Updated: May 9, 2015

Samsung UN55B6000 Luxia LED HDTV Review:

samsung LED HDTV Taking home the Samsung Luxia 55" B6000 LED HDTV:
We had avoided the digital cable/TV upgrade for a long time. We had an older 52" Hitachi rear projection TV connected to SD (standard def) cable via a TiVo, and we had a smaller 32" Panasonic LCD. Then came Comcast's forced move to digital cable, and we decided it was time to do some upgrading. The first move was to remodel a bookshelf to accomodate a 50+ inch flat screen TV. Done. Next, upgrade two TiVos to HD TiVos to take advantage of the new digital HD cable programming. Done. Next, grab a PS3 to double as a Blu-Ray player. Done. Next, research and buy the best plasma or LCD HDTV we could find. Since we had the space, we were leaning towards a 58" screen. At that size, plasma is usually a better deal, and we had narrowed it down to either the Panasonic Viera TH-58PZ800U 58-Inch 1080p or the Samsung PN58B560 58-Inch 1080P Plasma HDTV, both of which were priced around $2150.

Both of these TVs get very good reviews, and both look great. But then I saw the newer LED HDTVs from Samsung, namely the Luxia 6000 measuring in at 55 inches. Now, what is an LED TV, you might ask? Is it the same as OLED? Are LED TVs better than plasma and LCD? LED TVs are basically LCD TVs, but instead of using CCFL fluorescent lights to light the screen, they use LED lights which are brighter, more compact (for a thinner TV), and more energy efficient (uses 40% less energy than standard LCD TVs). OLED is a totally different technology, really only available in very small, very expensive demo units. These Samsung Luxia TVs are LED, not OLED. But you really have to see these TVs in person to see what LED means for HD images. These screens are so bright, have such high contrast, the pictures just jumped off the screen compared to the plasma sets I was looking at. So while reading reviews is great, sometimes "the eyes have it" as they say, and I was sold on the Samsung LED models the first day I saw them at the electronic store. Unfortunately, these super-thin, super-sexy TVs are brand new and expensive ($3100) -- about $1000 more than I was looking to spend. But I figure this TV will be our main TV for a good 10 years -- that's an extra $100 per year I will be spending for just an incredible HDTV. Out came the credit card, and my new 55" Samsung LED set was on its way to my family room.




Samsung LED TVs - Luxia 6000 - Luxia 7000 - Luxia 8000 HDTV

Samsung is guilty along with many other electronic manufacturers when it comes to too many confusing model names and numbers. These new LED TVs from Samsung are sold under the LUXIA brand name - that's what is all over the big cardboard box they come in. On the official Samsung website (samsung.com), they call them "LED TV Series 8" (or "6" or "7"). On a lot of online shopping sites, they usually refer to them by their full model numbers, like the Samsung UN55B6000, UN46B8000, or UN40B7000 -- the first number after the UN is the screen size, then after the "B" is the series number -- 6000, 7000, or 8000 (so the first example is a Luxia 55" LED 6000 series). The Luxia line offers 3 different models (the 6000, 7000, and 8000), each available in 3 different sizes -- 40 inches, 46 inches, and 55 inches (the 8000 model is actually only in 46" or 55", no 40 inch model). What really sets these Luxia TVs apart (aside from the incredibly bright and crisp picture) from other flat panel TVs is their thin-ness -- we're talking 1.2" thick. Sure, other flat panel TVs look thin from the front, but turn them sideways and you'll see they are 2-4 inches thick, and heavy. These LED models allow for a much thinner design, which means they really hang flat and easily on a wall, and they weigh less (more on this below).

The main differences between the models are:
  • Samsung Luxia 6000: base model, 120Hz refresh rate, 4ms response time, 3M:1 contrast ratio, full 1080p HD resolution, just 1.2" thick, ruby red touch of color (ToC) accents (list price $3599 for 55", $2799 for 46", $2299 for 40")
  • Samsung Luxia 7000: same as the Luxia 6000, but adds Internet@TV Content Service, allowing you to connect to your Internet connection for things like Yahoo news, weather, Flickr photos, and YouTube videos on your TV (if you have a Tivo or PS3 or other device that streams Internet content to your TV, probably not an important feature) (list price $3799 for 55", $2999 for 46", $2499 for 40")
  • Samsung Luxia 8000: same as 7000, but adds 240Hz screen refresh rate (this is supposed to eliminate any blurring in high-speed action sequences, personally I don't see it at 120Hz either); also 5 million:1 contrast ratio vs. 3M:1 on other models; 2ms response time vs. 4ms on other models; has chrome colored base and chrome ToC accents instead of red (list price $3999 for 55", $3299 for 46")
So basically the 6000 model is almost perfect, the 7000 and 8000 add some fancy Internet connectivity features which you may or may not want, and the 8000 looks a little more elegant with chrome accents and has better technical specs in terms of contrast and refresh rates, though it is arguable whether you can see these improvements with the human eye. For me, the 6000 series was $300-$600 cheaper than the other models, and offered everything I wanted. If you want to pay more for a fancier 8000 series, that is up to you.

