The Samsung PS60E6500 only costs £1,440. Even though it’s got a 60-inch screen, a high-spec plasma panel, and the latest version of the company's hugely impressive new Samsung Smart TV online system. Blimey. Time to embark on a hunt for the ‘catch’, then.
Samsung PS60E6500 Design
Some might feasibly consider the Samsung PS60E6500’s looks to be a catch. For when placed alongside one of the company's gloriously trim and futuristic looking LED flagship TVs, the inch-wide bezel and relatively chunky butt of the Samsung PS60E6500 look positively old fashioned. However, we’d argue that the application of a crystal-esque finish and greyish colour scheme to the bezel prevent the PS60E6500 from just being another big black rectangle.
It’s also worth stressing in Samsung’s defence that plasma panels are much heavier than LCD ones, and so need to be supported in fairly robust frames. But anyway, it’s what goes on inside the frame that matters, not the frame itself, right?
Samsung PS60E6500 Connectivity
The Samsung PS60E6500’s connections are mostly good but perhaps a little odd. The odd bits include the fact that there is around a 50/50 split between connections you can access from the TV’s edges and connections which stick straight out the back, and Samsung's descision to bestow the PS60E6500 with just three HDMI ports when most mid-range and high-end sets now give you four.
The problem with having the likes of the Freeview RF/Freesat LNB inputs, LAN port and even one of the HDMIs sticking straight out of the TV’s rear, of course, is that it makes the set markedly trickier to hang on a wall.
A quick scout around inside the Samsung PS60E6500’s packaging quickly confirms that it doesn’t ship with the second trackpad remote control found with the company’s flagship 7000 series TV and the Samsung PS51E8000. Nor does this 60-inch set support the motion and voice control systems boasted by Samsung’s higher-end TVs. But you know, while these alternative control systems have their moments, for the most part we didn’t find ourselves missing the experience of waving at and chatting to our TV.
Samsung PS60E6500 Smart TV
The Samsung PS60E65000 does retain the company’s latest Smart TV engine, though. Which is handy, as this engine arguably represents the state of the art where Smart TV is concerned thanks to its exceptional full HD interface and some of its groundbreaking features.
On the presentation side we love the Smart Hub, where pressing the colour Smart button on the remote calls up a hugely pretty, icon-laden but not-at-all intimidating home screen that provides access to a great mix of online and live broadcast content, as well as a host of apps providing links to everything from games and social networking tools to fitness videos, streaming movie services and information apps.
Particularly intriguing are Samsung’s Family Story, Fitness and Kids ‘zones’, given prominence by especially large icons in the top half of the Smart Hub. The Family Story lets you set up a secure network with your family and friends for sharing photos and messages. The Fitness zone allows you to use a wide selection of fitness videos and chart your health progress via onscreen graphs. And the Kids zone aggregates together kid-friendly videos, as well as providing a virtual ‘sticker book’ into which you can reward and track good behaviour.
While we appreciate the thought behind these new zones, though, it remains our view that video streaming and catchup services are still king where online TV functionality is concerned. So it’s great to find that an immediate update to the service during our tests added the ITV Player to the list of available options, joining other highlights of the BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, BBC Sport, Netflix, Samsung’s own 3D channel, YouTube, Red Bull TV, Viewster, and Picturebox.
While we still feel Samsung might benefit from having a cull of its less useful apps (some really are obscure) to make it easier to see the good stuff, overall Samsung’s Smart TV service feels like it’s the most likely blueprint for the way such services are going to develop in the years to come.