Although 3DTV is getting lots of attention these days, sales of 3D sets are still relatively small in terms of the overall market. For some, 3D is a must-have, but for others it’s a “meh” (meaning, “not a ‘make or break’ feature for me, as long as other aspects of performance are handled well.”).
While Samsung was very active in promoting 3D last year, they also strongly pushed LED backlighting as the technology to have. Here, we take a look at a 46” 2D set from their top-tier 6800-series product range (the other model offered is a 55” version). The set is pretty much feature loaded, and has extensive picture adjustment capabilities.
Consider this HDTV if: you’re not interested in 3D, but are looking for a full-featured 2D LED LCD TV that includes internet apps such as movie streaming and the like
Look elsewhere if: you’re after the best possible picture, as plasma still rules the picture quality roost, and Samsung’s plasma sets are excellent performers
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced HDTVs)
• Overall picture quality (HD): 8
• Features: 8
• Connectivity: 7
• User interface: 8
• Value: 7
This Samsung is one of many they offer that includes LED edgelighting, which dispenses with the almost obsolete fluorescent backlighting scheme, and the set features 120 Hz screen refresh. While they do offer other LED-equipped LCD sets with 240 Hz screen refresh, those are 3D models, which cost a fair bit more on an equivalent size basis. And, the picture sharpening improvement with fast action scenes or scrolling text that 240 Hz refresh offers over 120 Hz is hardly noticeable anyway.
Equipped with an RJ-45 LAN port for connection to a broadband home network, the 6800 comes with a number of Internet apps that provide for movie, TV show and music streaming, Internet radio, online photo viewing and the like. Samsung’s app store now offers dozens of apps, and most are available for free, with some for a small charge such as games. One noteworthy free app provides setup, operating information and videos specific to the model, and will be helpful to those who are loath to read the owner’s manual.
While not as slim as their ridiculously skinny 9000-series models, the 6800 is still svelte nonetheless and is only 1.2” deep, and is clad in the company’s Touch Of Color livery, which features a colored acrylic bezel that ends with a transparent edge. While the marketing materials on Samsung’s website describe the 6800 as sporting a “wood tone” bezel color, the actual color is black (though it does have a subtle “grain” of gray lines—perhaps meaning that the wood that Samsung had in mind was ebony?). No matter, the 6800 looks very good indeed, and the set comes with a detachable four prong swivel base which sports a shiny metal finish that adds to the spiffy look.
The four HDMI inputs should be enough for most, and they’re joined by an additional HD-compatible component input for a legacy analog video source. That connection is dual mode and is able to accept a standard definition composite video input in lieu of the three-wire component video connection. There’s also an RGB 25-pin PC video input, which accepts a broad range of resolutions all the way up to full 1920 x 1080 HD, and it’s paired with a standard 3.5mm stereo audio input jack. A 3.5mm audio output jack can route stereo signals to an external audio system, which we always recommend, and it’s joined by an optical digital audio output. But there isn’t a headphone jack, a curious omission. There are two USB ports, for connection to a memory stick, digital camera or other USB device.
On Screen Display
Samsung’s OSD hasn’t changed much in recent years, and that’s just fine, as theirs is a very good design. When making picture adjustments, the relevant slider bar is centered low on the screen, and includes numeric indicators. The set is equipped with firmware upgrade capability, which can be accomplished via a USB memory stick or by the LAN connection to the Internet.
Samsung’s remotes are some of the best designed in the business, and the remote that ships with the 6800 is no exception. It features gentle amber backlighting, with a well laid out button array and a cursor keypad in the center. While it doesn’t feature direct source selection (not many do), the numeric keypad and volume and channel buttons are large, and feature easy to read nomenclature. In addition to the menu button, there’s a separate tools button that calls up a mini-menu with oft-used adjustments. The remote doesn’t have the ability to control a cable or satellite set top box though.