If you believe in the adage that "A TV isn't just a TV anymore", then the Samsung 7500 Smart TV series is the one you should be eyeing, and saving up the cash for. It has stunning looks, very good performance, neat set of Smart TV features and the razzle-dazzle of stuff like motion gesture and the new minimalistic remote control.
We thought the “number of cores” battle would be limited to laptops and smartphones. Samsung ensured that wasn’t going to be the case. First, they announced last year that the Smart Evolution kit would ensure users could upgrade the 2012 range of dual-core powered Smart TVs to quad-core. Now, the 2013 range of Smart TVs are quad-core from the outset. Does your smartphone or laptop have enough cores to match your TV? Shame if it doesn’t!
Build & Design: The showpiece for your living room
Samsung has been consistently improving the look of their Smart TVs, with every refresh. The F7500 has a very slim bezel around the screen, and almost gives the illusion of an edge-to-edge display. The previous generations’ designs had been giving indications for this, and it finally seems to be working. The silver finish on this frame looks fairly more premium than the piano black or the matte black finish seen on most flat panel televisions.
The F7500’s table top stand has been redesigned as well. It doesn’t have the arc design seen on last year’s TVs, and is lighter as well. The neck of the stand has the Samsung logo imprinted on it, but thankfully, it doesn’t illuminate! Illuminated logos on the front can be very annoying when you are watching TV with the lights turned off.
The F7500’s build quality is exquisite. The brushed aluminum finish on the bezel, chassis, and the stand looks very classy. Immediately, it stands apart from the bunch of TVs that get the black coloured finish. All is not metal though, as the rear half of the chassis is partly some very good quality plastic. The 46-inch television that we are testing here is 34.4mm thick, which basically puts it in the slim category. The sides are flat, despite being very thin. The clean design is very much evident, since there are no physical buttons on the front. On the top side sits the front facing camera, that is used for motion and gesture controls, as well as when you might be using an app like Skype.
In a nutshell, what we get is a very good looking television, which you would be proud to show off in the living room, and could very well become the center piece. Minimalism does go a long way in the world of clean and crisp designs, and Samsung has blended that with good quality materials and excellent build quality to complete the F7500’s package. We really cannot find much wrong with how this TV has been put together, and any fault finding will only tantamount to knit picking.
Features & Specifications: Loaded. Fully Loaded
The F7500 is a fairly-loaded Smart TV from Samsung. Let us look at the very basic connectivity options first. There are 4 HDMI inputs, along with one each of Component and Composite, with one shared between the two. You also get three USB hubs to connect external drives to, for direct media playback. While the TV has Wi-Fi, you also have the option of taking the wired route for the home sharing network. All connectivity options are placed on one side at the back, which will make them easier to access in case you have wall mounted the TV.
The F7500 is a 46-inch LED TV with a Full HD 1080p resolution. Samsung has implemented the Micro Dimming Ultimate feature, which makes certain scenes with major shadow areas look a lot more detailed. The panel is slightly on the reflective side, which means viewing angles are cut down a bit. But, colour shift is not very noticeable for a much larger degree of side viewing.
The most important feature of the Series 7 is the 1.3GHz quad-core processor, up from the dual-core power package from the 2012 series. This is pretty much taking the Smart TVs into a different league, at least when you compare this with the alternatives on the shop floor. But there is a rather valid apprehension – what will you do with a quad core processor in a TV? Well, we really didn’t see much difference in performance or the speed at which basic TV tasks were accomplished. Examples of this include changing sources, navigating the on-screen menu for making setting tweaks or flipping channels. Where the quad core does have an impact is when you are accessing the Smart TV functions and gesture, but that is a fairly limited sphere to have an impact on!
Samsung’s Smart Evolution Kit will enable better hardware on this very TV when you can buy the upgrades sometime down the line. Quad-core to an octa-core processor is an example.
Smart TV features have seen incremental updates over time. This all adds up to a major update, accumulated over time, when compared to the 2011 Smart TV that I own! But, the essence remains pretty much the same, with the focus being on apps. Better apps, more graphic intensive apps, but still apps nevertheless.