One nice feature all these TVs have in common is their lightweight. If you've ever tried to move or adjust a large plasma screen, you know they are not as light as they look -- they can easily weigh more than 100 lbs. The largest LED Luxia model, the 55", weighs just 49 lbs without the stand (60 lbs with the stand). The 46" model weighs just 40 lbs (50 lbs with stand), and the 40" model weighs just 33 lbs (41 lbs with stand). I had no problems removing it from the box with just me and my wife, and my 79 year old father and I almost effortlessly lifted it and set it up in the bookshelf area. These TVs really are so thin and light you can hang them on a wall with an attachment that looks like a picture frame wire. And the standard stand rotates, allowing you to easily swivel the TV from side to side if you want to change the viewing angle or get at the cables on the backside. You just can't do that with standard large, heavy plasma and LCD screens - this LED thin, light design really makes a noticeable difference.

samsung led hdmi connectors The Luxia HDTVs are modern TVs designed with HD in mind. There are 4 HDMI connectors (see photo at right) on the left backside (facing you) of each set, along with 2 USB ports, a PC/DVI port, and a digital optical out. Towards the middle of the bottom rear, there is a coaxial input, an ethernet port, and a single component connector for video and audio cables. There are no RCA composite inputs. To connect something like the Nintendo Wii, we had to get their special composite to component cables, then route that plus an older Xbox 360 component cable through a JVC component A/V switcher to send a single component output to the Samsung. Everything else we had (Tivo HD, PS3) had HDMI ports, so those went direct to the TV. The USB ports work great for connecting your digital camera, thumb drives, or HD video cameras, allowing you to playback and view your HD videos and photos right on this amazing viewing monitor. For example, you can put favorite video clips and photos on a USB thumb drive, plug it into the slot on the back of the Luxia, push the button on the remote, and then start browsing your music, photos, and video. It handles JPG photos, MP3 music, and videos in AVI, WMV, and MPG format. This is a great way to share photos and videos with your friends and family, instead of trying to crowd around a computer monitor or the display screen on your little digital camera.

When it comes to audio, there is built-in SRS TruSurround HD speakers (10W x 2), but to be honest, with these thin screens, there just is not enough room to pack in room-filling speakers. You need to hook these sets up to a surround sound home theater system to get good, deep, rich audio. We used the built-in speakers for a few days while we assembled the other components of our home theater -- it was acceptable, but you deserve more if you are spending this much on a TV set. Now one complaint when it comes to audio. If you have a home theater system, you are going to have a center speaker that needs to go somewhere in the front center of the TV. The Sumsung Luxia LED screen sits about 5 inches above the surface you rest the stand on -- this should be more than enough space to slap a center channel speaker right in front of the TV where it belongs. Problem is, the IR sensor for the remote is somewhere there right at the lower center portion of the TV, so the remote no longer functions when you place a large center speaker there -- oops. This is a real hassle -- I ended up putting the center speaker BEHIND the TV, which partially blocks the sound coming out, but I have to live with that if I want to be able to use the remote.

samsung un55b6000 led remote

Samsung LED TV Review -- UN55B6000, UN55B7000, UN46B8000, UN40B7000 - Best LED HDTVs

Alright, so you get your LED TV home, hook up your cables, and turn it on. Hidden along the front lower bezel of the TV are a variety of "touch" buttons -- they are not physical buttons, but merely areas that react to your touch. There is an on/off button just below the SAMSUNG logo, and then towards the lower right there are buttons for SOURCE, MENU, Volume +/-, and Channel +/-. The bezel on this Samsung is very mirror-like, and for me it is nearly impossible to see these buttons -- but they are there if you happen to misplace the remote and still want to use the TV. Here's a picture of the remote control included with the UN55B6000 -- you can't tell from this topview, but the lower part is shaped kind of like a shoe horn, it tapers to a thin piece that angles downward. Not sure why the funky shape..

