Pros: Bright, color-correct, and razor-sharp picture, SmartTV makes it an all-in-one entertainment solution, picture-thin, awesome remote.
Cons: Makes some DVD & Blu-Ray movies appear fake, few-inputs other than HDMI, no built-in WiFi.
TVs are a personal choice, that much is clear. Any basic flat panel plasma TV with a quality screen will be more than enough for most people and their viewing needs. However, there are some of us who want that next “best thing” that pushes the envelope and takes our breath away. The very first time I saw a Samsung LED TV that nearly happened. The improvement in brightness and clarity over the LCD models was very noticeable and such an improvement over plasma screens. After drooling over LED models for a year or so, I was super stoked to find I had actually won something and it wasn’t just tickets to a movie! I was the winner of a Samsung 40” LCD SmartTv which was much nicer that what I expected to purchase myself someday. When my new TV arrived it wasn’t long before it was out of the box and hooked up.
[ DISCLAIMER ] Just so everyone knows, despite the jargon and techie coolness of LED screens they aren't a totally new TV design. LED TVs are merely an upgrade in the backlighting of a normal LCD panel. If you want to be accurate, the correct title is "LED LCD TV". In stead of the normal CCFL lighting method, LED TVs use Light Emitting Diodes (duh, LEDs!) I really like the color depth and intensity of the LED backlit LCD, plus it displays contrast much better with deeper and truer blacks much like a plasma. To me it's superior but your personal preference may vary.
--- Stats from Samsung’s info page about this model ---
• Smart TV featuring Web-Connected Samsung Apps & Web Browser
• Visually Stunning LED Picture Quality with Clear Motion Rate of 240hz
• Samsung LED with Ultra Slim Bezel
• Sync media from multiple Samsung devices with AllShare™ DLNA® Technology
• 4 HDMI inputs, 1 Component Video, 3 USB 2.0, 1 Optical Audio, Ethernet Port
• 1,920 x 1,080 Native Resolution
• Available screen sizes: 40" 46" 55"
--- Setup and Initial Impressions ---
I have to give a big high-five to Samsung for making this a simple system to get operational. Removing the TV from the box reveals three pieces (main screen and 2-piece swivel base) and a bag with remote control and paperwork. For hanging on a wall or other mounting types you'll need to search for a compatible stand or purchase the Samsung "picture-frame" ultra-slim style wall mounting hardware. If you’re planning on using the TV on an entertainment center or TV stand you’ll need to use the included base. It’s a very simple install, mount the swivel-base backing plate to the TV itself with 4 screws then fasten the glass base to the backing plate bracket (using 4 more screws) and find someplace stable to set your new toy. A quick note, even with the huge amount of included inputs to my TV there’s only one traditional A/V or Component Video input. This is truly a next-gen TV with minimal backwards compatibility. If you have several home theater components which use A/V style cables you’ll be out of luck… it’s HDMI time now.
The size of this TV is truly impressive in a very "spy-gadget" way; even with the 40" screen size it doesn't seem like a massive behemoth sitting in your living room. At only 1.2" thick (or is it 1.2" thin?) it nearly disappears when viewed from the side. Like their old TOC (Touch of Color) bezels found on LCD models, the trim around the outer edge of the 6300 is very thin and tastefully done.
Turning on and setting up my TV was extremely simple thanks to a remote that’s both logical in its labeling and features a very user friendly button placement. Thank you SO MUCH Samsung, my last Insignia and Sony TVs had remotes that took a magnifying glass to read the minuscule button descriptions. Menus are easy to navigate and select options, I quickly had my unit set up for a Charter HD Cablebox and a Playstation 3. While this unit has a built-in ethernet jack, my network hub was a long way from my entertainment center so I purchased the Samsung LinkStick Wireless USB 2.0 Adapter ($80.00) which allows your TV to wirelessly connect to your home network and stream Pandora, Netflix, YouTube, and many other apps available in the Samsung store.
After plugging in the LinkStick it was simply a matter of opening the network sub-menu and select "Wireless" under connection options. A list of all available networks within range was displayed, after selecting my home network a connection was established and I was fully connected and ready to play.
As mentioned above I'm a HUGE fan of the included remote. So often on a fancy gadget the manufacturer will put a button for nearly EVERY function possible on a remote control. This remote has a simple and familiar button layout with a slightly larger than normal center section for the menu buttons and a few multifunction buttons for use in SmartHub. Big thumbs up for the buttons at the very top of the remote... on the left is a large red power button (right where a power button should be) and on the right is an easy to use backlight button. How does anyone watch a movie...? In the DARK! Yes, no longer will you be searching by braille trying to find the pause button only to stab the input button instead. This makes using the remote in the dark as easy as finding an Adam Sandler movie with adolescent humor.
--- Amateur impression of LED viewing experience ---
Okay, of course the picture quality is galaxies ahead of my old rear projection TV or the 32” Insignia 720P LCD TV which this model replaced. I love the crystal clear picture, bright colors and razor sharp detail that jumps off the screen at you! It’s really almost hyper-realistic at times but still is breathtaking to someone used to 720P as HD quality.
Games: I have played quite a few PS3 games (Need For Speed: The Run, Modern Warfare 3, NBA 2K12, etc) and let me tell you this TV absolutely knocks it out of the park for video games. It’s butter smooth, bright and rich in color saturation, and honestly totally changes my MW3 playing experience. There’s parts of the game I couldn’t even see clearly on my old TV which now pop into detail and I’m amazed time and again.
