Samsung KU6500 Review – 4k UHD Smart Curved LED TV Series (UN65KU6500, UN55KU6500)
Samsung first released the follow-ups to their excellent and popular 2015 SUHD TVs in the form of the 2016 SUHD KS-Series (Series 8 and Series 9) HDR 4K TVs, and now they’ve done more or less the same for their 2015 JU-Series 4K UHD TVs through the new KU-Series models. Among the four main editions of these TVs released in 2016, the KU6500 takes the middle ground as the curved twin of the otherwise identical KU6300. In most ways similar to its pricier and somewhat better built KU7000 and 7500 cousins , the KU6500 delivers plenty of value without being too expensive.
Thus, with this TV you unfortunately get none of the flashier Samsung display technologies but can still enjoy a robust visual experience that has been slightly enhanced from what we saw in the company’s 2015 4K non-SUHD TVs. In other words. Despite a lack of serious HDR specs, this TV doesn’t fail to deliver a very robust and generally very good viewing experience for a reasonable enough price.
First and foremost among the KU6500’s good features are those same technologies we have loved in all of Samsung’s 4K UHD TVs to-date from 2015 to now at least . These include the superb Tizen smart platform, its Smart Hub technology and the company’s high quality display panels which work very well even if they’re not of the premium type we’ve seen in the superb top-shelf SUHD TVs from the brand. On top of these, Samsung’s upscaling engine for the Full HD and SD content that will take up a majority of your TV viewing time is downright great, with some very good upscaling for most SD and 720p content and excellent upscaling of Full HD or Blu-ray video sources.
Starting with Tizen, it’s as good as it has ever been in the KU6300 and in fact we’d argue that this year’s version of the smart platform is a better, more refined performer than ever, with a more simplified main menu of options, easier usability and better functionality overall. It also features some great new features like simplified content access from external devices and console-free gaming for game apps which are accessible through the apps available through the smart OS itself. In 2015, we considered Tizen to be the second best smart TV platform on the North American market for that year and we hold to this view of the system in 2016 once again. Sony’s Android TV is excellent and Vizio has definitely delivered some major improvements to their smart TV technology but Tizen still beats them both.
As for display performance as we mentioned above, the KU6500 delivers the goods robustly even if it doesn’t do so in a truly stunning way. Contrast in this TV is solid, with nice rich and highly uniform blacks along with some great color performance despite a lack of high dynamic range Wide Color Gamut or Samsung’s own native quantum dot filter technology behind the display panel. Furthermore, because the KU6500 offers direct-lit backlighting with LEDs across the back of the entire display space (though not as many as you’d see in a full-array 4K TV), the quality of the model’s local dimming technology isn’t too bad compared to what we’ve seen in edge-lit Samsung 4K TVs like the KU7000. Additionally, as we’d said above, the upscaling engine for non-4K content is a solid performer.
Finally, in terms of physical design, the KU6500 is one lovely television. We don’t think the curved screen does anything beneficial to the “immersion” of the display but it also does no serious harm and some buyers might like the curved look more than a flat display. Overall, the KU6500 just looks great. It’s elegant, sleek, minimalist and comes with a stand whose footprint is small but stable.
4.0 - 1 Reviews
Definitely not without its imperfections, the KU6500 has a few things that are slightly to moderately unlikeable about it, though none of them are likely to be outright deal-breakers in this TV for most consumers.
First of all, the lack of full high dynamic range technology in the entire KU-Series of Samsung TVs sort of works to reduce their value in our eyes. Yes, these are Samsung’s lower end 2016 4K TVs and the company obviously needs to reserve a major technological edge for their premium SUHD models for this year but they could have still delivered better HDR specs in the KU TVs and the KU6500 as well without going all the way up to the level of the SUHD TVs. HDR display quality is possible without fully reaching the HDR10 standards-certified caliber of the SUHD models and while Samsung does this to a certain extent, they could have taken it further while also adding in Wide Color Gamut. This absence does the most to make these TVs a slightly lower purchase value when compared to models like the Vizio –Series, which do offer Wide Color Gamut and Dolby Vision certification for more or less the same price or cheaper.
Next along, the number of HDMI and USB ports in the KU TVs –along with the KU6500—is lower than we like. All of Samsung’s 2015 4K TVs offered up 4 HDMI 2.0 porta and 3 USB ports, while the KU6500 and its siblings only offer 3 of the former and just 2 of the latter. This reduction in connectivity options was an odd choice by the company given last year’s port specs in the comparable JU-Series TVs and it’s unfortunate.
Another thing we noted about the KU6500, which has also been mentioned by other reviewers as well, is a lack of smart remote functionality for the TV. Apparently, this is a defect that Samsung let slip by because the TV was shipped out to market rather hurriedly after having smart remote inclusion made into one of its features even though the models was programmed more for a conventional button remote. As a result, at least at the time of this writing, most of the smart remote’s functions don’t work for this TV.
