panel connectivity is good, with four HDMI inputs and a VGA PC input, plus Scart and component (both via adaptors), a stereo audio mini jack, CI (Common Interface) slot, three USBs and an electrical digital audio output to feed TV sound (perhaps internet radio via the Smart Hub's Shoutcast app) to a separate hi-fi system.
Helpfully, you don't lose any USBs to get Wi-Fi, as the UE40D6530 has it integrated. We'd suggest you only use Wi-Fi if you don't have an Ethernet connection in your viewing room. Recent surveys suggest that the majority of new connected TV owners haven't actually hooked their screens up to a home network or the internet. Don't be one of this misguided majority: getting online is very straightforward.
Samsung UE40D6350: Features
The UE40D6530 is extremely well appointed for the price. It has a Freeview HD tuner for subscription-free hi-def from the BBC, ITV and C4; is 3D ready; can stream media across your network and has the keys to the door of Samsung's Smart TV portal. The latter is probably its most significant asset.
Samsung's Smart Hub portal has mushroomed since its launch earlier this year. The brand's fast growing app store has been modeled on the mobile phone app experience and enables you to augment your screen with an astonishing array of extra functions.
Not only is it overflowing with causal games and timewasters (Yoga Helper, anyone?), it offers plenty of VOD in the shape of YouTube, LoveFilm, Daily Motion, BBC iPlayer and Acetrax. Its newest arrival is Explore 3D, which offers free 3D movies and trailers. You can also Skype video call if you plug in a webcam (Samsung sells the CY-STC1100 for £129).
Naturally, there are apps for popular social media sites Facebook and Twitter (they're grouped under a Social TV umbrella, as well as solo via the apps dashboard), however the user experience here is curiously antisocial.
To use them, you have to create a Samsung account first (rather than just log in as you would on a PC) and text entry via a faux phone keypad is painfully clunky. Those that can be bothered to log on will discover that neither the Facebook nor the Twitter app has been integrated into the viewing experience particularly well.
Conversely, Smart Hub has the best implementation of a web browser yet seen on a TV. Based on the WebKit rendering engine, which powers Safari and Chrome, it has support for Flash and also maintains a live TV window, so you can watch and surf at the same time.
Media streaming across your network is also supported, but it's only partially successful. Samsung seems to believe that the PC should be the repository of your audio visual files, and the UE40D6530's Allshare media streaming function is based on that assumption.
However, if you prefer to keep your audio visual files on a network attached storage (NAS) device, then its limitations rapidly become evident. The UE40D6530 is very dependant on the media server it talks to. In a side-by-side shootout with Panasonic's 2011 Viera Connect TVs, using the same network, NAS and miscellaneous file collection, the UE40D6530 came out very much second best.
While it played AVIs and MOVs, it failed with MKV wrapped content and MP3 metadata got lost twixt NAS and screen. Thankfully, when asked to play the same content from a USB there were no file incompatibility issues.
Interestingly, the UE40D6530 discovered Panasonic's new DNLA-compliant DMR-BWT700T on our test network, but while it could see recordings on the hard-disk drive it couldn't play them.
The UE40D6530 is also able to record from an external PVR drive. Take any external drive, hook it up and let the UE40D6530 format it. Once formatted, contents of the drive can only be read by the host TV. You can now record TV shows from the TV Guide just as you would on a dedicated PVR.
Obviously, the system has its limitations – as there's only one tuner you can't record one channel while watching another, but as a simple, basic recorder this feature holds considerable appeal.
Samsung UE40D6350: Picture quality
The UE40D6530 achieves its slimness by employing an edge-LED backlight. This is well implemented; there's some light pooling but Samsung manages illumination uniformity well.
To help grade its own TV range, Samsung has developed a proprietary motion resolution and image quality system called CMR (Clear Motion rate). You'll see it mentioned on point-of-sale from the brand. Samsung rates the UE40D6530 as 400 CMR – but how does that compare with our real world tests? Let's take a closer look.
Samsung's fast frame rate technology is Motion Plus, and it comes in several iterations: Clear, Standard, Smooth and Custom. Naturally, you can also elect to switch it off. If you do disengage it, the perceived native motion resolution of the panel comes in at around 875 lines, which is not too shabby.
Engage any of the Motion Plus modes and this figure jumps to a full 1,080 lines. This was confirmed by a horizontal scrolling test pattern developed by the Advanced PDP Development Centre; the pattern features ever-decreasing fine detail patterns, and moves at variable speeds from 6.5ppf (pixels per frame).
Of the preset modes, Clear is the best option available. All the others generate motion artefacts, seen around certain moving objects as a smudgy, shadowy outline. Clear does cause some artefacting but it's hardly noticeable. Our tip though is to select the custom menu and then set Blur Reduction at 7 and Judder reduction at 0; this way you'll maximise moving resolution and eliminate artefacts altogether.
The black levels are very good. The UE40D6530 tracked in a 20/20 step grayscale beautifully, giving convincing blacks and ample shadow detail. One key characteristic of the UE40D6530 is its absolute lack of noise. Images have an almost photographic smoothness.
