Published On: April 18, 2011

Samsung UN65C6500 65-inch Class 6500 Series 1080p LED HDTV Reviewed

Published On: April 18, 2011

Samsung UN65C6500 65-inch Class 6500 Series 1080p LED HDTV Reviewed

With wave after wave of LED HDTVs being released, it is hard to stand out. But that is precisely what the Samsung UN65C6500 LED HDTV does. It stands as one of the largest and thinnest screens around, but that's not all it has going for it.

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.

Additional Resources
• Read more LED HDTV reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Explore Blu-ray player options in our Blu-ray Player Review section.
• Find on-wall speakers to pair with with UN65C6500.

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.

The Hookup
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 à la 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."

Performance
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.

Read more about the UN65C6500VF's performance on Page 2.

Next I channeled around DirecTV,
landing on a rerun of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. Deadliest
Catch is filmed in HD using a barrage of different professional and
consumer grade handheld HD cameras, so while the imagery is always
stunning the video quality isn't nearly as consistent. During many of
the show's night scenes the C6500's edge lighting was mildly apparent,
something I didn't experience with the brightly lit, indoor hockey
footage earlier. The C6500's were the most apparent when in the
presence of a largely static or slow moving dark area; for instance the
night sky over the Bering Sea, versus a dimly lit portion of a crab
fishing boat's deck. It was during these sequences that I noticed the
C6500 doesn't really achieve true black or even the deepest blacks
I've seen from a flat panel display (that honor currently belongs to Panasonic's plasma lines),
though among large screen LED based displays, the C6500 is among the
best. Despite the discovery of the C6500's edge lighting system in
some shots and not quite there black levels the 6500VF's overall
performance with Deadliest Catch was still impressive. I've found that
certain LED TVs have a tendency to gloss over fine details and
textures, much the same way early generation plasma's and LCDs once
did, not so with the C6500. The creases and sea hardened lines in the
fishermen's' faces were rendered with such fine detail that during
close ups, regardless of the outside lighting conditions, it appeared
as if they were drawn on, they were so crisp and clear. The same held
true for the detail in many of the mens' beards and days-old stubble.
Ocean waves, especially the mist or spray coming off of them, is always
difficult to get right and while the C6500 didn't fully manage to make
the fine particles of water appear exactly like fine particles of
water, it didn't do what many LCD and LED TVs do, which is spray the
characters with obvious white and semi opaque pixels. It was somewhere
in between, but closer to the real thing than not.

Moving on to Blu-ray source
material, I cued up The Criterion Edition of The Curious Case of
Benjamin Button (Criterion/Paramount). Within moments of the film's
first scene it became apparent that when fed an appropriate HD signal,
say a beautiful 1080p transfer from an already digitally shot, 2K film,
the C6500's performance could reach new heights. Let me start with
what remained largely the same, the C6500's detail, texture and color
rendering, including saturation and tone, was sublime. Skin tones and
texture, even those found on the largely CG face of Brad Pitt
throughout the film, appeared natural and lifelike. Fine details such
as fabric textures, aging wallpaper, wood grain and even the decaying
streets of New Orleans were presented with the utmost care and
attention to detail. The C6500's black level performance firmed up and
reached new depths in comparison to my earlier HD broadcast tests,
though the edge lighting issue remained. In some of the film's night
scenes, for instance the battle between Pitt's tugboat crew and an
enemy submarine, the C6500's black level detail was among the best
I've seen and, provided the action, albeit dark, kept moving the
C6500's edge lighting was less apparent. Speaking of motion: the
C6500 showcased zero video or motion artifacts, and remained smooth
and natural throughout my viewing of Benjamin Button. Remember - I
disabled Samsung's Auto Motion Plus 120Hz processing.

I ended my evaluation of the Samsung C6500 with some streaming content courtesy of CinemaNow and Netflix
streaming, both of which are apps that are available via the Samsung's
app store, which you can access directly from the C6500's screen.
While the app store may have been beautifully rendered, the video
streamed through the before mentioned apps was atrocious. Now I'm not
one of those guys who is going to sit here and tell you that streaming
video is evil and that it's simply a fad propagated by the iPod
generation because it's not. Streaming media is the future and as some
studies suggest the future is actually happening now; I argue it still
has a ways to go before its quality equals its convenience.

Streaming video can look relatively good on smaller displays and
portable media devices like an iPad or smart phone; on a 65-inch super
bright, super sharp LED TV not so much. When presented with streaming
video content the C6500 only serves to magnify its flaws and while
many streaming services, such as CinemaNow, may claim HD quality video,
there is a big difference between total pixels and the compression used
to stream HD content in real time - a fact you will become intimately
familiar with when watching streaming content via the C6500.

