Samsung UN40EH6000 LED-LCD TV
Price: $850 At A Glance: Superb detail & color • LED-array backlighting eliminates uneven illumination • LEDs turn off momentarily in some dark scenes
In my quest to find good-performing flat panels under $1000, I was eager to try the Samsung UN40EH6000. The company's entry-level EH-series LED-LCD TVs are available in several lines, of which the EH6000 is top of the heap, and each line includes several sizes, ranging from 26 to 65 inches. (Not all sizes are available in all lines.) At 40 inches, the model reviewed here is the smallest of the EH6000 line.
Samsung's higher-end LED-LCD TVs are all illuminated by LEDs at the edges of the screen, but the EH series places the LEDs in a full array behind the LCD panel. Before you get too excited about this, these models do not implement local dimming, in which the LEDs dim only behind the dark areas of an image. This is undoubtedly to keep the cost down. Even so, I much prefer LED-array backlighting, which greatly reduces or eliminates uneven illumination in dark scenes, a problem that plagues all LED-edgelit designs.
Samsung does not specify the refresh rate of its LCDs, but rather something called Clear Motion Rate (CMR), which takes into account refresh rate, backlight flashing, and video processing to come up with a number that is more or less equivalent to an "effective" refresh rate. The EH6000's CMR is rated at 240, though I happen to know that its actual refresh rate is 120Hz, and it does offer frame interpolation. (The step-down EH5000's CMR is 120, and its actual refresh rate is 60Hz, so it does not offer frame interpolation, but it's otherwise essentially identical to the EH6000.)
With a refresh rate of 120Hz, the UN40EH6000's frame interpolationwhich Samsung calls Auto Motion Plusprovides three presets: Clear, Standard, and Smooth, as well as a Custom setting that lets you independently adjust the amount of interpolation for film-based and video-based content. The Clear preset applies only to video-based contentit does nothing with film-based materialwhile the other two apply to both in different degrees.
Another motion-sharpening feature is called LED Motion Plus, which flashes the LED on and off during each frame. I didn't find it to be very effective, except to make the picture dimmer, so I left it off.
Other than the EH5300, none of the EH-series TVs provide Smart TV online streaming, but the EH6000 can play media files from a USB storage device. You can play a wide variety of video formats; MP3, PCM, and WMA audio formats (except WMA Lossless); and JPEG photo files.
The EH6000's onboard sound system is enhanced with SRS TruSurround HD virtual-surround technology, and it actually does sound better than many Samsung flat panels I've heard in the past. This is more important for a 40-inch TV than it is for larger sets, since a 40-incher is more likely to be used without an external sound system. Still, an external soundbar or surround system will certainly sound a lot better than the internal speakers.
The smallish remote is fully backlit, and the buttons are well organized and fairly large, though they are crowded quite closely together. Their slightly different shapes are supposed to make them easy to find by feel, but I kept hitting the wrong ones in the dark.
The UN40EH6000's menu system is well designed. Like all Samsung TVs, the Picture menu has two submenusAdvanced Settings and Picture Optionswhich include various additional controls. In higher-end Samsung TVs, highlighting these items shows a list of what's in them, but unfortunately, not here.
Selecting a picture control causes the rest of the menu to disappear, and you can move from one control to the next with the remote's Up and Down buttons, which is very convenient. However, the control display is too high on the screenit reaches up almost to the middle, obscuring some of the image you're trying to tweakand rest of the menu returns after only 10 seconds of inactivity. All of this made it more difficult that it should be to set the controls.
As usual, I selected the Movie picture mode, which proved to be the closest to the video-system standards that have long been established by the industry. Both the Contrast and Brightness controls were too high by default, and the backlight was way too high for a dark room. But I was able to adjust these controls, even though they got in the way of the setup images.