Test Blu-ray footage shot around the Tokyo Tower at night proved hugely impressive. While the night sky is rendered espresso-black, detail remains evident in the shadows while bright lights ping dynamically - a great performance. On some rival LED sets, this challenging dark sequence is peppered with intrusive luminance noise that's difficult to minimise.
On a challenging movie such as Tron: Legacy (Blu-ray) these traits translate to a picture which has genuine depth and popcorn-tastic impact.
While the UE40D6530 is an excellent 2D TV, its three dimensional talents are more routine. 3D images exhibit unavoidable crosstalk. While the TV proffers controls to combat this, in the form of 3D Perspective and 3D Optimisation sliders, neither solve the problem of double imaging.
If you dial crosstalk out of the negative parallax plane it's merely emphasised on the zero parallax plane, and vice versa. There's no happy balance where it's not noticeable.
The impact this will have on your viewing is to a certain extent dependant on the 3D quality of your software. A troublesome disc such as Monsters Vs Aliens looks pretty unpleasant; however well-authored fare such as Tron: Legacy and Avatar are passable enough.
On the plus side, the sense of depth the TV can give is undiminished and colour fidelity remains high, even when you don 3D glasses.
The UE40D6530 will also convert 2D to 3D, should you not have enough 3D to watch on Blu-ray or Sky. This signal processing is undeniably clever stuff, although the aforementioned presentational issues remain unchanged.
Samsung UE40D6350: Sound, value and ease of use
The slimness of this TV's cabinet design was always going to present audio problems for the UE40D6530. But Samsung throws a fair amount of digital signal processing at the set to maximise performance and compensate for its lack of natural bass.
The set's audio settings comprise: Standard, Amplify, Music, Movie and Clear Voice. The latter two merely muffle or thin respectively. You can also post process the audio in SRS TruSurround HD for extra width.
The onboard amp is rated at 2 x 15W, which for general viewing is good enough, but you'll certainly need to consider a supplementary audio system at some point.
Priced at little more than a grand, the UE40D6530 can be considered extremely good value. First and foremost this is a well designed flatscreen capable of a cracking 2D high-def image. The level of fine detail in its pictures, and the smooth, cinematic nature of their delivery, is enormously impressive.
Couple this with the UE40D6530's accomplished net connectivity, and its value quickly becomes apparent. Samsung's Smart Hub is rich in content and easy to use. The portal may stumble when it comes to the implementation of social media apps, and its media streaming capabilities are uneven, but that doesn't diminish its general appeal.
The UE40D6530 is perhaps at its least compelling when it comes to 3D; traditional LCD issues with crosstalk rather take the shine of its dimensional talents. Certainly the UE40D6530 is not as convincing as the brand's new Series 7 and 8 screens. Stick to well authored 3D software and you'll still have some fun though.
Ease of use
The user interface of the UE40D6530 is remarkable mainly for the sheer number of options it offers in terms of audio and video parameters. Samsung has done a nice job simplifying what could be a confusing number of menus. When certain parameters are highlighted a secondary box pops up showing all the nested options within – a nice touch. This is allied to an excellent, searchable e-manual.
Perusing the delights of Freeview HD is made easier through the UE40D6530's high-resolution TV guide, which is wide and expansive. There's a live window top left to keep you in touch with your programmes.
The supplied TM1060 remote control is regulation issue Samsung fare, with backlighting. The main D-pad on our sample made a curious hollow clicking sound, but was perfectly functional.
If you misplace the zapper, there are touch-sensitive channel and volume controls to the right hand rear of the screen. When used, a corresponding graphic pops up in the corner of the screen.
Samsung UE40D6350: Verdict
Samsung's UE40D6530 is sure to win admiring glances based purely on its design aesthetic. From the gorgeous crystal-necked pedestal to its translucent edge trim, this is one slimline LED LCD TV that dresses to impress. The good news is beauty isn't skin deep.
The UE40D6530 also offers an excellent hi-def image, as rich in detail as it is deliciously smooth. Once calibrated, it's a contender for best in class.
The Smart Hub portal is also a winner. Once you've lived with a net connected TV, it's difficult to imagine going back to a standalone gogglebox. Having iPlayer and YouTube on tap in the living room is a game changer, and Samsung's TV app store is the biggest there is.
Overall, this is an impressive Freeview HD net connected TV.
The smooth, detail-rich 2D HD images, excellent motion resolution, Samsung's content-rich Smart Hub apps and Video on Demand portal, the screen's elegant design, media playback support from USB, integrated Wi-Fi
Crosstalking 3D performance; uneven file support when streaming from NAS devices across a network, poor integration of social media apps, clunky text entry and intrusive account demands
The UE40D6530 is a well-equipped Smart TV bolstered by an excellent 2D hi-def performance. For movies and sports fans, it won't disappoint.
Not every feature hits the bullseye – 3D suffers from crosstalk double-imaging and media streaming across the network is flawed – but overall this is a well priced, high-performance screen.
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