Samsung MU6500 Review

Strengths

  • Upscaling and conversion of lower HD and standard def to 4K is very good for the price point
  • Contrast Ratio and Color from front and center
  • Great light flow through from LED edge lights
  • Web browser included
  • Smart TV features solid
  • Black Uniformity
  • On-screen menu system is easy
  • Low input lag in game mode
  • Price/Value Model
  • HDR Compatible
  • Good appearance for the price

Weaknesses

  • 60Hz TV, judder can be apparent with Automotion turned off especially with lower end resolutions
  • Automotion Plus “Telenovela” effect
  • Side Angle Viewing, contrast and color saturation degrades at angles. The curved screen is particularly suited to front and center viewing
  • Screen glare is noticeable
  • Aesthetic Appeal not a super high end look
  • Local Dimming feature is really a non-event with this TV
  • Small selection of preset picture modes
  • HDR capability is very limited

“This 4K TV will not look better than a very good 1080p TV with standard and HD signals, but wait!, there are no more very good 1080p TVs.”

The MU6500 4K LED TV is one of the best priced 4K offerings from Samsung but still has ample features like Smart TV offerings, UHD Picture Dimming, a quad core processor, HEVC 4K streaming decoding, and a contrast enhancer. Due to all these included features and of course 4K UHD resolution, it’s best feature is price. The curved screen adds a dimension of depth from front and center of the screen. Samsung calls their feature for this Auto Depth Enhancer.

Picture Quality Rating: 85/100

As we’ve mentioned many times before, edge lit LED backlit LCDs are not the ideal picture technology (even in 4K), however Samsung’s semi clear coat screen is a big plus. Images are clear and color information is accurate. Over time, some light bleed is likely to occur – noticeable during very dark or black background scenes. Colors pop very well for an LED TV and Samsung has the brightest LEDs (peak Whites) in the industry if you need a very bright screen. The clear panel technology in this screen which helps to absorb ambient light is an excellent feature.

HD to UHD Upscaling and Conversion

“The panel is only 60Hz, so judder may be apparent is some programming”

Generally, with scaling you get what you pay for. This is an area of great differentiation among 4K TVs. Some of the more expensive ones will have much better scalers. But, the MU6500 does a reasonably good job for the price point. Scaling is exceptionally important since most of the TV we watch these days is streaming from Amazon, Netflix, HBO…or 720p cable. A TV’s upscaling will never be able to make as much difference as the original signal source, but it can create cleaner, sharper image edges in the best case. The MU6500 does a good job presenting streaming and 720p signals. The scaler is not of the cheaper variety. This 4K TV will not look better than a very good 1080p TV with standard and HD signals, but wait!, there are no more very good 1080p TVs. The manufacturers stopped making them. While not the most robust scaler, the MU6500 gets a good score for the price of the TV.

LED Edge Backlight – A Standout Feature

The light flow through created by the Samsung LED backlights has been a major positive for the last couple of years and continues with this UHD offering. It’s one of the TVs best characteristics. Some complain that it can cause screen uniformity issues. To tone down the LED backlight from causing some uneven screen uniformity issues turn the backlight setting (found in the picture settings menu) down to a more reasonable level – around 80% is what we recommend. This will keep screen uniformity issues from arising and you still have plenty of brightness from this super bright LED TV. Having powerful LED backlighting in case you need it for super bright room conditions is a plus.

Side Angle Viewing – Much Room for Improvement

Color saturation and contrast do fade when viewing from off center though much more subtly than I expected. In fact, the untrained eye will likely not see much difference in contrast saturation until around 15 degrees off center. Early models of the 4K TVs from Samsung did not look this good from the side and were more in line with standard HD LED TVs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a drawback, but not as pronounced as it once was. This was probably the single biggest drawback compared to OLED aside from the deeper blacks and richer colors on OLEDs. There is also some noticeable screen glare, as this panel does not do as good a job with anti-glare properties.

Color System/Calibration

The MU6500 does not have the higher end Color Drive Pro system of the MU7000 model above it. It has the lowest color gamut spec they offer for 2017/2018. One thing we like about this TV though is color accuracy and ease of calibration to get a very passable picture. While HDR compatible, the MU6500 is not able to take advantage of the best attributes of HDR content.

Refresh Rate Concerns/Motion Blur

The native panel refresh rate is only 60Hz for the MU6500 so you will see some judder on those movie scenes with side to side panning. The backlight manipulated Motion Rate is 120. This is another compromise for a lower priced TV. This is not to be confused with fast action sports performance. Motion blur from sports is actually negligible if non-existent. It’s 24p material, movies where you will likely notice the judder the most. You can always add the Telenovela effect by using the Auto Motion Plus feature and get rid of some or all of the judder.

 

Quick Picture Calibration Settings

Quick Calibration: The following settings are for a medium to dark room light. Since calibrations can vary among different TVs even from the same model number, we no longer post the advanced 10 point White balance calibration settings. However, TV manufacturers have improved at providing a preset picture setting that is pretty close to D65 out of the box. The settings below will get you close. Try the Warm 2 setting and for a couple days to get used to it. If after a couple days picture images still seems to warm (reddish tones), change it to the Warm 1 mode. Also, if you are viewing in a brighter room environment, you may prefer the Warm 1 mode.

