Pros: Easy to setup and navigate, great picture, awesome Smart Hub interface.
While I try to stay current with new technology, I do not consider myself high-tech. From that perspective, I can offer some insight into the less-than-intuitive set-up process and user interaction as well as my own impressions of the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV. I purchased this television for my office conference room for conducting presentations and training. This is a small conference room with a table that seats twelve people. Having set this television up for use two months ago and a reasonable amount of interaction, I thought I would share my experiences with anyone considering this rather expensive television for use at home or office.
INITIAL SET-UP OF CHANNELS AND INTERNET OPTIONS
The first thing I can say about the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is “thank God for user manuals.” Setting up this television for use with my analog cable line was intuitive with my limited background. I have purchased six or eight televisions in the past three or four years, so I am familiar with the set up menus for cable, which generally have some form of automated channel search function. This television is not different on that count. My analog signal includes about one hundred channels, which this television programmed in about ten minutes time. Setting up the internet was another story.
The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV that I purchased has built in wifi. Based on my background with setting up the cable function on modern televisions, I automatically went to the “source” menu to try and find wi-fi. The source function generally allows you to scroll through input options, which was the logical place I thought I would find the setup menu for wifi. After a frustrating search of the menu options, I decided that maybe the user manual might be the best place to start. Had I started with the setup menu to begin with, life would have been much easier. Among the documents that come with this television is a “Guide for your Samsung Smart TV.” This guide begins with an introduction to “Smart Hub” and begins on page one with “Initial Smart TV Setup.” Aha! Life became easier from this point forward.
The “Smart Hub” provides the portal through which the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV accesses the internet. If you are watching television when you switch over to the Smart Hub, your program is still viewable in the upper left hand corner of the screen. The rest of the screen is comprised of an option menu with an Icon-rich environment to explore. Because my television is equipped with an internal wifi, I did not need to purchase a USB dongle, which is required to connect to wifi on televisions that do not have the internal wifi. I connect using a mifi hotspot, which is more than adequate for the internet functions, but becomes an issue if you want to stream HD. I was able to stream some HD before the buffering became an issue and was impressed by the crystal clear picture. If you do find yourself in this situation, the television creates a popup that provides a direct link to lower your picture quality options to allow for smoother buffering.
The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV has some great viewing options, depending on how you plan to use this device. Because I am set up on an analog signal, my cable television channels do not take advantage of the 1080p picture quality that this television is capable of. However, the device is equipped with an Eco Sensor that increases or decreases brightness based on the amount of light detected by the sensor. This is advantageous for two reasons. As the name implies, this feature saves energy by reducing the backlighting when convenient. This also allows you to get a picture that is right for your ambient light settings. This helps deliver a picture with the appropriate light to prevent washing out or a picture too dim to see for the existing lighting.
While my television signal is analog, I am able to take advantage of the high definition two ways. First of all, through the internet, I can stream high definition programs to the television from my Netflix account. The Smart Hub menu includes direct links to Netflix as well as other subscriber websites like Hulu and Vudu. Netflix offers a free month for those who don’t already have an account and Vudu offers a $5.99 credit towards any initial movie purchases. You can also stream video from any internet websites you navigate to. If they are broadcast in high definition, you can enjoy the amazingly crisp images that this television delivers. Your experience will be greatly enhanced if you opt to connect to a high speed connection that can handle full HD streaming video.
The other way that I can take advantage of the high definition is through peripheral devices. I have a Play Station 3 that I connected to the television to watch DVDs. I also experimented with a couple of video games to check the quality of the images. The images were awesome. I did have another issue with this television when installing the Play Station 3. The game console came with an AV1 Jack adapter, which pulls the audio and video jacks into one small green connector that has two prongs. The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is equipped with this type of input jack, but I was unable to get the PS3 to connect through this input jack. I switched to an HDMI cable and it worked like a dream. I am unsure if the issue with the AV1 was user-created, whether there was an issue with the actual cables or if it was the television menu. Whatever the source of my issues, I was able to bypass them by using the HDMI.