Finally, the KU6500 comes with a curved display and while this doesn’t really harm the picture quality in any meaningful way, it also does nothing to add to the TV’s “immersion”. As we’ve covered extensively in our examination of curved vs. flat screened 4K TVs on this site previously, curved TV display design is mostly a gimmick in any normal sized TV for the home and most annoyingly of all, it’s used to justify higher price tags even when a particular curved model is nearly or completely identical to another flat-screened version. This is the case in the KU6500 vs. the KU6300, which offers the same specs but is cheaper due to its flat screen.
In our final opinion, the KU6500 has plenty going for it. Samsung has created another well-made 4K TV with good brightness, some great colors and remarkably good contrast and black levels for a line without full HDR technology. This TV will not only look good in any living room, it also delivers some mostly satisfactory specs mixed in with some genuinely excellent features that we’ve come to expect from this brand.
• Screen size: 54.6 diagonal inches - UN55KU6500 and 64.5 diagonal inches - UN65KU6500
• Smart TV: Tizen OS, Smart Hub, Smart TV with Apps and Full Web Browser
• HEVC (H.265) Included: Yes
• VP9 Included. Yes
• HD to UHD upscaling: Yes
• HDCP 2.2 Compliance: Yes
• Refresh Rate: 60Hz native refresh rate (Motion Rate 120Hz)
• Screen Lighting: Direct-lit LED backlighting with UHD Dimming
• Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 pixels UHD
• Wireless Connectivity: Yes, includes both built-in WiFi and Ethernet port
• Remotes: Samsung smart button remote
• Connectivity: 3 HDMI 2.0a ports, 2 USB ports, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Component, 1 composite, 1 Audio Out, 1 Digital Audio Out
• Sound: 40W (20W x 2) Down Firing Down Firing w/bass reflex (2CH) speakers with Dolby Digital Plus
• Contrast Ratio: 3,200:1
• Other Display Features: Curved display, Auto Depth Enhancer
• Processor: Quad-core
37.9 lb. (55 inch model)
61.9 lb. (65 inch model)
48.9 x 30.7 x 12.2” (55 inch model, with stand)
57.5" x 35.7" x 14.5" (65 inch model, with stand)
HDR Premium: Once again, the KU6500 doesn’t offer the same full range of 4K high dynamic technology as its 2016 SUHD cousins with their compatibility to HDR10 standards. This means that the TV doesn’t deliver the peak luminance of 1100 nits or more and same Wide Color Gamut as those top-shelf 4K HDR TV models do. Furthermore, its color coverage doesn’t offer quite the same realistic richness we’ve seen in models like the KS9500 2016 HDR television. However, the KU6500, like the KU6300, does come with HDR Premium capacity and this does offer up a level of dynamic range that’s at least comparable to high dynamic range as we’ve seen it in some 2015 4K TV models with this technology. It’s not the best in HDR that you’ll find in the KU6500 but the TV still delivers a range of contrast that’s better than what you’ll find in the vast majority of SDR 4K TVs.
Tizen and Smart Hub: Tizen in the 2016 4K TVs of all types from Samsung is even better than it was in 2015. Last year we called this the second best smart TV platform on the market and we stand by that view in 2016. The new additions in Tizen and Smart Hub for this year definitely work to the platforms favor, with console-free gaming, the ability to access games from a cloud server and simplified access to streaming media from external mobile devices and content sources in the TV itself. The Tizen user interface is also wonderfully clean and user-friendly.
UHD Upscaling: Samsung’s UHD upscaling technology, which is called, you guessed it, UHD upscaling, deserves mention of its own as a highlight of the KU6500. Samsung seems to program the same caliber of non-4K content upscaling in all of its ultra HD TVs because from what we’ve seen to-date, both the premium SUHD TVs of this year and a lower-tier model like the KU6500 perform about the same in this regard. When it comes to upscaling Full HD TV or media device content, the KU6500 does a superb job (particularly for Blu-ray HD media) and for upscaling of 720p and 480p SD content sources like some cable TV content or DVD movies, the upscaling engine in this TV performs almost as admirably. A well formatted DVD movie can look downright superb in the KU6500 and will certainly look better than it would if viewed in most HD TVs we’ve seen, with a minimum of haziness to boot.
4.0 - 1 Reviews
In its visual specs, the KU6500 doesn’t quite match the truly impressive visuals we’ve seen in this year’s and last year’s SUHD TVs or in the HDR 4K TVs of some other brands for 2016, such as the 2016 Vizio P-Series or the Sony X850D and X900D TVs for this year . However, this doesn’t mean the KU6500 offers poor display quality by any means. In comparison to 2015 JU-Series models like the JU6500 or the JU7100, the KU6500 is a robust performer with a solid display quality by the standards of any 2015 and 2016 mid-range name brand 4K TV. The contrast level in this model is rich and deep, colors look vibrant and robust and the Ultra Clear Panel technology along with Samsung’s somewhat limited but still good HDR Premium display specs work together to deliver a broad dynamic range with some great enhancements to picture realism. This means that even in brighter lighting conditions, this TV performs well and vibrantly.