The Smart Hub feature holds within it most of the web-based features of what comprises a Smart TV. First up are the apps. Users do get a fair variety of apps, including news, video streaming, sports scores, online radio and even the likes of Skype. These apps sit on the TV, and show up in the proverbial app drawer. Performance of the apps depends largely on the wired or Wi-Fi connection you may have hooked this up to. The second aspect of the Smart Hub is the social feature, bringing the updates from your Facebook and Twitter right on to the primary screen. Don’t need to pick up the smartphone or the tablet to post something on Facebook!
We really like the remote that the F7500 comes with. It is minimalistic in design, with only the essential keys. The integrated touchpad is very useful when using the apps or the web browser on the TV.
The AllShare feature continues in a similar vein, allowing you to set up the AllShare software on your PC and stream content to the TV, as long as both devices are on the same network.
Performance: A Brilliant TV, as a TV
Despite loading the F7500 with a whole bunch of features that you may or may not use, the primary point of consideration when buying this, or any other TV for that matter, would be the picture quality. Essentially, how good the content you are playing back looks.
Initial settings and experience: Benchmarks and synthetic tests aside for a moment, and we look at the real world performance, something that all consumers would be interested in. On that front, the F7500 is impressive. Very impressive, to be precise. First up, the sharpness of the reproduced picture was definitely up there with the best, across the TVs we have tested. With the sharpness slider set to just 10, the scene was adequately crisp. Colour reproduction, typical Samsung style, is soft and sophisticated. Unlike Sony Bravia panels that focus a tad too much on the reds and the orange shades, the LCD panel in the F7500 is a lot more even across all colours, visibly. Equally, the 2012 range had a blue tint at default picture settings, something that is much less profound this time around. Typically, the default settings have the contrast at 100, Brightness just below 50 and the backlighting at 15. For home use, these aren’t the ideal settings, and we will get to the ideal settings after talking about the benchmark tests.
Benchmarks: For benchmark tests to be done, we usually take the default picture settings that the manufacturer sends the TV with, and get the black level scores. While the ideal scenario would be to do this test at the typical picture and contrast settings that you would deploy at home, these settings aren’t consistent and will be unique to everybody. The Samsung F7500 really impresses with the black levels, both visibly and also in the benchmarks. The black level score of 1031:1 is among the highest across all LCD panels we have tested.
Content Playback: Any content that is originally High Definition looks absolutely stunning on this panel. We connected a WD Live HD Media Player to the TV and played back 720p and 1080p videos (in MKV and MP4 containers), and the results were very impressive. Colour reproduction is par excellence, and the colour gradient is very even with literally no spill over. The F7500 offers four fast motion settings – clear, default, smooth and custom, that lets you tweak the anti-blur and shake settings. For movies, we are huge fans of fluidity in the fast action scenes, and hence the Smooth setting is the best fit. This basically utilizes the 800Hz motion engine to the max when needed. Even with objects zipping across the screen, there was no trail or ghosting.
However, things do change a bit when the quality of the content goes down. For any SD content upscaled for HD resolutions or something like standard definition channels on a DTH connection, the experience just isn’t the same. Before we explain the issues, we must complement the F7500’s panel for still retaining a very good level of sharpness with the lower quality content, something most other TVs don’t do as well. However, lower res content does mean that you will see considerable amount of noise around written words or logos on the screen. Colour reproduction still remains fairly impressive, but there will be less smoothness when it comes to action scenes. Switching over the motion handling setting to “Clear” is a better option. On the smooth settings with low res content, you will get a trail behind certain objects, like a cricket ball running towards the boundary, on the grass.
Gestures: Motion gestures are rather neat to have and show off. However, there are certain issues with it, even now. Though it is in the second generation of evolution, there are still inconsistencies in terms of response of the F7500. There will be times when it will not respond, and there will be times when it does flawlessly. Secondly, you need to stand a few feet away from the TV for gestures to be detected and deployed. This begs the needs for a sufficiently big room with enough distance between the TV and the couch.
Bottom Line: This is a TV, and Then Some
Recommending a 46-inch TV that costs well above over Rs. 1 lakh is always a tough job. For the sheer performance goodness that the F7500 brings with it – and we talk purely about handling the basic TV tasks – we would recommend this for anyone who has a budget this large. If you are thinking that spending a little extra to get the ‘show off’ features of gesture and voice control and the Smart TV features, we would say hang on for a while.