A voice-controlled smart TV with a novel remote control.
We recently reviewed the Samsung UE32H6200 (see Issue 427), a 32in smart TV with good image quality and every terrestrial TV catch-up service you could need. The 40in UE40H6400 is the next size up, but the bigger TV differs in several areas besides screen size.
Unlike the UE32H6200, the UE40H6400 comes with two remote controls. One is the standard version, the other a pebble-shaped device. It has fewer buttons and, much like a Nintendo Wii controller, you simply point it at the screen and move it around in the air to move your onscreen cursor, making for easier navigation and selection of the various onscreen menu options. It works very well; so much so, we’d be happy to use this kind of remote control all the time.
The pebble remote control also lets you operate the TV with your voice, but the technology for this is patchy at best. If you speak a word or phrase into the remote, the TV shows search results sourced from the installed apps. A search for “commonwealth games”, for example, showed results for a TV programme that was currently on air, an upcoming listing for which we could schedule a recording, and a selection of YouTube videos.
You use the pebble shaped remote much like a Nintendo Wii controller.
Searches for films and TV programmes would reveal results from the Wuaki.tv and I TV Player apps, but not from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, 4oD or Demand 5. It’s a shame that only some of the apps can be searched in this way, but we hold out hope that Samsung and their app developers will fix this. At least the smart TV interface itself is smooth and speedy thanks to the TV’s fast quad-core processor.
Standard-definition TV footage initially looked unpleasant in our test, with jagged lines and lots of noise, but turning on all the noise-reduction settings made a significant difference. Whether you prefer the slightly soft-focus appearance of these processed images will be down to your own personal taste, although you can fine-tune them to your preference.
If you want Blu-ray and other high definition content to look its best then you’ll need to invest a considerable amount of time tweaking the UE40H6400’s various image settings. You may save time by trying the image quality presets as a starting point. The default “Normal” preset isn’t a great choice. We preferred the “Natural” preset because it looks much more vibrant even though it is blindingly bright (you may want to reduce the brightness somewhat). Contrast is not as good as it could be due to the lack of any backlight dimming a feature that lets you turn down the backlight for darker areas of an image to boost contrast even further.
The UE40H6400’s built in speakers aren’t bad, but they’re lacking in bass and they’re not especially loud either. It’s worth buying a soundbar such as the LG NB3540 (see our review. Issue 430) to enjoy better sound quality. Extras include built in Wi-Fi and the ability to act as a basic PVR when a USB hard drive is plugged in.
The Samsung UE40H6400 has an excellent choice of online services, good image quality and a handy alternative remote control, even if its voice-controlled search feature isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s still a great smart TV, but if you don’t mind using a more old-fashioned remote or want a smaller TV for a smaller living room, then the 32in UE32H6200 is better value.