Samsung UN50F5500 Review (UN50F5500AF)
50 inch 1080p 60Hz Smart Hub TV
by Robert Wiley, Senior Editor
The 50 inch F5500 is the largest in this value smart TV option. All of the picture quality features have been dropped except for the full 1080p HD picture that is necessary for a TV this size. The 60Hz refresh rate may drop the picture quality a few notches as motion blur and judder are going to be more noticeable on a 50 inch screen. The Smart Hub is fully intact on this model but lacks the processing power of some of the top tier models. All in all, this is a good budget option if smart TV is an important feature.
Picture Quality Rating: 8.3/10
The picture quality of the Samsung UN50F5500 is strong for a mid level TV without many features. As a direct replacement of the EH5300 from last year, this one has made a lot of improvements. The biggest downside you'll find here is the 60Hz refresh rate. That just means the TV isn't going to handle judder and motion blur as well as TVs higher in the lineup. We noticed these issues, but they aren't enough to make one shy away from this TV. Side viewing angles are another issue that comes standard with LED TVs. Just like the F6300 and 6400, this one fairs pretty poorly. At the 20 degrees off center point, color and contrast begin to fade. The quality degrades even faster at more harsh angles. Contrast, color, and black levels are all every strong from font and center.
Black Level and Color
The UN50F5500 does very well in this aspect of picture quality. I noted dark and inky blacks that continue to show an improvement over previous models when viewing this one. Detail in dark scenes is where it really counts and the F5500 does an excellent job. The blacks on this TV greatly contribute to the above par picture quality. Color is not as saturated as the top tier LEDs or plasma TVs of the year, but they are passable for a lower tier model thanks to the bright backlight.
The thing to notice here is detail in the light and dark areas of the screen. The picture isn't washed out but remains nice and bright. This is an advantage of going with an LCD/LED TV
The 50F5500 incorporates strong LED backlighting that really improves upon the overall picture quality. This method of backlighting contributes to the deep blacks and bright whites the set is capable of creating. The result is impressive for a TV on the low end of the lineup. The picture depth obtained can be compared to some of the top models in the lineup. One thing to note about such strong backlighting is the tendency to wash out color. This leads to less color saturation when compared to plasma or some of the other LED manufacturers. Simply adjust the backlight intensity and the problem will become less pronounced. The backlighting on the F5500 is a nice addition that brings stronger positives than it does negatives.
60Hz Refresh Rate
The 60Hz refresh rate spec on the UN50F5500 doesn't really sound like an impressive feature, but it gets the job done. A refresh rate like this may be pushing it a bit on a 50 inch screen because problems of motion blur and judder become more apparent as screen sizes get bigger. They are especially noticeable if you are actively keeping an eye out for them. We have found that some programming is worse, like live sports and video games. While the problems are ramped up when watching internet content. The bottom line is unless you are very sensitive to these issues, the F5500 will be just fine in terms of refresh rates.
You see bright colors in this shot of the F5500. Also notice the thin bezel. Models higher in the lineup get much thinner, but you still get an up to date look on this one
Game Mode – Enable and Adjust for the Best Results
First of all, finding the Game Mode can be a bit tricky. It is located here from the main menu: System > General > Game Mode. We aren't sure why it is so buried in the menus since this is a feature that will need to be turned on and off frequently. The Game Mode has its own picture settings, so they will need to be adjusted to get the best picture. The image quality from the default settings is unbearable. Follow our calibration settings as closely as possible to get the best out of the Game Mode (Not all settings are available). Now you are good to go. We measured the input lag to be right around 30ms. This is very acceptable, especially for an LED TV that is not specifically made for gaming. The manual warns of shaky images with the Game Mode, but we see no evidence of this.
Features Rating: 8.6/10
The rehashed Smart Hub platform on the Samsung 2013/14 lineup is included on the UN50F5500. What's new? Mainly the interface. It has received an upgrade reminiscent of the tiled interface found on tablets and smartphones use. Navigation is the main focus. It is an intuitive upgrade that really makes the whole experience a better one. The F5500 series misses out on the quad core processor of top tier models. That is a pretty big letdown seeing as speed it the biggest issue with smart TV platforms. Know you may run into your share of slowness when using Smart Hub features. It also incorporates a slew of recommendation features to help viewers find content they wouldn't find by channel surfing.
Samsung organized the content into five different pages. You will find all the information you need on each of these neatly structured screens. First is the Apps page that displays recommended and downloaded apps. Then there is the Social page that displays trending content along with tweets and facebook updates. The On TV page provides an onscreen guide to what is being broadcast live. The Movies and TV Shows page displays what is available from different internet content sources like Netflix, Hulu, Samsung Media Hub, and more. Lastly is the Photos, Music & Videos page for viewing and watching content from smartphones, tablets, and computers directly or over a network.
These are a few of the apps we've had experience with:
Family Stories- lets users optimize photos and slide shows on the TVs screen. There isn't much to it, but if you would like to turn the TV into a photo frame, this will do it. Rating 3 out of 5.
Fitness More Apps- are available for fitness nuts. All sorts of different aerobic and fitness routines are available. 3 out of 5.
TED – This app provides a collection of informative videos about technology, spiritualism, art, and more. There is a lot of content here. For example, there are 68 videos under the 'Animals that Amaze' theme and 310 videos under the 'The Creative Spark' category. This will keep you busy for a while. Rating 4 out of 5.
Samsung ESPN Next Level – This app lays over what you are currently watching. The download to up and running time was almost instant. After loading, we were presented with predicted winners, short tidbits of information on different teams in the news, and recent game stats. Not bad. 3 out of 5.
Wifi Built-in and Dual Core Processor
The UN50F5500 comes with wifi built right into the set and it is very easy to connect to a home network. We had ours up and running within minutes of unboxing. The dual core processor is also a hefty upgrade for a TV this low in the lineup. Apps and web pages load very quickly. Downloading of apps is speedy as well. Streaming video content though a wifi connection proved not to be a problem.
The F5500 comes with the standard remote instead of the Smart Touch remote of the higher level TVs. It's a good backlit remote that has all of the buttons you'll need without getting too crowded. The only downside is trying to surf the web and input text with the 5-way controller. It is a very slow process that we'd be much happier without.
HEVC Video Codec
High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is the next step in video compression for streaming content. It allows for double the compression rate of codecs that have come before it and supports up to 8K UHD resolutions. It is a step toward the future of content delivery and Samsung is already jumping on the bandwagon. Samsung is one of the first TV manufacturers to include this on their sets.
Appearance - Nothing New, But Sleek
The UN50F5500's appearance is a lot more subdued than the highly stylized designs of the F8000 and F8500 from Samsung's top of the line LEDs and Plasmas. What you get is a slim glossy black bezel with a width of about .5 inches. This gives the TV the appearance of looking slim from the front or sides. The bezels really make it look nice. As for the stand, it's the standard Samsung 'Quadrapod' stand you've seen many times before on the mid level TVs. This series has the silver color stand as the F6300 series above it. There is nothing flashy or new to be found here, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Value Rating: 9.3/10
The Samsung UN50F5500 has a lot to offer even though much has been done away with to get the price down. For the price, the picture quality is strong and the Smart Hub adds more than enough functionality to make this a great choice. Competing models include the 50LN5700 from LG, The Panasonic TC-L50E60, and the Toshiba 50L4300U. The F5500 wins out on price against all three.
Overall Rating: 8.7/10
|Having reviewed and written about Television Technology for over 10 years, Wiley never tires of researching the newest qualitative trends related to the technology. Most people do not get excited about possibilities behind the latest video engine...Wiley does. Read more about Robert|
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