When I watch cable on this television, I do not get the full benefit of the high definition features. However, the viewing experience with the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is enhanced with a couple of integrated features. A feature called Micro Dimming provides advanced picture contrast technology controls and enhances LED screen brightness. The television also employs Ultra Clear Panel which absorbs ambient light and virtually eliminates reflections. Combined, these features allow you to experience deeper blacks and enhanced contrast for improved images. With the Eco Sensor technology, you get an amazing picture while saving energy, when applicable. This applies, even when I am watching a regular analog signal. It results in sharp contrasts that provide a viewing experience that feels enhanced for an analog signal.
When I watch streaming HD or use the Play Station 3 console, I am able to experience the full digital experience, which is awesome. The refresh rate, pixel quality and color spectrum combined with the features mentioned above make high definition programming take on a movie theater quality. I mostly use this television for the analog cable stations, but the difference with HD programming is stunning. With the flourescent lighting in my conference room, the auto adjustments provide crisp images that don't take on any glare from the lighting. Watching high definition animation is extra special. I have not used the 3-D television in my conference room setting and do not own a set of glasses. I do have a couple of 3-D sample videos I have not watched due to the fact that I don't own the glasses. However, in the showroom, the 3-D was pretty cool. I actually prefer to watch movies in 2-D, but the demonstration video was pretty intense, maximizing the impact of the 3-D technology.
I generally have the sound setting on this television set between twenty-five and thirty percent. This is in a conference room setting, where the room is approximately fifteen feet deep and thirty feet across. Sitting at the conference room table, the sound is crisp and clear at just thirty percent. The large room does not echo or distort the sound. When I did the demo with this television, I had the added benefit of a theater system, which made the sound seem incredible. Those speakers do not come with the television, but decent surround sound systems can be found for two to three hundred dollars. I use the basic sound system installed inside this television and find it more than adequate for regular daily use. I have turned the sound up to check for distortion, but couldn't go past halfway due to the volume level in my office setting. However, at those settings, there was no noted distortion in the sound quality, which remained crisp.
The built in sound system on this television does have some decent features. The sound features dual 15 watt speakers, which is slightly better than the 10 watt speakers on my other televisions. The television features Samsung's SRS TruSurround Sound, which is designed to create 3-D sound without a theater system. That quality is diminished somewhat in my office setting, but the sound quality is definitely crystal clear, if not 3-D. The television also amplifies the quality of bass through a method called "down firing" that aims low end sound toward the floor to increase the bass quality. I don't pick up on that feature when I have the news on, but it shows up more prominently with the video game system. Overall, the sound quality exceeds my needs and would be even better in a more controlled environment (a living room, for instance) than my current setting. Even then, the quality of the sound and the volume levels are exceptional even in an acoustically difficult environement.
The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV has a remote control unlike any I have used before. However, other than the issues I had distinguishing between the “Source” menu and the “Smart Hub” menu, the device is rather simple to use. The front side of the remote control is a similar to a standard remote control. The device has most of the buttons a typical remote control has, along with some shortcut options, like the Smart Hub button. You can use this side of the remote control with Smart Hub, because most of the menu is icon based. You can use the arrow buttons and enter function to scroll and select from the icon menu. You can also scroll and enter to type words, if you want to use an “on screen” keyboard entry. However, the remote control has a built-in keyboard on the reverse side.
The Keyboard Remote control is an interesting feature. It does not add very much thickness to this remote, which still fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. The keyboard is a full “QWERTY” keyboard, but the keys are not staggered. This side of the remote control is configured in a landscape format. Unlike normal keyboards, the number buttons are located on the left instead of the right of the alphabet keys. The remote has hot buttons that correspond with most cable remotes and blu-ray devices equipped with wifi. These are color coded buttons (red A, green B, yellow C and blue D) that are used as menu selections for both cable and blu-ray players. The keyboard includes a viewing window with an LED display, another Smart Hub button as well as some additional shortcut keys for navigating menus.
The remote control is well built and is surprisingly intuitive to figure out, once you understand the differences between the Smart Hub menus and the source menu. While some of the keys are rearranged from typical remote controls and QWERTY keyboards, they are arranged in a way that makes sense. The remote control is well built and should last a long time if you don’t abuse it. The device requires four AAA batteries, which are loaded into a carriage that inserts into the base of the remote control. The remote is also equipped with Anynet+, which is Samsung’s answer to the universal remote. This device can be programmed to work with any HDMI-connected compatible devices, including blue-ray, AV receivers and home theater systems. While this device is likely to last a long time, you want to make sure not to lose it. A replacement remote will set you back one hundred dollars.
