A true luxury item just a couple of years ago, that a 48-inch TV from a top global brand is going for under £599 is almost unbelievable.
That’s until you spy the Philips 48PFT5509, an identically-sized Full HD LED TV that manages to cost just £350 in the UK.
The silver, glinting spider-style desktop stand helps the UE48H6500 have a pretty minimal footprint. It’s sturdy enough on an AV stand, and that spider-stand allows for the TV to be re-positioned slightly, which is increasingly rare on flatscreen TVs.
Models in Samsung’s Series 6 are all about value; the UE48H6500 is book-ended by the 40-inch UE40H6500 and 55-inch UE55H6500, but there are many other variants that add or take-off one or two features.
Detail, colour & black levels
Although colours can be calibrated to a professional standard using exacting white balance and gamma controls in the UE48H6500’s advanced settings panel, it’s actually almost spot-on out of the box. Colours are well saturated and delivered in refined-looking hues that mostly look natural. Hugo contains a lot of shadows and bluish-black backdrops, but they largely remain distinct.
The edge-mounted LEDs aren’t always able to prevent grey-looking blocks of black, and there’s some crushing in some areas, but we’re being fussy; black levels are excellent and really give impact to Blu-ray discs. However, they do fade a touch if you watch from the wings.
Motion Plus is an odd one; frame interpolation circuitry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that needs to change because it appears to be really coming of age. On the UE48H6500 this blur and judder-busting tech is available in four different settings – clear, standard, smooth and custom.
While such high-end TVs cost thousands and offer a questionable increase in image quality, the 48-inch UE48H6500 piles on almost all other TV features for a pittance; it’s tempting to say that 48-inches is the new sweet-spot size for flatscreen TVs.
The provision of three USB slots is particularly generous, though warranted on the UE48H6500; one is for recording from the Freeview HD tuner while another is needed to charge-up the two pairs of SSG-5100GB 3D specs that are included in the box.
On a rear-facing panel are two more HDMI slots, an Ethernet LAN slot (though an integrated Wi-Fi is, of course, also provided), a full RGB Scart, a set of component video inputs and associated audio inputs (one of which doubles as a composite video input), an optical audio output for routing sound to a home cinema, and a headphones slot. Excellent stuff, though that headphones jack is in a rather out-of-reach place; it should be on the side.
Smart TV apps
The main My Apps section holds all the rest. There’s too many to mention here, but highlights include Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Spotify, YouTube, DailyMotion, KnowHow Movies, AccuWeather, vTuner, BFI Player, TuneIn radio and Skype. Among these third party apps are a few slabs of Samsung-made software including camera (despite there being no built-in camera on the UE48H6500), an e-manual and a web browser.
However, the major app is Samsung’s new SmartView 2.0, with replicates live TV on a phone or tablet, and also allows media sharing.
Tech-wise, the UE48H6500 includes a quad core processor, S Recommendation with voice interaction (something we haven’t reviewed here – see our review of the UE32H6400 for more details on this), Clear Motion Rate 400 and a 3D HyperReal Engine for picture processing.
I’m also not quite sure who needs this functionality. More interesting is the option to stream videos and music from the smartphone/tablet to the UE48H6500. It mines your phone or tablet for media and presents them nicely; there’s a colourful grid of JPG photos and MP4/MOV videos it finds, and a list of MP3 files organised by artist/album or A-Z. It’s all really well laid-out and good-looking,
SmartView 2.0 also has a virtual remote control page, which looks best on the tablet version. Nicely spread-out and with a metallic look that’s reminiscent of the TV’s palm-sized smart remote (it’s actually a lot easier to use).
Another issue is repeated use; each time you fire-up the app it goes through the mis-named ‘auto discovery’ mode and you have to wait, then choose your TV from a list.
Low frequency sound seems a bit hollow from the UE48H6500’s built-in 10W stereo speakers, but the overall audio performance is actually rather impressive. Primed to deliver dialogue from live TV, there’s plenty of treble detail and not a hint of hiss. It also goes to loud volumes without distortion. Is this a by-product of the UE48H6500’s chubby chassis? Perhaps so. Still, those after a proper movie-grade sound system can, at least route audio from live TV to a home cinema via the UE48H6500’s rear-mounted digital optical audio output.
Since the UE48H6500 is selling for £1,049 on Samsung UK’s website and half that amount on the high street and online, it has got to be considered an absolute steal, though there are cheaper 48-inchers out there. Two pairs of 3D glasses in the box seems reasonably good value, too.
With TV makers now cutting ever larger TVs out of ever larger slabs of glass, the price of truly bigscreen TVs is coming down – and that means this accomplished, polished and, frankly, pretty huge LED TV is on sale for a veritable song. The UE48H6500 is impressive indeed.
The overall user interface for the UE48H6500 is excellent, with colourful and reasonably fast-working menus and apps that load in highly acceptable times. The UE48H6500’s handling of media files from a USB stick and over a home network is exemplary and hugely exhaustive in terms of file formats supported (see our review of the UE32H6400 for details). It also delivers a fabulously cinematic picture from Blu-ray discs. Digital TV is clean, too, while sound quality is surprisingly good with both speech-based TV and some music.
The choice of apps in the Smart Hub is almost exhaustive; the only major app we can think of that’s not included among the star turns is Sky’s Now TV app, though with other movie on-demand services a-plenty, that won’t be much missed. Live footie fans after an occasional day-pass to Sky Sports might disagree.