Samsung UN40FH6030 review

Samsung will need to do better if it wants to compete on the frontlines of the budget sector.
Samsung will need to do better if it wants to compete on the frontlines of the budget sector.
Samsung will need to do better if it wants to compete on the frontlines of the budget sector.

Highs

  • Rich, accurate colors
  • Sharp detail
  • Customizable motion processing

Lows

  • Poor off-axis viewing
  • Paltry black levels
  • Light on features
  • Uninspired design

DT Editors' Rating

Samsung FH6030 Series information: This review is based on our hands-on experience with the 46-inch UN46FH6030 TV. However, our observations also apply to the 40-inch UN40FH6030 and the 55-inch UN55FH6030. According to Samsung, the three sets differ only in dimension and weight and offer identical features and performance.

Models in Samsung FH6030 series

Size

Samsung UN40FH6030 40 inches
Samsung UN46FH6030 (reviewed) 46 inches
Samsung UN55FH6030 55 inches

There’s no doubt about it, Smart TVs are an alluring means to get your streaming fix. Still, while the streaming revolution may be ‘televised’, set-top boxes are really bringing it these days. Devices like Roku and Apple TV often provide a more satisfying user experience than built-in platforms, with better features and more apps. Add dozens of choices, from miniature streaming sticks, to Blu-Ray players and game consoles, and the ‘Smart’ in Smart TV loses a few coats of luster.

Like most budget TVs we test, the FH6030’s picture quality was full of compromises

The question is: By giving up Smart capacity in a TV, can buyers score a higher return on performance? To see what Samsung had to say on the subject, we decided to check out a sample from its lower rung, the Samsung UN46FHFH6030 (FHFH6030).

Apart from Smart functionality, the 46-inch FH6030 offers everything you’d expect from an LCD panel in its class, including 1080p resolution, 120Hz refresh rate, 3D capability, and more for a meager $650. But does it perform well enough to atone for its ‘dumb’ status? After hosting the FH6030 in our living room for over a week, here’s our assessment.

Out of the box

Like many of the budget TVs we review, aside from a relatively svelte bezel around its all black frame, the FH6030 looks decidedly plain-Jane. The stand is a two-piece platform mount, which does not swivel, and aside from the Samsung logo at the center, the TV could easily double as any number of similar models from its competitors.

The most remarkable aesthetic quality upon first impression is the FH6030’s light weight of just under 25 lbs. The TV seemed to float out of the box when we removed it, and it’s one of the lightest of its size we’ve encountered — maybe a little too light. Upper class models are often much heavier due to higher quality panels and internal components. Conversely, the TV’s 3.8-inch width ranks as one of the thickest we’ve reviewed in the genre, providing extra space for its backlit LED display.

In the box were a slim collection of accessories including a small instruction manual, a remote control and batteries, a power cable, and some other promotional material. Conspicuously missing was even a single pair of 3D glasses — a first in our tenure. That’s of note since Samsung uses active-shutter 3D, requiring more expensive components for the glasses. So if 3D is your thing, you’ll have to shell-out at least $20-30 for each pair, and the price doubles for rechargeable units. Add in the whole family, and a night in with Avatar gets expensive quickly.

Features and design

Following the TV’s barebones theme, the FH6030’s back panel revealed a light selection of inputs including only 2 HDMI inputs, a USB port, a Composite/Component hybrid input, and a Coaxial cable input. Audio outs for the TV include an Optical digital output, and a 3.5mm output.

The darkest we could get the TV while still observing accurate detail in the shadows was a murky charcoal grey.

As for the brains of the beast, Samsung has equipped the FH6030 with a simple and intuitive interface. Basic setup of the TV is incredibly fast, even for a “dumb” TV, and navigating through the system’s options is second nature. Novice users will appreciate Samsung’s concise explanation for each setting when attempting to adjust picture, sound, system setup, etc. In fact, for the technically impaired, the FH6030 is about as accommodating as it gets.

The ease of use also extends to the remote, which is ergonomically designed and equipped with easily accessible quick keys for all basic functions including 3D, source, and menu. The large volume and channel keys are color-coded to stand out, and the illuminated display gives the remote an edge over similar offerings at this level, making operation in the dark a simple affair. Onboard control for the TV is equally simple — once you find it, that is. A small joystick tucked under the right panel activates a display window on the screen to navigate basic functions.

