First things first, the Samsung Series 6 SmartTV isn’t much to look at by Samsung Standards. The black frame and clear finish looks very plasticky, and is pretty much a design free zone with its simple rectangular lines. It’s also incredibly light – great for wall hanging, I guess, but not particularly promising as an early sign of the quality of its innards.
A bit harsh, eh? Truth be told I loved playing with this smart TV – as with every other Samsung product that graves our review floor.
Connections are fairly strong for such an affordable TV (read; affordable for those into high-end Samsung products), though. Three HDMIs (Two mounted for side access and one sticking straight out) will be the main ports of call most users these days, but other regulars include an RF input that connects to an HD Freeview tuner, both LAN and built-in Wi-Fi network connectivity, three USBs for multimedia playback, and an optical digital audio output.
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The network ports are not there just as mandatory support for the HD tuner as they also open the door to playing content from networked sources and going online with a full version of Samsung’s current Smart TV platform. Online content on the Series 6 will be familiar to regular readers that caught our debut TV review. It’s built around five hub screens; one focussed on current and upcoming TV content (this only happens when you’ve connected to the internet), one focused on on-demand movie/TV content, one focussed on your multimedia sources, one based on social media sources (including YouTube) and the last based on your TV’s apps such as fitness – complete with a further app market for downloading more apps from a selection of more than 100.
Samsung’s SmartTV engine is a pretty successful system in most ways – we’ve compared this with that found on LG and Hisense’s Smart TVs – although the social media menu feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. The star ‘Smart’ feature is the set’s recommendation system, which tracks your viewing habits so it can learn the sort of stuff you like you like to watch and pick out upcoming programmes for the listings that it thinks you’ll like.
Sadness as this unit doesn’t come with one Samsung’s touchpad remote designs and there’s no camera built-in, so ou can’t benefit from the gesture or voice control options available with Samsung’s higher-end TVs unless you cough up on optional extra gear – its like buying a car really. But none of these things felt like a particularly big loss.
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Additionally, Samsung scores a major SmartTV coup by being the only brand to offer free broadband with a new SmartTV set bought in SA. Which makes it compatible with DStv’s catchup and online services.
Heading into the units menu reveals a few interesting options, including the usual Samsung dynamic, Standard, Natural and Movie picture presets (of which only Standard really does much for us), a multi-level dynamic contrast control, a surprisingly in depth white balance adjustment; a simple gamma adjustment ‘slider’; flesh tone fine tuning; a two of noise reduction. Truth be told, there’s nothing particularly spectacular here – and we need to add too that the set doesn’t offer any 3D playback. But if it performs as we hope it will based on experience of other sets in Samsung’s range this year, there’s nothing missing here we need regret too much, including 3D!
Wrapping up this section with a quick précis of the Series 6’s screen specifications, it enjoys a full HD resolution and 100Hz motion system – though to clarify this, the native panel refresh rate is only 50Hz. The extra 50Hz is delivered via processing. There are some other red flags, however, such as an entry-level refresh rate not lending itself well to 3D and a panel that can’t quite deliver pitch blacks. But all that’s not enough to prevent our thumbs from pointing skyward.
The thing that will largely make this series 6 model appeal is its price point. At around R7000 the crowd-pleasing design and audio performance make this a well rounded choice. If you’re after a Smart TV at a fair price and couldn’t give a hoot about 3D then this Samsung scores well.