The black levels in the KU6500 may not be as good as those we’ve seen in 2016’s best HDR 4K TVs or much less as good as the quality provided by LG’s OLED 4K models but compared to most mid-range HDR 4K TVs from 2015 and this year, the KU6500 delivers nicely and even manages to deliver a black level that’s well below the level stipulated by the UHD Alliance or HDR10 high dynamic range standards as the minimum necessary for HDR certification. As for this TV’s levels of peak brightness, they don’t come close to matching the incredible maximum brightness of over 1400 nits we’ve seen in all of the 2016 SUHD TVs like the KS8000 but they’re still good at 480 nits, thanks largely to the high quality and brightness of the LED lighting array that Samsung uses in its TVs. Overall contrast in the KU6500 as measured between maximum black level and the brightness of white levels on the screen is good at just over 3,200:1 but it’s also not nearly as impressive as the extremely impressive (for an LCD TV) contrast we’ve seen in the 2016 SUHD TV models, of which even the cheapest, the KS8000 manages a contrast ratio in excess of 6000:1.
Furthermore, the Vertical Alignment panel (VA) display of the KU6500 and its other KU siblings works to further ensure that contrast looks really good and blacks turn out deep and rich. On the other hand, this same technology produces some poor viewing angles, with a 50% drop in contrast and color accuracy at more than 20 degrees to each side from viewing the TV at a dead center 0 degree angle.
To finish up with this TVs HDR-relate visual specs, we should also note that the KU6500 essentially fails to meet the high dynamic range specs necessary for the full HDR10 compliance that would allow this TV to earn a UHD Alliance Ultra HD Premium certification. The TV first of all doesn’t match these sorts of specs due to its inability to reach a peak brightness which exceeds 1000 nits and secondly, it lacks the 10-bit Wide Color Gamut for high dynamic range that’s necessary for over 1 billion color values and 1024 Red, Green, Blue (RGB) color variations. This essentially means that the KU6500 can’t produce the deeply smooth and varied color gradients we saw in other full HDR TVs like the 2016 Vizio P-Series models, Sony’s X930D and other 2016 XBR-D 4K HDR TVs or Samsung’s own 2016 SUHD TVs.
More simply, the TV’s color capacity doesn’t encompass 90% or more of the new digital cinema DCI-P3 color space due to its non-HDR compliant nature and Samsung has also not included the quantum dot color enhancement technology of its SUHD TVs in the KU-Series as whole: QD technology consists of thin quantum crystal particles of different sizes embedded into a film which is then added between the LED backlight and the LCD screen. As the LED light passes through these filters their crystals polarize into different RBG colors and other tones depending on their specific size, thus enhancing the possible range of colors in the TVs display as a whole due to expansions in the color blends that become possible.
Finally, we do need to compliment the quality of the upscaling engine, refresh rate and for the most part, the motion interpolation technology in the KU6500. As we’ve already stated clearly above, for upscaling, the KU6500 delivers the goods wonderfully as has been the case across the board with the Samsung 4K TVs of 2015 and 2016. On the motion characteristics, this TV performs mostly well and offers up solid judder control, very decent motion interpolation technology and some really good motion blur control for the most part, especially with fast action native 4K content.
As we’d already mentioned, the connectivity options of the KU6500 are oddly limited from what we saw in 2015’s non-SUHD 4K TVs from Samsung. 3 HDMI 2.0 ports and 2 USB ports isn’t a bad level of key connectivity specs but it’s also not up to par with the average in 4K TVs today. That Samsung should have changed this downwards from what they offered in last year’s models is disappointing and unusual. One good thing about connectivity in Samsung’s 4K TVs however are the external and easily upgradable One Connect and One Connect mini boxes, either of which which can be hooked into the KU6500 and changed if new connectivity standards are built into a newer version of these boxes.
On the other hand, the KU6500 does come with full internet browsing capacity through Tizen and access to all the major 4K streaming apps along with many others. Additionally, you can always also hook up a 4K set-top box like the excellent Roku 4 to this model via one of its HDMI ports if you want an even more connected and apps-rich content smart platform operating in the KU6500 on top of its native Tizen OS.
Also, almost needless to say, the KU6500 delivers Ethernet connectivity, full built-in WiFi for content streaming from external devices like mobile phones and its HDMI ports are fully compatible with HDCP 2.2 content copy protection and both the H.265 and VP9 4K video compression codecs.
Samsung’s UN65KU6500 4K UHD Curved TV is currently selling for $1,797.99 on Amazon.com while the considerably smaller 55 inch model is on sale for a relatively moderate price of $1,199.99.
4.0 - 1 Reviews
To summarize very briefly, the KU6500 4K UHD TV comes with several key defects we consider to be notable: It’s curvature results in a TV that unnecessarily costs more than $200 more than the otherwise nearly identical KU6300, it doesn’t offer the full HDR technology of other similarly priced 2016 4K TVs, there is no Wide Color Gamut or even Samsung’s own quantum dot nanocrystal color enhancement technology and, last among the notable deficiencies in this 4K TV are the lack of more extensive HDMI and USB connectivity.
• Tizen smart OS is better than ever
• Good display brightness
• Samsung’s upscaling engine as good as ever
• Decent contrast
• Great design aesthetic
• Reasonably priced
• No HDR color
• Smart remote functionality issues
• No wide color gamut
• Few HDMI, USB ports
• Contrast could be improved
• 60Hz refresh