Customer Review

167 of 183 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great TV Marred by Serious Flaws, April 26, 2010
This review is from: Samsung UN32C6500 32-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED HDTV (Black) (2010 Model) (Electronics)
NOTE: ADDENDUM BELOW TO LESSEN LED BACKLIGHT BLEED. Second Edit follows regarding LED switch-off.
NOTE: SECOND ADDENDUM REGARDING "PANEL LOTTERY"; Addition to info regarding settings to disable LED shutdown (6/30/10)
NOTE: THIRD ADDENDUM: New panel version # discovered :(

The Samsung 32" LED-LCD TV is a great unit, when used within a very limited fashion.

The LCD panel, as best I can I can determine is of the S-PVA variety, which provides good viewing angles, minimal color shift (assuming minimum viewing distance recommendations being followed), and good color gamut reproduction (>85% NTSC). However, this TV has some very serious flaws that make it a poor choice for many of the would-be purchasers that want a new bedroom TV or intend to use this as a computer monitor (as I do).

The first of these flaws is the edge lit LED backlighting. While it makes the image very vibrant (too much so until you calibrate the monitor properly), it also creates a VERY serious backlight bleed problem. On my set, on a screen that is completely black (minus some random area that isn't black - more on this below) I can see very large, very annoying, and very prominent light penetration from the edge mounted LEDs. While virtually unnoticeable in motion image viewing, it is slightly noticeable in static image viewing of moderate contrast, but is glaringly obvious when dark static imagery is displayed, or dark scenes viewed in movies/games. This phenomenon is so prominent that you can tell exactly where the bleed is, even during scenes with motion in them. One would not expect this to be present in a 32" display like it can be in the larger displays that have a larger (and brighter) set of LEDs.

The next problem is input lag. Activating the 120 Hz AutoMotion Plus mode makes playing games or even basic computer use impossible. There is a very distinct and frustratingly long 200ms (millisecond) delay in video image processing. Samsung knew of this ahead of time, which is made very obvious by the fact that the optical digital output has default delay setting of 100ms (the average time delay of the input lag). This unfortunately is only remedied by the activation of the Game Mode setting (Menu -> Plug&Play -> General -> Game Mode). Game Mode disables AutoMotion Plus, and the DNIe processor, leaving you with only basic brightness, contrast, white point balance, and backlight control (it also sets the picture type to Standard). This effectively turns your TV into a glorified basic LED backlit LCD computer monitor with speakers. When Samsung says "picture may be degraded", they mean simply that your TV will act as a barebones computer monitor with only basic functionality - the picture can still be relatively fine tuned via sharpness and the above mentioned controls, but lacks any enhancements from the DNIe processor. Unfortunately, this is the ONLY way you can use the TV as a computer monitor without pulling your hair out. It is also the only way you can play video games also - the input lag makes all but the least time-sensitive RPG type games unacceptably "out of sync" with the user's input. The one bright spot in this mess is that the image is still very clear, very crisp, and surprisingly smooth considering both the size of the display and the 60 Hz refresh rate.

Hinted above, the next problem is a serious flaw in the design of the TV that will be a deal breaker for many video game players. That problem is this: When the TV encounters an ALL BLACK signal, it doesn't just create black pixels within its LCD panel. Instead, it ***deactivates the LEDs themselves***. The LEDs are reactivated once any non-black information is received. This becomes a very apparent problem in games as many have cutscenes, and even live action scenes that fade to black momentarily. This causes the TV to turn its LEDs off completely and reactivate them only once it gets some non-black signal information. Unfortunately, there is a slight (25ms or so) lag when this occurs, and the user can actually miss the beginning of the next scene in a game, as that scene is cut off due to lag time inherent in reactivating the LEDs. This creates a very unnatural look and feel to the use of the TV. While LEDs are nearly instantaneous in their switching, this should not be a feature of the product. Ever. There is a HUGE difference between a backlit black image and a disabling of the LEDs completely. It totally destroys smooth scene transition and continuity. This is one problem Samsung can fix easily with a firmware update that lets the user disable this "undocumented feature".

The last of the flaws for this TV lies in its stand. The first problem with the stand is the visual design. The last thing you would want right under your TV is light being emitted via reflection, causing you to have distractions during viewing, but this stand does just that, as it is a polished aluminum type stand that WILL reflect light from the display. Their previous line's rectangular stand did not have this problem. The stand also has another nagging issue, and that is that it is insufficient for the TV's breadth and weight. Despite the TV being slim and not too heavy compared to conventional C/CCFL backlit LCD monitors, the TV leans forward about 3-5 degrees, even with the stand securely fastened via the five screws tightly. This causes colors near the bottom of the screen to appear washed out (faded about 20% compared to the center of the screen) unless the user(s)' eyes are at a level slightly below the screen's vertical centerline. The stand's lack of a tilt function (and way to lock the stand in place once it's adjusted) is simply unacceptable in this day and age of TV/monitor mounting technology. The "one size fits all" approach of the stand limits how and where you can effectively place this TV if you are unable to mount it to any of the varieties of wall mounts. Even a back-weighted mini-VESA table mount would be preferable to this mount, provided it wasn't polished aluminum.

