So I’ve bought a new TV (it’s actually UE50MU6172 in our country, but it doesn’t matter) after roughly 9 years to upgrade our 32” screen to 50”. And it’s Samsung again. Why? Because I saw it, tried it and it didn’t dim the screen the way I hate. Little did I know that it does not dim the screen only for PC input.
Let’s start with the good things.
- It’s big. 50” is enough for me, my family and the room it’s in.
- The remote is cool and works well. I even managed to set it up to control my Motorola cable TV set-top box. It may be for everyone, but as I don’t like new things easily, I like this one a lot.
- Good price. Roughly 500€ is acceptable for me for this performance.
- 4K. Not sure when I use it, but why not for that price.
- I like the menu. Probably not the best possible thing, but way improved over their previous Smart solutions.
- Fancy thing – but it has voice control that somewhat works. It switches between inputs, can start Settings, etc.
- Picture is fine… often.
But I kinda expect TV to work, right? There is also one thing I’d expect. Samsung claims it has stunning picture and considers “dimming” to be positive. So let’s get to it.
That stupid dimming!
I bought this one because I believed it does not dim – or I can switch it off somehow. It did not dim when I tested it. What exactly am I talking about, you ask?
When the scene is dark the whole backlight goes darker too – supposedly to provide you with blacker black. Nowadays, and for many years already, Samsung prefers darker black and does not care that white is not white anymore, it’s mere grey. In normal daylight it often is not readable (when it’s text) or the scene is not discernible anymore (when it’s something happening in the night, for instance).
Many people complain about it, just Google “samsung disable dimming” or similar searches. But the situation is complicated as the dimming can be caused by various ECO features (I’ve got that covered already), how the input is treated, picture mode/style, various picture “enhancements” (mostly off is better than on), etc.
What is striking, however, is that even on official forums various Samsung moderators and officials act like they don’t know what we’re talking about. Now, I’ve got two theories for that – and I believe both are true at the same time.
Sometimes they may know what we mean by “dimming”, but they really don’t know what kind of dimming it is (the reason for it). So they have to investigate and guide you through dozens of settings that sometimes help you and sometimes not.
Other times, I think they know what we mean exactly, but they know that their engineering screwed big time and they have to cover for them, as there is no single fool-proof way how to disable it.
Or they really are clueless – I don’t know.
Now there are some hacks for that but these mostly don’t work for your model, or they are buried in some service menu that voids your warranty or what – and perhaps still may not work for your model.
Instead of guessing what mode (Gaming? PC? Movie?!) I need to use to disable that dimming there should be easy to understand setting related to “dimming” or “dynamic contrast” or something. For years Samsung has been ignoring annoyed voices on this topic. Sure, my mum will not complain, sure, many people don’t know that it doesn’t have to be this way. They don’t know that source is OK, that the telly is the problem. But there is informed minority that complains and is ignored.
Other annoying stuff
This will be probably TV for the next 10+ years and I hope it will serve well in most cases, but there are more little annoyances I noticed after just a couple of hours of usage.
- It does not have 3.5mm audio jack. It hardly has any easily usable “legacy” audio output. I need to use headphones with TV in some situations – and for this TV I had to buy new bluetooth ones. Luckily, I learnt about it in advance, but I’d not expect it at all.
- I experimented with the browser (app called Internet), it seems to be OK, but I don’t know how to toggle full-screen on it. Sites can do it when they are built that way, but I can’t do it.
- Today (the second day we have it) it started to quit from settings back to Home (bar at the bottom) immediately after I choose Settings. If I manage to choose/move in the settings quickly (not easy, the UI is not very slow, but it’s not really snappy) it stays in settings. But this “auto-quit” is really annoying and it didn’t do that earlier this day and there is no obvious reason why it started. I plugged wireless keyboard with USB dongle in the meantime, but it does it even after I turn it off and unplug the USB. Even after TV off/on. I can’t find anything about this issue online.
- YouTube app does not support keyboard – still. I don’t know who produces it (YouTube/Google? Samsung?), but it truly is terrible for searching stuff. Luckily, one can use Internet app (browser) and have normal YouTube experience there. With keyboard on your lap it feels nearly like desktop.
In overall, Samsung promotes features and new things more than it cares about usability or quality. Usability got better since their Bluray player I bought 6 years ago, for sure, but it’s not there.
Could be more, but I really feel cheated when cheap dynamic contrast makes some scenes actually worse. Hard to see, really. I don’t want anti-features. Otherwise it’s OK TV and most of the time I’ll be probably happy. But I know there will be brightness transitions when I’ll cringe. And it will be way more often than rarely. And I still don’t know how the support will help with virtually inaccessible Settings menu.
Oh… we still really suck at creating software. And it appears in more and more devices.
EDIT day later: Unplug the TV for some time. Some settings are lost (inputs), but no big deal and Settings pops up and stays there as expected.
Should you buy Samsung?
I don’t know really. My old 32” Samsung had great picture that did not change white to gray every time the scene went mostly black/dark. For years Samsung offers are better technologies spoiled with stupid dynamic contrast solution – which I believe is more or less software bug.
Friend of mine told me: “Give LG a chance! They have superb webOS, check it out!” I didn’t listen. Now I have to just read on forums that LG has dimming too, but with option to switch it off. Perhaps LG knows better.
So, before you buy Samsung, check out LG… I guess. Or anything else for that matter.
EDIT: 12 days later
Settings bug appeared again, and it seems like TV has some issues with random commands even when I completely remove the batteries from the remote (actually I removed batteries from all my remotes to double-check).
I wasn’t sure whether it’s something with older Samsung Blu-ray player BD-E6100 but today when I wanted to play DVD there it started to blink with “Not Available” which it does when I press RC button that has no function (currently). Later in menu it acted like button down is pressed. It was stuck in this “mode”, even when I disabled all my remotes. It got better after the first press of some action on TV remote, but – strangely enough – not on player’s remote. I could even initiate this loop when I used TV remote buttons Home and Back.
Eventually I figured out that somehow TV and player talk to each other in an infinite cycle. I switched off Anynet+ HDMI-CEC setting on Blu-ray player and – voila – problem gone. Together with option to control the playback with a single RC (not a problem for me really).
However, Settings falling back to Home immediately did not disappear and this time TV is to blame. Even with all the devices off it does it. I can simulate it with keyboard with dead RC without batteries. Removing keyboard’s USB dongle does not fix it, although I don’t know whether the TV doesn’t go crazy because of it – but it shouldn’t.
So to sum it up. I’ve got older, but still not to be replaced, Blu-ray player from Samsung and TV from Samsung – and they don’t go well together. Both devices are updated. Even TV by itself isn’t that reliable when it comes to its operating system. So far I’m not going back to the shop with that monster, as I can work around both issues – but it’s annoying. It shows how complexity makes quality harder. And it seems Samsung is not ready for it.