Movies: This is a bit of a split decision for me, since Blu Ray is my media of choice for movies. I have around 50 Blu Rays at the moment ranging from Wall E to We Were Soldiers and Batman: Dark Knight. The downside of crystal clear picture quality is some movies just look… well, FAKE! So far I’ve noticed this on Hidalgo and Journey to the Center of the Earth. The backgrounds and even actors look almost like cardboard cutouts, flat and 2D in some weird way. I have tried adjusting the color mode from Movie to Dynamic or Natural, it helps a bit but not completely.
While I may be complaining a bit, most Blu Rays look freakin’ amazing… Tron (which was absolutely beautiful on this screen), Real Steel, Rise of Planet of the Apes, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hurt Locker, etc. There’s no fake quality to the picture, just very good image clarity and a totally immersive experience. I have to believe it depends on the quality of the high-definition port, some movies are just shoveled over to Blu Ray without a lot of effort to make a quality upgrade. More expensive or popular movies get the full treatment and are filmed with the intention of home HiDef viewing. At least that's my guess. :)
DVDs look as good as a DVD possibly can, quite a bit better than my other flat screen TVs and I'll wager that's due to the Ultra Clear Panel and richer color palette on the 6300 LED.
--- Sound Quality --- For built-in speakers these aren't half bad, although distortion is present at medium to high volumes. Movies and music sound okay and it's not the worst TV audio I've heard, but I find it's a much better experience once plugged into a receiver and running audio through powered speakers. There's no real bass to speak of and the upper range of vocals and other noises is a bit muddy.
--- SmartTV ---
I never really gave much thought to the whole "internet TV" boom that exploded around the time LCDs replaced plasma as the new thing in home entertainment. Samsung has always had a bit of an edge in this market with their upper end units featuring plenty of internet connectivity. Much to my surprise, I really love the SmartTV functions my TV is equipped with. To activate this menu there's a simple button on your remote cleverly marked "SmartHub". Once opened you'll find many available options including Apps (Pandora, YouTube, Skype, Netflix, etc.), Your Video which lets you watch current movies for a rental fee, the Samsung App Store where MANY more apps are available, and a very nice PIP function which shows you what's going on with whatever you were watching before you activated SmartTV.
--- USB Connectivity ---
Big, big, big surprise for me when I finally decided to explore the USB 2.0 ports on the back of the unit. I plugged the 8GB SD card from my Nikon D5100 SLR camera into my Sony card reader, then into my TV. Lo and behold, a very easy to use menu popped up listing all the video files and folders on my card. Navigating around the files and playing them was super easy, using the menu pad and the play/pause/FF/RW controls on the Samsung remote.
Navigating up or down scrolls to another screen showing only pictures which are also super easy to view and play as a slideshow. I have always had a frustration with HDTVs and how they handled pictures and videos from external sources. Good friends of mine have a Sony LCD which has built-in SD card slots, however once plugged in the interface for viewing photos is so clunky and annoying I usually just plugged my laptop in and used the TV as a monitor.
Finally, Samsung got it right and there's a simple way to share your memories with family and friends... no extra cables and laptops needed!
<<< Cons, drawbacks, and complaints >>>
I found it somewhat frustrating that the included swivel stand will not tilt forward or backward, only side to side. This is not a problem if you have a perfectly positioned TV stand, however where I've mounted my TV I wish I could tilt it forward a bit for a better viewing angle.
I'm really not sure why Samsung included 3 USB ports yet doesn't allow you to use a USB keyboard or mouse. Frequent typing in Skype, YouTube, or other apps is VERY annoying with the rather slow remote control. There's a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard-remote for $80 which I refuse to pay for, I'm ok with the included remote for that price.
While I love the way Samsung has tucked all the inputs and accessory jacks in a cute little pocket on the back of the TV, there are no front or side inputs at all on the 6300 models. I understand these are more of a home theater centerpiece than a family media center, but it's pretty common to need to access the rear to plug in a different game system, HDMI cable for a HD video camera or other add-on, or to connect a USB flashdrive. It would have been nice for one set of HDMI and USB ports on the side tucked under a little cover. Just for day-to-day ease of access and future connectivity.
--- Bottom Line ---
For its current price (which will only drop as time passes) this may be the best value in non-3D ultra-slim LED TVs on the market. There's a lot of different deals in the cheaper LED market but TVs are still one place you sometimes get what you pay for. The picture quality, slim and attractive design, and extensive "bonus features" of the 6300 series make it a step above models from other manufacturers.
I'm very satisfied with my screen and will hopefully be using it for many years to come although reliability of LED LCD panels varies quite a bit. That said, I'm confident I shouldn't have trouble with this unit for a long time. There's no drawbacks to this model whatsoever unless you're dead set on 3D compatibility, which is another arguement for another day. Crystal clear screen, bright and bold colors, lots of apps and tools, internet connectivity, thin and attractive design, and competitive price point make it hard to say no if you're in the market for a home theater upgrade.
Check reviews of this model on Amazon, Best Buy, etc., and you'll find overall a very high satisfaction ratio among customers. I'm one of them, are you going to be the next? : )