USING THE SMART HUB
Once I figured out how to set up the wifi and access the Smart Hub menu, the system became intuitive to use. There is a “Smart Hub” button on the front side of the remote control. The Smart Hub has an intelligent design that is easy to navigate and maximizes features. When you click on Smart Hub, your television program minimizes to the upper left hand corner of the screen (this feature is called Picture in Graphic). You can still listen to the program while you navigate through the Smart Hub menu. As a sports fan, I was interested in checking out the ESPN application, which I also have on my iPhone. The application is set up different on the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV, but I like the setup. If you select this option, your television program maximizes again while the ESPN application appears as a drop down menu on the left side of your screen. If you are watching another program, you can keep track of the other scores around the league. The application is easy to navigate and does not interfere with the other program you are watching. It is much more user friendly and easy to read than the ticker that runs at the bottom of the screen during most football games.
The Smart Hub interface also includes a search box, called “Search All.” This feature allows you to enter keywords to search videos and applications. Below the search box is “Your Video,” which includes four video covers, which are recommendations based on your user preferences. To the right of this feature is “Samsung Apps” which is where my ESPN application is located. Users can download applications from here, whether free or paid. This is also where I downloaded Vudu from. Below these two boxes is a longer box called “Recommended.” While the other boxes focus on video, this box concentrates on general applications, but does include video selections. The bottom half of the Smart Hub menu is called the “Personalized Area.” When I installed ESPN and Vudu, they moved into this area. This box includes twelve icons ranging from favorites to social television. It is sort of like the “my computer” function on a computer. It is meant to organize your applications in an easy to navigate format. Among the options in this box is “My Folder” which would correspond to My Documents. This folder allows you to organize your preferences in a format of your own design.
Within the Smart Hub menu is the Samsung Apps menu mentioned above. The Samsung Apps box includes four suggestions for download. However, you can click through this option for the entire Samsung application library. Some of the titles may be downloaded for free, while other are paid services. You can purchase these applications through the Samsung Applications menu. Once they are downloaded, they will move to your Personalized Area, where you can catalog them in any way that makes it easiest for you to navigate later.
One of the features I like best about the web browser is the Picture in Graphic function. If you are watching a television program and want to search the internet without switching off your program, no problem. When you launch the browser, your program will remain in the lower right hand corner of the screen while you surf the internet. The browser has a home menu with shortcut features to simplify navigation. The top of the screen is a typical web browser bar with forward/reverse buttons, reload, home, favorites and a URL box for navigating directly to a known URL. Web browsing is intuitive and presented in a familiar presentation that makes it as user friendly as one could expect.
Among the recommended “add on” devices for the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is the Skype Camera Kit, which is specially designed for use with this television. This feature allows you to use the free video calling service from the comfort of your living room couch. I am checking on this feature for use with informal video conferences, but have not yet purchased the camera. Because my computer is equipped with Lync, I can individually conference from my desk. This feature would be beneficial for video conferencing a group of people from my conference room. I will have to check out the reviews of the actual Skype camera before I make a decision on this feature.
The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV does not come with 3-D glasses. Expect to pay a minimum of one hundred dollars for each set of glasses for this television. The packaging comes with a buyer’s guide to accessories for this television and includes four suggestions for 3-D viewing:
SSG-3700CR are considered “Premium” glasses. They start around $120 per pair.
SSG-3300CR are considered “Step-Up” or “Medium” glasses. They can be found for $80 per pair.
SSG-3300GR are considered “Step-Up” or “Large” glasses. They can be found for $80 per pair.
SSG-3100GB are considered “Basic” glasses. Can be found as low as $30 per pair.