Picture Mode: Movie
Backlight18Sharpness10
Contrast98Color50
Brightness45TintG50/R50
Expert Settings
Digital Clean ViewOffGamma0
AutoMotion PlusOffRGB OnlyOff
Film ModeOffColor SpaceAuto
HDMI ColorMPEG Noise FilterOff
HDMI Black LevelAutoFilm ModeOff
Dynamic ContrastOffLED Motion PlusOff
Color ToneWarm 2

 

Notes: The Backlight setting is the easiest and quickest way to adjust for room light conditions. For brighter rooms move the setting up and darker rooms down. Game Mode may be enabled under Special Viewing Mode. The Digital Clean View mode may be utilized for lower quality and lower resolution content like 480p DVDs, non-HD cable, and streaming TV that is not HD quality.

Auto Motion Plus – Know When to Use this Feature

The Auto Motion Plus feature is something that comes as a blessing and a curse. By default it is set to On in all of the preset picture setting modes. You will likely want to turn it off for streaming content, DVDs, Blu-rays, and TV shows. The feature gives you a dreadful “Telenovela Effect”, making images look unrealistic by eliminating too much natural background blur. Turn it off in the Expert Settings menu and everything will be fine again. You’ll immediately see judder when you disable it, but your eyes will adjust momentarily. The features does not hurt good quality live sports programming so you may want to use it there. Another experiment you may want to try is using it with poor quality DVDs. It can help the viewing experience there, bringing these old movies to life. Just be familiar with how to s and it won’t be a problem.

Another possibly acceptable setting is enabling the feature using the Custom setting and using a low value on the De-Blur portion of the setting.

(Note: to get to the setting click on Menu, swipe across to Picture, Scroll down to Expert Settings and scroll down to AutoMotion Plus.)

Features Rating: 84/100

Samsung Smart Hub

The Smart TV system works fast and efficiently with all the normal Smart TV options. The MU6500 does not get the top Samsung Tizen OS Smart Hub of the top models, but instead gets a similar Smart Hub suite to last year with the same basic design. Samsung hit the mark with their user interface and intuitive navigation. This time around you will see the Game tab as one of the major smart TV pages. The On TV page allows for individual logins. This means different members of the family can have different recommendation settings. This is a big plus for a home with multiple TV users. The Smart Hub for the MU6500 includes a full web browser.

Quad-core Processor

The quad-core processor greatly increases the speed of the Smart TV function and browsing. It is a welcome addition since processing speed and multitasking were slow before the upgrade to the quad-core.

Appearance and Design

The MU6500 has a nice design with a half inch black border and of course the curved screen. The framing and bezel design does not have the expensive look and feel of the higher end premium UHD or Q7 TVs in Samsung’s lineup. This is one of the trade offs for the lower price. I like the Y shaped stand design though.

Smart Remote

The MU6500 comes with a standard Smart Remote (TM1750A) which works well, but does not voice control.

Sound Quality

There is plenty of volume from the inbuilt 10w down-firing speakers. It’s not what I would call high quality defined audio, but it gets the job done. A sound bar would be a marked improvement.

Other Features

The MU6500 has built in Wifi, and plenty of HDMI inputs (3) and 2 USB inputs. It also has mobile to TV mirroring and a Game Picture Mode for gamers. Though we were not able to test the HDR Premium picture, it’s nice to have some future proofing HDR compatibility included. This just means that it will be able to display some types of HDR content on the screen, even though the TV does not have a wide enough color gamut to capture all the nuances of HDR. This is a good gaming TV with around 28ms input lag when Game Mode is enabled.

Features it Lacks

The UHD Dimming feature really does not quality as local dimming and does little to enhance contrast in various areas of the screen. 3D is not included. 120Hz panel is not included. Even though the MU6500 has HDR compatibility, it does not have a very wide color gamut for enjoying the best benefits of HDR. Even though the MU6500 does a good job of up-conversion, it does not have a high end scaler. The MU6500 includes a scaled down version of Samsung’s Smart Hub rather than the top of the line Tizen OS. But really, it works fine.

Value Rating 92/100

UN55MU6500 – $987. If curved screen is your thing, a great deal!

UN65MU6500 – $1487. A great deal, but I might prefer the MU7000 or MU7500 (curved) in this size due to appearance and glare

UN49MU6500 – $742. Pretty solid deal, good for a table stand in a smaller apt.

Quick Specs

  • 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)
  • Curved Screen
  • Contrast Enhancer
  • Motion Rate 120 (60Hz native panel with backlight scanning)
  • Speaker output power: 10W x 2
  • Quad Core Processor
  • Samsung Smart View (Mirroring)
  • MHL-compatible HDMI input for viewing photos/videos from a compatible smartphone on the TV’s screen
  • 3 HDMI, 2 USB Connections
  • Wi-Fi Built-in (802.11ac)
  • HEVC decoder included (for watching streamed 4K content)
  • Mobile to TV Mirroring; DLNA
  • Free downloadable apps for iOS and Android™ enable you use a compatible smartphone or tablet as a remote control
  • Other Dimensions:
    • UN65MU6500 – 57.1″ x 36.3″ x 15.1″ with stand, 57.1″ x 33.1″ x 4.5″ without
    • UN55MU6500 – 48.9″ x 30.7″ x 12.2″ with stand, 48.9″ x 28.3″ x 4.4″ without stand
    • UN49MU6500 – 43.1″ x 25.1″ x 4.1″ without stand, 43.1″ x 27.9″ x 13.2″ with stand

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