Build Quality and DesignThe D6500 is the splitting image of the D7000, with the exception of the black frame-white in the case of the D6510-which is a little larger, increasing in size from 15 mm (5 mm + 10 mm of transparent trim) to 20 mm (10 mm + 10 mm). More noticeably, the cross-shaped stand has made way for a more traditional square base. The whole thing is quietly dignified and well put together.
Our sense of déjà-vu only increased when we looked at the inputs and outputs available on the 3 cm side panel and at the back. It's the same as before, with four HDMI ports, two USB ports, an Ethernet jack, an optical audio output, and VGA, composite and component video inputs. There's also WiFi.
Samsung's Internet@TV platform provides a very impressive range of online services via Samsung Apps, including video-on-demand, the ability to catch up with TV programmes, app downloads and 720p Skype. It also supports the HbbTV standard which allows viewers to interact with the current programme: in the future, viewers will be able to order a product that features in an ad, vote for their favourite participant or take part in gameshows.
The more well-established DLNA standard is also supported, meaning you can access music, photos and videos stored on a USB key or an external hard drive. Samsung's TVs are amongst the best in the business in this area, and can handle both NTFS hard drives and a wide range of HD video formats. Most of the files we tried worked perfectly, but we did have a few problems with M2TS files and subtitles inside MKV and MP4 files; you need to remove them from the container to use them.
The glossy screen picks up reflections
Image QualityLet's get down to details! The factory settings have been tweaked to produce a very eye-catching picture, but that means the colour reproduction is far from accurate, with greys looking blue, darker shades merging with black and lighter shades over-exposed. We suggest you switch straight to Cinema mode, and turn the brightness down to 41 to fix the gamma.
Contrast in Cinema mode: 2630:1
Once you've done that, the D6500 behaves much more like its big brothers. You can't turn off the dynamic backlighting, and as a result, the contrast fluctuates between 2610 and 2640:1, which is a good result but hardly great. Some of Samsung's competitors have already passed the 4000:1 mark.
Colour reproduction in Cinema mode: deltaE of 2.3
This also corrects the problems with colours, bringing the average deltaE score down to 2.3, signalling accurate colour reproduction.
Naturally enough, films look much the same as they do on the two other Samsung 3D TVs we've tested up to now. HD content looks great, but upscaling is more average. The Motion Plus filter is configured differently on the D6500, so we suggest you adjust the settings accordingly. We recommend fixing the 'blur reduction' to 9 and the 'shudder reduction' to 3. That gets rid of as much of the jerkiness and ghosting as possible without reducing the quality of the picture.
Clouding on our test unit
The otherwise good quality is spoilt by light leaking onto the screen in various areas, a problem that's particularly common on TVs that use Edge LED backlighting. As you can see in the photo above, on the D6500 it's particularly pronounced in the corners of the display.
Ghosting and Input Lag
This graph shows the ghosting time, measured in ms, that the TV takes to entirely remove the previous frame. The shorter the time, the more fluid moving images will appear
You could be forgiven for thinking that Samsung would try to cut corners and use a less responsive panel in the D6500, but that's not the case. Incredibly, the display in the D6500 is actually faster than the one we found in the D7000! The two TVs perform similarly when showing a pale background, with the D7000 taking 10 ms to completely remove the previous frame, while the D6500 takes 11 ms. When it comes to a darker scene, though, the D6500 is much faster, taking 9 ms to completely remove the previous frame, compared to the 21 ms needed by the D7000!
Like the majority of Samsung TVs, the D6500 has an input lag of around 66 ms, or four frames. That puts gamers at a disadvantage in a multiplayer environment, but shouldn't affect anybody else.
Image Quality: 3D
Update 02/01/2011: In 3D, the Samsung D6xxx series of TVs display all 1920 columns, but the 1080 rows totally disappeared! Theses TVs blur the individual lines so thoroughly that the vertical resolution is halved, as you can see on the test cards above. That means that they don't show 3D content in Full HD, but a maximum resolution of 1920 x 540 lines.
3D films look great, with objects flying out of the screen and a real sense of depth of field. That extra responsiveness also helps keep a check on crosstalk, the interference between the signals intended for the left and right eyes which leaves some viewers seeing double, especially when pale objects are against a dark background (as is the case with subtitles). The picture is less rosy with a pale background, where seeing double is more common. The D6500 only just misses out four stars in this section.
Here's what we saw through the glasses (Samsung above, Sony below):
With a perfect result, we shouldn't see any trace of the 'R' frame on the left, and, vice versa, none of the 'L' frame on the right. For the time being, only plasmas from Samsung and Panasonic get this right.
The D6500 has the same 2D-to-3D conversion as other Samsung TVs. You don't really get much of a sense of watching in 3D and eyestrain sets in much sooner than with real 3D. You're better off with genuine 3D content like Blu-ray 3D discs or 3D games.
Unfortunately, you don't get any 3D glasses with the D6500, so you'll need to spend a little more to be able to enjoy viewing in three dimensions. Worse still, Samsung has changed the way its TVs communicate with the 3D glasses, replacing infra-red with Bluetooth. That means that the glasses found on last year's 3D TVs are no longer compatible with the 2011 range. On the other hand, the new communications standard should cut down on problems with interference and extend the range.