The Downside
The C6500's edge lighting is its most obvious Achilles heel; during
dark or dimly lit scenes it is ever present and a constant reminder of
the price you pay in order to achieve this level of industrial design
in an HDTV. Also, because of its edge lighting flaws the C6500's
overall black level performance was also a bit shy of reference grade,
a bar set by Pioneer and Panasonic. However, neither of the before
mentioned brands offers a display as gorgeous as the Samsung C6500.
Hell, Pioneer doesn't even make a HDTV anymore.

The C6500 can't help but have a 65-inch screen but alas it's one of
its bigger issues. First, because the C6500 is so large it can act a
little bit like a mirror in certain lighting situations; it's not as
bad as earlier LED models but it's still a factor at times. Second,
streaming doesn't really look good nor hold a candle to even DVD
quality content on any sized screen, except maybe an iPad or smart
phone, and it definitely has no business on a screen like the one found
on the C6500. The C6500's 65-inch screen only serves to magnify
streaming video's (and even DVDs) many flaws. Netflix streaming was by
far the worst though Apple downloaded video wasn't far behind.

Samsung may have the best app store this side of Apple but I don't
like that their chosen format is PC only, leaving us Apple aficionados
high and dry. I suppose connecting an Apple TV to your C6500 is a
suitable work around and at $99 probably a better way to go, especially
considering that an Apple TV has WiFi capability built in, which solves two of the C6500's problems.

Lastly, while many may view the C6500's lack of 3D support as a
downside it isn't, for that's not who this LED TV is aimed at. The
C6500 is a cost effective alternative to Samsung's own 8000 Series
displays, which are 3D enabled. While I applaud Samsung's choice to
release a series of displays without 3D capability, I'm sure future
models will include 3D though I doubt there will be quite the same
up-charge for it going forward.

Competition and Comparisons
While every manufacturer is getting into the LED TV game, few are
making them at the size of the C6500. Vizio recently released a 65-inch edge lit LED TV
that features Internet connectivity and app support as well as 3D
capabilities all for $3,699.99, which is noticeably less than the
C6500. However the Vizio LED TV doesn't boast the same form factor or
build quality as the C6500 nor does it share its razor thin profile.

It's far more common to find a 55 or even a 60-inch LED TV than it is a 65-inch like the C6500; LED TVs such as Toshiba's 55-inch 55WX800U
come to mind. The 55WX800U is a full 10-inches smaller though it boasts
many of the same features as the C6500, is 3D capable and boasts a
similar form factor all for $3,299.99 retail.

In the coming months there's going to be an onslaught of larger LED
TVs in both 3D and non-3D variants from the likes of Samsung, LG, Vizio
and more so while Samsung may have a good portion of the bigger than
thou LED TV market to themselves at the moment, that isn't always going
to be the case. To stay up to date on the latest LED TV news and
reviews be sure to check out Home Theater Review's LED HDTV page.

Conclusions
At just under $4,500 retail the Samsung C6500 is one of the more
stylish HDTVs available today and when you consider its performance,
especially with HD broadcasts such as sporting events and cable
programming it's clear who the C6500 is aimed at. While the C6500
does suffer a bit at the hands of its edge lighting design, it's still
a capable performer for many of today's Blu-ray titles. DVDs begin to
show their age and limitations on the C6500 but are still enjoyable,
which is more than what I can say for streaming content and/or Internet
video played back via the C6500.

The obvious question you have to ask yourself when considering the
C6500 is whether or not you can live without 3D. While I personally
despise 3D and wish it a quick and painful death, there's no getting
around the fact that it's the novelty item of the moment and the C6500
simply doesn't have it. While that may be precisely the reason why Home Theater Review
publisher, Jerry Del Colliano, bought the C6500 and why I dig it, it
may not be the right choice for you - especially if you have children.
Furthermore, there are a number of LED TVs out there that offer many of
the same features as the C6500, including 3D, for less.

That being said, among the larger, edge lit, LED TVs currently
available, the Samsung C6500 is one of the best. If you're in the
market for a super thin, beautiful display that is capable of capturing
the excitement of HD sports while still retaining the subtlety of film
via your favorite Blu-ray discs and can overlook some edge light
deficiencies, built-in WiFi and a lack of 3D support then the Samsung
65-inch C6500 LED HDTV is worth your consideration.

Additional Resources
• Read more LED HDTV reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
• Explore Blu-ray player options in our Blu-ray Player Review section.
• Find on-wall speakers to pair with with UN65C6500.

Subscribe To Home Theater Review

You'll automatically be entered in the HTR Sweepstakes, and get the hottest audio deals directly in your inbox.
HomeTheaterReview Product Rating
Value: 
Performance: 
Overall Rating: 
When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Your support is greatly appreciated!
© JRW Publishing Company, 2020
magnifiercross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram