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Good TV but not always so Smart
on 22 November 2014
First off, this is a great little TV, I trawled the internet looking for a TV as feature heavy as this one and nothing comes close as this price bracket.
Full HD (1080p) in a compact and attractive 22" frame. For this size of television full HD is a little overkill but the picture looks amazing, even programs that are being upscaled look sharp and the colours have a great vibrancy about them, couple that with its fast 100Hz refresh rate and this TV can competently handle anything you want to use it for from streaming, movies, watching TV or even using it as a supplementary PC monitor.
Apps and programs
The vast array of apps cover most media that you would want, some of the reviews list some omissions but for the most part the most popular programs are here such as iplayer, netflix or youtube and internet browser.
Recording function allows you to easily record programs on to an external memory stick or hard drive (not provided) and also to pause and subsequently fast forward live tv if you fancy grabbing a cup of tea in the middle of watching something or if you just can't stand those ad breaks.
Note: this is only a single channel tuner so you can't watch one program while recording another but it does work in the background if you are using an on demand streaming service or a connected device.
Boasting 2 HDMI ports (NOT 3 - like the system features said on amazon), 2 USB ports, component (RGB), digital optical, IR and one SCART. There is no VGA port which would be nice but most bases are covered. Many wired keyboards and mice are also supported as some of the features are not ideal for navigation with the tv remote.
The software in this tv will handle most video file types that are thrown at it, for the devices I have, only the PC with custom codecs offers more.
What were they thinking?!?
The standard sandby light is a small LED that glows red, for some reason Samsung designed this tv with a large red block that glows red on the bottom, this is not a good idea for a tv that in all likelihood will end up in someones bedroom. Less of a standby light and more of a night light!
While no effort was spared with the visuals the same can't be said for the sound. Modern flat panel TVs have traditionally suffered with sound and while this is by no means bad in the scheme of things its not that great either, I have noticed excessive vibration caused by certain frequencies but this is a rare occurance.
While the review states: "The powerful Quad Core processor in the H5600 significantly boosts performance with faster access to Smart features and true multitasking capabilities," the performance is not quite so snappy. The apps are organised in to 5 different panes and I have noticed a variable degree of latency between inputs and response as well as programs such as the electronic program guide (EPG) updating, the television has been noted to crash while while loading apps causing either freezes or shutdowns.
The apps are good for the most part, roughly the equivelent of what you would see on a iOS or android device although I was very disappointed by the Netflix app. The login details are not saved after turning off the television making you have to manually input your email and password each time, this is exacerbated by the slow input of a tv remote. I have taken to using my PS3 for many of the Smart features which are just more responsive than the TV apps. Perhaps a future update will sort this out but a quick search revealed with is an old problem which has still not been rectified. Likewise youtube can easily become uncoupled forcing you to login to a computer and input a code in order to authorise your user profile on the TV.
Smart view is an app which you can download for your smart devices such as iphones/pads, android phones and tablets etc, in principle it is a good idea, it allows you to use your device as a tv remote and also allows you to stream content from the TV; in reality it was a pain to get it to work, very little can actually be streamed on my (admittedly) aging iphone and the remote is too laggy be a reliable remote alternative, which is a shame because while the technology and use of televisions has changed through the years, the technology behind the remotes has not and an anologue touchpad is badly needed for many of the features. I'd advise people to connect a mouse and not bother with smart view.
Recording and Digital Rights Management
In the age of digital 'the man' needed a way to control content and DRM was the answer. DRM is used in the tv to encrypt any program you record to the television from which it was recorded, so you can't record from this tv and watch it on another even if it is the same model. This is quite reasonable in my view, but what happens when it goes wrong? Well it did for me. Recording the odd episode of frasier and magnum pi was an important criteria for my choice of purchase, however, something went wrong and everything I record is locked by DRM and unavailable to watch on any device including the one on which it was recorded - if jurassic park taught us anything it is that if somethin can go wrong it will go wrong! and on a tv with so many features that is potentially a lot that can go wrong. Which bring me to....
Having developed a problem with my TV I sent samsung an email, I included just about every step I could think of to rectify the problem; format hard drive, change hard drive, update sofwate, factory reset etc only to be advised by increments to repeat all the steps I had already told them I had done with each email responded to with the qualifying statement: "We are currently receiving a high volume of enquiries however one of our colleagues will be in touch with you at the soonest opportunity" and each reply taking on average about 2 days. After 2 weeks of these not so helpful responses I was advised that they would need to seek advice from a senior technician and after over a week I have heard nothing more. I'm sure amazon will be better to deal with but once the warrenty is gone from amazon be very wary of Samsung - a giant of a company that clearly does not invest adequately for the size of the their customer base.
Just a warning about the nature of Smart TV's. Smart TV's are so called because of their ability to connect to the internet and use apps to access content, they are not as some might think able to manage your household budget, advise you where to go on holiday or provide you with a sympathetic view of how your last relationship went wrong. Many of the apps are reliant on updates to continue to work but it is in the interest of companies such as Samsung to sell you new products and not invest in updating old ones. There is no set lifespan for these devices but just as old smartphones can no longer update to latest firmware the same will happen with apps on Smart TV's and eventually they will become not so smart.
The fundamentals are handled so well on this set that it is still a good tv even with some of the drawbacks I have found with the bells and whistles.