Samsung UN55F6800 LED TV Review
This high-end Samsung lives up to its price with A-plus performance.
Behind the Screens
The UN55F6800 (MSRP $2,199.99) is a terrific core performer. Decent black levels, very bright whites, accurate and smooth color, and highly customizable motion correction make this high-end Samsung LCD a very valuable display. A short calibration and some lab time yielded impressive results across the board, though for the price, I'd expect as much. It's not without the usual LCD-related drawbacks, but the F6800 is a superb television overall.
Blue moon, you saw me standing alone...
Color integrity refers to how well a display matches the international standards for its performance, in terms of color production. HDTVs are expected to hit a wider color space than standard definition tellies, but aren't capable of the ultra-wide color we're starting to see on OLED sets. Save for blue, the UN55F6800 adheres to the HDTV standard (called ITU-BT709) adamantly, displaying the ideal red, green, and white primaries. Its blue is a bit too saturated, and slightly off-hue, but as our eyes are least sensitive to blue, this is a minor problem at best.
Another area we test is the gamma correction of red, green, blue, and the grayscale—black to white. Gamma refers to the middle area of a TV's gradation steps; everything between reference zero (black) and 100 IRE (white) should ramp to a particular luminance correction meant to emphasize shades and hues to amply complement our analog vision. The F6800 soared like an eagle here, ramping up slowly to allocate ample detail to valuable shadow tones, and moving with smooth uniformity through the full steps. As usual, its red and blue ramp up a bit too quickly, attempting to compensate for the higher-luminance values of green.
Finally, we check the correlated color temperature of a display as it moves through its grayscale. Correlated color temperature, or CCT, refers to the temperature, in Kelvins, of a color or shade of a set hue (in this case, gray, or white) as it moves along the Planckian locus within a hypothetical blackbody radiator. Hey, it's called the Science Page for a reason. Ideally, we want to see the same CCT maintained from black to white, which means the same "flavor" of white/gray (x=0.313, y=0.329) throughout. The F6800 performed very well here, eschewing visible changes in its color temperature until the very darkest part of the spectrum, where color temperature shifts are much less visible.
Acceptable shadow tones, superb highlights
What is the bane of all TVs? The difficulty of displaying believably dark blacks and bright whites at the same time. Often, TVs capable of outputting a minimum luminance level dim enough to convince our skeptical human brains that it is shadow cannot get bright enough to imitate, say, sunlight. The opposite is also true, with bright TVs often incapable of rich, darker tones.
Fortunately, the F6800 is not one of those middling TVs. I tested a consistent black level between 0.065 cd/m2 and 0.075 cd/m2, which (on average) is a good deal darker than any other Samsung LCD we've tested this year. At the same time, this Samsung's 20% APL peak white measured an impressive 325.10 cd/m2, which is way brighter than most people need to watch TV. The final contrast ratio of 4645:1 is quite good for an LCD, even if its nowhere near the contrast that high-end plasmas are capable of.
Not great, but still better than its peers.
Horizontal viewing angle is an important aspect to consider when assigning a level of viewing flexibility to a TV. Too narrow, and the TV can only be watched from head-on. Too wide, and... well, actually, the wider the better! LCDs, due to their panel-transistor-screen-backlight fusion build, simply cannot scatter light with the carefree whimsy of their plasma panel arch-rivals. The F6800 does not have the widest viewing angle we've ever tested, but it still usurped three other Samsung LCDs of similar size/spec.
We tested a total viewing angle of 60°, or ±30° from the center of the screen to either side. Ideally, we like to see a total of 90° (±45°), so while this result is below average, it's not terrible either. At 54.6 inches of diagonal viewing, more than one person could watch this TV comfortably without viewing degradation, but a mid-sized (or larger) group would probably find gripe with contrast and color shifting.
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