This TV's LCD panel is bright, crisp, and remarkably clear itself. It would be nice if the panel wasn't glossy, as that does reflect ambient light somewhat, but this isn't a killer flaw like the ones mentioned above. The features that this TV has are very well done for the most part (streamed video format issues aside), and you do get a lot of display capability for this size class.

However, I cannot recommend this TV to anybody that plays games, or intends to do any computer work on it. The backlight flaws are serious, and the backlight bleed especially is horrendous, and makes this TV seem like a first generation product instead of the latest and greatest. This is one of the few Samsung products I've seen that goes below mediocrity and feels like corners were cut left and right on the basics, which gimp the esoteric features of the monitor. Also, the AutoMotion Plus 120 Hz mode actually interferes with the natural motion blur inherent in filmed video, causing a kitchy effect and creating an image that has virtually no depth to it at all and feels like you're watching full motion cardboard.

For the pricetag on this TV (approaching $1230 retail after taxes/recycling fees), one would hope that Samsung would have at least done some QA on the LED backlight before releasing this product. it feels rushed and overpriced considering the glaring flaws in the LED technology used.

Note of clarification: The LCD panel itself is great, and is a vast improvement over previous models. It is the LED *backlight* system that is flawed and needs to be addressed. Also note that "LED" TVs do not use LEDs for pixels. The video image is generated by standard LCD technology, with the LED part being the backlight, replacing the bulky CFL bulbs in previous generations of LCD displays. LED backlight advantages are near instantaneous switching (but not quite instantaneous as noted above), and they do not change colors over the span of their life like CFLs do.

My recommendation for purchasers is to find a Samsung display that uses what is called "Full Array/Local Dimming LED Backlighting". This type of LED backlight is rear mounted instead of edge mounted, and can be dimmed locally, providing exceptionally accurate color rendition with virtually zero backlight bleed. If you are like me and need a 32" TV/Monitor for specific purposes and/or reasons, save yourself some money and frustration and get the LN model instead of the UN model variant. This model's backlight flaws are too great to justify its exorbitant pricetag.


I have found a way to help alleviate some of the backlight bleed and lessen the LEDs' turning off during black scenes. Here are the settings you'll need when using an HDMI connection:

HDMI Black Level: Normal
Shadow Detail: -2 (Default)
Gamma: 0 (Default)
Color Space: Native
Black Tone: Dark (Darker and Darkest work just like HDMI Black Level [Low] and shut down the LEDs) (Default)
Backlight: 14 (Default)
Brightness: Must be greater than 45 (46-100 will work)

With these settings, you will be able to maintain a very good picture quality while drastically lessening the backlight bleed, and lessening the effect of the LED switch-off during black scenes. Samsung's manual, website, and eveywhere else this TV is posted on fails to mention that the HDMI Black Level is the key to the LED turn off. When set to LOW the LEDs will turn off to simulate perfect blackness, which is bad during games. When set to NORMAL, the TV acts like a regular LCD monitor **if the Black Tone is set to OFF**. NOTE: This setting works in conjunction with Black Tone. If Black Tone is set to DARK, DARKER or DARKEST, it will override the HDMI Black Level [NORMAL] setting and turn off the LEDs as mentioned above. For this reason Black Tone [DARK] is the best compromise if you must have darker blacks, otherwise set it to OFF with HDMI Level [NORMAL] set to stop the LEDs from turning off, but at the cost of a degraded dark scene image.

I was able to verify this through extensive troubleshooting (3 hours!) because I had the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm teaser trailer on my computer. The first frame is total blackness. The second frame has a BARELY visible ESRB rating logo, leaving the edges black enough to check on the backlight bleed. Through careful calibration, I finally got good picture quality with less of an LED switch-off issue. YAY!

NOTE: Color Space should be set to NATIVE, or else the picture will look like you're watching the TV through fog or a screen door due to excessive grays.

I hope these details help potential purchasers of this TV. And thank you for actually reading through this long winded review. I wanted to give purchasers the most information to arm themselves with.

Sidenote: The reason that I presume Samsung did things the way they did with regard to the LED switch-off is to hide this TV's very severe design flaw with regard to the LED backlight bleed. On a totally black screen with HDMI Black Level [NORMAL] and Black Tone [OFF] you will definitely notice a butterfly pattern of light behind the LCD panel, as well as a spotlight effect coming from all four corners. Samsung would do well to just get rid of edge lit LED and use local dimming instead. It is FAR less prone to this problem while providing exceptional color accuracy.

