Samsung UN55FH6003 LED TV Review
This LCD struggles for high marks.
Behind the Screens
The Samsung UN55FH6003 (MSRP $799) produces an average picture without any calibration or tweaking. Color production and grayscale errors, aggressive gamma correction, and an overtly blue sub-pixel balance spell out a sub-optimal picture, at best. Fixing most of these errors is somewhat easy to do—albeit you'd need about $20,000 of equipment to do it on your own. The FH6003 has good points, too—its motion performance, uniformity, and dynamic range are all commendable.
Calibrating the FH6003 was fairly simple. Initial readings revealed that, despite being the most accurate, the Movie picture mode still exhibited a number of problems: a large DeltaE of grayscale error, a severely skewed RGB balance, slight gamma correction issues, and the wrong white and secondary color points.
Most of Samsung's default settings in Movie mode are correct. Calibration involved: changing gamma correction from 2.2 to 2.4; reducing the backlight from 17 to 10 in order to achieve 40 fL; reducing the sharpness control from 20 to 0; and altering the 2-point grayscale settings for red and blue. The TV's pre- and post-calibration results for these categories are detailed in the next few sections.
For this price range, quite solid
A display's contrast ratio is determined by dividing its peak luminance by its minimum luminance. The resulting number, expressed as "X:1," is telling of the display's overall immersive qualities; the higher the contrast ratio, the better. LCD TVs like the FH6003 sometimes struggle to produce a convincing black level, but this Samsung had no trouble.
We tested a minimum luminance level of 0.05 cd/m2, which is quite good for this price and tech type. Coupled with a peak brightness of 230.10 cd/m2, the FH6003's contrast ratio is 4602:1—commendable.
Center or bust
Viewing angle (typically measured horizontally) can make or break a TV's viability, depending on what you want to do with it. Wall-mounting a TV with a narrow viewing angle is almost always a bad idea, for example, and TV's that don't swivel (like this one) can be especially tricky to place. Like its LCD counterparts, the FH6003's viewing angle is rather poor.
We tested a total viewing angle of 34°, or ±17° from center to either side of the display. We like to see at least a total of 45° for LCDs, so this isn't great. Make sure you sit towards the center of the display—with more people, you have to sit further away, or picture degradation is guaranteed.
A few changes made a big improvement.
A television's grayscale comprises its output from black to white—and all the grays in between, hence the name. The grayscale is created by a combination of a TV's three sub-pixels: red, green, and blue. When utilized simultaneously, the RGB sub-pixels create all levels of black, gray, and white. Errors within the grayscale are expressed in a sum total, expressed in DeltaE.
Prior to calibration, the FH6003 showcased a very high DeltaE of 9.67, which is well out of acceptable range. The errors result from a poor RGB balance—detailed in the next section. After calibration, the DeltaE was reduced to 2.19, which is within the acceptable range of 3 or less.
Waaay too much blue
The problems with the FH6003's secondary color production, white point (D65) misplacement, and grayscale errors can be traced to one thing: too much blue! Prior to calibration, blue's presence in the signal was egregiously overemphasized, resulting in blue-tinted grays and whites and colors that overemphasize blue—meaning cyan, aqua, sky- and sea-hues, blue-greens, purple, magenta, really any color that uses blue is going to be scientifically wrong. And that ain't cool.
While the FH6003 lacks a 20-point grayscale control, its 2-point control proved highly effective at ironing out the balance issues, getting blue out of the clouds and back on the ground with red and green. This was a fairly quick fix, but involved reducing blue's signal presence in the top half of the IRE scale an awful lot. Evening out the RGB balance corrected the grayscale, as well as the TV's secondary color production.
2.2 and 2.4... almost
There are a number of standards for gamma—the way a TV's middle luminance levels progress from black to white. The standard for monitors is a gamma of 2.2, which is a sum of the change in luminance that occurs between intervals. Until recently, 2.2 was also the standard for TVs—the FH6003's Movie mode is set to 2.2 automatically. The new gamma standard for HDTV is 2.4, however, which involves a slower progression out of black.
The FH6003 adheres to both standards fairly well, but neither perfectly. Set to 2.2 gamma, its actual gamma sum was 2.27; set to 2.4, it actuates 2.53. In either standard, this Samsung increases in luminance a little too slowly, resulting in a higher gamma sum than is ideal. Fortunately, this is only a minor error.
That darn blue
The massive amount of blue in the FH6003's sub-pixel balance caused some serious problems for its color production. A TV's color gamut is a visual illustration of the saturation/hue of its red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, and white points. For the chart below, producing colors that put the dots in the boxes is the scientific ideal.
Prior to calibration, the TV's blue point was quite oversaturated and overly luminous, which pulled both cyan (which is half blue) and magenta (also half blue) into the wrong tint. Even without CMS controls, correcting the TV's grayscale errors (reducing blue) helped to correct the errors in cyan and magenta, as well as in the TV's 100 and 60 IRE white points.
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