I do not use the 3-D function on this television in my office setting. I tried this unit out in a controlled environment at the store and was blown away. Of course, that was with ideal lighting, a theater surround sound, high end 3-D glasses and a space video designed to optimize the 3-D effects. Given those conditions, for home use, this system can provide some awesome theater quality 3-D experiences. For my purposes, the glasses would be a waste of money. None of my training requirements include 3-D. Full 3-D requires source video which is native 3-D. However, this television has the ability to “upconvert” 2-D content to near 3-D image quality.
The surface of the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is glass. It is prone to scratching, which over time, can create issues with the viewing quality of this television. To promote proper cleaning of this television, Samsung has included a soft cloth that along with cleaning recommendations. The cloth is a soft material, exactly like the ones I use to clean my glasses. The instructions urge you to only use water on the cloth and to only clean in one direction. After cleaning the screen, use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture. The television is thin enough that it should not collect much dust on top. The top is hard clear plastic cut at a forty-five degree angle. It should be simple to clean using the same cloth used for the actual screen.
BUILT IN WIFI
I mentioned the Built-in Wifi when discussing the setup process for the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV. However, this feature deserves additional attention. Some televisions require a USB dongle to accept wifi input. The built-in wifi feature makes this television “wifi ready.” There are no additional installations or devices required to connect to the internet if you have a wifi signal to connect to. I have used this television with a mifi hotspot device, with exceptional results short of streaming HD video. If you are not already set up with wifi, Samsung sells a wifi device specifically tailored to the features on this television. Based on my experience navigating the Smart Hub menu, the type of wifi broadcast isn’t going to significantly change your experience. With N routers selling as cheaply at $16 these days, there is no need to purchase the Samsung wifi router.
The Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV is also equipped with AllShare DLNA Technology, which allows users to sync digital devices with the Smart Hub. Using the wireless connection, you can Sync your personal computer, cameras and mobile devices to the on-screen menu. From there, you can stream video, view pictures or otherwise navigate your digital devices. There is also an option to view movies from any USB device using the built-in Samsung ConnectShare Movie feature. This provides the drivers to watch videos or view pictures directly from your thumb drive or other USB-based device.
My user experience is based on my own observations and use of the Samsung 60-inch LED Smart TV. I have used all of the functions on this television over the past couple of months and find it to be well worth the $2499 I spent on this television. The picture image is awesome, the built-in speakers are more than adequate and the Smart Hub feature is nothing short of awesome. I like the interface, and it quickly became intuitive once I figured out how to set up the wifi. For those who are more technically adept than me, I am providing the factory specs for more comprehensive comparison.
Design Type LED
Comes With Swivel Stand Ability for television to pivot on its stand for optimal viewing from any angle.
60" Screen Measured Diagonally
Native Resolution 1,920 x 1,080
Full HD 1080p Resolution Fixed number of horizontal scan lines on a TV. P (Progressive) means scan lines are drawn in sequence.
15,000,000:1 Dynamic Contrast Ratio Difference in luminosity between brightest color (white) & darkest (black) over time. Higher ratio means more contrast.
Clear Motion Rate of 720 Clear Motion Rate (CMR) is a combination of advanced backlighting technology, significant improvements in panel response rates and ultra fast image processing.
SRS TheaterSound® HD Audio enhancement technology for TVs. SRS TruSurround XT provides 3D sound without extra speakers.
Sound Output (RMS) 15 Watts x 2 Audio Channels Sound power and signal emitted from a TV's speaker, as measured via Root Mean Square (RMS).
Down Firing + Full Range Speakers Mechanism in TV that outputs audio. Down firing enhances bass by directing low-end toward ground.
Built-in Wi-Fi Connection that allows streaming audio, video, and other computer data across wireless networks.
Wide Color Enhancer Plus Technology that optimizes hues on a TV and expands the color range for a more vivid viewing experience.
BD Wise™ Technology that automates the best resolution setting possible for viewing Blu-Ray DVD products.
Game Mode in which a user can play video games on an LCD television.
Auto Channel Search Function that seeks out available channels and automatically programs them for easy cycling.
Auto Power Off Function that automatically powers down television to save energy if no signal is present.
Auto Volume Leveler Function that caps volume on loud advertisements so that they're more consistent with programming.
Clock & On/Off Timer
HDTV Tuner Built-in An internal receiver that enables a TV to utilize Digital Television technology.
