If you're apathetic about haughty design and streaming services, the FH6003 could be your chance at decent, affordable picture quality.
Unfortunately, testing revealed slightly dodgy performance from this competitively priced TV. The FH6003's one job is to produce a great picture—but prior to calibration, its image quality is just average.
As plain as the FH6003 is on the outside, it still has an $800 job to do on the inside. Unfortunately, after a lengthy break-in period, it fell short of impressive picture quality. While this 55-inch Samsung did well in a number of areas, it needed some calibration to achieve the highest marks.
Our test of the FH6003's dynamic range—its peak and minimum luminance levels—revealed a healthy amount of contrast. I tested a very solid minimum luminance for a low-end LCD, and ample brightness for most viewing environments. Because it's an LED LCD, the FH6003 doesn't use automatic light limiting, so it stays bright and flashy regardless of the content you're watching. TVs that limit light output tend to grow visually darker when displaying a lot of light, and brighter when displaying a little—you'll get none of that here.
From a dynamics perspective, the TV's only problem is its viewing angle, which is rather narrow. It doesn't swivel, so if you're thinking about buying, make sure you plan the TV's placement carefully.
Calibration revealed some notable errors in both the TV's color production (per international standards) and grayscale tracking. In short, even in Movie mode, the FH6003 is just too blue. Its grays and whites are tinged with a blue hue, and its blue sub-pixel is overemphasized within the overall balance.
What this means for the viewer is a generally unbalanced picture, with overly luminous sky and sea, slightly blue clouds (to the keen-eyed) and an unappealing mix of grays and whites throughout shadow tones and highlights. Gamma tests revealed that the FH6003 transitions from deep to medium shadows with too little luminance, meaning subtle details can be very difficult to see.
The FH6003 has its positive qualities, too. For an LED LCD, this TV has much better screen uniformity than many of its similarly-priced counterparts. Uniformity issues cause blotchiness and light bleed during dark scenes and letterboxed content. I also observed very commendable detail retention during motion. Without any assistance, the FH6003's 120Hz panel exhibits a very low amount of blurring and color trailing, but still struggles with motion artifacts.
Fortunately, Samsung includes a few motion assistants within this TV's software suite: Both Auto Motion Plus and LED Motion Plus are present here, processing modes which help smooth judder and blurring.
Auto Motion Plus is available in various degrees of strength, ranging through Clear, Standard, Smooth, and a Custom mode. There's also a Demo option, which splits the screen in half to allow you to view your picture with and without assistance, side by side. LED Motion Plus is Samsung's backlight scanning mode, a setting which dims and flickers the backlight to interspace potential blur with black—fortunately, the FH6003 hardly blurs at all, so this mode isn't terribly necessary.
Overall, the FH6003 can produce a very sound picture, but only with some informed calibration to correct its white balance, gamma, and grayscale errors. For more details about the data gathered while testing the UN55FH6003, visit the Science Page.
Just the basics
As I said in the intro, this TV is quite plain. Glossy black plastic wraps the screen and rectangular pedestal—the FH6003 eschews the fancily-shaped stands found on higher-end Samsung TVs. At 3.7 inches deep, it's also not quite as thin as many of Samsung's other panels. All of this, however, factors into the low price.
While the FH6003 may not draw any longing stares for its design, it's not ugly by any means. Half-inch black bezels emphasize screen real estate, while a centered neck and wide base offer a decent amount of stability. The one functional drawback to this TV's design is that the panel doesn't swivel, which limits viewing flexibility a bit.
Even if you're not concerned about the bare bones looks, it's a good idea to take stock of this TV's ports and connectivity options prior to running out and buying it. While necessity varies from person to person, the FH6003's two HDMI inputs and shared component/composite hooks are a pretty stingy spread of video connections. If you have more than two high-definition playback devices, you'll be at a loss—unless you own an HDMI splitter. The final slight? Each entry in this meager selection of ports is located on the back of the TV, making wall-mounting a tricky ordeal.
Included with the UN55FH6003 is the TV's power cable, and Samsung's standard infrared remote.
New for 2012! ... Wait a minute
The super-basic FH6003 carries over almost an exact duplicate of Samsung's lower-end menu interface from last year: a transparent, somewhat ugly array that hugs the left side of the screen. Here, users will find options for Picture, Sound, System, and Timer functions. Navigation is easy and responsive on the included remote, as the menu really isn't complicated enough to create any hurdles.
The FH6003 lacks the high-end customization options of pricier TVs, but it does offer a few more advanced controls for the aspiring calibrator. Settings for gamma, 2-point white balance, and color temperature selection live alongside an audio EQ and automatic volume regulation. Most of this was also available on the 2012 models, but hey—if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Close, but no cigar
For $800, getting a 55-inch LCD—albeit an extremely bare bones one—isn't a bad deal. Unfortunately, at the end of the day this TV produces a less-than-stellar picture.
For the price, investing in a calibrator to fix this TV's inherent problems wouldn't be a terrible idea, but you'd also be paying even more for the extremely boring design and stripped-down software. Shop at your own risk? Nah, just pay the same amount for a same-size, better-performing, WiFi-ready Vizio.
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.
Meet the tester
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Checking our work.
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