More than a year ago I wrote a popular article that's becoming increasingly irrelevant: "I want my dumb TV." My argument was that Smart TVs make no economic sense because you can get the same or better functionality from an add-on box for cheaper.
TVs like Samsung's UNF5000 and UNF5500 series are the reason behind its increasing irrelevance. The major difference between the two is that the F5500 has Samsung's Smart TV suite, and the F5000 does not. Currently, the price differences between the same sizes in each series are $31 (32-inch), $83 (40-inch), $51 (46-inch), and $83 (50-inch). That's not much money when add-on boxes start at $50 for the excellent Roku LT.
With its relatively cheap Smart TV suite Samsung makes it abundantly clear it wants you to get the UNF5500 instead. In case you needed extra incentive to step up, it also has a different, arguably nicer stand, and an extra HDMI input.
On the other hand, if you already own an external device for streaming -- whether a Roku or an Apple TV, a game console or a disc player -- you really don't need Smart TV. If that's the case, you'll probably be happy to note that the F5000, according to Samsung's specifications, will likely offer identical picture quality to its slightly more expensive, significantly smarter brother. That picture is pretty darn good for its class, if not quite at the level of what you see on TVs like the Panasonic E60 and Vizio E series. All told the F5000 is a solid value among dumb TVs, as long as you don't mind its sparse connectivity.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 40-inch Samsung UN40F5000, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.
|Models in series (details)|
|Samsung UN22F5000||22 inches|
|Samsung UN32F5000||32 inches|
|Samsung UN40F5000 (reviewed)||40 inches|
|Samsung UN46F5000||46 inches|
|Samsung UN50F5000||50 inches|
Samsung's well-known minimalist design chops extend even as far down as the UNF5000 series. The frame around the screen is a uniform five-eighths-inch in width and glossy black in color, and the cabinet is nice and thin. The latter is due to the TV's edge-lit LED backlight -- making unnecessary the thicker cabinets imparted by the direct LEDs of sets like the Vizio E series and LG LA6200. The only hint of panache is the angular Samsung logo jutting forward from the bottom like a defiant chin.
One miscue is the stand, which seemed way too large chunky for our 40-inch review sample -- although its proportions might improve on other sizes. I still like it better than the four-legged spider stand found on the F5500 models, but unlike those sets, the F5000 doesn't swivel.
Another downside is the remote, but for a relatively budget-priced TV, it's not terrible. The grid of buttons lacks sufficient differentiation and suffers from clogging -- I'd rather have blank space where the "Media P." and "Sleep" buttons reside, for example -- but in its favor are full backlighting and compact size.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|Screen finish||Glossy, matte||Remote||Standard|
|Smart TV||No||Internet connection||N/A|
|3D technology||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Refresh rate(s)||60Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||No|
Since Samsung's Web site claims the F5000 offers "A Clear Motion Rate (CMR) of 120," we forgive you for perhaps thinking it has a 120Hz refresh rate. In fact, this is a 60Hz TV, and behaves exactly as we'd expect a 60Hz TV to behave in our tests. At least Samsung isn't alone among TV makers in creating fake specs like CMR.
As we mentioned, the F5000 lacks the extensive Smart TV suite found on the step-up UNF5500 series; the extent of its brains is that it can play back photo, music, and video files from USB thumb drives. Otherwise the two are identical aside from the F5500's stand and its third HDMI input.
Picture settings: The selection here is, not surprisingly, a bit less extensive than on higher-end Samsungs like the UNF6300 series. Gone are the 10-point grayscale and color management controls, and the fourth adjustable picture preset. Three, along with a simpler two-point grayscale, should be plenty for most users, however. There's also a control labeled LED Clear Motion that enables backlight scanning for very slightly improved motion resolution, at the expense of a dimmer image (see below).
Connectivity: Seriously, Samsung? Just two HDMI ports? If you connect a cable/satellite box and a game console to your UNF5000, there's no room for a Roku or Apple TV, a DVD/Blu-ray player, or any number of other HDMI devices.
If you want to connect more HDMI gear to this TV, a cheap switcher or an HDMI-equipped AV receiver is probably the best solution. The downside, of course, is the extra complexity of switching, a problem in turn best solved by a universal remote.