Samsung UN55FH6003 LED TV Review
This LCD struggles for high marks.
The UN55FH6003 (MSRP $799) is perhaps Samsung's most practical 2013 LCD. This set strips away extras like 3D and internet connectivity, showcasing instead the simple attraction of a big screen for an affordable price.
If you're apathetic about haughty design and streaming services, the FH6003 could be your chance at decent, affordable picture quality.
Unfortunately, testing revealed slightly dodgy performance from this competitively priced TV. The FH6003's one job is to produce a great picture—but prior to calibration, its image quality is just average.
As plain as the FH6003 is on the outside, it still has an $800 job to do on the inside. Unfortunately, after a lengthy break-in period, it fell short of impressive picture quality. While this 55-inch Samsung did well in a number of areas, it needed some calibration to achieve the highest marks.
Our test of the FH6003's dynamic range—its peak and minimum luminance levels—revealed a healthy amount of contrast. I tested a very solid minimum luminance for a low-end LCD, and ample brightness for most viewing environments. Because it's an LED LCD, the FH6003 doesn't use automatic light limiting, so it stays bright and flashy regardless of the content you're watching. TVs that limit light output tend to grow visually darker when displaying a lot of light, and brighter when displaying a little—you'll get none of that here.
From a dynamics perspective, the TV's only problem is its viewing angle, which is rather narrow. It doesn't swivel, so if you're thinking about buying, make sure you plan the TV's placement carefully.
Calibration revealed some notable errors in both the TV's color production (per international standards) and grayscale tracking. In short, even in Movie mode, the FH6003 is just too blue. Its grays and whites are tinged with a blue hue, and its blue sub-pixel is overemphasized within the overall balance.
What this means for the viewer is a generally unbalanced picture, with overly luminous sky and sea, slightly blue clouds (to the keen-eyed) and an unappealing mix of grays and whites throughout shadow tones and highlights. Gamma tests revealed that the FH6003 transitions from deep to medium shadows with too little luminance, meaning subtle details can be very difficult to see.
The FH6003 has its positive qualities, too. For an LED LCD, this TV has much better screen uniformity than many of its similarly-priced counterparts. Uniformity issues cause blotchiness and light bleed during dark scenes and letterboxed content. I also observed very commendable detail retention during motion. Without any assistance, the FH6003's 120Hz panel exhibits a very low amount of blurring and color trailing, but still struggles with motion artifacts.
Fortunately, Samsung includes a few motion assistants within this TV's software suite: Both Auto Motion Plus and LED Motion Plus are present here, processing modes which help smooth judder and blurring.
Auto Motion Plus is available in various degrees of strength, ranging through Clear, Standard, Smooth, and a Custom mode. There's also a Demo option, which splits the screen in half to allow you to view your picture with and without assistance, side by side. LED Motion Plus is Samsung's backlight scanning mode, a setting which dims and flickers the backlight to interspace potential blur with black—fortunately, the FH6003 hardly blurs at all, so this mode isn't terribly necessary.
Overall, the FH6003 can produce a very sound picture, but only with some informed calibration to correct its white balance, gamma, and grayscale errors. For more details about the data gathered while testing the UN55FH6003, visit the Science Page.
Design & Features
Just the basics
As I said in the intro, this TV is quite plain. Glossy black plastic wraps the screen and rectangular pedestal—the FH6003 eschews the fancily-shaped stands found on higher-end Samsung TVs. At 3.7 inches deep, it's also not quite as thin as many of Samsung's other panels. All of this, however, factors into the low price.
While the FH6003 may not draw any longing stares for its design, it's not ugly by any means. Half-inch black bezels emphasize screen real estate, while a centered neck and wide base offer a decent amount of stability. The one functional drawback to this TV's design is that the panel doesn't swivel, which limits viewing flexibility a bit.
Even if you're not concerned about the bare bones looks, it's a good idea to take stock of this TV's ports and connectivity options prior to running out and buying it. While necessity varies from person to person, the FH6003's two HDMI inputs and shared component/composite hooks are a pretty stingy spread of video connections. If you have more than two high-definition playback devices, you'll be at a loss—unless you own an HDMI splitter. The final slight? Each entry in this meager selection of ports is located on the back of the TV, making wall-mounting a tricky ordeal.
Included with the UN55FH6003 is the TV's power cable, and Samsung's standard infrared remote.
Software & Interface
New for 2012!... Wait a minute
The super-basic FH6003 carries over almost an exact duplicate of Samsung's lower-end menu interface from last year: a transparent, somewhat ugly array that hugs the left side of the screen. Here, users will find options for Picture, Sound, System, and Timer functions. Navigation is easy and responsive on the included remote, as the menu really isn't complicated enough to create any hurdles.
The FH6003 lacks the high-end customization options of pricier TVs, but it does offer a few more advanced controls for the aspiring calibrator. Settings for gamma, 2-point white balance, and color temperature selection live alongside an audio EQ and automatic volume regulation. Most of this was also available on the 2012 models, but hey—if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The Finish Line
Close, but no cigar
For $800, getting a 55-inch LCD—albeit an extremely bare bones one—isn't a bad deal. Unfortunately, at the end of the day this TV produces a less-than-stellar picture.
For the price, investing in a calibrator to fix this TV's inherent problems wouldn't be a terrible idea, but you'd also be paying even more for the extremely boring design and stripped-down software. Shop at your own risk? Nah, just pay the same amount for a same-size, better-performing, WiFi-ready Vizio.
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