The Samsung ES6500 misses out on some of the cutting-edge features of the company's ES8000 sets, as well as on their high styling. However, the basic feature set -- including well-performing active-shutter 3D and head-of-the class Internet connectivity -- is more than solid. The same can be said for value. Picture quality, while good, draws a more mixed reception.
The ES6500 series is available in a wide variety of screen sizes. While the largest screen size in the series is not Energy Star-compliant, the rest are. Specifications are otherwise identical, and therefore so should be performance. Options include the 32-inch UN32ES6500 (*Est. $800) the 40-inch UN40ES6500 (*Est. $900), the 46-inch UN46ES6500 (*Est. $1,100), the 50-inch UN50ES6500 (*Est. $1,300), the 55-inch UN55ES6500 (*Est. $1,600), the 60-inch UN60ES6500 (*Est. $2,100) and the 65-inch UN65ES6500 (*Est. $2,700).
Good color, but uniformity a disappointment. One of the big drawbacks to edge-lit LED sets like the Samsung ES6500 is a tendency toward poor screen uniformity, with black levels at edges or corners being lighter than over the rest of the image. This varies from individual set to individual set, with some reviewers seeing it in their samples and others reporting uniformity to be just fine. One reviewer at PCMag.com also complains that his set had poor black levels; others are outright impressed with that aspect of picture performance. Several do report, however, that peak brightness should be higher; whites might not be white enough to please some. Color performance, on the other hand, is praised by all, with some adding that it is more than acceptable right out of the box. The matte screen finish makes the TV a good match for well-lit rooms.
All the essentials -- and some nice extras -- are included. The good news, we guess, is that 3D features are appearing in more and more mid-level sets, such as the ES6500. The better news is that 3D performance is markedly better than before, with annoying ghosting artifacts (crosstalk) being kept to a minimum as long as you sit more or less directly in front of the screen. Another plus is that makers are tossing in 3D glasses -- two in the case of the ES6500 -- and that extras are now pretty inexpensive (*Est. $20 per pair).
Critics also find lots to like about Samsung's Smart TV Internet platform. It's missing Amazon Instant, but most won't miss that considering the otherwise ample lineup of content partners. Samsung's TV app store is also now ample enough to be worth looking at, with information apps, game apps and more. However, we also saw some comments that getting to all of these goodies might not always be as pleasant an experience as possible, and that the interface is slow and not completely immune to the occasional glitch. Skype Internet calling is supported, but the required camera and microphone are extra-cost options.
Speaking of slow, skip the web browser. LCDTVBuyingGuide.com gives it props for being more usable than proprietary browsers found in some web-enabled TV, but still doesn't much like it. "To say using the browser is like watching molasses drip does not capture how slow it is," says Jack Burden.
For those not blessed with a nearby wired Ethernet connection, wireless-Wi-fi is built in, and DLNA compliance means that the ES6500 can stream content from a PC or other DLNA device on the same network.
The ES6500 isn't the graceful swan of some sets, but it's not an ugly duckling either. "It's fairly minimalistic and there is nothing much to complain about, though it's not going to blow your socks off," Burden quips. The standard black bezel is just a half-inch wide, and clear plastic trim gives everything a "pleasing angular look," says John Delaney at PCMag.com. The four-legged pedestal stand swivels smoothly.
PCMag.com also notes that the ES6500 is devoid of controls on the cabinet itself. Instead, there's a joystick control that lets you access and use the TV's menu system. However, Delaney says that it's ultimately easier to use the remote.
You won't find a bargain price, but the ES6500 isn't a bad deal. The ES6500 is among the sets affected by Samsung's Unilateral Pricing Policy program (see more here). That means that as long as you are buying from an authorized dealer, the price will be the exact same from store to store and from store to web. Still, most -- but not all -- reviewers say that on balance you get at least what you pay for, if not a touch more, with the ES6500.
In a vacuum, the ES6500's blend of performance, features and value make it a strong contender among mid-priced LED TVs. However, Vizio's M3D0KD edges it out by delivering somewhat better picture quality at a somewhat better price. However, if local streaming is important to you (something that's not in the Vizio's otherwise impressive lineup of features), or if you prefer the higher resolution of active-shutter 3D (the M3D0KD uses passive 3D technology), the ES6500 is a worthy second choice. It's also worth considering if you want a bigger or smaller screen than the M3D0KD offers (just 47 inches or 55 inches).
Excellent TelevisionInfo.com's tests are comprehensive, demanding and sometimes overkill for the less technically versed, but pull no punches when it comes to evaluating a TV. While Josh Fields finds "some bumps along the way," at the end of his journey with the Samsung UN46ES6500 he has lots of good things to say about the set.
Review: Samsung UN46ES6500, Josh Fields, May 18, 2012
Very Good ConsumerReports.org has long been known for its competent testing and lack of bias. Its TV reports now also feature more discussion of individual sets than in years past -- though still not as much as many other reviewers. You still need to be a subscriber to read the site's conclusions, however. In addition to this 55-inch member of the ES6500 series, the site offers an assessment of the 46-inch Samsung UN46ES6500.
Review: Samsung UN55ES6500, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Very Good PCMag.com isn't as impressed with the ES6500 series following its test of the UN46ES6500. Black levels and peak brightness are a disappointment, though color is not. The selection of web apps is also cited as a plus.
Review: Samsung UN46ES6500F, John R. Delaney, May 22, 2012
4. PC World
Very Good This testing-based review isn't as long as some, but does a good job detailing the pros and cons of the 46-inch Samsung UN46ES6500. Picture quality is no better than "so-so," says Lincoln Spector, though it's not totally devoid of positive qualities. The feature range is called "impressive."
Review: Samsung UN46ES6500F 46-Inch 3D LED HDTV, Lincoln Spector, July 30, 2012
5. LCDTV Buying Guide.com
Very Good Reviews here aren't as polished or accessible as reviews at other sites, but are competent and based on hands-on testing. Technically oriented readers will appreciate the calibration settings and associated notes. Performance and features of the 60-inch UN60ES6500 are liked, and value is well liked, earning the TV an overall rating of 9 out of 10 here. A separate video review accompanies this report as well.
Review: Samsung UN60ES6500 Review, Jack Burden, Not Dated
Very Good Though this is the page for the 46-inch version of the ES6500, all screen sizes can be accessed from here. Altogether, all sets in the series have drawn about 50 user reviews, and most give these TVs good marks.
Review: Samsung UN46ES6500 Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Aug. 2012
Fair The Samsung UNES6500 series is included in this list of LCD TVs choices. However, testing is not described and discussion is fairly generic and features based. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Best LCD TVs and LED/LCD TVs 40-Inches and Larger, Robert Silva