Like most remotes, you use the SOURCE button between the volume and channel buttons to choose the A/V input to display on the screen -- HDMI 1 - 4, USB 1 or 2, etc. You can use the onscreen menu system to customize the nicknames for these inputs -- for example, on our TV, HDMI3 is also labeled as "Blu-Ray" (connected to PS3) and HDMI2 is labeled as "TV" (connected to Tivo). This makes it a little easier when flipping between sources. You've got all the standard menu adjustments for contrast, brightness, etc.

Another key button on the remote is right below the VOL button -- MEDIA.P. samsung led tv review These HD Samsung LED TVs are a great place to highlight and enjoy your digital photos, music, and home videos. Just pop a USB thumb drive into one of the USB ports on the back, click this MEDIA button, and up comes this menu (photo to right) where you can choose between photos, music, and video. Then you'll be able to move around the folders on your USB drive and click on the music, pics, or videos clips you want to watch. You can set up photo slideshows, for example. With all these 10MP+ digital cameras out there, it is nice to be able to see your high resolution photos really large and close up on a big screen like this instead of scrolling around on a laptop or desktop display. Very simple to do with these Samsungs. Unfortunately, many cable boxes (and our Tivo) require you to use their remote, so this Samsung remote, though pretty, is rarely in use at our house. I sometimes wonder how many people actually use the included remotes when their are so many universal remotes and cable boxes out there. Oh well.

Watching the Samsung LED TV - SD vs. HD Programming

When it gets right down to it, the real question is, How does this LED TV actually look when you are watching it? A lot of people are concerned with glare coming from windows and lights. Our Samsung LED is at the end of a family room that is flanked by windows along the left side. With the TV off, I will say the whole thing looks like a dark mirror, and anything and everything is more than reflected in it, windows included. However, turn the power on, and those LEDs are now cranking out bright color images -- the mirror effect pretty much disappears. Granted, if you look hard enough and concentrate on the glare (basically getting your eyes to focus below the plane of the TV screen) you will still see some glare -- there is just no getting rid of it entirely. So in our situation with 4 windows nearby, I'm happy with it by day, delighted with it by night. One annoyance is the white light that comes out from around the top of the crystal tube stand that the TV sits on. I'm not sure why Samsung included this always-on light, as it can be distracting in an otherwise darkened room when all you want to see is the movie on the TV screen. But that's a small quibble. (UPDATE: thanks to R. Spurlock for reading the manual and letting us know you can turn this light off by hitting MENU on the remote, then scroll down to PLUG AND PLAY and select LIGHT EFFECT -- there is an option there to set it to OFF, thanks!).

Let's talk picture quality. Standard definition TV (SD) still makes up the vast majority of channels that most of us receive. As with all HD TVs, you are going to be able to see and notice the poorer quality that SD offers. So SD does not look great on the Samsung, but I don't think I have ever seen SD programming look very good on any HDTV I have reveiwed -- that's why they always pipe-in HD-only programming when you are shopping at the electronics store. So that brings us to HD, and this is why I spent the extra money on the LED HDTV vs. a plasma or standard LCD. Most people have one of those "ahhhhhhhh.." moments when they first see HDTV on a good, big screen. You're just not used to seeing television so crisp and clear. But when I saw HD on this LED screen, I went "ahhhhhhhhh..." all over again. The clarity, brightness, and crispness here are just not to be believed. Whether playing PSP3 games in HD, watching Blu-Ray movies, or watching HD cable channels (some of which are much better than others) we find ourselves saying, "God, can you believe how perfect and real these people look?" I'm not Mr. Videophile, but having looked at A LOT of HDTVs, these Samsungs really stand out when it comes to HD picture quality. I sometimes get little stutters when watching HD, but that is a cable issue, not a TV issue.

REVIEW WRAP-UP:
Overall, I give the Samsung LED Series 6000 HDTV (having used the 55" and 46" models) a 9.5 out of 10, very nearly perfect.
  • I love the energy efficiency (these things really don't get hot like many plasmas do).
  • I love the thin design and lightweight (you can actually hang them like pictures on the wall or move them around without having to call over 3 strong friends for assistance).
  • The HD picture quality is just so bright and clear, amazing. SD is still SD, so I can't complain about the TV on that one.
  • Built-in speakers OK, home theater highly recommended for richer, deeper sound.
  • Price -- high, will always be a premium over standard LCD and plasma.
  • Love the 4 HDMI ports and USB, caution if you have a bunch of stuff that needs RCA composite or component jacks.
  • Wish Samsung would redesign the area right below the SAMSUNG logo -- don't put the IR remore receiver right where a center surround speaker would sit, and get rid of that ring of white light.