Samsung UN46FH6030F LED TV baseWhen it comes to the FH6030’s digital features, there’s not a whole lot to crow about. Aside from a substantial selection of 3D options, the most notable feature on the TV is its Clear Motion processing, which allows for an impressive level of control. The Auto Motion Plus setting provides three basic defaults, Clear, Standard, and Smooth, all of which offer far too much of the dreaded “soap opera effect” for our taste. However, the Custom setting offers a more hands-on approach, with 10-point scale control for both Judder, and Blur reduction. While any judder reduction spurred some queasiness while we were viewing broadcast content, we found a nice compromise on shaky 24fps content with both settings set to 3.

Setup

The FH6030 offers 4 basic picture modes, including Dynamic, Standard, Natural, and Movie. As per usual, Movie mode was by far the most accurate starting point for our money, and we were able to dial in a pretty good picture from there with only basic adjustments.

We also disengaged the usual digital tricks like Dynamic Contrast, and Black Tone, which did more harm to the picture than any benefit they added. You can find a full list of our preferred settings at the bottom of this review.

Performance

Like most budget TVs we test, the FH6030’s picture quality was full of compromises. That said, virtually every TV has its weaknesses (see the Panasonic TC-P60ZT60 for a near-exception) and while we try to be as objective as possible, readers should consider which attributes are most important to them before making a final decision.

…those who watch a lot of fast-action content will likely be pleased to learn this TV does a solid job with it

Motion handling is a strong point for the FH6030, and those who watch a lot of fast-action content will likely be pleased to learn this TV does a solid job with it. We caught a fair amount of live sports (mostly football) in our testing, with no visible blurring or judder whatsoever. As for film content at 24fps, the TV handled judder as well or better than most budget models we’ve tested with “120Hz native” refresh rates (which we never trust to begin with.) And when issues did occur, we were able to take care of them with a scalpel, rather than a hatchet, thanks to the FH6030’s customizable motion processing. That said, those who are extremely sensitive to frame interpolation will notice that certain scenes look slightly unnatural even with motion processing off, due to the process by which the TV achieves its 120Hz refresh rate.

The TV also displayed excellent color accuracy and detail, providing a rich and vibrant palette, with exceptionally defined flesh tones. While perusing an episode of Law and Order, the redheaded antagonist’s skin tones were extremely well detailed, displayed in ivory tones bordered with blushed red accents that looked vividly realistic. Skylines in nature scenes were also impressive, providing a deep dimension of texture and detail. Alas, our excitement was diminished by a palpable loss of color with even slight off-axis viewing, forcing us to sit front and center for optimal performance.

Samsung UN46FH6030F LED TV top screen cornerLike most LCDs we see, the FH6030 also had some issues when it came to black levels. The panel exhibited slight blooming at the edges, and its penchant for crushing shadow detail presented us with a Sophie’s choice of either extra-bright background levels, or silhouetted images that readily dissolved into the darker corridors. The darkest we could get the TV while still observing accurate detail in the shadows was a murky charcoal grey. While it certainly wasn’t the worst case we’ve seen, the problem was compounded by the TV’s poor off-axis response, revealing massive bloom on the far edge whenever we sat even slightly off center.

3D performance

We’ve made little effort to conceal our distaste for active 3D, and while the FH6030 provides excellent depth and convincing dimension, our eyes simply can’t stand the active-shutter glasses for more that 30-40 minutes without getting extremely tired. If active 3D doesn’t bother you, you may well enjoy the feature, but we’re not counting it here as a strong point.

Audio performance

We grade on a curve when it comes to audio performance for lower-tier flat screens, seeing as how they are all pretty terrible. With that in mind, we gave the FH6030 a passing grade here. Though audio was a bit snappy at first, we were able to dig into the graphic EQ in the settings and calm down the treble for a relatively satisfying overall balance.

Conclusion

Though there are some great things happening with the Samsung FH6030, the TV didn’t quite pass muster. Samsung’s brilliant internal processing creates a gorgeous picture, but unfortunately, the TV’s cheap panel relegates the experience to only one location in the house: front and center. Combine that with other issues like poor black levels, overactive frame interpolation, and a slim feature set, and the $650 price tag starts to seem less affordable. With TVs like Vizio’s E420i-A0 offering similar sized Smart models at lower pricing, Samsung will need to do better if it wants to compete on the frontlines of the budget sector.

Highs

  • Rich, accurate colors
  • Sharp detail
  • Customizable motion processing

Lows

  • Poor off-axis viewing
  • Paltry black levels
  • Light on features
  • Uninspired design
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