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First off, I love the minimal, slim profile of the soundbar. I own a PN60F8500, and in a lot of ways this soundbar was made for the PN60F8500. Even after searching way above my price range, I wasn't able to find anything that had a slim profile. For the height and the width of this soundbar, it surely packs a punch. The total output is 310W and the audio processing is Dolby Digital. Obviously, the set comes with a wireless subwoofer, which mean one less cable to deal with. It also has the SoundShare support (a Samsung TV-specific feature, I believe), which guarantees plug-and-play functionality with your newer Samsung TVs. The unit has one USB 2.0 port and regular bluetooth connectivity (the latter feature is the same as the bluetooth in the SoundShare feature above, however, the functionality is specific to TVs other than Samsung). Finally, the soundbar supports MP3, WMA, AAC, WAC, OGG, and FLAC file types.
Items Included in the Box
Remote control, 2 AAA batteries, user manual, bracket wall mount, screws for wall mount, handy USB converter (male/female), HDMI cable, toslink optical cable (YES, not kidding!), power cords, AUX cable, USB cable, ferrite core.
The soundbar has four input modes - bluetooth (what Samsung calls SoundShare), HDMI, AUX in (analog), and optical/toslink. My Samsung TV recognized the soundbar flawlessly using HDMI, toslink, and bluetooth. I never tried the analog mode, but it is there. I don't have any other TVs in my house, so not sure how the soundbar would behave with other TV makes. You can peruse the Amazon reviews to figure any potential problems you may face, assuming you own either an old Samsung TV or another make. I ultimately settled on HDMI IN as the mode of input for my setup. As with all other modern soundbars, this unit also has an HDMI out port to force the unit to behave like a "passthrough" device and enable daisy-chaining other HDMI devices.
The soundbar is also wall-mountable, but in my case I have simply decided to place it near the bottom of my TV. The wireless connectivity of the woofer is also flawless. All in all, it took me about 10-15 minutes to get my setup up-and-running. On a side note, the length of the included cables is optimal for a normal living room type setup.
Samsung-Specific Setup Experience
Once the soundbar is "linked" to my Samsung TV, operating the audio is easy-peezy. I turn on the TV using the TV remote, the soundbar also turns on. I turn off the TV using the TV remote, the soundbar also turns off. Altering the audio level using the TV remote actually alters the audio level of the soundbar. A lot of people have issues in this area - when they alter the sound of their soundbars, the setup modifies the volume levels of both the TV and the soundbar. Not so with a Samsung-specific setup. The TV and the soundbar are smart enough to know that only the soundbar is active, so only the soundbar volume level is altered when using the TV remote. Note that you'll still have to hang on to the soundbar remote for advanced functions like altering modes, modifying woofer level, etc.
The remote control is a bit old school, but performs well. It even has glow-in-the-dark keys for volume control. I love the low profile of the LED display on the face of the soundbar - it is completely unobtrusive and never gets in the way of ruining your "dark-movie watching" experience. It is amply bright for daylight setting, too. The LED display feedback is detailed/informative and the scrolling speed of the text is optimal (when displaying long file names, informative text, etc.). The LED text stays on for a few seconds before the entire soundbar blacks out. This is something I really appreciate as you don't have a light flashing in your eyes while watching movies. The woofer has a light blue LED, which is hardly noticeable. When powered off, the woofer's LED goes red. Note that besides the LED display on the face of the soundbar, there are no other LED lights for informing you about the on/off mode. When you turn the device on, the LED display shows "HELLO" and when you turn the off, the LED display shows "GOODBYE."
The unit has seven different sound modes - MUSIC, NEWS, DRAMA, CINEMA, SPORTS, GAME, and OFF (Original Sound). It also has a "3D Sound Plus" feature which adds a surround-type feel to whatever you're listening. I have set my unit to CINEMA after sampling various types of music (rock, trance, Drake, Sade, Bollywood, movies like LOTR, and shows like Game of Thrones). I frequently turn to the surround feature, especially when watching movies. Another effective feature is "Smart Volume" which normalizes the sound output from different sources. I have found this feature to be effective most of the time, though I don't use it actively.
I have sampled all types of music (MP3, WMA, AAC, WAC, OGG, and FLAC) using the USB port, and the soundbar has picked up all formats without any hiccups. The only cumbersome part is when you have to browse hundreds of files. However, I don't count this as a con since most soundbars, especially at this price level, don't have a full blown user interfaces for browsing USB content.
5/5. I was impressed to find HDMI and toslink cables in the box! Overall, Samsung delivers a solid package, and a very competitive offering midway between the HW-F450 and HW-F750. If you're in the market at this price range, you cannot go wrong with this soundbar. Your experience will be enhanced even further if you own one of the newer Samsung TVs.
I still have to hang on to the soundbar remote for advanced functionality and other soundbar-specific settings.
Browsing files/folders on your USB device is cumbersome.
The firmware upgrade process is cumbersome. I have another thread
here that describes the process. Note that this can be deemed an advantage, since I have yet to see other manufacturers even offer a "firmware update" option on their soundbars. It is good to know that Samsung engineers are working behind the scenes, supporting whatever devices they build.