Buying a large Samsung LED HDTV - Getting it Home

Like we said, these LED TVs are much lighter than their LCD and plasma counterparts, but they still come in huge boxes that you can't fit in your car or SUV (pickup truck, maybe, but I'm not risking a $2000+ TV in the back of a pickup on the freeway..). So when it comes right down to it, no matter where you buy it, this thing is going to be shipped to your house by a freight company. That being said, you can pretty much buy it wherever you want -- local electronic store, online, etc. We bought ours at Amazon. Believe it or not, Amazon has earned an amazing reputation when it comes to customer service and delivery on these large items. Even when customers complain about a product, they always rave about how easy it was to deal with Amazon, even in the case of having to return something as huge as a big flatscreen TV. And we checked prices -- Amazon matched the lowest prices we found, except for one local store that was offering a free Samsung Blu-ray player (worth about $200) with the purchase of a Luxia. So if you already trust Amazon and shop with them, check out the prices on Samsung Luxia LED HDTVs at Amazon and consider buying right from them (they can be a little hard to find, since they don't use the "Luxia" name online and they get mixed in with all the other confusingly named Samsung TVs, so here are some direct links): Another piece of advice. Electronics continually come down in price. If you want a new TV, accept the fact that after you buy it you will see it cheaper a few months later. OK, that's just what happens. So don't kill yourself trying to save $100 or time a purchase just perfectly -- give yourself permission to buy it (if you can afford it) and then enjoy your TV and stop watching later prices (trust me, it doesn't help!).

When the TV shows up at your house, it comes in a large rectangular cardboard box, securely packaged and protected. The smaller models come with the stand unattached -- you have to set the screen on it and attach with screws. Our larger 55" came right on the stand -- we just lifted the box off and lifted it right out and onto the shelf. Depending on how much room you have around your TV, you may want to connect your HDMI and A/V cables in advance to the Luxia, then put it in place and route the cables out to your components. Otherwise you will be trying to plug cables into the back of the TV -- hard to see, hard to reach, though the TV does pivot very easily as we said, making it pretty easy to get access to the ports on the side. If you plan out your cabling in advance, installation and setup is a breeze. There are some small stick-on cable organizers included that help route cables invisibly around the side and back of the TV, and they can then drop down directly behind the crystal stand post. Samsung gives you a small white plastic tube to hide the cables behind the stand post, but I couldn't figure out how to use it -- still looks fine in my opinion without it.

Anyways, we highly recommend you stop in at Amazon and check prices and free shipping offers. I like to shop with an online merchant I trust, and we recommend the same for our site visitors to keep them safe. Amazon's reliability just can't be beat.

Have any questions about these Samsung LED TVs? Feel free to send us an email at the address below and we will do our best to answer them. Thanks!


Here's one email from a happy reader:
"I don't have any questions to ask at moment but wanted to send note of thanks for your excellent review of Samsung LED flat screens. I have been agonizing over what flatscreen tv to buy to replace our old dinosaur rear projection tv. LED tvs were among the items considered but kept being concerned about price vs what I really need. Your article was one of the best written, most common sense approach to a review I have ever read regarding any product. It included so many answers to most questions real people have when shopping. I read over several times not only to grasp all issues but also because it was such a breath of fresh air. I can tell you, I have made decision to purchase a Samsung LED. I have always been a champion of Samsung computer screens as among the very best. Not surprising they would produce a tv of equal quality. You simply confirmed what I had been thinking down deep. LED is state of the art and likely worth extra dollars. Liked your breakdown to cost per year of ownership. Pocket change for quality experience at home. Who better to provide quality in LED than Samsung. You did make me decide I don't need the 7000 or 8000 series because I would never use the features ( as you so well described) they provide above the 6000 series. Your article provided that clarity before I even started wondering what was the differences in the models. I also worried about 120HZ vs 240? Doubted the value of extra cost for 240 but didn't know for sure. You clarified. I just want to watch quality HDTV..nothing more. Mostly watch sports and simply do not live for or in front of TV. Your approach is a rarity in todays world and down to earth for us mortals. I am very pleased I stumbled across your review. Thank you for providing a review for people who are not electronic junkies. I give a rip about what specifications are obtained through lab measurements. I only care what my eyes see and my ears hear using normal human abilities. You provided that in straight forward way."