Samsung UN40HU6950 4K LED TV Review
More pixels, more performance, more value
Behind The Screens
The Samsung UN40HU6950 (MSRP $1,199) is an all-around great television. Smart features, design, and even 4K resolution aside, it produces as good a picture as almost anything else we've reviewed this year. Time in the lab revealed a great contrast ratio, accurate colors, and very solid grayscale tracking across the luminance spectrum. The only time the UN40HU6950 didn't shine was during our horizontal viewing angle test, which is sad news for clusters of dedicated cinephiles hoping to watch something together.
All around the world, TVs and computer monitors are calibrated in order to meet a set of international standards. Televisions, specifically, should adhere to a correlated color temperature of 6500K, a gamma curve between 2.2 and 2.4, and a specific set of color coordinates for their red, green, and blue primary colors.
We calibrate each TV to "dark room" ideals: a peak brightness of ~40 fL and a gamma curve of 2.4, as well as to the rest of the specifications outlined above. Calibrating a TV not only helps pinpoint how well it adheres to the international standards, it also shows consumers what the display is capable of should they seek out an informed calibration. I made adjustments to the HU6950's 2- and 10-point white balance to hone in on 6500K across the grayscale. I also made small adjustments to the TV's primary and secondary colors.
A TV's contrast ratio is determined by dividing its peak light output (or 100 IRE) by its minimum light output (or 0 IRE). A higher contrast, expressed as X:1, is often a telling result of how immersive and realistic a TV will look.
Compared to other, higher-price 4K displays from 2014, the HU6950 just crushes it. Its black level (0 IRE) of 0.06 cd/m2 is not the darkest we've seen all year, but it's coupled with a terrific brightness of 210 cd/m2. This gives the HU6950 a contrast ratio of 3,500:1, which bests all three comparison models.
Our viewing angle test measures just how far you can watch a TV to either side of "head-on" before the picture becomes difficult to watch. We measure the TV's contrast in 10° increments from the center out, and consider the extent of the viewing angle capped when contrast falls below 50% of its original value.
This is one area where the HU6950 could have performed better, though it's simply average for its pedigree. I measured a total viewing angle of 52°, or ±26° from the center to either side. This is a better result than the comparison models, but it's still on the stingy side for viewing flexibility.
A color gamut is a visual illustration of the millions of colors a TV can produce. Televisions have three primary colors (red, green, blue) and three secondary colors (cyan, magenta, yellow). These six colors, as well as the TV's white point, should adhere to exact locations on the gamut in terms of hue/saturation.
The HU6950 tested very well in this area, with minimal error at all seven points of the color gamut. Using the TV's custom color space, I was corrected small discrepancies in colors like red and green. For the most part, however, this is nit picking: the TV's color is terrific right out of the box as long as you're using Movie mode.
Gamma refers to the amount of luminance a display adds at each luminance interval from black to white. The amount of luminance added is measured in a number expressed commonly as 2.0, 2.2, or 2.4. While a gamma curve of 2.4 is ideal for a black, home theater room, the HU6950's default gamma of 2.28 (roughly 2.3) is great for a room with some lighting. After calibration, it adhered to a 2.4 curve quite willingly.
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