V-Chip Allows parents to block inappropriate movies and programs based upon their FCC rating.
3D Active Glasses Optional (Not Included)
Dynamic Noise Filter
4 HDMI inputs High Definition MultiMedia Interface.
1 Component Input Analog video connection that transmits information along two or three separate signals.
2 Composite Inputs Analog terminals that transmit audio and video information along a single signal.
1 PC D-sub VGA connection that transmits analog component video signals via 15 shielded pins at the end of a cable.
1 PC Audio Input (Mini Jack) Port that allows television to receive high-quality sound directly from a computer.
1 Ethernet Port Connection linking TV to Local Area Networks (LAN) for up-to-the-minute RSS feeds like news and weather.
3 USB 2.0 Ports Universal Serial Bus. Interface standard for connecting peripherals to a computer. USB 2.0 is high-speed.
1 Digital Audio (Optical) Ports used to transmit digital audio streams between components without interference.
1 Audio Out Mini Jack Stereo port for media players, cameras, and other devices to run audio into or out of the TV.
1 DVI Audio Input Ports used to receive encrypted, high-quality digital audio signals from media players and other devices.
Product Dimensions Without Stand: 54.3" (W) x 31.5" (H) x 1.2" (D) Width, height and depth of the television, with stand, as measured in inches (in.).
Product Dimensions With Stand: 54.3" (W) x 34.9" (H) x 13.8" (D) Width, height and depth of the television, without stand, as measured in inches (in.).
Shipping Dimensions: 66.9" (W) x 36.4" (H) x 7.9"(D) Width, height and depth of the television, with shipping container, as measured in inches (in.).
Product Weight Without Stand: 50.5 lbs. Weight of the television, without stand, as measured in pounds (lbs.).
Product Weight With Stand: 57.5 lbs. Weight of the television, with stand, as measured in pounds (lbs.).
Shipping Weight : 71.9 lbs. Weight of the television, with shipping container, as measured in pounds (lbs.).
ENERGY STAR Compliant Approval by Energy Star, a government program, ensures TV is eco-friendly and energy efficient.
Energy Guide Label Energy Guide Label
Standby Power Consumption (W) 0.07
Twenty-five hundred dollars is a lot of money to spend on a television. The price of 3-D Smart Televisions is likely to become more reasonable in coming years. However, this price point for a 60 inch LED television was the norm just a couple of years ago, without 3-D and Smart Television. So, comparatively, the price is actually good. Because 3-D is the latest technology, the price probably won’t see any drastic drops until there is a significant advance in the technology. As it stands, this technology is amazing. I have been nothing short of impressed with the functionality, ease of use, quality and overall user experience with this television.
While I use this television more for training than the 3-D movie experience, it is awesome that I can watch a program while navigating the Smart Hub and even embed my program into the web browser. This would be a great function if I were showing a training video while conducting a demonstration on the internet. The technology would allow me to interface simultaneously. This television does not come with the 3-D glasses, which will set you back a few hundred dollars, depending on how many you sets of glasses you need and what quality you are looking for. The remote control would not be inexpensive to replace, but seems durable enough to stand up to regular use for years to come. If you lose it, expect to shell out a hundred dollars for a replacement. The remote has plenty of great features, is intuitive to use and can act as a universal remote for your connected devices that are compatible. The picture quality is exceptional, especially when viewed in high definition or in a controlled environment with the 3-D glasses. The applications and menu allow you to tailor your Smart Hub to your own taste with an excellent selection of applications to download from Samsung.
I feel like this was twenty-five hundred dollars well spent. I would do it over again without a second thought. The current MSRP on Samsung’s website for this television is $3,699. You won’t pay near that amount if you do some research. I have recently found this television online at Amazon for $2,150. As the price comes down on this television, the value of this bargain goes up. The price point is outstanding for a high quality, high resolution, wifi ready, smart television with 3-D technology. Amazing. A do-everything device that is within reach for the average consumer. The lack of intuitive set up I experienced with the wifi was my own stubborn streak. If I had read the setup guide to begin with, I would have seen it was a breeze. So the television, overall, is fairly easy to setup and super simple to use once it is ready to go. Highly recommended with five stars.