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I recently purchased a UN32ES6500 as a replacement for a lackluster Panasonic TC-L32C5 720p CCFL LCD in a setup with limited space. I thought it would be novel to have a 32" 3D TV, which, if you...
Features, Shadow Detail, Good 3D, Good Color
Lighter Black Levels, Clouding, Slow Smart Hub, CE Dimming
I recently purchased a UN32ES6500 as a replacement for a lackluster Panasonic TC-L32C5 720p CCFL LCD in a setup with limited space. I thought it would be novel to have a 32" 3D TV, which, if you look around, doesn't exist from any manufacturer in 2013. So, I found myself looking at this 2012 model since it features Active 3D. it also didn't hurt that I was able to pick up a display model pretty cheap. My version came equipped with a TH01 panel (which is manufactured by Samsung if I'm not mistaken).
Setup & Menu: Since mine was a display model I did not have to run through the initial set-up (it was already set to home mode). I did have to mess with image settings quite a bit and connect it to my network. Connecting the ES6500 to my wireless network was easy, and it found the 5 GHz band of my network fast. The menu features a good layout with small animations. The location of picture options is pretty straightforward, but I fee like there a few too many sub-menus that could be consolidated into one. There are some options that are a bit cryptic; luckily the menu has a short explanation for each option (though even the descriptions can be rather cryptic). For instance, the auto-dimming Eco sensor is placed in a menu separate from picture settings. It's an annoying feature that can make the TV unwatchable, and I can see how non tech-savvy consumers could interpret this as a defect rather than a setting buried in a menu.
Design: As usual with Samsung, the ES6500 features a nice, slim, streamlined design, with a thin frame (less than an inch) and a thin panel depth. The frame is brushed metal wrapped with a layer of clear acrylic. The base is Samsung's famous glossy black "Quad" stand.
Image quality: I was overall pretty impressed with the 32" ES6500 in this category, especially when compared to the LCD it replaced. The TV looks pretty good in Movie mode with all eco settings turned off. As of now I'm using CNet's settings, with a bit of my own tweaking to suit my preferences. The color looks great, very natural looking to my eyes. I found motion handling to be very good with little discernible blur; the ES6500 features a 120Hz refresh rate. I appreciate the separate anti-blur and de-judder options so I could tweak them to my liking without introducing the annoying soap opera effect. Images are clean and sharp with lots of fine detail, and it does a good job with lower-quality content. Using The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-Ray (specifically, the underground fight scene between Bane and Batman), shadow detail is excellent, no crushing going on here. The black levels aren't horrible, but definitely not as good as I expected. They are relatively light compared to some of the better LCDs I've seen but not bad for the 32" category. Turing on "Dynamic Contrast" makes the blacks much deeper but crushes lots of detail. Letterbox bars tend more towards a purplish-gray that is common to many LCD-based displays. Some form of local dimming would probably help here (the 2013 replacement for the ES6500, the F6400, does feature standard Micro Dimming, but is not available in a 32").
3D looked excellent using my Samsung and Panasonic 3D glasses with a good sense of depth and minimal crosstalk using stuff like Hugo, Wreck-It Ralph, and Jurassic Park 3D. In my particular setup I can scoot my chair inches away from the panel for a very immersive 3D experience. The only real issue is that the 3D image contains reduced contrast compared the the 2D image due to the picture being brighter.
The most major complaints about the ES6500 i have are the clouding and CE dimming; thankfully these are issues I knew I'd have to deal with before I bought this TV. Since it's an edge-lit LED, some clouding is to be expected . Since the screen size is only 32", however, edge-lit shouldn't have such a hard time keeping decent uniformity across the panel. Unfortunately the right side of the screen has about five distinct brighter "hotspots" near the edges of the panel. They can be quite distracting depending on what I'm watching, but most of the time they don't bug me. The CE dimming is peculiar, as it turns the panel off completely when an image fades to black. This can be especially annoying during the credits before a movie (like the opening of Jurassic Park). Samsung either did this to save energy by turning off the panel when nothing is going on or it's to give an illusion of deeper blacks.
Features: The ES6500 features the 2012 version of Smart Hub and runs on a single-core processor. I haven't used this much, but when I have I found it too slow and sluggish to conveniently use . The web browser is useless without a keyboard and even then it's not very good. The HBO Go is the only app I've really used more than once. The layout is better than the HBO Go App on my Roku LT. Video loads fast and looks very good considering it's streaming. The 2013 version of Smart Hub found on F-series models is much more usable, especially when you consider all 2013 models run on a dual-core processor.
All in all, i'm happy with the abilities of the ES6500 and appreciate the features it offers in a screen size that has become a commodity. it serves my purposes, but if you're not looking for a 32" or care about the Smart features, the 2013 F6400 is a big step up.