BEWARE OF THE PANEL LOTTERY: Last year, Samsung had only two different manufacturers for their panels. This year, there are FIVE, count them FIVE. While not all of the manufacturers are known, there are some details known about the version numbers and what type of picture quality hit you can expect from each one. Here they are:

NOTE: Panel version numbers are in THREE PLACES - 1) On the side of the box. 2) On the back of the TV. 3) On the inside of the TV on the back of the panel itself (DO NOT open the TV to look!)

SQxx: "S" panels have the widest viewing angles of all of the panels for this series. The view from dead center takes a very slight (almost unnoticeable) picture quality hit compared to the "CN" panels, but is the best of the group for having many people over to watch sports. More prone to backlight bleed/clouding than "CN" panels. If you like sports and have friends that come over, ASK FOR A TV with "CN" as the beginning of the panel version number.

CNxx: "C" panels have the poorest viewing angles of all of the known panels at this time. Where they shine is their viewing from directly in front of the TV. If you use this as a computer monitor and/or do not view the TV from anywhere other than in front of it, this is the panel you want. Suffers much less from backlight bleed than the "SQ" panels, but this issue is still present (as noted in my review, which is a "CN" panel). If you use this TV as a monitor, ask for a TV with "CN" as the version number.

The other three panels that are more rarely seen (not seen enough to even review them!): GA, AO, BO. Because these three panel types are far less widely seen, no info really exists on them. You want the first two panel versions, preferrably SQ (unless you view from off-angles). ADDENDUM 07/01/10: A new panel "FB" has been seen in the 6000 series. That grows the panel lottery to SIX different manufacturers now. UGH.

P.S. - Avoid using TweakTV to search for calibration settings. You'll find much better calibration settings at AVSForums. Go there and do a search for "UN32C6500". The poster "hearrean" has very good settings, and the thread devoted to the 6000 series from Samsung is a goldmine for good info about this, and others in the 6000 series.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 17, 2010 12:07:28 AM PDT
Lance10 says:
I normally don't post comments but... phenomenal review E. Richards. You saved me a lot of heartache as I was looking for a gaming monitor to replace my LG 24 inch LED monitor that can't be mounted...

Posted on May 30, 2010 3:11:52 AM PDT
I just bought this tv at pc richards for $950, I have not opened box yet. I want it to hang in my very bright kitchen for watching news etc
do you think i should bring back at get different model

Posted on Jun 4, 2010 2:34:20 PM PDT
J. Hardesty says:
So my question is if you are willing to adjust the settings as mentioned in the addendum, is the tv suitable for gaming? I need a 32 inch and I am having a terrible time finding one that will work for regular viewing as well as games.

Posted on Jun 4, 2010 2:38:52 PM PDT
J. Hardesty says:
So my question is if you are willing to adjust the settings as mentioned in the addendum, is the tv suitable for gaming? I need a 32 inch and I am having a terrible time finding one that will work for regular viewing as well as games.

Posted on Jun 4, 2010 2:39:26 PM PDT
J. Hardesty says:
So my question is if you are willing to adjust the settings as mentioned in the addendum, is the tv suitable for gaming? I need a 32 inch and I am having a terrible time finding one that will work for regular viewing as well as games.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2010 9:45:20 PM PDT
E. Richards says:
This TV can be used for gaming. The addendum notes what must be done to kill the situation where the LEDs will just shut off to simulate a black screen. Other than that, you can have very good PQ with this and any of the 6000 models. If you use this model with your computer as a monitor I suggest going to the following site to first calibrate your monitor:

(address entered this way to allow users to see where to go to calibrate their monitor/TV, since refuses to allow any outside links and only lets you use their ASIN links):

www (dawt) lagom (dawt) nl (forward slash) lcd-test

I'm sorry I had to do the address that way. You can thank Amazon for that.

Posted on Sep 3, 2010 11:19:43 AM PDT
E Richards great post, wondering if you were able to find a suitable 32inch or larger monitor that can act as a computer monitor. I am not a gamer persae, but don't want to be limited if I make an investment of this type. The other solution I am looking at is the Apple 27inch LED IPS panel that will go on sale later this month, Sept 2010. Thanks for your feedback.

Posted on Oct 13, 2010 9:03:42 PM PDT
Con Sumer says:
this stand is the worst i've ever seen.

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 7:36:56 PM PDT
X D says:
Wow, you just caused me to cancel my order! Thank you!!! Samsung's misleading "precision backlighting" made me think it was actually backlit. Thanks again for this very helpful review which brings Samsung's misleading feature to light. You ARE the man now, dog.

Posted on Jan 9, 2011 6:51:11 AM PST
SANYC says:
Thank you for your review. It was thoughtful and thorough. I had a quick question that I thought you might be able to answer. I have the TV that you reviewed and I have an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player. I have noticed that when I watch ANY DVD (Blu-ray or standard) that when the image on the screen pans left, right, up or down that the image flutters or shakes. I've done everything humanly possible to adjust the settings on the TV but have lost all hope. Any thoughts? Thanks for your time. Happy New Year.
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