Samsung makes a ton of LED LCD TVs. This chart details almost all of them, excluding the new smaller 4K models and the numerous specialty series sold by various retailers. The company also sells a ton, maintaining its dominant position as the US and global TV sales leader.
One of its most popular TVs this year is bound to be the UNF6300, which occupies a price-to-features sweet spot around the lower middle of the chart. It lacks the fancy touch-pad remote found on more expensive models but preserves their excellent Smart TV design and functionality. It also lacks 3D, a feature almost nobody cares about.
What it does have -- sleek looks and a good-enough picture -- help make it one of the company's better values. I wouldn't recommend it as much as a couple of other midrange LED LCDs, like Panasonic's E60 or Vizio's M series, but I like do it better than the more expensive Samsung UNF6400. If you're looking for a way to get Samsung's class-leading Smart TV suite without causing much pain in your wallet, the UNF6300 series is worth a look.
Series information: I performed a hands-on evaluation of the 55-inch Samsung UN55F6300, 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 UN32F6300||32 inches|
|Samsung UN40F6300||40 inches|
|Samsung UN46F6300||46 inches|
|Samsung UN50F6300||50 inches|
|Samsung UN55F6300 (reviewed)||55 inches|
|Samsung UN60F6300||60 inches|
The F6300's strongest suit is how it's dressed: in sleek, distinctive garb that seems designed for a more expensive model. In fact, it looks almost exactly the same as the more expensive UNF6400, from the slim all-black bezel to the pleasantly subtle transparent edging to the trademark Samsung spider stand. The only differences I could pick out, looking at the two side by side, were the 6300's slightly more rounded-off edges and the lighter-gray color of the stand.
That stand feels just as cheap as it did on the 6400. The steel brace inside isn't connected to the plastic sheath on the outer and it actually flexed in my hand. When the TV is sitting on the table it works fine, but the build quality still doesn't inspire confidence.
The biggest difference between the two Samsungs is the remote control. The 6300 is the company's most expensive Smart TV to lack the new 2013 touch-pad clicker I've lauded (with caveats) previously. Instead you get a standard multibutton remote that, while certainly more cluttered, actually does a better job of giving easy access to many functions, especially for cable box/DVR control. It's a relief to not have to rely on a pop-up onscreen remote to do something as basic as fast-forward or pause live TV.
In fact, the choice between the 6300 and 6400 largely comes down to their remotes. If you really like the simple looks, novelty, and ease of tasks like Web browsing imparted by the touch version, go for it. But if you value practical functionality, the standard remote wins. Personally I'd use a universal remote anyway, despite Samsung's cable box control, so the coolness of Samsung's touch clicker would be wasted in my home.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||Edge-lit|
|Smart TV||Yes||Internet connection||Built-in Wi-Fi|
|3D technology||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Refresh rate(s)||120Hz||Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes|
|Other: Cable box integration and control via IR blaster; optional Skype camera (VG-STC3000, $99); optional keyboard (model VG-KBD2000, $99)|
Aside from its plain-Jane remote control, the UNF6300 omits a couple of other extras found on the 6400. It lacks voice control and 3D compatibility, offers a lower Clear Motion Rate, and doesn't have Samsung's Micro Dimming feature.
Assuming you don't care about talking to your TV or watching stuff in 3D, you might still be wondering how the absence of the latter two features impacts image quality. The answer is: not much. Micro Dimming on the UNF6400 isn't true local dimming -- it's software-based only -- and in our tests showed little to no discernible benefit. The same goes for Clear Motion Rate, Samsung's inflated stand-in number for refresh rate. Both sets have 120Hz panels, and show basically identical (and excellent) motion and video-processing performance.
Smart TV: The UNF6300 is Samsung's third-cheapest Smart TV for 2013. Only the UNF5500-series LEDs (which top out at 50 inches) and the PNF5500 series plasmas cost less. Beyond voice and gesture control, however, the 6300 has essentially the same Smart tricks as the higher-end models, and performs them just as well.
Samsung's Smart interface is reminiscent of an Android smartphone, with five different home pages you can flip through by shuffling among the icons at the top: On TV; Movies and TV shows (on demand); Photos, Videos, and Music (DLNA, USB, and cloud-based media); Social (Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter); and Apps. Navigation and the slick animations were quick on the 6300; its dual-core processor feels nearly as responsive as the quad-core of the high-end UNF8000 series. The design is refreshing, colorful, and relatively simple, a welcome change from the clutter of the company's previous versions. It's my favorite overall design of any of the 2013 Smart TV makers, although LG sets equipped with motion remotes are a close second, and allow you to get around more quickly.
The default first page is the ambitious On TV section, complete with a recommendation engine that suggests new shows. It basically attempts to replace your cable or satellite box with the TV's own interface -- and when it can't do that, to at least control the box via Samsung's own remote. I didn't like it quite as much in practice as I did LG's similar On Now system (see the LA8600 review), but it's still pretty cool. Aside from those two, no other TV maker currently offers the combination of integrated listings and cable box control.
In many ways, mostly related to having dedicated buttons on the remote, I found cable box control on the F6300 more satisfying and easier than on higher-end TVs like the F6400 and F8000. The standard remote has a specific key that calls up my cable box's program guide guide and another for its main menu. I especially appreciated the dedicated transport keys (Play, Pause, and so on) because I'm a heavy DVR user. The approximately half-second delay between pressing a button and seeing the results onscreen wasn't any longer than on the higher-end TVs, although it was still noticeable and annoying at times. That kind of performance is impressive for any IR-dongle-based system like this, but it's still not ideal.
One big downside to the standard remote becomes obvious when you use the Web browser. Samsung's browser software is great for a TV (albeit still worse than any smartphone, tablet, or PC), but when you have to shove a cursor around the screen using just the four keypad buttons, it gets old fast. If you're going to use the browser a lot, it's worth plugging in an external wireless keyboard. The TV can pair with a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse; I used two versions of the Samsung Wireless Keyboard (VG-KDB1000 and VG-KDB1500) that worked great, and the set should also work with newer KDB2000 models, too. I was also able to use a cheaper wireless USB keyboard, the Logitech K400, which has a touch pad that worked just as well as the Samsungs'.
Samsung's app selection is second to none, and it's still the only TV maker with HBO Go. Other notable apps among the hundreds available include Spotify, Pandora, Fios TV, Amazon Cloud Player, and AOL On. There's a Fitness VOD app with on-demand workouts, a robust multigame/activity Kids app, and many, many more.
For more detail I'll refer you to the UNF8000 review, which delves deeper into On TV and its recommendations, describes the other four pages, and touches on setup and other esoterica. Unless otherwise noted above it's the same suite as found on the F6300.