I'm still amazed at just how thin HDTVs have become recently and Samsung's latest, the 65-inch Class 6500 Series reviewed here, has to be the thinnest LED HDTV I've encountered yet. It's hard to believe that any HDTV can become more svelte, yet if you went to CES this year you no doubt know they can and will. Retailing for $4,499.99 the 65-inch Class 6500 is the big dog among its stable mates which also includes 55, 46, 40 and 32-inch models - all sharing the same features and technology, varying only in size and price.
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As for the UN65C6500 (C6500), your four thousand and change gets you an edge lit LED TV that measures just under 60-inches wide by 36-inches tall and a thinner than one inch thickness (not including the base, which is just under 14-inches deep). For an HDTV of this size one would expect it to weigh in excess of 100 pounds yet the C6500 tips the scales at a rather surprising 77 pounds, 84 if you include the base. The C6500 doesn't boast a true 65-inch diagonal screen; instead it measures in at 64 and a half inches - close enough. Still, the C6500 has a native resolution of 1920x1080 and has a reported contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1, in Dynamic mode, and features Samsung's Auto Motion Plus 120Hz Refresh Rate, which like Dynamic picture modes are two features I wish weren't included in the C6500's asking price. Seriously, five million to one. While LED TVs may be leading the charge in the bigger, brighter, better war there's no denying it does have an environmental advantage over traditional LCD and plasma HDTVs. The C6500 exceeds Energy Star's 4.1 compliant standards, meaning it's up to 43 percent more efficient than Energy Star's minimum requirements - not bad.
The C6500 has a surprising number of modern and legacy input options including four HDMI ins, a single component video in, a composite video in, one PC input (D-sub), a PC audio input (mini jack), Ethernet port, two USB 2.0 ports, an optical digital audio out, an additional analog audio out (mini jack), a DVI audio input (mini jack) and an RF input. The C6500 is not a 3D capable HDTV so its HDMI inputs are not 3D compliant; for that feature set you have to look elsewhere in Samsung's lineup.
Along with its vast list of inputs the C6500 features SRS TheaterSound via its dual 15-Watt speakers, which are mounted along the bottom of the display itself. The C6500 is Wi-Fi Ready, requiring Samsung's LinkStick adapter (sold separately) to take full advantage of your home's wireless network and allow you to access Samsung's App Store or services such as CinemaNow or Netflix without having to hardwire the C6500 via its Ethernet port.
Speaking of Apps: the C6500 is app enabled and has access to Samsung's stellar app store that features the latest apps from companies such as Netflix, CinemaNow, Pandora, Blockbuster, Twitter, YouTube, eBay, and Flickr to name just a few. If you're an iPhone or smart phone user, buying and interacting with Samsung's App store will be second nature for the interface is similar and your interaction with your purchased apps is largely the same as those you'd find and download to your phone. Speaking of phones, the C6500 features AllShare (DLNA), which syncs all of your digital devices- be they laptops, tablets or smart phones - with your Samsung C6500 so that you can share music, video clips, photos and even movies on the C6500's 65-inch screen.
Unfortunately, Samsung doesn't support Apple products at this time so if you're a Mac household like mine, Allshare isn't going to do you much good, though $99 buys you an Apple TV these days which you can connect to the 6500VF and interface with it much in the same way you would use AllShare. Look online on some of the enthusiast forums, such as Home Theater Spot, and you're bound to find a few, non-sanctioned, workarounds to the C6500's Apple woes.
Beyond the apps and media syncing, many of the C6500's remaining features such as picture-in-picture, Anynet+, BD Wise, ConnectShare Movie, and the like seem pedestrian, though still very useful and welcomed additions to the C6500 feature set.
Well, I'd like to say I unpacked the C6500 myself and installed atop my console with the help of a friend but I didn't. You see, the C6500 wasn't simply a review unit - it was my publisher's personal LED TV that he bought, sight unseen, to replace an aging 50-inch Panasonic Pro plasma that was recessed mounted, as luck would have it, inside a 58-inch opening. So, using a Chief Video-Wall mount, the installers at Simply Home Entertainment were able to completely cover the opening that once housed the Panasonic Pro plasma without the need for costly repairs or new drywall for an installation that looked not only professional but uber sexy. At 65-inches diagonal and just over an inch thick, the C6500's appearance mounted flush against a wall is more akin to a rear projection display ala Stewart Filmscreen StarGlas than an LED HDTV.
Once mounted and connected to the rest of the home's automation system and network, the sheer act of navigating the menus and later calibrating the C6500 was an absolute breeze. Samsung's on-screen menus are simply the best in the business in my opinion; cleanly laid out, beautifully rendered and organized in a rational, meaningful way that makes even difficult adjustments easy. Out of the box and in its Standard picture mode, the C6500 looks absolutely stunning and is within a few clicks here and there, mainly in brightness and contrast, of being calibrated when compared to my settings after using my copy of Digital Video Essentials on Blu-ray. For the purposes of this review I went ahead and disabled Samsung's Auto Motion Plus 120Hz processing or as my post production friends like to call it "the ruin movie feature."
I began my evaluation of the C6500 with some NHL hockey broadcast in HD. The ice was rendered beautifully courtesy of the C6500's LED back - I mean -edge lighting. The players' uniforms were rich, nicely saturated and natural in their color rendering as well as brilliantly detailed in their texture, allowing me to read the names on the back of the players' jerseys and even see the weave of the fabric in all but the widest of shots. Edge fidelity, even in the face of rapid motion, was among the best I've seen to date, creating a strong feeling of three dimensionality from a 2D image without the need for cumbersome or costly glasses. I'm not suggesting that the NHL game appeared to be 3D, I'm simply saying there was a great deal of dimension and 'pop' to the image that when combined with the C6500's large screen size gave me a you are there viewpoint on the action.