The UE40F6800 is an excellent performer for its money. The starting point for its quality is an excellent black level response once you’ve adjusted the backlight to the sub-10 position noted a moment ago. Blacks look even as well as deep and they’re almost completely free of greyness too. There’s a slight sense of hollowness to the darkest corners as some shadow detailing gets crushed out of the image, but this is a minor complaint when the trade off is a black response of such richness.
Also apparent with dark source material is the panel’s excellent backlight uniformity, as the screen exhibits none of the cloudy patches that still afflict some, even many edge-lit LCD TVs to some extent.
A good black level response lies at the heart of any TV performance so far as we’re concerned, so it’s no surprise really to find the UE40F6800 backing up its black level heroics with some excellent handling of the rest of the colour palette. Colours look bold but subtle, aggressive but expressive, so that their tones and range never look flat and cartoonlike. Even better is their flexibility, by which we mean that you can make colours as rich and bright or as subtle and restrained as you like, with pretty much any combination possible in between. In short, you can make colours look exactly as you personally want them to look.
It’s noticeable, we guess, that bright parts of mostly very dark images look a bit more muted than they do on sets that use local dimming. But the depth and evenness of the blacks around these bright objects on the UE40F6800 makes for some seriously attractive compensation.
Yet another outstanding area for the UE40F6800 is sharpness. Its HD images look stunningly crisp and detailed — perhaps a little too much so, in fact, in the TV’s out-of-the-box state. But you only have to nudge the sharpness setting down a little to sort this out.
The UE40F6800’s terrific reproduction of HD detail right down to the level of image grain is also the main reason we chose not to use the set’s motion processing options when watching films with a grainy finish. The thing is that the motion processing doesn’t seem to properly understand that it’s seeing grain, mistaking it for moving objects in the image and then trying to apply some sort of processing ‘pattern’ to it that makes the grain start to look very unnatural and excessively obvious.
Just as well, then, that the set’s motion handling even without any motion processing in play is good. There’s a touch more resolution loss than you get with the native 200Hz panels used in Samsung’s F7000 and F8000 TVs, but the loss of clarity over motion is less damaging overall than it tends to be on other TVs in the same price bracket.
There are a couple more problems with the UE40F6800’s pictures. First and worst, the set’s overdriving circuitry can cause a bluish ringing around sharply contrasting edges or small text – the pages of the newspaper shown near the start of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 show this issue particularly clearly.
The second problem is that the screen’s viewing angle is quite limited before the image starts to lose contrast and colour resolution – though having said that, we did feel that the effective viewing angle is perhaps slightly wider than it was on last year’s equivalent Samsung model.
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Don’t let these negatives put you off the UE40F6800, though. For overall its pictures are seriously A grade for a mid-range TV.